Jill’s Click

I’m not sure where I first met Jill, whether it was Twitter, our blogs, or Owning Pink, but I know that I read whatever was the current blog post on her page and added her immediately to my blogroll b/c it spoke to me so strongly.  I have enjoyed tweeting with Jill and she is always so very supportive of my blog and writing.  She sent me the following post in response to my request.  It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  An essay about moving past fear as I was stuck in a fearful place, worried about rejection.  Thank you Jill, for the following wise words.  You can follow Jill on Twitter here and read her blog here.

When I was asked by Leslee to write a Click story I was momentarily panicked.  I instantly heard a voice in my head say, “No way! You can not do that. You have nothing to say. You don’t remember any click moments.”  It was the voice of fear.

Fear has often stopped me in my tracks. To be honest, it has not only stopped me, but it has knocked me down and pushed me into a deep hole and then shoveled dirt on top of me. Ok, that is a little dramatic, but that is exactly how my life used to feel. I would be wandering along happily and then BAM!! Something would bring fear into my heart and I would fall to pieces.

Since January of 2009, I have been on an interesting journey.  I don’t remember the specific date, just that it was a Saturday in January. I was at my baby sisters house and we were discussing the spiritual journey she was about to begin. She had recently quit a job that was sucking the life out of her and she was feeling drawn to California. I remember sitting there seeing how happy she was and how she was much more relaxed than I had ever seen her before.  I wanted what she had. Then a thought came into my head from nowhere that turned me upside down.

“You get to decide. You get to choose who you are.”  With that thought I was brought to tears. These were tears of joy.  It was like my life had never existed until that very moment. I was so excited to finally get to live my life on my terms.

I chose a few things that day. I chose to no longer accept that I was an addict of any kind. I had recently left a 12-step group for compulsive overeating, and while in that group I had also accepted that I was probably an alcoholic. On that cold, January day I gave those labels to the Universe, and I was happy, joyous and free for the first time in my life.  I chose to let my past be my past.  I chose to allow myself to be happy and beautiful, even if I was overweight.

It was very much a spiritual experience, but I had a long way to go.  I was coming out of the depths of my own living Hell, so there was much more work to be done.  Over the next year I had my ups and my downs, but I never lost sight of the fact that I get to choose.  I spent numerous hours reading all things spiritual. I also spent many hours in the therapist’s office.  The day came when I decided that I no longer needed a therapist. I was ready to go it alone.

My life continued to get better. My heart opened in ways that I didn’t think were ever possible. I learned how to love myself and others fully. I recognized that I had been sharing my Spirit with a bully and got some help to get rid of it once and for all. Happy, joyous and free had continued to be my destiny.

I can’t possibly remember all of the defining moments I’ve had over the past year and 3 months.  There have been many.  The next one that struckme came sometime in November (or was it December). I honestly can’t remember. I was on Twitter and in my Twitter stream came a Divinely inspired tweet. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was about giving up “chicken behaviors” and living bullet-free.

I decided at that moment in time that I wanted to be bullet-free. I wanted to live fearlessly, out in plain sight. So I committed to facing my fears and not letting them control me any longer.  You see, even though I was happier than I had ever been in my life, I was still letting fear live a part of my life for me. I was still holding back because I was afraid of what people would think of me.

So starting in January 2010 I dedicated my year to living it free of fear.  If something puts fear in me I know that that is something I need to do.  I have faced a number of fears through my blog. I found my voice and now I let it speak. I no longer deny my spirituality. If someone wants to know who I am I tell them. I started homeschooling some of the Littles again because I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, even if others didn’t think so.  I sang karaoke for the first time recently, because it has always been something I wanted to do, but was too scared to try.  And when Leslee asked me to submit a Click story, I knew by the fear I felt that I would be writing that story.

My decision to live a fearless year has not been easy. I still have fears that I have to face. I have avoided some conversations with loved ones. I have a phobia of the dentist that I will be facing soon. I have kept my truest self hidden from certain people.  These are all fears that I have, but I know that each one will be dealt with. I know this because, I get to choose. And because I have chosen to live free, I know that I will face all things that make me want to run and hide.  I’m done hiding.  I’m living out in the open.  Happy, joyous and free.

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Ramblings

I have had no burst of inspiration today.  There’s no words of wisdom or deep questions I have for myself or you.  I’m writing this on Sunday, April 25.  The 25th of each month is no longer just another day.  The 25th will forever be the date that signifies one more month without Amy in my life.  Someone wrote the other day on Facebook that they think of her everyday.  I paused for a moment realizing that I don’t think of her as much anymore.  Everyday seems like a lot, but compared to every minute it is not.  For so many weeks, maybe even months, a minute could not pass without a memory or thought of Amy coming to mind.  But yes, like the friend on Facebook, I do still think of her everyday.  Yesterday I was on the couch reading and I stopped for a moment to think of her.  I looked up from my book and on PBS was a commercial for a documentary about frogs.  Today the girls brought me yet another mysterious toy frog that they found in their room.  She’s still sending me signs.  I hope she never stops.

I used a gift certificate and bought two books yesterday:  Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I started reading them both yesterday.  Apparently The Master Key System is a 24 week program.  You are supposed to read each chapter over a week period and apply what you are learning.  I’m excited about it, but hope that I can stick with it.  I’ve bought and read several books like this one and never treated them like a class, but instead just devoured them and placed them back on the bookshelf.  Intellectually I understand a lot of what (I think) is going to be presented in this book, but it is really time to take it to the next level.  The best way to get to that next level is to use the book as suggested.

The other book, Love Without Conditions, is just wonderful.  Seeing as I had my belief in Jesus shaken a bit a week or so ago, this book is just what I needed.  It is not a channeled book specifically, but the text comes through the author from Jesus.  Ferrini says in the introduction that we all have access to Jesus and can commune with him and get the same information from within our consciousness directly from him.  I believe that because I have experienced it!  I have realized through some of the comments I received on that post, some answers I received within, and from what I read in this book that I really don’t need absolute proof of Jesus’ human existence on this earth for me to know that he is a spiritual teacher for me.  His words and lessons will not change.

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great work/school week and for those of you who might be wondering…I did sign up to give a talk at church this summer.

Ask Yourself This (4)

I skipped a week of writing about my book group because last week’s topic didn’t bring forth anything I felt that I could really write about.  Over the past few days I started reading the book “Writing Down Your Soul” and can now answer  one of those questions  we discussed from “Ask Yourself This” differently.

The question was:

Who am I trying to change?

When I answered it with my group I admitted that yes there are people that I would like to see change.  I would love to be able to find more common ground and be better understood by some that are most important to me.  Currently though, I am not actively trying to change them.  In fact, I’d say I’m so focused on our differences that I am as emotionally far away from them as I have ever been.  And that, of course, is something I’d like to change about myself…but not the point of this post.

So, confident in the idea that I’m not trying to change anyone else, I sat down and began reading Janet Conner’s book.  After only reading the introduction I was thinking oh my, I should really buy this book for X and I must tell Y about it and surely it would change Z’s life completely. Instead of thinking about how much the book and suggested exercises would help me, I was making a list of other people that it could “save.”  Books have been my way of trying to change people.  I am SO excited about all that I have learned and the ways in which I’ve grown over the past few years that I want to share it with others.  I read something wonderful and send it on to friends.  I insist if they read it their life will change.  What I forget is that everyone is right where they are supposed to be.  If they need my assistance they will ask for it.  If they want to read something new, they can request a recommendation from me.

Change must come from the inside out.  I can be heart felt about my beliefs but I can not force someone else to embrace them.  I can discover freedom through meditation, journaling, and reading spiritual books but I can not demand that anyone else does any of those things.  Everyone has their own paths and destinies.  I can teach by my example and perhaps even plant seeds, but I can’t expect anything to happen.  The most important thing I can do is change the way I view the world and have an open and accepting heart.

There was a quote that was mentioned during our meeting and I’m not sure who said it and where it is printed, but it goes something like this:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of doing things differently.”

This is an actual quote I found and I still don’t think it was the one that we talked about in group but close:

“Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.” -Spencer Johnson

Jealousy

I think that there are two kinds of jealousy.  There is the kind that causes you to react.  This is the jealousy that was illustrated in last Monday night’s episode of How I Met Your Mother.  It’s a fearful jealousy that comes out of a belief that you are going to lose something.  It often causes you to behave detrimentally.  In that episode of my favorite sitcom, Jenkins tells Lilly that she has kissed Marshall and is very sorry.  Lilly reacts with a jealous rage and clobbers her.  This kind of jealousy (as illustrated) fuels revenge and rage and keeps you completely tuned out from your true self.

But there is another kind of jealousy that causes you to connect with your true self and take action (or at least plant the seeds for action).  I have to thank my friend Kelly for inspiring this post.  I decided to write it after a conversation I had with her a couple of weeks ago.  About four and a half years ago I was at a playgroup.  At the time Bella was still in diapers, still nursing and I was pregnant with Callee.  I was totally and completely in the Mommy Zone.  I would get together a few times a week with my friends and their babies and we would talk about motherhood.  During this particular playdate we were discussing how many kids we all wanted to have.  At the time I wanted three, maybe four.  One of the moms in the group said “Well, if I could write a best seller than I would definitely have four children.”  I got so jealous when she said this, but not because she wanted four kids but because she mentioned writing a book.  All of a sudden, I remembered how much I had loved writing and I was jealous.  I believe that that was the moment where the writer in me woke up and the seed was planted.  It didn’t happen right away but obviously over the next few years I started writing again.  It is yet to be determined as to whether or not I will crank out a best-seller.  (I have had several moments of jealousy while reading or thinking about Stephenie Meyer.)

The conclusion Kelly came to during our conversation is that if you get jealous of something someone else is doing, maybe it is because you are meant to do it too.  These days, every once in a while I’ll find myself feeling envious while reading a blog.  I have attracted into my life so many charismatic and talented writers that I can’t help but be in awe at the response they illicit from their readers.  Before I talked with Kelly about the topic of jealousy, I’d give myself a hard time for feeling the way I felt.  Now I realize that it is a seed to inspire me to take action, practice, and improve my abilities.

The next time you find yourself feeling envious, first figure out which kind of jealousy you’re feeling.  Is it the kind that makes you angry?  Is it the kind that makes you want to react (in a not so positive manner)? OR is it the kind that makes you excited and inspired?  Does it make you want to act in a manner that will improve your standing in the world?  Start paying attention to these feelings and asking the questions.  It may just guide you toward a new hobby, talent, or career!

Winslow’s Click

The following is a click story by another Twitter friend.  Once I discovered that @winsloweliot was a writer I asked her to contribute a story and she agreed.  As a writer I enjoyed the following story immensely and I think everyone else will too.  You can explore Winslow’s website and writing here and find her on Twitter here.

*Never be Inhospitable to Strangers – A tribute to George Whitman*

A friend is on her way to Paris, and I urge her to visit Shakespeare & Co, a bookstore on the Rive Gauche. It’s a place that changed my life when I was seventeen years old.

I had just arrived for a month of studying at the Alliance Francaise (hoping it would help me in preparation for the A Level exam). Because of a mix-up with a friend, something that I did not tell my parents about before I left England, I arrived in Paris with no place to stay, and also hardly any money (this was in spring of 1974 – way before credit cards or ATM’s – and I literally brought only a few pounds with me. Enough for the course at the Alliance, food, and travel back to London.)

In my dreamy haze of confusion about what to do while in Paris in the springtime, I did the only thing natural to me: I found myself in a bookstore. I still don’t know how I got there. Even at the time I didn’t really know where I was; I just remember vaguely knowing that eventually night would fall and I better have a place to stay. But instead I spent hours and hours wandering up and down the three flights of grimy stairs, reading, pausing, amazed at everything I found there. I became lost in a world so wonderful I wanted to weep. For those of you who don’t know, Shakespeare & Co was home to authors and writers and travelers for years and years. There were letters pinned to the walls from Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner and many others, personally addressed to the former owner, Sylvia Beach. You can find out a lot about this extraordinary place by going to the web site www.shakespeareandcompany.com, but there’s nothing like actually visiting.

So what happened?

When I was there Sylvia Beach was long gone, and instead there was an old (in my view, at least) man seated at the desk by the front door. (I realize he was not much older than I am now.) As I wandered the store, and rested on the various couches and deep musty armchairs, reading, exploring, and in awe, I knew all the time he was aware of me. As dusk started to fall, I made my way towards him and asked if he knew of an inexpensive place where I could stay the night. I expected he’d direct me to a youth hostel or a cheap pension. Instead he looked at me with the most piercing eyes you’ve ever seen and demanded, “Are you a writer?”

I remember answering with complete honesty (although with faint shame that I was as yet unpublished): “Yes, I am.” And he replied, “Then if you’re a writer, you can stay here.”

He didn’t ask where I’d been published, or what kind of things I wrote, or anything like that. He took it for granted that I was a writer, because I said so. It was as though he had seen my soul. Looking back, I think he saw my soul more clearly than I did. He was the angel welcoming me into a tribe.

Friends, for three days I stayed at this magical bookstore. It was open all through the night, hosting meetings, visitors, groups, friends. Writers met, drank coffee, talked, slept, drank more coffee, talked, wrote, and read. During a workshop someone would lie down on a couch and doze for an hour, then get up and join right back in. Late in the morning sometimes the doors closed so we could close our eyes briefly, but most of the time the place was alive with Writers and Writing. I remember washing out cups of coffee in the makeshift kitchen and realizing with a profound shock: “This is it. I am a writer.”

Years later I learned much more about George Whitman, and the extraordinary impact he’s had on so many people and on the cultural life of Paris and literature. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been one of those people.

One of his most famous quotes, that I continue to live by, is: “Never be inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.”

Please, friends, visit this store and say hello for me to the ghosts and to the people who are there now.

by Winslow Eliot
www.winsloweliot.com

Book Give-Away 3

Sorry guys, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a book give-away.  The book is “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle and was made famous with the help of a woman named Oprah.  I borrowed and read this book before it was an Oprah pick and loved it enough to go buy my own copy. It’s been on my bookshelf now for 2 years and I haven’t gotten back to it, so it’s time to pass it on.  If you are interested in winning the book just leave a comment on this post.  I will check the comments on Friday night at 8pm, put all the names in a hat, and draw a winner.  I will post the winner on Saturday morning.  Once I have the winner and necessary mailing info, I will send the book out on Monday! Thanks and good luck!  Now go, comment!

Desire

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned yet that over the past two years I have grown to love books and reading.  In particular, I love spiritual and metaphysical books.  My most recent purchase from Amazon was “Desire:  The Tantric Path to Awakening” by Daniel Odier and “Practicing the Presence” by Joel S. Goldsmith.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading both of these books but quickly noticed a big distinction between the two.  It was the way the two authors approached the subject of desire.

Odier talks in his book about a “Third Path”  He says “This path, of incomparable depth and subtlety, has nothing to do with the product that the West has commercialized under the name Tantra.  It is a path whereby a person evolves through sensorality and consciousness.”  He presents in his book a life lived through desire.  After reading his book I walked away with the message that I should desire everything in my life and I should use all of my senses to experience each moment.  If I am in pain, I should rest in that pain rather than resist it.  I should not pick and choose what can be labeled as good and then cling to it, but instead I should find the good in everything and then let it slip away making room for the next experience.

I was very satisfied with what I learned from Daniel Odier until I read “Practicing the Presence” by Goldsmith.  In the chapter titled “Demonstrate God” Goldsmith says “Let us go to God for the joy of experiencing God and then see what God does.  We can begin this moment to take an important step forward-give up desire.  We must give up desire for any and every form of good.  From today on, there is only one desire permitted us, and that desire is to experience God.”  This one really baffled me because since both teachings had resonated with me I knew there had to be truth in each of them.  Odier had talked about giving up desire as an “ascetic spiritual quest”, but from all that I had read from Goldsmith, I didn’t think that this was what he was encouraging.  In the margin of the book, I wrote this question “How does this fit with Tantra, desiring everything?”

After a little bit I came to the conclusion that desiring everything and desiring only to experience God meant exactly the same thing.  I believe that God provides our experiences as a means for us to learn and grow in life.  I believe he has provided us with our 5 senses and our imagination so that we may trully feel what is meant for us to feel.  I think being present, aware, and grateful for the good and the bad is the best way to honor God (and ourselves).  So I continually work towards desiring everything and desiring nothing (that this world can offer), a practice with which I am learning takes discipline (a topic for another day).