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Thought Changer looks at everyday life metaphors. We explore new ways to think about what we do, improve our mindset and live more consciously. And, if something moves you, please share! Thank you and enjoy this Thought Changer.
It was the umpteenth time I’d driven to Los Angeles International Airport in the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in LA. And, in all those times I’d never taken the route Google Maps took me recently. It was a winding path that led me down streets and through sections of the city that were entirely new to me.
Previously I’d stuck to habitual routes, commonly known directions or the straight shot, even when traffic was abominable.
I laughed at how often I second-guessed the navigation system, overriding the guidance, thinking I knew better, so that whatever GPS I was following had to constantly recalibrate.
So, this time I decided to go with it, even as I retorted to Google: “Really? Are you sure about that?” To which she said, “In 1000 feet, turn left on Crenshaw.” “Okay, let’s see,” I said, still thinking I was going to outsmart her.
She guided me down small streets then back onto previously trusted thoroughfares only to within moments take me off the beaten path again. At one point she said, “Due to congestion ahead, I have another route that will save you four minutes? Interested?” (Really she did). In the past I would have ignored the suggestion and kept on my way, because I knew better or didn’t trust that she really knew what she was talking about. But, this time I was intrigued. So I said okay. Sure enough, I got there earlier and felt gratified that I’d learned something new that day.
I also noticed another important thing. I was completely engaged in the journey. The new way I was being shown really woke me up. Rather than operating by rote or by habit I was fully present with the guidance. Hmm.
It got me thinking about how often we ignore guidance, inner or otherwise. Even after we’ve asked for help or guidance or direction, we ignore or second-guess the answers that come. We brush off that little inkling, the soft whisper of a suggestion because we’ve never done it that way before, or because one of any number of fears creep up and tell us it will be wrong or not good enough or too hard. Or it’s the old, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Well, sometimes even if it ain’t broke there could be another, better way, a way that will flow if we only give it a chance.
What I can say about listening and following the guidance I was given (and asked for), is it was easy, smooth, interesting and surprising calm.
A few days later, to continue the experiment, I completely surrendered again to the GPS guidance for another jaunt across town. It was all I could do not to go the familiar way. Truth was, I wanted help on the best way to get there during morning rush hour for an early morning meeting. So I asked for guidance. Twice, when I knew the guided route would lead to a busy intersection without a light, I stayed on the “proven” path. Actually spoke out loud, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Only to be then stopped in a ridiculous traffic jam. Okay, okay, I said. I’ll try it your way. And, even though there wasn’t a light where she had me turn left, it was much faster and got me smoothly though the area.
Okay, lessons learned. The same lessons apply when it comes to listening to your own guidance, whether it’s someone else’s advice or your inner voice.
Ask for help and let go of preconceived notions. Sometimes there are experts and people with experience who know better.
Listen to your own inner voice or higher power. So often it’s the inner GPS guide that we ignore, that powerful voice of wisdom and inner truth.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear the right message coming through because of all of the chatter coming at you, all the time. I had a conversation with a wise friend awhile back when I was feeling particularly stressed with all I had in front of me. I was amped up and shut down. She said, “I think you’re getting too much input. Taking in too much information.” She was so right. I was taking in so much information from so many directions that I couldn’t hear my own guidance to make my right choices.
At the end of the day that’s the most important voice and guide you’ll hear.
The answer for me after that conversation was to quiet the chatter, all of it, for a while. I took a break from input, got back to meditating and journaling and took a good long breath. Then, I could hear the whispers of truth that guided me.
So, perhaps give your GPS system a break and listen. You just might wake up and forge a new path.
I recently reconnected with an old friend with whom I'd been out of touch for several years. She's going through a challenging transition which includes selling her home, something she doesn't want to do, but has to. Interestingly, I went through a similar transition at about the same time we'd last spoken. So, the timing of our phone reconnect all of sudden seemed rather divinely directed. I shared something with her that someone said to me during that time that shifted everything for me. And, when I said the words, she had a very similar reaction.
It got me thinking about how much words, when you hear them at the right time, can shift mindset in an instant.
From a place of boy-have-I-been-there, I shared my experience with her. I was laid off in 2008 and was out of steady work for over two years. I was in a daily struggle to try and keep my house. During that time, my friend and financial advisor, Lisa Gould, was a lifeline of truth. We often discussed various alternatives and on this particular phone call it was a brass tacks breakdown of what it would take for me to, in fact, hang on to the house. And, it literally felt like hanging on for dear life. I loved that house and my identity was ingrained with being its owner, making every little inch of it mine and sharing it with others. It gave my life a meaning that came from years of creating the meaning, by habit, by stories about the American Dream and that home ownership was an integral part of being a successful adult. I felt like a failure if I couldn't keep my home.
When I discussed all of this with Lisa, during the brass tacks chat, she said, "Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?"
Wait, what? Say that again, I said.
"Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?"
I still remember where I was sitting when I heard those words. Literally everything shifted in my body, my face felt flush and I felt alive, like I had choices. And, what shifted was my mindset.
And, the reason it made such an impact in that moment, is that I was ready to hear it, to receive and to incorporate it. That's when mindset shift happens. You hear or read something just at the moment when you're ready. It wasn't until she said it that I saw that's exactly what I'd been doing: trying like crazy to protect myself from failure.
Protecting yourself from failure is looking over your shoulder, stopping the bleeding with a bandaid that doesn't hold, being in a constant state of shame for fear of what others might think and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's painful and a self-generating cycle of doom. You feel like a loser.
Because here's the thing, since what you focus on expands (another phrase that's a true mindset shifter), protecting yourself from failure focuses your attention on the impending failure.
Setting yourself up for success is looking forward, cutting your losses and moving on so they're not shackles holding you down. It's knowing that your circumstances don't define you, it's what you do with and about the circumstances, that do. Setting yourself up for success becomes all about intention. When you focus on your intentions for success, then success expands.
Gary Zukav in The Seat of Soul said, "You create your reality with your intentions." So, if your intention is to protect from failing, then you'll be in that state. And, if your intention is to continually be serving your highest good with your choices which lead to success, then you'll be living in that state.
Well, that changed everything for me at that time. Literally in that moment, my home became a house, brick and mortar. It removed the emotion which is what was keeping me so attached. The emotion is what linked to the shame and feeling of failure. In a success mindset, it became a transaction that freed me to rebuild. Was it hard? You bet. Short selling my house was a huge financial hit. But, I recognize it as a moment in my life, a circumstance I went through. Once it was done it cut the chains that held me back, in so many ways that went beyond selling the house. Because when your mindset is changed it effects everything.
I remind myself often of Lisa's words. And, when I find myself in a conversation like I had with my old friend, I share them as well. With life's ebbs and flows, this phrase has ongoing benefits in my life. It's one of my mantras now.
Whenever I see Lisa I tell her how profound it was and that it needs to be the subtitle of her book!
What words or phrases have shifted your mindset? Make them a mantra and share them with others. It's the best way to not only expand your own life, but expand and raise the collective consciousness as well.
The temp read 101 degrees as I pulled into Ralph’s parking lot. It was a challenge as usual to find a parking spot which was further exasperated by the fact that I was hot and didn’t want to walk a mile to the door. So, again as usual, I trekked up and down the rows of parked cars watching for brake lights indicating someone was pulling out.
I turned down the last row, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a ramp. I have no idea why I had never noticed this any of the numerous times I’d been to this grocery store, but today it felt it had been put there just for me. It led to underground parking and as I drove down the ramp it was like finding a secret passage way. I found a spot right by the door so I whipped my Mini Cooper S into place.
I grabbed a cart and rode up the elevator next to a man with a beard and a twinkle in his eye that made me think of Merlin the magician, or a young Professor Dumbledore. I said, “This is the first time I’ve parked down here. It’s like a whole new world.” Without skipping a beat, he said, “a whole new world that’s a whole lot cooler.” Well said, Professor.
It got me thinking about what can happen when you look beyond what you already know, or think you know.
How often do you find yourself thinking something won't work because the thing you tried, failed to make it happen? Or a solution to a problem feels less than satisfactory, but it was the general consensus so it's what you go with? Or you've fallen into a habit or routine that used to work for you but it's lost it's power or value, however you keep doing it because it's what you've always done? Or you just can't figure it out so you quit? Or you can't find something, so you give up?
We've all done it. No judgment here. Heck I didn't even know there was underground parking at a shopping center I've been going to every week for almost two years!
But, what I experienced made me realize - or remember- that there's always another way. There's always something beyond what we already know. There's nearly always another way into it.
Do this one thing and it will change the way you live your life. And, it's simpler than you might think.
photo by Isabela Kronemberger
By Cindy Yantis
I was going to be seeing some people I hadn’t seen in awhile, a couple of them with whom I shared some history. Enough history that I had some angst about seeing them. Enough so that I started rehearsing dialog in my head days before, playing out various scenarios – some good, some not so good – and rummaging in my closet to decide what to wear so that I looked more at ease than I felt.
Ever been there? Sometimes it can take over and become another character in the room, the character that plays out the scenarios which stops you from being present with what’s really happening in the moment. Stops you from being you.
At a recent women’s retreat I was part of fabulous discussion where we tapped into a notion that flipped a switch for all of us. The idea of being Available. Wha??? Certainly, it's a word we're all familiar with, but this way of thinking about it was new and enthralling.
To get to that aha moment, we acknowledged where in our lives we were not there, where things felt stuck or stagnant or scary. Where we stopped ourselves from moving forward or from having a tough discussion or from asking for what we want/need. Where we had showed up halfway for fear of the not knowing, or where we edited ourselves down to being a fraction of who we are because of wanting to avoid conflict. Where we were trying to control the situation so much that we put others off and eventually lost control in a bigger way.
So we asked, what’s the shift that will change who we are in those circumstances? It’s more than being authentic, although that’s vital too. It’s more than being present. It’s more than being open.
It’s being actively present and open, which we determined meant being Available.
Being Available means being actively present and open. That unlocked the gateway. Or rather, blasted it wide open!
Then, we gave it voice, which birthed a mantra that carries you boldly into any situation. It literally calms and revs your energy at the time. It centers you, gives you confidence and allows your heart to lead the way. And, being mindfully available is a starter, not a stopper. And, it’s simple.
Follow “I’m available” with whatever you’re about to do, or what you're desiring to make happen.
I’m available for this meeting.
I’m available for this discussion.
I’m available for my next, better job. I’m available for this interview
I’m available for, to and in this relationship.
I’m available for this phone call.
I’m available for this date.
I’m available for my body to be healthy.
I’m available for and to my best life.
Try it! I’m available…
It makes it even more powerful when you incorporate it into conversation with people. "I'm available to and for creating the best solution for all of us." Taking ownership of your availability is so incredibly empowering.
Being in a state and mindset of availability allows you to really show up. It can be a baby step toward fulfilling a big goal, or toward conquering a fear. Just be available for the baby step, and just the baby step. Then, the next step and the next. And, when the big opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and AVAILABLE!
Being available - and stating that you're available - helps to release expectations and false foregone conclusions.
Being available means being undefended, knowing there's nothing you have to defend. Being defensive or defended closes off your availability. You're just available and that's enough.
Consistently being available makes what seemed impossible much more possible. It removes the chains that have held you back from all that is possible for you.
Thus begins a new way of thinking, of showing up for ourselves and to the world. I do it all the time now and guess what? I'm available!
I've been wondering what our beautiful bald eagle has been thinking lately. Does she worry about her home? Is she afraid for her loved ones? Does she know her species is endangered? Has she had to reframe her sense of freedom? It's been awhile since I've seen an eagle in person, but I recall how easily she took flight and soared, completely in charge of her own air. I imagined how she went about the business of being an eagle, creating the best world she knew how, protecting herself and her species, despite the downturn that continues to take place in her universe.
I can relate. It got me thinking, again, about our own micro-freedoms, and by this I'm taking about freedom of thought, freedom of body and freedom of spirit. To my way of thinking, nurturing these freedoms is the starting point, like putting on your own oxygen mask.
I'm fascinated about this topic and know that these micro-freedoms lead to an opening, an allowing and a freer way of being.
To honor our micro-freedoms I feel inclined to share three pertinent posts to inspire you.
8 Ways to Re-Create Your American Dream - George Carlin said, "It's called the American Dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it." Funny irony, for which Mr. Carlin was the master. But, my mindset has changed around the whole concept of this shared national ideal. Or I should say former shared ideal. Read more for 8 suggestions or areas to free yourself from the old to welcome your new.
What is Your Personal Sense of Independence? - There’s much that we take for granted, living where we live in these great and complicated United States. The freedom to do so certainly started with our forward-thinking founding fathers. They set forth a whole new way of being, and living, with independence.
A true feeling of independence starts with an energy, a force that fuels and permeates a sagacity of human spirit, a spirit that manifests as personal power, something that is at times forgotten or lost in the chaos of the daily grind. To my way of thinking, this personal sovereignty is a combination of both mindset and sense, a combo that reminds us of whom we are meant to be. Let us begin with some core senses or deeper places of wisdom. Read more about 7 senses that form a healthy state of personal independence.
And, one more about a key ingredient to living in a free mind, body and spirit:
Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word - I’ve come to the conclusion that letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life, proven by the fact that there are literally thousands of books (328,000 in Amazon alone), articles, seminars and schools of thought on the subject of letting go, available to us hangers-on who at times find it nearly impossible to let go. To my way of thinking, letting go is the greatest way we can honor ourselves, and the only way to evolve into the best version of ourselves. Letting go means taking back control over our emotions, thoughts and actions. Because the truth is, the hanging on, the very root of any attachment, is formed in the mind, so the letting go must take place there as well. So, here are some suggestions for changing our thoughts and creating room for a new way of thinking.
"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains. And we never even know we have the key." ~ from the Eagles
Oh, yes we do have liberty, with the keys to the freedom of our minds, bodies and spirits, and no one can take them away from us.
And, here are 8 steps to start leveling up in your life.
By Cindy Yantis
"Level up!" This was the attention grabber in a recent email I received.
What is actually said was, "Level up, Libra!" It began the week's horoscope full of "time for a mid-year reboot," and "the new moon will bring a boost to your professional life." Okay, I'm in!
I love the phrase "level up." Not only is it motivating, but it got me thinking about what that might look like in all areas of life.
What does it mean to level up?
Simply put, it means to improve your current station in a way that feels like a powerful shift. And, it starts with a change in thought, a shift in mindset, followed by brave action. And, the fuel that drives all of it is Passion.
No sooner had I begun pondering this question when an another email popped into my inbox with the subject line, "Level up the passion in your life." Well, now I'm really paying attention. The email was about a yoga retreat and this Nelson Mandela quote was front and center.
“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
So, with passion powering us, here are some thoughts about leveling up.
Start with the questions - Take time with your journal. In these areas of your life, where do want to step, or leap, to the next level?
Career/Purpose - stretch your wildest dreams
Health/Wellbeing - get real with where you are and where you want to be
Relationships - current as well as future-desired
Spiritual - where you desire to be more mindful and conscious in connection to your Source & Self
Life Enrichment - skills you want to learn, places you want to travel or live
Define the big step - ask yourself what feels like a big step. I took 10 minutes and made a list of 25 actions that feel like big steps for me, in all areas of my life. What is for you? Is it making that phone call you know could change things for you? Or booking a venue for a new program you want to launch? Or asking someone out? Or booking the dream vacation? Or having a difficult conversation? Or going back to school? Or quitting a job that doesn't fulfill you? Or hiring a trainer? Go to the place that scares you. Start your big step from that place.
Say YES to the things that feel like a level up - and say NO to those that don't. Some aid you and some stop you. This is where you trust your gut and intuition. When you slow down to listen to the voice of your body, you'll know which is which.
Acknowledge the Yeah-Buts - we all have them. These are the fears, which feel real but mostly are imagined. The yeah-buts are simply expectations of outcome that we've made up to protect ourselves from those fears: I'm not good enough, they won't like me, I don't have enough time, I'm too old, it's too expensive, I'm too fat, I'm too young, I don't have enough experience, I don't like to fail. Leveling up is recognizing the yeah-but and then doing it anyway. That's brave. So, meet the yeah-but with -
Oh yeah? - it's the self-pep talk to squash the yeah-but. Oh yeah? Here's what I know I am good at. Oh yeah? My people, my divine right matches will love what I have to offer. Oh yeah? I have the time because I make the time. Oh yeah? I'm not old I'm seasoned! I'm not old, I'm wise. Oh yeah? I'm not too young, I'm smart and eager and ready to go. Oh yeah? Here's what experience I do have. Putting the focus on where you rock paves the way to your next level(s).
Inhale the future, exhale the past - don't stay stuck in old stories and patterns that have held you back in the past. It didn't work then and it certainly won't work in moving you up.
Visualize you - living at your up level. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? How's the air up there? See in your mind's eye a day in the life of you, living your big life.
Give someone else a lift up too - offering others a hand up as you level up pays dividends exponentially. It's just good karma.
And, as with all things, do it from and with passion.
“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi
Passion, joy and love. After all, isn't that what life is all about anyway?
It often comes when you're not expecting it. At least it did for me.
Photo credit: Yoann Boyer
It was the middle of the night. The year was 2002. I was tossing and turning, thrashing in and out of the sheets because I alternated between sweating and freezing. No, I wasn’t ill. No, I wasn’t having a hot flash. But, my breath was hot as I sighed, the weight of the world on each exhale.
Dark Night of the Soul
I’ve come to understand I was having what could be known as a “dark night of the soul.”
The origin of this phrase goes back to a 16th century poem by Spanish Poet St. John of the Cross, where the poem narrates "the journey of the soul to mystical union with God." Eckhart Tolle defines it today as, “…a collapse of a perceived meaning in life, an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaningless…what really has collapsed is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.”
This was exactly what was happening to me. My mind was engaged in a war of purpose, while I pleaded, cried, even screamed in prayer.
Ever had one of those, a dark night of the soul? It can be triggered by any number of things – anything that can rock your current existence, from a personal tragedy or loss, to a deep feeling of loss of direction or purpose.
But, as Eckhart said, the dark night of the soul “awakens you into something deeper… A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life. It’s a kind of re-birth.” A spiritual awakening.
Well, I’ve experienced a few nights (and days) like this as I’ve evolved and grown in my human experience and as my consciousness has expanded. And, they can be gut and heart wrenching to go through. But, there are two that stand out as re-birth moments in my purpose – in 2002 and very recently – and what’s so mysterious and awesome is that they’re connected.
But back in 2002, it had been four years since I’d uprooted my life in Michigan to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts, acting particularly at the time. I’d had a few trickles of success: some theatre roles, a co-star spot on NYPD BLUE, and several national commercials (McDonald’s paid for the redecoration of my West Hollywood condo). And, I had started writing, mostly so I could write roles for myself in which I could act. I wrote and starred in a tiny short film that I used to help me get an agent. I wrote a piece for an industry workshop. And, I wrote my first script, which placed in a prestigious screenwriting competition and helped me get my first literary manager.
But, so much of it felt like an uphill climb. I felt like I had a gift, but I felt split. I enjoyed the making of the art, but the business was daunting. And, if I’m being honest, which at this point that’s all I can be, I wasn’t sure I wanted the acting thing badly enough to do what I knew it was going to take, that being a guerrilla approach to self-promotion. Whenever I did it, it didn’t feel authentic. And, I certainly didn’t enjoy it. And, truthfully, I didn’t think I was a good enough actor to break through the fray of other actors who really, really, really wanted it. The writing was still fairly new, although I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was ten. And, I didn’t know what to do with it, really. Self-promotion was going to be involved with that too.
So anyway. That night. With the soul. Some of these unvoiced and hidden truths were swimming around in my subconscious. Some of them I wasn’t ready to admit because I was determined to find my purpose, and I didn’t give up easily. As a lifelong seeker that was a force that was innate. My body was in pain as I stiffened on top of my mattress; my mouth was dry and I became aware that I was constantly sighing heavily, audibly a whisper of wanting that led to my conversation with God, my Source, my Higher Wisdom.
“God, what am I to do? Why is this so difficult? If it’s my purpose shouldn’t it be easier?”
The silence was beyond deafening, until another sigh of desperation exploded from me. “Why did you give me these gifts?” More silence. My cat, Callie, who had previously become very bored with my bed-top one-woman show of angst, came slinking back into the room. Like she wanted to hear the answer to this as well.
“Please help me. What am I supposed to do?”
And, then it came. An answer I wasn’t expecting, but it was very direct, short and surprisingly sweet. It made me bolt up from bed.
“Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”
What? I can tell you, those were not my words. I didn’t use the word prose. But, that’s what I was told. “Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”
Was that the call of my calling?
That’s when it became the “aha night” when I heard the call of the soul.
My body relaxed as I settled into this new mantra of truth. A mantra that has carried me ever since. So, my focus became writing. I’ve evolved into a pretty good storyteller, screenwriting mostly, my wheelhouse being characters, primarily women, who are in self-discovery, smart, sardonic women with big flaws. Heroines who also have dark nights of the soul. And, there’s movement around a few of them, although it’s Hollywood movement, which can mimic molasses. I’m okay with that though. All in the right timing, with the right people. And, this blog Thought Changer, was birthed from that mantra as it's about changing your life, an idea, an expression, a thought at a time.
Calling fulfilled? Maybe. At times it feels that way.
But, something has recently shifted around it, causing more angst. Oy!
After breaking my wrist and taking the time to reassess priorities, I decided to concentrate on writing a novel that I’ve been researching for awhile.
Also, during this time of rehabilitation I’d engaged with a couple of healers for energy healing sessions. Now, this may sound a little woo-woo for some, but hey this is my world, these are my peeps and it’s how I roll. So, hang with me. I love exploring different healing modalities and they have opened up my life and expanded my mind. Anyway, during the course of the sessions with both of these women, they received strong messages from my angels, spirit guides and loved ones that I’m supposed to do some more deep writing about myself. Both of them said the same thing, on separate occasions: I have a story of my own to tell. And, I said, "Aw thanks. I’ll definitely do that some day." And then I filed it away under the category “maybe someday when I’m interesting.” But these readings happened at a time when there was a lot of quiet in my life, so I heard it on a deeper level. Oh, and they also gave me specific topics and events I’m supposed to write about. Yeah, I know, but that's exactly what happened.
Well, that scared the crap out of me. I think because I knew what that was going to mean. Raw, hard truths that are challenging enough to admit to myself, let alone put out there to the world for others to read. And, my perception is that memoirists have really interesting lives that include huge events - often tragic and dysfunctional family lives - that catapult them into subjects of literary fame. I don't have that. I have a wonderful family that functions pretty well, most of the time.
But, there are some dark and transforming moments, as with any life. So, what did I do? I decided my new novel would be based on some real events in my life. I gave the main character some of my story, writing actual scenes from my life into it and recreating them. That way, I could embellish them and create a much more interesting story than what mine is or would be. That felt like the perfect solution! Much easier to hide behind a fictional character than to reveal anything messy about myself. I don’t show the world my messy. And, I could really write it! Write what you know, right? So, I wrote a few of those chapters and laid out a kickass outline that I was excited about.
Then, I stopped writing. I literally couldn’t write. I researched and made notes. But, I wasn’t writing the novel. I didn't know what to do with her, this character that was sort of me, but wasn't at all me. Procrastination became an appointment in my daily calendar. And. It. Was. Frustrating. Any prolificacy that I’d previously experienced when on a project had left the building.
When the Call Comes Again
So, I created a weekend writing retreat to help me focus. I got a lot done, both on the novel outline and the blog. I was tapping into some deep work. Although something was still in the way, scenes just weren't forming.
As part of the retreat I took part in an herbal tea meditation and breath workshop. The healing breath work was very intense. As the practitioner, Melissa Terese Young, told us, the consistent and deep breath pattern when done for an extended period of time (we did it for close to an hour) over oxygenates your brain and body and puts you into a meditative, and at times alternative, state. A lot came up for me during the session around my novel, my work and more aspirational questions than answers came forth.
That night, in bed, is when the 2nd night of the soul took place. Tossing and turning. I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling a collision of purpose coming. The difference this time is I had some sense of navigation because I’d been here before. So, again I prayed and I asked, “What is stopping me?” “Why have I been so stuck in my writing?” “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” "Please guide me on what's next."
In the silence that followed, a small voice came. “Write meaningful prose that will change YOUR life.” Hmmm. It went on. “Take your story back and tell your own story.” And, the deeper message I got was that the more I dove into my own truths, pains, revelations and transformations, the deeper the connection will be with those who read it, connection to that deep wanting and truth within themselves too.
Now that is a calling that rings really true. And, it petrifies me.
"Every time I picked up a pen, this grinding, unnamed fear overcame me—later identified as fear that my real self would spill out. One can’t mount a stripper pole wearing a metal diving suit. What I needed to write kept simmering up while I wrote down everything but that. In fact, I kept ginning out reasons that writing reality was impossible. I cranked up therapy and drank like a fish.” ― Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir
So, I’m committing to it, to writing those scenes from my own life, whether it’s about the loss of a baby and a marriage, the depths of food addiction, the perils of the hysterically funny and tragic voices in my head as I discovered boys and ran up against mean girls, the shame of pretty, the Miss America Pageant, the path of being a childless woman, the eye-opening metaphors that shifted my perspective and my own spiritual exploration, from Sunday school to shamanic journeys in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. It’s all game and I have no idea what it’s going to look like or what path the story will take.
But, it’s calling. So, I’m answering the call. And guess what? It's pouring out of me, like a waterfall of life.
So, how do you know when your call is calling?
The best way I know is to:
Ask those deep questions - and then get quiet. Really quiet.
Listen intently - to what your inner voice tells you. It may be a soft whisper, or it may be a shout that makes you jump out of bed.
Pay attention - when your entire being feels in accord with that voice, pay close attention.
What is a soul’s purpose? Contemplating that question takes a lifetime, right?
When do I feel like I’m in my purpose? I think it’s when things feel easy. Things are flowing, like a river of motion, smoothly going from one moment to the next.
Like when I put together the agenda for a recent Writing Retreat. I was looking for a theme to drive the agenda, something that would inspire creativity and would release blocks and procrastination which is something I’ve been struggling with, frankly something we all struggle with from time to time.
I ran across an article where the subject interviewed mentioned “circadian rhythm,” which is the body's natural alarm clock governed primarily by our secretion of melatonin (at night) and serotonin (in day). It also has value in gauging the best time for certain activities like meditation and exercise and optimal productivity. The top of my head tingled when I read that. By the way, that’s another way I know I’ve tapped into my soul, the top of my head actually tingles, which I take to be a nod of agreement from my higher self. Some people get chills or their stomach flips. My head tingles. So there you go!
Anyway, I saw the phrase 'circadian rhythm' and immediately did a search on how using our own rhythms help us to find the time of greatest productivity. Something told me it would mean the same thing for greatest creativity time. And, a ton of items showed up on Google. As soon as I pulled up an image of what a typical circadian rhythm 24-hour clock looks like, I knew I was onto something, not only as a theme but also as a way of always staying in flow with my natural rhythm. I mean who doesn’t want to be able to tap into their greatest genius? And if there’s a formula already built into our own bodies, then it’s something worth exploring further. This was an experiment I was excited to try.
So, very quickly, I put together the 2-½ day agenda based on the circadian clock.
Looking back at that small window of time when I created the retreat – about 2-½ hours between 830-11pm – it flowed so easily that I barely remember being a part of it. It’s like something else came in and took over. And, I figured out what it was. My soul took the wheel, grabbed the keyboard away from my procrastinating ass and did its thing, with purpose.
Purpose. What an over used term. Everyone’s looking for his or her purpose.
I was thinking earlier about all of my blog content that I’ve written over the last several years. I’m in the process of re-purposing some of the pieces for other web publications.
Now that’s a interesting concept. Taking something that was created in one original form, and giving it another purpose. Sometimes, it means adjusting, updating or adding to give it new purpose.
That got me thinking more about Purpose. Since it seems to be a lifelong pursuit, seeking or understanding our soul’s purpose, maybe it takes a little of the pressure off (because it’s a question that always needs to be answered and re-answered) if perhaps we instead re-purpose, or tweak, what we’ve been doing all along. I guess that’s one way to think about it.
We recently celebrated my parent’s 80th birthdays by taking them on a memorable trip to Maui. During one of our discussions I asked them what they are thinking about these days. My dad’s response took me a little by surprise. I assumed it would be about finding contentment with the road already travelled and counting the blessings of a life well lived. But, no. He said, “I think about what’s next. What’s my purpose and how can I fulfill it?”
I loved his response because it drove the point home even more for me, that we are here in this lifetime to seek. That’s it. And, those who do seek are always seeking more: more evolvement, more connection, more meaning, more flow.
So, getting back to the question: what’s a soul’s purpose? To my way of thinking a soul’s purpose is to reveal those answers to our human selves, when we’re ready and able to learn them. Then, it’s up to us to take those answers and make the most of them in our time on Earth.
A soul’s purpose is not about making money or being famous or having 10,000,000 followers on Twitter or You Tube or Instagram. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But, that in itself is about one layer deep of shallow. However if it’s done from a place of self-evolving, or by a person who is creating meaning, in both deed and relationships, and living a life driven by love, then it can be a lovely byproduct of a purpose.
I wonder if those who don’t have that sense of awareness find fulfillment in those tangible successes. And, is it sustaining?
I can get caught up in that sometimes. I’m at a quandary sometimes as to why some things are found and followed and go viral and other things aren’t. It gives me a stomachache even writing that. Why the stomachache? What do I have attached to that? My mouth is dry. Hard to admit, but sometimes I feel like a failure because I don’t have that huge following. And, now I stop and think, will I be brave enough to keep this paragraph in here, it I decide to publish this as a post?
But, there’s something in here for me to learn, I think, so I have to keep it in. What is it? Does my soul care about how many followers I have? No. But, sometimes I, the egotist human, do. I really do want to share thoughts that may help someone think about something differently.
So, why do I keep doing it? Maybe I should focus on writing somewhere else that already has a built-in huge following. But, that doesn't feel soul-driven. At all. So perhaps the idea of re-purposing is more ego driven? It doesn't have to be. Is it ego to want to share good thoughts with more people? I don’t think so. I keep asking the questions in order to stay in awareness around it. That usually leads me to the right choice.
Should it feel hard sometimes? Probably. Growth is hard. Expansion hurts sometimes.
So, what’s next in the soul’s journey quest? Here’s the magic sauce.
Keep asking the questions.
Our soul’s wisdom loves questions. Living the questions is what makes a purpose-full life. Deepak Chopra talks about living the questions and allowing the answers to present themselves.
What’s my purpose?
How can I contribute?
What am I to share with the world?
What’s my legacy?
How am I to connect?
What is my life’s meaning?
Keep doing the work.
Keep following the flow.
Recognize when it feels really good. And, do more of what feels really good.
Always ask your Source for help: for me it's God, the Archangels and ancestral spirit guides. Every day, I ask them to guide me in the direction of what serves both my highest good and theirs. Just asking the question has guided me to the awesome place I live and it has guided me to events and people that have changed my life.
That’s the magic sauce, I think, for a purpose-full life. At least one worth tasting.
A day spent at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena was more than I expected it to be. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. I was there recently with my dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, who wanted to go for inspiration. She's currently in the one-woman play "The Belle of Amherst" in which she brilliantly portrays Emily Dickinson. I joined her at the last minute because I had an inexplicable yearning to be outside in that beautiful nature. I felt like a bear reemerging after a long hibernation.
Because of Emily Dickinson’s lifelong fascination with roses, we focused particularly on the massive rose garden enlivened with over 1500 rose varieties and hybrids, examples include the Passion Rose, Jump for Joy Rose, Exquisite Rose and the Marilyn Monroe & John F Kennedy Roses, which with a stroke of garden humor were placed next to each other.
Breathing in the fresh growth and deepness of new that surrounded us and greeted our hungry senses at every turn, I had a new feeling of life within, a rebirth and renewal.
The Power of RE
It got me thinking about the power of the Re words. I’ve reflected about this before and it hit me again at Huntington Gardens how deeply ensconced Re’s are in the development of spring, and therefore in our lives at this time of year. For sure, in my life right now.
The truth is I have been hibernating, more than usual in fact.
When I broke my wrist on Christmas Eve it meant there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, the most crucial being – at least to me – I couldn’t type because I couldn’t pronate my left hand. So, it made writing – my passion and my why – very complicated. Sure, I could “voice type” straight into a document and write longhand (thank god I’m not a lefty). But, instead, I decided to take it as a sign to stop for a while and to surrender to all that my rehabilitation meant on a deeper level.
I slowed way down, took a couple classes, did some reading, plenty of soul-searching and spent a lot of quiet time alone. Staring at the wall. A. Lot. Of. Time.
My rehabilitation and recovery (two delicious Re words) allowed me to hibernate deeply in my own truth. And, the reality of my truth is much simpler than the reality I was living before I broke my wrist.
So, this brings me back to this season of Re. What I love about the Re is that it brings a fresh lens, attitude, appetite and perspective to whatever you’re doing at any given moment. Or more to the point, a refreshed way of being.
Here are 7 RE's that come to mind to reawaken you:
Re-calibrate your spirit by getting back in touch with nature. It can be really simple. Walk barefoot in the grass. Gaze at the sun. Sink your hands into the soil. Bury your face in a cluster of lilacs.
Reaffirm your goals that are most important by getting rid of those that aren’t.
Reclaim your dreams by keeping them alive every day. Talk about them. Write about them. Take action.
Reignite your relationships by devoting time and energy in those that mean the most to you.
Rejuvenate your system. Get 8 hours of sleep. Meditate. Clean up your diet. Replenish your supplements.
Refocus your game plan by clearing out the extraneous projects; and
Remind yourself about what you love & why you do what you do.
Tis the season to Revivify your life. What Re’s can you add to your list?
Emily Dickinson wrote, “We turn not older with the years, but newer every day.”It makes me wonder if Emily was sparked by the Re as well. I like to think so.
If you’re in Southern California this week I highly recommend seeing Ferrell Marshall in her luminous performance as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst. It closes 4/23. Tickets available here.
Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...
Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again.
Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.
To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.
I had no choice but to just stop
What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.
The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!
But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.
Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity.
So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.
As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.
But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!
Going From Multi to Monotasker
Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.
So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with.
And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.
Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.
Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me.