walking the talk

I’m not proud of these last couple of months, struggling to find a job… it didn’t start out as struggling, it just started out as scary change whose time had come. A month of rejection brought it into struggling, reaching an apex this week in my willingness to do anything and being ghosted by a job i probably shouldn’t have been willing to do anyway.

Today a friend asked, “what does your gut say” and I had to admit, even doing body fulness practices every day, i have not been listening to my gut. My gut is not worried at all. When i check in with my body there is crazy amounts of stress in my head, but only a latent energy in my gut. My gut is not worried. My gut is a little curious, but mostly just focused on its own wholeness, the wholeness of my body and the interconnectedness of all things.

Which is why I’ve been ignoring it.

Because that shit is great, but as my net worth declines, my mental malcontent rises and begins working to solve the problem. and the problem is not cooperating. the problem that my body is not concerned about but my mind is getting increasingly freaked out about. And therefore, increasingly ignoring the body – in fact, being a little annoyed that the body isn’t more on the bus of this very obvious problem.

that should have been my first clue.

i wrote a post on FB once, “I’m not enlightened, but I’ve tasted it and I know you don’t need anyone else to change.” and then doing the bodyfulness practice, I’ve recognized that when I am grounded in my body, I deeply want everything to be in that place of connection. I do NOT want things to put some outer priority ahead of that space. I want, for myself and others, that connectedness to come first.

I’ve not been living that way. Or at the very least not in relationship to employment or financial wellness. For that, I feel it perfectly reasonable to allow my head to be in charge. Spectacular mistake.

I am not at my best, this much is certain. I’m allowing the world’s responses to me to be the barometer of my value. I thought I knew better.

And this is why I am so grateful for the practice. As Eric Klein taught me, it’s about building the muscle to come back to center. Straying is not the problem, straying is the cue. And, yes, i wish i could’ve gone through these months with less stress and confusion and sadness. that would’ve been nice. But, just like I’ve counseled dozens of people, when you think you know something, the universe says, “marvelous, dear; show me”

and i immediately panicked, as if i hadn’t been practicing three times per day for months and months.

so, while i had tried to make September “destiny is inevitable” month – taking away the power of anyone else or anything else – even my own failure – to stop the flow of life itself and the natural unfolding of my own entelechy. I allowed my insecurity to move me into ever lamer versions of trying to fix. So, today, I’m going to try to allow my insecurity to move me into greater curiosity, then find it in my body and relax it, no matter how badly I want to use all of the evidence that I am hopeless to panic my being. I’ve just been ghosted by a jock strip mall manager. The comedy alone should validate a day off from the sad, scary story my mind is making so real.

something new

I met a friend for lunch today in the wine country of Temecula. She’s an amazing person, and it’s always an adventure meeting up with her. Todays adventure included spending part of the afternoon with the owner of the winery, a really personable and knowledgeable guy. I learned some very interesting things:

  1. the difference between casks and barrels
  2. that barrels are the size a strong man can roll up a gangplank
  3. a bottle of wine is about what a person would drink in a day in the middle ages
  4. wine has both pre- and probiotics

I haven’t been much of a drinker this past decade (although I still don’t think i’ve quite caught up with what might have been overconsumption for the two and a half decades prior) but speaking with this gentleman made me wonder if perhaps I should experiment a little more with some reds. It also made me realize I want to be in a beautiful place using my smile and welcoming attitude to brighten people’s days like the many smiles at his estate brightened mine.

I’ve been ghosted by the job I (thought I) got – and to add insult to injury, i read an article today that the job market is so open, people are simply not showing up on their first day of work. It’s a bit humiliating, and generally disappointing. But, life is like that sometimes, and resilience is truly an important skill/attribute. I spent my evening in a strange combination of anger, frustration, acceptance and shame, trying to feel -and release- the emotions as they came up. This has been a trying escapade, and i look forward to getting on the other side of it.

touching

I’ve been a little sad that I haven’t been able to design a communication method or platform to really have an impact with all of these gorgeous visions of human life on earth that I am privileged to soak up (Paul Selig, Byron Katie, Tara Brach, Thomas Hübl, Martha Beck,Rupert Spira, Mooji,  Vedanta, Perelandra, etc). The current socio-political environment is so disorienting and maddening, I really wish I could offer the peace and potential I feel more effectively. When I try, I seem to bump into brick walls, and that’s sort of exhausting, so I’ve resigned myself to continue trying (Thomas Hübl talks a lot about the importance of taking your part in the stream – letting things flow through you as you receive them – and this makes sense to me and I want to do it, so even though at this point it feels largely fruitless, I am committed to making sure I keep a channel open) while taking a new approach to more practical matters like exchanging time and talent for money.

Today a woman came into the monastery where I volunteer. I liked her vibe. Turns out, she’s moving to Michigan very soon and I was delighted she was able to soak up some of the good vibes at Trabuco before her trip.

As she’s leaving, she tells me she was in several months ago and I gave her a poem, and she’s carried it and she and her husband have been slowing down and indeed that visit to Trabuco (which, as soon as she mentioned it I knew exactly when she came) is part of the reason they’ve decided to move back to Michigan.

And so, as I embark on this next aspect of my journey, it was nice to know that something I shared had a nice impact on someone’s life and process. Curating things so the right message meets the right person at the right time is very special, and full of grace.

Here’s the poem, which I came across via Elizabeth Gilbert, in case it might mean something again:

Clearing ~ Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

humble

I’m up later than I want to be, but I want to write and capture my state here tonight…

I got a job today. A job I’m not particularly excited about, but still grateful for. I’m glad for the opportunity – I sent out hundreds of resumes to crickets and rejections, so someone who is actually interested in hiring me – and has a job that pays money – is a welcome relief. I’m excited to be out in the world a bit more, and given that my current spiritual practice is to recognize the Divine in Everything, it should give me all kinds of good opportunity, but I’m also wildly disappointed it’s not sexier or more interesting. I’ve had sort of a charmed life, and this is an extremely mundane job so it feels kindof “off” but again, it’s here and open to me in a great field of not open to me, so it’s the obvious choice of what is next.

I am glad I separated my ‘work in the world’ from ‘job’ and I think that having a job and contributing to my family income may just fuel the work i feel is so natural to me and important. So, that’s a nice prospect. And the truth is I may be able to be of service to people in this role. That would be nice. And small, unappealing things have become quite great in my life several times before, so who knows what might happen.

I have SO MANY IDEAS of really good things I could do in the world and how i might be an asset to so many different kinds of companies or organizations, but NONE OF THEM CARE. It’s humbling. a little disheartening. certainly it makes me question my value and my worth. But hasn’t that been the journey? Hasn’t an enormous aspect of this journey been separating my worth from some need for action? That line from ACIM that says, “I am content being wherever He wishes knowing He goes there with me..” and then I want to get fussy about where I think would be better? OK, mundane job: I’m yours. and I’ll be there with a smile, regular prayer and blessing, and the best performance I can muster. Everything is of God or nothing is. There is no order of difficulty in miracles.

My desire to be special and interesting and charmed is very much pales in comparison to my desire to be of service and to engage in life with openness and curiosity, yet faced with the prospect of people knowing i’ve taken a menial job, a part of me is embarrassed and ashamed. I guess this is my next opportunity to grow, to anchor myself in the truth of the moment and not the picture I’d like to paint. To quit valuing things based on my perceptions and be in touch with the life flowing through all things in the moment.

So, I’m happy, and i’m a little sad, and i’m curious and I do have this underlying feeling that something great may grow where and when i least expect it. If i strip away my ideas of what is not good enough, i’m actually kindof excited.

the singularity

I’ve never paid much attention to the idea of the singularity, which i understand to be the time when we can upload consciousness and be separate from our organic form. Sci Fi has never been my thing (and I may be totally wrong about what it means). Lately, though, I have been noticing that as a people, we do seem to be idealizing a world where everything goes according to a code that minimizes “undesireable” occurrances and replicates positive occurance after positive occurance, desiring to have a life where we walk from one garden path to the next. This shunning of the fullness of experience and myopic view of what is acceptable (i mean, really, how often do we mourn an occurrance only to find out it was the best thing that could have happened, ie, getting fired from a crappy, crappy job). I used to think it was Sci-Fi but now I am feeling it is what we, as a culture, are asking for as a way to avoid pain.

Avoiding pain makes all kinds of sense, it really does… I get it entirely and participated in said avoidance for decades. Avoid Pain At All Costs! That seems to be the marching cry of our modern world. But then there is this counter-cry: Hey! We’re Not Paying Attention to All of the Damage Our Way Of Life is Causing! This is complicated stuff, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. I do know, in my experience, that opening up to the fullness of experience has unplugged some of my desire for control and replaced it with curiosity, and that the peace of mind available from such a trade is more rewarding than even the biggest of my fleeting experiences of success with control. This may be old news to many people, but for recovering control freaks like me, it is a revelation. It also involves taking off the lenses of “things should go the way we want them to go” and by removing those lenses we can see the damage the endless pursuit of greater levels of attempted control have wrought.

I can feel it welling up in myself from time to time, especially in my intentions for my childrne: I want things to happen in this way so they don’t have to suffer. But is there a life without suffering? Is it possible? I know the Buddha’s father tried to keep suffering from his life without success. He was a king. I have far fewer resources.

I enjoy developing a sense of resilience in myself and in my kids. We had a real disappointment here this weekend, and there was grieving. And there was even a little too much contemplation of “how can we fix this” – something we noticed and unplugged so that the grief could run its course without reengineering the world to ‘make it better.’ We are capable of engaging with life in times of both disappointment and elation. We rarely can control which is coming our way, so we are attempting to build the capacity to receive either and both, just like we receive the benefits and costs of both winter and summer. Life is evolving through us, and life contains the multitudes.

I can see wanting to engineer the perfect life, defining it as without disappointment or pain. And it might even be possible. But, from what I can see in nature, pain often is a threshold to a greater level of living… if we engineer something, it is then defacto limited to our imagination – and while the human imagination is a marvelous thing, it can’t compare to the intricacy of creation, the seamless (though sometimes violent) interdependence of hundreds of thousands of life forms, migration patterns, soil aeration, etc.  The majesty of nature humbles me, and makes me grateful I am a part of it. There was a time when my arrogance would’ve lept at the challenge to engineer a more perfect world, but that was a time when my understanding of the fauna in the world contained the couple of dozen or so species, most of which I knew through zoos. So naive. So certain of her wisdom.

I truly believe all of life is God expressing, regardless of what it looks like. The singularity may be the most natural progression in the world. All I know is that I want to honor the unfolding of something so vast and creative it takes my breath away regularly. and I’m part of it. a part that can notice, and appreciate, and wonder. I like that very much, even though it includes some objectively unpleasant experiences, too.

all. everything.

I’m not sure how I came to think of things as “this” or “that” – but it’s a disservice to pidgeonhole life. everything is multifaceted, and expecting anything to be just one thing seems hopelessly myopic. Recognizing this more and more deeply, I see how much I’ve cut myself off from the fullness of life. If i thought I understood what a crayon was by a single issue, I’d have no idea of the colorful possibilities that awaited me. i’ve done that far too often.
Obviously, people: people are huge combinations of attributes, and then within each attribute there a spectrum possibility ranging from ‘well-fed and content’ versions to ‘scared and defensive’ versions of even one behavior. We are all so multi-dimensional, and how that expresses has such room for variation as well, it’s hard to believe how often i think i “know” someone, when we are ALL growing and changing beings – even the people who doggedly defend a limited identity and try to bend life to maintain it. 
I often learn the lesson of shifting realities when I revisit a restaurant at which i’ve had a great experience. if i make the mistake of singing its praises to someone, it is rare indeed that our next visit will resemble my first. then i’m stuck backpeddling. I really do find it about anything i get overly excited about. the pendulum swings back and I get to experience the disappointment of dashed expectations. It’s usually not a huge disappointment, but it is always a great lesson in appreciating things for being wonderful without ascribing a need for the wonderfulness to continue.
I get the value of consistency… it’s what made McDonalds famous, and I have to admit more than once while traveling I’ve been purely delighted to see a Starbucks, even though I rarely visit Starbucks. Knowing what you’re in for offers comfort.
But, I want to create and experience the evolution of life through me, so trying to replicate comfortable circumstances seems at cross purpose with my larger goal. Learning how to be open to a new intepretation of literally anything, this might provide a comfort with not knowing. Not knowing was an unfortunate condition to be remedied by the person I knew myself as prior to my illness. Not knowing has slowly and continuously become a mark of possibility, the idea I’m moving into new territory, something welcome and full of potential (instead of a mark of insufficiency – quite the trade-up).
Now I have the opportunity to take this learning (ironically about not knowing) and apply it to everything. Or better still, stop applying identifiers (that I expect to last) onto anything. Receiving life as dynamic (not just a rearrangement of yesterday) requires openness. Openness to the new. Even the new in what we think we already know.
I spent most of my life naming things, coming to understand things, putting bits of information into my memory to apply again and again at later times. Trying to know more, be more knowledgable, less surprised. I’ve never been much for material goods, but my ‘acquire, acquire, acquire” addiction was for knowledge. Knowledge that maybe was closing me off even whilst providing comfort.
The Tao Te Ching says (paraphrasing): The path of knowledge is adding something every day. The path of wisdom is releasing something every day. Thank heavens we can shift paths.

Rejection

Today, I am applying my bodyfulness principles to the feeling of rejection in my body. I’ve actually been rejected quite a bit in the last month or so, looking to re-enter the workforce, but today I got rejected by one that really appealed to me. Something I could see myself doing joyfully, for others, in contribution. So the rejection stung in a new way.

Rejection feels tender in my body.  I don’t know how to describe it but to say it feels like the high end of the sensational scale… not deep and grounded, although maybe as i sit with it, it may distill there. To be willing to sit with this, to bring it in and not avoid it (because I am seeing very much how distracting myself would be the perfect and obvious choice in this situation) is new for me.

Over the last month, getting into ‘work mode’ had me sitting to do a bodyfulness practice, and then getting up and throwing myself into an old mindset: the mindset of ‘the work world.’ Not only has that not been successful, it had an energetic signature of frustration and fear and ‘getting over’ that fear and ‘pressing on’ and ‘numbers game’ and general malcontent. Figuring out in the last week or so that I truly need to bring bodyfulness in hasn’t added to my success, but it certainly has me dealing with the myriad emotions more productively. It reorients my dedication to being an agent of peace even in the nooks and crannies. Even when panic is the logical response. Or disappointment. or shame. Letting those emotions show up and be held with openness, curiosity and gentleness.

I know that this is all normal, and that even though it’s obviously time for me to reengage with the work world, this is low-stakes rejection. It’s not like I’ve waited for a kidney and my body doesn’t accept the one I get. That’s some high-stakes rejection. This rejection is ego and comforts and, honestly, other people deciding from a piece of paper that I am not the right fit for them. They really get to do that, and it’s really not an assessment of my worth in the world. How many truly wonderful men did I date before I married my husband? Quite a few, actually (I was very lucky in that regard for the most part), and the fact that I didn’t marry any of them did not make any of them lesser beings (or vice versa). Waiting for the right and obvious fit makes all the sense in the world. I don’t begrudge the employers my rejection, I really don’t. But, that still doesn’t make it easy.

Ironically, my daughter got a job and a backup job today. She interviewed at 2 places and got a second interview for the second. When her first choice called and offered her the job, she pondered how awkward it would be to tell the second interview people later in the day. I told her, “half of the world’s problems come from people trying to avoid 90 seconds of discomfort. Go in, thank them, tell them the truth. 90 seconds later, it will be over.” Except that as she walked away, the interviewer said, “if it doesn’t work out, or next time you’re looking for a job, call me. The fact that you came in and let me know showed me youre the kind of person we want working here.”

With all of the rejection and the awkward and uncomfortable feelings I have, and am committed to processing openly and honestly and as fully as I can muster, I know that life has all kinds of challenges and celebrations, sometimes overlapping, and our openheartedness is what allows us to experience it fully and offer ourselves to life, waves and all.

To our success!

Broad Applicability

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…

 

More than meets the eye

During the Bodyfulness calls, we’re focusing our attention on the feeling state of the body, but there is also a context I’m setting – a context of connection, of wholeness, of the de facto truths about our bodies – all of the harmony that is going on between systems to keep us alive, the energetic field of the earth radiating out and through us, our complete interconnectedness with all of nature and all of life as evidenced by our unrelenting exchange of molecules. These are all things that are undeniable but that we, or at least I, typically forget when my mind is assessing what is right and what is wrong with the world.

The last few days, as I’ve struggled mentally and emotionally due to changing circumstances (which I welcome, as uncomfortable as they are, because I want to exchange the known for what’s possible), I’ve neglected to remind myself of some of these truths. Checking in with my body is helpful every time, even when i pop back to my mental discomfort/confusion. But reminding myself of the truths of nature which I started focusing on today, relieves my feelings of isolation. It reminds me that whatever I am going through is part of a much bigger process *that I deeply want to be a part of* and I can rest a little that this ever-evolving life knows what it’s doing.

I can’t decide if that’s spiritual or simply practical. Believing in life seems sortof self-evident. Aligning to nature as it is unfolding seems to make sense being that it has done such a bang up job these last several billion years. I was raised Catholic and truly worship Christ and accept him as my savior, and I also accept Mary and Buddha and Kwan Yin and Ramakrishna and Divine Mother. We have all of these wayshowers and at the end of the day, I feel the message is about Life and choice and truth and trust.

Anyhow

Sometimes things are difficult, and I believe I am moving through this as best I can through staying connected to my feeling state and employing the ice/water/vapor relaxation. And it’s been so helpful. But add in the context about life, about the truths going on in our bodies and our interconnectedness to the whole world with each breath, and the helpfulness and rest expands at an order of magnitude from just me noticing my body. Both seem to be far more powerful than either, although each has a lot of connectivity and potential.

I am doing my best that when my exhalation leaves my body (and makes its way to yours, and to my dear trees outside) that it carries with it acknowledgement that we are all one playing out in infinite expressions, and that I love and support you and yours, and thank you for your contribution to my inhale.

So, thanks.

not a panacea

So I spent the day yesterday in and out of checking in with my physical body and still I struggled. Contemplating that as I went to bed, I realized I didn’t exercise yesterday (well known as the best relief for depression) nor did i eat well. Great reminder that while bodyfulness is remarkably helpful, it is, as the breakfast cereals claim to be, part of a balanced diet. Meaning, you need other constituent parts. I neglected those.

Having that knowledge as I went to sleep, it was much easier today to get up and care for the basics – exercise, meditation, good nutrition and of course bodyful practices – as every bit as important as any other activities I do to try to a) get a job and b) be of service to others. Tending to one’s mental and physical health is a foundational step, not an optional step. As helpful as body awareness is, it is only a part.. How quickly I can forget.

I love the quote “fear is excitement without the breath” and as I tend to all of the parts of my life with a little more care (and not avoiding it due to feeling funky), I can begin to access the excitement aspect of a new chapter. that’s nice to feel. Still uncertainty, just from a different perspective. It’s certainly an improvement.