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.

Safe Travels

Safe Travels (1-15-10)

A journey

trip

adventure

seeking an indescribable  destination

one I can’t find

but must let

find me

it’s a quiet road

taken in solitude

where it is safe to listen

leave the world behind

that which can be measured by time

wait for the gentle voice

or the thunder

it’s been described

both ways

safe to say

no words can embody

the spirit

and rise of it

in me

the moment the destination

meets the journey

Dying Daily

A long time ago I wrote a post and I believe that I mentioned “dying daily” in it. Someone on my Facebook page requested that they would like to hear more of my thoughts on that subject. I never wrote the post that was requested. I wasn’t sure at that point what my thoughts on “dying daily” were. I was reading lots of books that talked about it. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra mention the importance of “dying daily” in some of their books. And of course my favorite spiritual teacher, Joel S. Goldsmith, mentions it in his.

Intellectually, I think I knew what it meant to “die daily,” but it was only a few days ago when it truly sank in. I was having a day in which I found myself running circles in my mind about what was going to happen. From time to time I think about the ideas that pop into my head and analyze their conception. Have they sprung forth from the divine or is it all just ego drawing attention to itself? I have a beautiful story formulating in my head and I want to write it NOW…but it is not ready to be written. I’m impatient, so I question. Why do I have this idea if I can’t create the product? What is wrong with me? Where is this path taking me? Am I here to entertain or teach or neither?

After a morning filled with these thoughts, I popped in on a couple of friends (and spiritual companions) on gmail chat. I told one that I was feeling lost and asked the other for some inspiration. The first friend simply said “Maybe you are supposed to be lost?” The other friend requested that I drop the thoughts. But he also told me this story:

Lord Buddha was traveling with his followers from one place to another
they went to a village
the villagers served well
and took enough care
while leaving the same
Buddha blessed them
Let sorrow be your companion.
then Buddha after few days reached one more village
where the villagers
didn’t bother at all
so again he blessed while leaving
let this village and its villagers be bestowed all worldly gains
after sometime
the followers asked
why did you curse the first village?
Buddha smiled and answered
Sorrow is like the food for spiritual realization
had the first village been bestowed with all happiness
they would never reach salvation

Then he told me this:

throw away all fear
thoughts are like old garments
you keep on changing
leave everything
even the fear to lose this being
what is beautiful is your soul
so nourish it with love
devotion
faith

I knew my friends were right. The lost feelings were leading me to ask questions and even question my faith. Later on in the day I read a little more from my Goldsmith book. It was the chapter on Karma or “As ye sow, so shall you reap.” It reminded me not to sow to the flesh, but rather to the spiritual. After reading, I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. Almost instantly I heard “to die daily is to surrender.” I talk about surrender a lot too, but finally I’d reached the realization of it’s true meaning. To surrender is not simply to say “God, take this problem from me.” To surrender is to say “God, take me!” And that is what it means (to me) to “die daily.” Each day, as a part of my spiritual discipline, I need to drop all thoughts, fears, desires, anxieties, regrets, and simply ask to be inspired, enlightened, and led.

Megan’s Click

meganmoniqueThe following post is written by Megan Monique Harner.  She is also known as Pink Lovemuffin Extraordinaire over at Owning Pink. She is loving, sweet, and wise beyond her years.  You can visit her website here. You can also follow Megan’s tweets: @meganmonique.

For as far back as I can remember, I was always searching for something. I looked for ‘it’ everywhere: boyfriends, churches, books, family, friends, conversations, new cities, new places, writing.  I never knew what it was that I was looking for and I most certainly had no idea that I was searching for it. I moved to Austin when I was 19 to venture out on my own. I left with little to no money, a few of my personal items and my boyfriend at the time. I just knew I had to get away from where I was or I would never leave, I would never get anywhere. I had always had this incredible urge to just ‘go,’ which led me to running away from a lot of things. After I was in Austin for a month or so, I received a card (one of many) from my Dad that said, ‘I love you and hope you are doing well. I hope you find whatever it is you are looking for.’ This was a realization to me; everyone else could see that I was searching for something.

When I got to Austin, I became employed with Crystal Mountain Animal Hospital, a fabulous holistic animal clinic with an extraordinary team of animal lovers. Through my boss, Charles Vandermause I was introduced to The Landmark Forum which allowed me to understand me and others on an entirely new level. I was able to forgive, release anger, and get down to the basics of love. My search ended after that first course. I learned that everything I needed was inside of me all along. We are all born with what we need to develop and find our purpose, after-all everything exists only in our mind, who knew?! This was a valuable lesson for me at 19-years-old. Charles Vandermause has been a ‘God’ to me ever since.

I sit here, trying to think of a particular moment that changed my life. Though taking the Landmark Forum was definitely one of the moments, I don’t feel that it is the explanation for who I am today and why I have come so far along on this spiritual journey.  When you get down to the nitty gritty of things, every ‘aha moment’ we encounter is what compiles to create who we are today. For me, giving credit to just one instance would not do my life justice.

Austin, Landmark, Charles Vandermause was where my journey really started. It was the first step in what got me where I am today, but between then and now- oh Lordy. It’s only been 4 years- wow. It definitely feels like a lifetime. In conclusion, writing this ‘aha moment’ post for me is in itself, a moment. It is easy to dismiss the circumstances we go through as insignificant because we are waiting for that one big moment when all of our dreams are coming true. But the fact is, all of the little things along the way are the true miracles getting us to where we need be, to snowball into that one BIG thing.

If you take the time to notice all of the minor miracles along the way and stand in awe of what is taking place, when you finally get to that BIG dream of yours, it won’t seem so unbelievable, so scary and big. Looking back at all of the things you already overcame and accomplished will give you the courage you need to get there and own it.

After all, ‘It’s not the destination, but the journey that gets you there.’

Symbolism

There is no doubt that symbols are everywhere.  As I sit here typing this I am looking out my window at my neighbor’s FSU flag flying in the breeze.  The flag represents excitement and love for the Seminoles and the game.  Beside me on the table is a picture of Mark and me on our wedding day.  It reminds me of our love, how far we’ve come, and all that we share in this life.  Bella has a collection of acorns in her room.  They symbolize her respect for nature and desire to be close to it.  Callee carried her best friend’s birthday party invitation around with her for weeks.  She’d open it up to see the picture of him inside and be reminded of the special friendship she has.

It is a part of our human nature to want to be reminded of the things that make us feel good or the things we desire in our life.  A fourteen-year-old boy might have posters of bikini clad girls and sports cars hanging on his bedroom wall because he hopes someday to drive that car or know a girl like that.  And we see with the popularity of the Twilight book series, that it represents a passionate love that knows no end or boundaries.  Many girls (young and old) wish to be desired and fought for by someone as sexy as Edward Cullen (or Robert Pattinson).

And of course there are religious symbols.  What would spirituality be without them.  They remind us of our path, progress, and faith.  These symbols in and of themselves are not our Gods.  They represents the gifts that God gives us.  A Christian wears a cross around their neck as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice.  When they see or touch the cross, they think of their savior and know they are forgiven.  A Buddhist would have a lotus flower as a symbol for the progress of their soul.  The lotus flower grows through muddy and mucky waters to bloom with amazing beauty.  A Hindi might keep a statue of the goddess Kali on an alter as a reminder of the feminine energy of God.  The star of David in Judaism has a lot of symbolism, including a representation of unity and the relationship between God and Jewish people.

In my opinion, symbols are simply reminders that we use to stir our souls.  In this moment of my spiritual journey I am seeking to overcome obstacles and to find my way.  I want to be a good listener to those who come to me in love.  I want to let go of attachments that keep me planted and heed my progress.  I want to remember always the blessings that God is constantly bringing into my life.  I am seeking higher knowledge and when I look at Ganesha on my ankle, I am reminded of all of those spiritual goals.  I do not worship symbols, nor do I believe anyone else does.  I think all of us connect to the meaning behind them and that brings us bliss, comfort, peace, or passion to get through the daily grind.

ganesha_symbolism

Pain

I was meditating on Monday and I inwardly asked for direction.  What do I need to learn now? What came to me was “pain.”  I need to learn to accept pain, and even to find comfort in it.

I often find myself backing down from pain, both physically and emotionally.  I avoid confrontation so as to avoid the pain of criticism or rejection.  As for physical pain, I work out and do yoga, both of which allow me to experience some degree of pain.  But what I always find is that when the pain arrives I back off.  When lifting weights instead of working through the pain, I drop the bar.  One of my favorite poses in Yoga is the Camel pose.  I like it because it is a very challenging pose that I can do with only minor modification.  The problem is I can only hold the pose for a few seconds because of the pain.  I would greatly benefit from holding it longer, but it hurts way too much.

ICP

A driving force in my life (and most people’s) is fear.  What I fear is pain.  The best way to begin to release fear is to learn to appreciate pain.  When I got this “message” during my meditation, I felt very much that it was directed toward physical pain.  I thought particularly about my experience with yoga and the poses that challenge my body.  I feel like dealing with pain begins at the physical level, then moves into the emotional level, and ultimately to the spiritual plane.

Conveniently enough, I had already scheduled an appointment with pain at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday.  I have been thinking about getting a second tattoo for a while and finally had the nerve to follow through.  The process of getting my tattoo took about an hour.  In the first phase I nearly passed out.  The artist got me a cup of water and lounged the chair back.  Kelly, who was along for moral support, went to the gas station and got me a Coke.  I reminded myself to breathe (just like Alain, the artist, had instructed me) and stayed with it.  It was difficult and required me to be present.  I am very good at visualizing all sorts of things at painful moments that only make matters much worse.  I couldn’t let my mind lead me astray.  I had to just feel the pain as it was.  It was quite a challenge for me as the tattoo is big with intricate detail.  After it was over the reward was this beautiful symbol on my leg to remind me of my spiritual journey.  Throughout the  day I could feel the twinges of pain near my ankle and strangely enough I appreciated and found comfort in them.  It was the feeling of aliveness as my body worked to repair itself.  I believe that in moments of great pain and pleasure we are made accutely aware of the divine energy within us.  It is another reminder not to run or hide from the opportunities that may bring us both….

Here is a picture of the tattoo.  Unless you are one of my tweeps, this will probably come as a complete surprise to you.  I haven’t shared my desire to get a tattoo with very many people.  It is Ganesha.  The first person who told me about Ganesha, described him as “the remover of obstacles.”  It is this attribute of God that will lead me beyond the distractions and keep me on my spiritual path.

DSCF2529

Soulmates 2

I wanted to continue talking about soulmates because I didn’t feel like one post was enough for it.  As I have started paying attention to the events in my life I notice the feelings that arise when I meet people.  When I encounter a soulmate there is a certain recognition within me.  I think that the level of attraction or even repulsion I feel, determines the impact that person will have on my life.  I felt an incredibly strong attraction to my friend and neighbor, Teresa and my meditation teacher, Rob.  Both of these people have been pivotal in my spiritual journey.  I have learned so much from the two of them and they have become my spiritual companions.

The same sort of connection happened when I started attending writing group.  It was actually Rob’s wife who put me in touch with Adrian Fogelin who then invited me to join her group.  The group is amazing and each person involved has offered me just what I needed in my growth as a writer.  They offer positive support and encouragement when I am doubting my skills and they ask the tough questions that make me examine what and why I write what I do.  I am so grateful to be a part of this group and if  (no actually not if..but when) my novels are published it will certainly be because of what I have learned from these amazing writers.  I have felt like I “belonged” with them from the first meeting I attended.

There is also another theory behind soulmates that I tend to buy into (although for some the idea is controversial or even offensive) and that is the idea of reincarnation.  Many books I’ve read and people I’ve talked with believe that those closest to us, whom we connect with the most, are people we’ve shared other lives with.  If you meet someone and are completely repelled by them without good reason it could be because in a past life the two of you had a difficult relationship.  And of course the whole idea of “love at first sight” could be because in another life you had actually been in love with the person.

Recently I read a book by Denise Linn called “Past Lives, Present Dreams” where she talked about something called “Lovemates.”  Her definition of lovemates was the definition that most people use for soulmates.  She suggests that we all have a twin soul, someone who is a mirror of us, who “completes us.”  She says that we do not share every life with this person and don’t always connect with them when we do.  She says that relationships with lovemates are sometimes difficult but when the work is done are very fulfilling and loving.  She also says that many people never find their lovemates and many others are already with their lovemates and don’t realize it.  (I like to think I’ve found mine.)

The truth about all of this…soulmates and lovemates…is that we will never have any real proof of it.  Just like so many other things, I take it with faith because it feels good to me.  I feel less alone believing I am connected beyond this physical realm with many other loved ones.