Contentment

imgres-1

I think I sometimes drive myself crazy; always wanting something more, something better.  I am striving for a perfection that doesn’t really exist.  Even when everything is good in my life, I’m still worrying or thinking of ways to improve myself, my job or my relationships.  The fact is life is series of ups and downs.  It is filled with challenges that help us to grow.  In fact, we create all the right circumstances for ourselves so that we can reach our fullest potentials.  There will never be a time when everything is ‘perfect’ and you stop wanting more.  

Happiness is not some elusive feeling that can only be felt when your life situation is ideal–happiness exists in every moment, no matter what is going on in your life.  To feel balanced over time we need to cultivate acceptance and gratitude.  Both of these attributes are tied to being in the moment and being true to ourselves.  Connecting to the moment and ourselves will help us to develop acceptance and gratitude and therefore will lead us to the contentment we are looking for.  

GRATITUDE involves digging deep into your heart and feeling thankful for all the blessings you have in your life.  If you are healthy, safe, have a home, food to eat and clothes to wear you already have A LOT to be grateful for.  If you have family and friends, you are even luckier!!  I don’t think I really appreciated my health until something went wrong.  It’s like the song–Don’t know what you got, til it’s gone”.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the way life works!  

I began to make it a habit to wake up in the morning and say to  myself–I am grateful for this glorious day.  I am grateful that I feel okay.  Great things are gonna come my way!–and I would think of at least five things in my life I was grateful for.  To do this, I had to be totally present.  I couldn’t be thinking about what was wrong with my relationship or complaining about my job or worrying about when my symptoms would go away–I had to BE IN THE MOMENT.  

Gratitude also brought me awareness to situations in my life that perhaps weren’t exactly ideal yet I could recognize how they had helped my growth as a human being and I could find gratitude in that.  Yes, in a strange way, it was ALL good.  Every day I was closer to my higher, truer self.

ACCEPTANCE asks us to look at the bigger picture.  It asks us to live in reality and be okay with who we are and where we are on our path.  It asks us to stop rejecting our mistakes and our ‘negative’ emotions.  It asks us to let go.  

When hormones threatened to take control, I soon realized that I could continue to fight and resist the situation, or I could accept things as they were and adjust my thinking and my lifestyles accordingly.  Yes, the situation kind of sucked, but I tried to go with the flow the best I could.  When frustration built up, I allowed myself to cry (and occasionally scream).

I still struggle with fully accepting myself.  I sometimes hear my ego-mind spraying out it’s predictable stream of negative beliefs but now I am more aware and better equipped to quickly replace those self-defeating thoughts with positive ones.  My goal is to keep getting better at listening to my inner voice and trusting it so I can BE TRUE TO MYSELF. 

Even if you don’t believe your life has a purpose, you can still strive to be your absolute best self and make a positive difference in the world.  Once you can accept yourself and your life the way it is now, you can let go of all those worries, judgments and expectations and be simply be.  In the quiet place of acceptance, fears dissolve and all that is left is your true essence.   

In short, don’t waste your time regretting the past or fretting about the future.  And don’t waste your time beating yourself up or wishing how things could be better.  Have reverence for the beauty of life and it’s magical, mysterious process.  Use the power of the present to cultivate gratitude and acceptance and then you will find yourself free of selfish ego-driven desires.  You will be free to live in your truth and this is what will bring you the ultimate CONTENTMENT.

 

Advertisements

Good grief!

imgresWow!  Last night I had another lucid dream.  Some robbers had taken my money and then they kidnapped me in their van.  The man held a gun at me and I told him–FUCK YOU!!  I think he asked me what my name was and I said–FUCK YOU!  (Apparently I like to swear in my dreams!)  I wasn’t really afraid–I felt my anger turning into power.  Then he took me to a basement where he was going to attack me.  I was chewing gum and blew a bubble–I thought, “Oh, no!  It’s going to stick to my braces!”   As I started pulling out the gum, I realized–I’M DREAMING!  I went up some stairs and walked outside and started crying because of how beautiful it was–I felt so happy and free!!

I have had similar ‘gum-stuck-in-my-mouth’ dreams many times before.  In dream interpretation, being unable to get rid of gum is suggestive of experiencing powerlessness.  I think it is also symbolic of my frustration with my lack of ability to express myself verbally.  It seems this gum dream has become a sign for me, telling me–Hey, you are dreaming!

Money represents self-worth and confidence.  And the robbery metaphor seems pretty obvious to me.  I was saying ‘fuck you’ to everything and everyone who had tried to steal my self-esteem away from me, or tried to hold me back or disrespected me.  This included an ‘F-U!’ to that part of myself that said negative things like, “You can’t.  You’re not good enough.  You don’t have what it takes.”

It felt amazing to express myself this way–to really express my anger and defiance in a way that I never would in my waking life.  I was not going to take it from myself or anyone else anymore.   I could feel my own POWER!

I thought how amazing this whole last year has been; even though at times I felt so frustrated, terrified, sad and sometimes so horrible that I thought I couldn’t go on. (this is a bit dramatic but nine months ago, the situation did seem like a drama in my head!)  As it turns out, my ovaries failing had actually led me to feel my power as a woman! How wonderfully ironic is that?!!!

Life will bring you gifts in some pretty awful wrapping at times.  If you can TRUST and be OPEN and PATIENT you will eventually be able to rip off all of that repulsive wrapping and find a beautiful and amazing gift inside.  You will see clearly that the grief you have gone through has brought you to exactly where you need to be.  What seems all bad, will give birth goodness.  It’s GOOD grief!

Dream interpretations from ‘Dream Moods Dream Dictionary’ (www.dreammoods.com)

HOLD ON!!

imagesHolding on to yourself–This is a term I borrowed from David Schnarch.  What it means to me is respecting yourself and living in sync with your truth–with everything you believe and everything you value.  To hold on to myself, I had to first discover WHO I was and what I really wanted.   Only then did I realize I had become out of sync with my true inner self; both at work and in my relationship with my husband.

It was like an earthquake had shaken my world.  Suddenly, things that I was once content with or even satisfied with were not enough anymore.  I had this yearning for more.  A desire to escape everything took over me for a while.  I wanted to just run away, leaving all  the rubble behind, and not look back.  But instead, I somehow found the courage to stick around.  What I think I was trying to run from was myself!!

So I confronted myself and looked deeply into places I had covered up for so long.  This ‘more’ I was seeking was actually being MORE ME!  I had been drifting along, often allowing situations to control me rather than acting and speaking with awareness from my truth.  It was time to take charge and make choices, possibly some hard choices.   Could I change in some way so that the situation or relationship would be consistent with who I was, or did I need to say good-bye to the situation or relationship?

This is the essence of what ‘holding on to yourself’ really is–coming to those crossroads where you awake to a knowing, a certainty, that something in your life is not jiving with the person you know yourself to be.  At this point of no return, you have to decide to either lose yourself or lose something else.  It will likely be a gut-wrenching decision but it is one that must be made.  There is no other way to go.

When does this happen?  It’s different for everyone but you will definitely know it when it does.  If you are living with awareness, you will probably hear your heart’s call.  If you are not listening, it will persist in getting this message to you.  Eventually, your soul will get your attention, one way or another!  What the message is…well, I imagine it’s pretty much the same–GROW NOW!

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”–Anais Nin

I strongly recommend the book ‘Passionate Marriage’ by David Schnarch (even if you are not married) He has some groundbreaking insights and theories about the dynamics of intimate relationships.

Lessons Learning –Part 2

images-8How to calm myself down and comfort myself

It sounds strange but this is an essential skill that everyone must have.  When I felt such chaos in my mind and body, I soon realized that I couldn’t depend on other people to comfort me and tell me everything was going to be alright.  It had to do it myself.  I learned to breathe deeply and fully.  I learned how to pay attention to body and how to relax it.  I learned that no matter how horrible I might feel at that moment, that moment would eventually pass.

We are all basically alone in this world–there is only one soul per body–and nobody can see how we are really feeling on the inside.  Unfortunately, we will all feel anxiety and discomfort in our lives.  We will all find ourselves in situations of distress.  It is up to us to put ourselves at ease.

How to watch myself think and feel

By meditating and being conscious of my breath, I could start to see my thoughts from the witness point of view.  I became aware of how often I was worrying, planning, judging myself and others (and random objects).  I became more aware of how I sometimes got caught up in the drama of my emotions.  I became aware of how often my mind just wandered off to do it’s own thing, totally unsupervised!

Instead of being in control of my thoughts and feelings, I had allowed them to run around while I either was sleeping or chasing after them.  It’s really not easy to just sit and be quiet and still;  especially in our technology-filled world.  It takes discipline and patience.  I truly believe that if we all could just slow down a few times a day and take time to breathe and connect with ourselves, this world would be a better, more peaceful place.

Meditating has been an oasis of serenity for me.  It is an incredibly valuable tool that I think everyone should utilize.  I’m still learning to watch my thoughts dispassionately and supervise my mind and I imagine it will be a life-long process.

That I was just as normal and abnormal as everyone else

I slowly started to see the ways in which my thinking was dysfunctional.  Issues that I had never confronted were now staring back at me.  In seeing my own dysfunctions clearly, I also began to see how other people had their own fears, insecurities and struggles.  Maybe I was kind of screwed up, but other people were kind of screwed up, too. Yay!!

If I could accept other people’s imperfections, surely I could accept my own.  All my life I had this awful feeling that there was something wrong with me.  Now, with great relief, I had the profound realization that there wasn’t anything wrong with me–I was a divinely flawed human being, just like everyone else!  I was really not so special or different at all, yet at the same time I knew the truth–that I was a UNIQUE  and AMAZING soul.

That many of my behaviors were unconscious habits, patterns and reactions

It was perhaps a little unsettling to come to this conclusion.  For so much of my life I was operating on autopilot and the air traffic controller was not my mind or my soul but my fear-based ego.   Eeks!  How many times had I reacted from my insecurities?  How many times had I repeated an unproductive or destructive pattern?  How many addictions did I cling to?  How many of my relationships were really coming from a deep, soulful place?  How many conversations were really truthful, compassionate and non-competitive?

I couldn’t live in this fuzz anymore!  I now had a vivid image of how I wanted my life to be.  I wanted to live consciously–as aware as possible.  I wanted to choose responsibly and act; not react.  I wanted to explore my potential;  be all that I could be.  I wanted relationships that were honest and meaningful.  Most of all, I wanted to be true to myself, express myself and live JOYFULLY and FEARLESSLY!

Lessons Learning

images

To take complete responsibility for myself and my life

I could not blame my health problems on anyone;  not my mother or the universe or the city I lived in.  I realized that if I take credit for creating good things in my life then I have to take credit for creating ‘problems’, too.  In my enlightened moments, I can see that these situations we call ‘problems’ are not really problems but opportunities for growth.  It’s actually empowering to know that I am in charge of my life and that my choices DO have consequences–some pleasant and some not so pleasant.

To stop living in denial and facing reality

I woke up to find that I had been lying to myself and denying reality.  I had not been treating my body like the temple that it was.  I had to face facts that I had been hard on my body and now it was being hard on me.  I had to turn things around and really start listening to what my body needed.  So many times I had ignored that little voice in my mind.  It had been trying to look out for me–telling me that the situation I was in, actions I was taking or how people were treating me was NOT okay for me.  Finally, I had begun to listen.

I also found that my real feelings could no longer be ignored or denied.  I had to acknowledge these feelings and really FEEL them.  It was okay to feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, disrespected.  It was NOT okay to shove them down where they ate away at my self-esteem and my soul.

To truly love myself and take care of myself

To really take care of myself, I had to practice a little positive selfishness.  Self-love is not a bad thing at all.  (In fact, if everyone truly loved themselves, they would never cause harm to others)  It is just about putting myself as top priority.  My health became number one and nothing else mattered so much to me anymore.  My perspective had changed.

The other challenge I faced was becoming aware of exactly what I needed and then taking appropriate action so I could get those needs met.  Asking directly for what I needed sometimes meant admitting to my vulnerabilities and weaknesses–not an easy thing to do.

To speak my truth and speak up for myself

I guess two things dawned on me–life is short and no one else is gonna speak up for me!  I had thought for a long time that if I voiced my needs I would seem weak or annoying or mean.  I was brought up to be ‘nice’.  I was afraid that I might be rejected or hurt someone’s feelings if I rocked the boat.

But in NOT speaking my truth I was actually lying to myself.  It was not in my best interest nor was it beneficial to those around me.  Keeping my feelings bottled up served no one.  I had to speak my truth even if I thought the listener would disagree or disapprove.  And, perhaps most importantly, I had learned to say NO!

At long last,  I was learning that speaking up for myself –speaking up with COURAGE, CONFIDENCE, CONVICTION and COMPASSION– made me more POWERFUL and in probably, more respected.  It was okay, and indeed necessary, to rock the boat!

WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!

imagesThis whole crazy, explosive, self-explorative, transformational, midlife-madness journey began almost exactly a year ago.  It started out as my hormones going haywire.  My body was telling me, screaming at me, to slow down and take notice.  I found myself meditating, doing yoga, and doing everything I could to stay healthy and calm.  I was finally regaining some balance when, one night, I had THE DREAM.

It was a very vivid dream.  I had become lucid in the dream, realizing that I was dreaming.  I told myself with urgency–WAKE UP!  WAKE UP!  And finally yelling at myself–WAKE THE FUCK UP!!! (I rarely swear in my waking life so I knew this was a message I needed to heed!)  It was a clear sign that I had to make some changes.  I couldn’t live in denial anymore.

Soon after that I had another vivid dream where I saw a screen and it said–LISTEN FOR THE TRUTH.  It glaring me in the face.  I woke up with a certainty that it was time to seriously listen to what my inner voice was telling me.  A transformation was coming my way and I could either embrace it and go with the flow or try to fight it.   I chose to embrace it.

Since those first two dreams, I have woken up many times in the middle of the night with such clarity about myself, lingering past issues, beliefs that hold me back, repressed emotions, feelings I haven’t expressed and the dynamics of the relationships in my life; especially with my husband.  I knew that what I was hearing was the truth–MY TRUTH.  There was no denying it.  It was crystal clear.  I suddenly knew, without a doubt, things I needed to say, and how I needed to say them.

Knowing the importance of these ideas and insights, I often was compelled to write them down; even at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.  Words just started pouring out of me, like they are pouring out of me right now.  It was like unearthing some diamonds.  These were valuable gems to me and I couldn’t let them slide out of my hands.  I had been given the gift of awareness.  I soon also knew that I had to share the awareness and wisdom I had gained with others which is why I started this blog.

Through all of the craziness, uncertainty, unpredictability and chaos that I felt about my physical body, this sense of knowing that I got in my soul, in the middle of the night or early in the morning, gave me a sense of peace;  a small piece of peace.

It’s inside all of us–this peace, these glittering diamonds of insights.  All we have to do is be willing to slow down long enough and be courageous enough to face these truths–truths that we may have been unconsciously avoiding for years;  lies we may have been holding onto for years.  Lies and denials that may have given us protection and a false sense of safety but have really only led us down the wrong path.

Isn’t it better to face these truths now rather than waiting til you on your death bed?  (By the way, one of the things that dying people most regret is not having the courage to be true to themselves.)  It is not merely knowing what some of your issues are.  It’s really being AWARE, and KNOWING, at a deep level, what is stopping you from being the shiny star you are–all of your destructive patterns, bad habits, conditioned reactions, your escapes and addictions.  Once you have truly faced yourself, you can be free and live true to yourself!

Warning:  This is not a fun vacation where you can sit and sip on a margarita!  This is some very uncomfortable stuff–dark, scary, ugly, sad but ultimately liberating stuff!  If you are willing to go on this TRUTH TRIP, this journey of awareness, of hearing your inner voice and healing yourself, you won’t regret it!!  In fact, it may be the best trip you’ve ever taken!

Birth of a Star

imgresI’m not sure where the fear ends and where I begin.  What I fear the most is that this fear will consume me.  Where is all this anxiety coming from?  Is it just the hormones or has it always been lurking in the dark?  Now that I have turned on the lights, I can see it.  It’s ugly, wrinkled face.

I’ve always been a little nervous but never has everything seemed so overwhelming and terrifying…and exhausting.  My dreams are so close I can smell them.  One minute I’m afraid I will get so anxious that I won’t even be able to try.  The next, I’m scared I will try but I will be a complete failure.  But the worst feeling is wondering how I could live with myself if I didn’t at least give it a shot.

I’ve been feeling pressure but really the only person pressuring me is MYSELF!  I have big expectations of myself now.  I KNOW, deep down, that I AM capable of greatness;  of doing great things in the world, for the world.  I don’t want to settle for less anymore.  I want to create that great life for myself –a great career, a great relationship with my husband, a great home, great friendships.  I want to be the greatest me.  The fear is in losing my(old)self in the process of becoming great.  Who will I be if I am not the weak, nervous, self-conscious, skinny, ever-cheerful, people-pleasing girl I have been for the last forty years?  If I let her go, who will I be?  Will I just disappear?

I dreamed that someone had been killed and we went back to the house to get the body.  Two people went down to the basement and carried the body out of the house while I went upstairs, trying to get away from the awful smell.  I think this dream symbolizes putting an end to old habits and addictions and feelings of being unworthy.

The old me has to die for the new me to be born.  BIRTH OF A STAR.  I think that’s why I’ve felt sad lately.  Tears of letting go.  RELEASE.  I feel like I’m in a cocoon.  Part of me is terrified to come out into the light and the other part is scared of staying inside, in the dark.

We must venture out into the unknown in order to become who we really are–the STAR we are.  We must face the discomfort of the uncertainty.  Peeling away all the layers that don’t fit us anymore is emotionally exhausting but I believe, if we are patient, we can break through to EXHILERATING!  If we look carefully, I think we can see the SPARKLE.  It is DYING to be free;  DYING to be all it KNOWS it can be.  In that sparkle, there is no fear–just PEACE.

As Rachel Remen said–“Healing is letting go of everything that isn’t you so you can be who you are”.  If you are uncomfortable, you can be sure of one thing– you are GROWING!!