Archive for January, 2014

Things that Matter Most

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Things that Matter Most: My family

“…an admittedly eccentric compilation for which I offer neither apology or justification.  It pretends to no completeness, and will undoubtedly stir in the reader many other ideas, notions, prejudices, and predilections that could also have been included.  Such further thoughts, additions, and objections will thereby prove much the richer as readers are summoned to consider what matters most for them.”

James Hollis,  What Matters Most:  Living a Considered Life

These are the things I wished I learned instead of algebra.  Things I wished my parents told me but I wouldn’t have listened if they did.  Things I know I can’t teach my kids but I will try anyway.  These are the things that matter most.  This is MY list.  I do not assume that what matters most to me matters most to you.  But I have a feeling that we are not all that different from each other.  I know this list is not complete.  This is “Part One” of many.  Take what you want from it, leave the rest.  Love you!

Things that Matter Most: My Band

You are one of a kind, an original.  Out of the 7 billion people on this planet, no one has your talents, your abilities, your body or your soul.

Live a life worth living, a life full of possibilities, a life that matters.  No regrets!

Take care of your body.  “Your body is a metaphor of your story.” Depak Chopra.  Write a good story.  Or, if you are like me, you may need to revise it a few times before you get it right.  That’s OK too.  Eat whole foods, exercise daily, go outside, and breathe deep the fresh air and sunshine.

Things that Matter Most: My favorite walking spot

Follow your soul.

Keep learning, reading, travelling and saying “yes” to the world.  There are teachers everywhere and learning moments in every experience, good and bad.  Embrace them both.

Think outside of the box.  Or, get rid of the box altogether.  There are thousands of things you can do with one paperclip if you set your brain free brain and turn off your inner editor.   There are thousands of things you can do without a paperclip as well.  Be creative.  Keep busy.  “Boredom is the pathology of the depressed, or the unimaginative.”  James Hollis

Do not spend more than you earn.   This is such a simple concept but one of the hardest things for me to live by.

Don’t listen to that annoying little voice in your head.  It’s just an annoying little voice.  Instead, go deeper.  Listen to the voice that knows; the voice with power, the one true voice.  It will not lead you astray.  It knows what is best for you, even if you don’t.  And, the more you pay attention to it, the easier it gets.

When that voice (not the annoying little one) is telling you to do something and you are scared to death to do it, do it anyway.  Fear is just fear.  That’s all.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Don’t let it keep you from your dreams.  When I took my kids out of school to homeschool, I had panic attacks.  I was so afraid I would mess up my kid’s lives forever.  That was fear doing the thinking.  I didn’t mess them up.  In fact, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Take risks.  Make mistakes.  Put yourself out on a limb.  Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.  Don’t be afraid to be wrong.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  You will miss out on a full and meaningful life if you play it safe.  Don’t miss out!

Learn to live with the anxiety that comes with not missing out.  Get good at feeling uncomfortable.  Discomfort is normal.  Feel the pain.  Embrace the suffering.  Do not anesthetize with food, alcohol, drugs, work, sex or another person.  Do not fall for distractions, fantasies and quick fixes.  “A life lived only in search for highs will prove in the end to be a transient superficial life.” **

Accept that we truly know nothing.  Accept the fact that everything on this list could change next year.  Accept that you will never know all the answers.  The one thing that is for sure is that nothing is for sure.  Embrace this ambiguity.  It is a sign of being a grown-up.

Grow up!

Things the Matter Most: Riley

Things that Matter Most: Casey

Things that Matter Most: Maggie

Be open!  Open your heart.  Open your arms.  Open!  Unlock the mysteries within.  Break down your walls.  If you have to, get that sledgehammer out…

And love…love with all your heart.  Love like Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha combined.  Love until it hurts.  And it will hurt.

And when it hurts, go ahead and cry. “…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” ― Lemony SnicketThe Bad Beginning

Things that Matter Most: My girls Weekend

Be the compassion you want to see in this world.  Feel other’s suffering.  Be empathetic.  Do not judge.

Loneliness is a human condition. Solitude is the cure.

There is no magical other.  I repeat, there is no magical other.  Do not expect someone to take care of you, validate you, rescue you or complete you.  Only you can complete you!

Don’t take anything personally.  Toltec wisdom says, “Nothing others do is because of you.”  Nothing!

Live and let live.

Let go and forgive.  Forgive others and most of all forgive yourself.  Anger and resentment is self destructive.  You are the one that suffers. Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

You cannot control another human being.  And, no one can control you.  You are the boss of you.  You do not need permission.  Take personal responsibility for yourself.  No one can protect you from necessary choices.  The choices are yours alone.  You own them.  Take a stand.  Be empowered.  Have a say in your own life.  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”   The Serenity Prayer

Live your own life, not someone else’s.  Don’t find yourself behind a desk when you want to be behind a drum kit.  The Hindu scriptures tell us, “It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s.”

More Toltec wisdom:  live with integrity.  Be impeccable with your word.  Don’t assume anything and always, always do your best.

Do not assume that if you are a good person and you live a good life that life will be good to you.  The Universe does not work that way.

Life is not fair.  Get over it.

When life is not happening the way you want, when it is moving slowly or not moving at all; be patient.  Allow things to happen without forcing an outcome.

Things that Matter Most: My boys girlfriends

Happiness is inside of you.  It is not out there.

Happiness is not the measurement of one’s life.  It is a state of being.  Elusive, like trying to catch a butterfly, it bounces on the air here and there, occasionally landing on a random flower or you, then flitters away bouncing off into the air again, usually just out of your reach.  Be thankful when it lands.  And when it flies away, know that it will land again.

Be grateful.

It’s about the journey.

Never ever give up.  As Odysseus reminds us in his hero’s voyage, “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship, and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”

Swim, my loves, swim.

Things that Matter Most: You!

And remember always that:

“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”  James Hollis

So tell me, what is on your list?

Living on the Edge

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Say “yes” to life — and see how life  suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”…― Eckhart Tolle

 “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria RilkeLetters to a Young Poet

I want to thank you all for the support and good vibes you have been sending me since my last blog, Open Kimono.  I feel the love.  And, I feel you.  After posting that infamous blog, many of you have come to me to express your desire to change things up, ditch the status quo and be your true authentic selves.  In fact, one very special friend wrote to me and bravely shared, “I need to take a sledgehammer to my life right now but can’t seem to get beyond the fear and need for security.  It is amazing how much one can accept the status quo even with desire for more.”

I so get this.  I have a feeling that many of you get this too.

Taking a sledgehammer to all that I know to be true has definitely changed things.  My life hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier but it is larger, which is a good thing.  Why?  Because, I am following something more than security and status quo. I am following that deep down in your core feeling, beyond flesh, beyond bone, beyond blood and even beyond heart that summons you day and night to do something more!

When I speak of this deep internal feeling, I am not referring to gut or instincts, which are beautiful and valid in and of themselves.  No, I am speaking of something deeper, bigger, numinous, and transcendent.  I am speaking of our soul.  Our soul knows.  It knows what it knows and it wants what it wants – a transcendent meaning that often has little to do with our narrow frame of conscious understanding.*  It speaks to us, guiding us and even summoning us.  It wakes us in the wee hours and haunts us in the light of day.  We can ignore it, but it will not ignore us.  We can try to distract ourselves, and resist its calling, but what we resist will persist.  There is no escape.

The soul is at the heart of all psychology although the word soul has been replaced by psyche.  In fact, the Greek word for soul is psyche.  Without getting too Carl Jung on you, the “self” is in service to our soul.  And to be our true “self,” we must answer to the soul’s summons; a summons toward a larger life, a life of our own design both meaningful and whole.  And, it will summon us, rain or shine, whether we like it or not.  It will beckon until we rise to the occasion.  It will call upon us for an answer.  And if we do not answer the summons, it will answer for us.  And, I promise, we will not like its’ answer.

So why do we not answer?  Why do we ignore its summons?  We ignore its summons because we are afraid of what it is asking of us.  We are afraid of what we are asking of ourselves.

My friend is being summoned and she knows it.  Her admittance is not only honest and brave, it is a step towards her soul’s calling.  And I know she will answer.  But, the ego keeps many of us from answering because it desires comfort above all else.  And when we live from ego instead of soul, we stay small.  We do not step into largeness.  Fear wins, we become disheartened and depressed, and go through the day like zombies, yearning for more.  This discord will eventually manifest itself in our bodies.  According to a recent study in The New York Times, one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s are taking anti-depressants.  This is preposterous especially compared to the fact that only one in ten of the general population is taking antidepressants.

Okay, you gorgeous fabulous mid-life women out there.  I am not writing this blog to depress you even more.  I am hoping to shine some light on things and help inspire change, largeness.  I know that we are at a funky stage in our lives.  It is a time of transition and it is not easy.  A friend of mine expressed this stage in a woman’s life beautifully in a recent E-mail she sent me.  She wrote, “It is strange to be in that next phase of marriage where the home-making and baby rearing, with all their clear guidelines is nearing an end and that unknown, instruction less expanse opens up.”

Instruction less expanse can be pretty fucking scary.  Mix that with all the other things we may have to face at mid-life:  overworked distant husband, sick or elderly parents, teenagers, empty-nest syndrome, college bills, over demanding career, under demanding career, drastic drops in estrogen levels, wild black hairs growing out of our chin, easily accessible chocolate, wine and 50 Shades of Gray that keep us fat, drunk and fantasizing.  And, to be fair, let’s not hog all the depression.  I know men at mid-life are facing some of their own difficulties as well.  I have a feeling they are depressed just as often as women but choose not to go to the doctor for help.  Instead they “deal with it like a man.”

So, how do we escape the tyranny of our ego?  How do we break away from the ravages of depression?

We must say “yes” to the things that scare the shit out of us!  A new career?  Yes!  Write that book?  Yes!  Go back to school?  Yes!  Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro? Yes!  Move to Kathmandu?  Yes!  Leave a marriage?  Yes!   I just committed to hiking the Grand Canyon with my brothers in May. I am terrified. They are younger than me, fit and have legs like camels.  But, I’m going to do it.  Because we must opt for racing heart, sweaty palms, breathing in a paper bag choices that make you feel like you just might die right there and then.  It is the only way to a larger life.  Saying “no” or choosing not to answer will only get you more of what you already have.  Please understand that the anxiety you feel when saying “yes” to your soul means you are moving forward; depression, backwards.  As James Hollis, Jungian psychologist and my personal superhero reminds us, “…choose anxiety and ambiguity, for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive.  Anxiety is an elixir, and depression a sedative. The former keeps us on the edge of our life, and the latter in the sleep of childhood.”

I choose to live on the edge.

I have an extra stash of paper bags in the kitchen.  My kids think they are for their lunches.  Someday, not only do I hope they will have their own stash of paper bags, I hope The New York Times will be reporting that one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s have ditched antidepressants in favor of paper bags.

*James Hollis