Message in a Bottle

She waited for hours for him to show up.  Moments passed by like a string of eternities as she waited for him to have the decency to call her, at the very least.

That was it.  She was done!  No more waiting for him to “bless her” with his presence.  She was tired of his BS anyway, tired his bare feet in his sneakers and how he slurped coffee.  And he cracked his knuckles … what was up with that?

Just last week he agreed when she mentioned that she was not in as good a shape as she used to be.

“You know it is good for your health to keep fit,” he said.  She knew she should hit the gym more often but it was none of his darn business if she did or not.   She didn’t tell HIM when to work out or what to eat.

“Why do I always get the losers?” she thought.  Men who don’t know how to treat a lady like a lady … are there any good men out there?

More hours went by.  It was almost 1:00 AM when he finally called her.  She was in bed with the phone on her pillow.

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?’ she began, her voice rising.  “I have been waiting here all night for you to call me!”

“Remember what you said last night?” he began with a calmness that stopped her mid-rant.

No.  She didn’t remember too much about last night.  Too much wine and too much song …

“You probably forgot,” he said, “You told me you were going to come over to my place and pick me up.  You were going to treat me to a pizza, I think.  I know, it’s a little late now,” he laughed.

“No worries.  These things happen, honey.  Just called to wish you sweet dreams.”

Living In The Gap: Embracing Emotional Maturity

How does a person go from confusion to clarity? From restlessness and distraction to serenity? From conflict to peace? From noise to silence? From angst to joy? From entitlement to gratitude? From selfishness to service?

This transformation is the result of embracing learning and change.

I think that explaining the changes that happen when a person reaches emotional maturity is not as effective giving the person a means to obtain it.

 

Emotional maturity, for me, is what I term as living in The Gap (a state of inner space, not the store!). Viktor Frankl called it the space between stimulus and response.

The Gap is that split second between when something happens and our reaction to it.

 

  • Our senses to register it as having happened (stimulus)
  • They send signals to our brain
  • We sift through our mental database for a similar experience and choose the best possible reference. We remember what we did before, or what we have been taught, or what we saw someone else do in a similar situation (even someone on TV).
  • We to apply to this situation (response)

When we act from memory, when we remember a similar experience and act from it, we call this reacting.

Athletes work on their reaction time, repeating the same action until it becomes what we call Second Nature. Doctors and pilots and musicians and parents and factory workers and dancers, like Tom Cruise in the movie, Cocktail, practice their moves until they become so smooth, so easy, it is like they always knew how to do this thing.

But they didn’t. Even with natural ability, they still had to learn the moves. And it took years, even decades, to master this skill.

Living in The Gap gives us access to First Nature. This is who we are before we become domesticated, shaped, molded, and folded into a predictable version that is acceptable to mainstream society.

The original Big Sky country, First Nature is a space where the wildest, most courageous, curious, creative, and passionate hearts roam free. It is a space of calm, and quiet. Time becomes null in this void. It is Sanctuary.

It is where the most honorable and compassionate part of us, the part I call our Constant Traveler, awaits.

We must come to our Constant Traveler’s space. I learned that attempting to draw her “out here,” into the world, breaks the connection.

I spent decades catching only flashes of her…being with her just long enough to know it was possible but never being able to stay for more than an hour or two. I spent years yearning for the delight of this place that I knew existed but in which I couldn’t live…until Viktor Frankl taught me through his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, about the space between stimulus and response.

I began to extend the time in between when something happened and my reaction to it. It was hard. It hurt. I had to bite my tongue, as my Irish grandmother would have described it, and wrestle with my feelings over what I believed to be an injustice.

But I wanted it more than anything. I had to desire peace more than I desired defense.

I studied the work of psychologists Carl Rogers and William Glasser, and teachers like Jiddu Krishnamurti, Wayne Dyer, and Alan Watts, as well as other great thinkers and teachers. Gradually The Gap began to expand.

The Gap is the space where I learned how to shut my mouth and listen.

Emotionally mature people value The Gap above all else. They use time wisely. They take the time they need to consider an appropriate response and do not let the drama of a situation drag them from this sanctuary.

Essentially, it is where the subject learns to be the observer by positioning you, as A Course In Miracles describes it, above the battleground.

This is how life has changed for me. I am no nobody’s guru, but I do enjoy living in The Gap.

Try it on and see if it fits you.

Designed to THRIVE!

 

What could be better than self-accomplishment?

Accomplishment is a super energizing and confidence-building practice in an elegant life designed to thrive. However, when a person uses their personal accomplishments to demonstrate, encourage, and support others in creating their life design, it takes on a much deeper dimension.

 

 

Service to others is a vital component in a life designed to thrive.

A fresh, new year awaits us.  A new decade awaits us!!

What better gift can we give to ourselves?

What better gift can we offer to others…than the gift of a life designed to thrive?

A Love Story

I often think about the people and critters in my life that have died, but not from the perspective of what I’ve lost. I keep their memory in my heart so I can appreciate what I’ve gained by having them in my life.

Life and death are eternally linked. You cannot have one without the other. It doesn’t matter if you are 15, 25, 65, or 95…we all experience death in some way.

The evidence is all around us. Each day dies to be born anew with the dawn. Some people are in our lives for what we feel is not long enough…it could never be long enough. Items get used up, some get broken. Things get lost or even taken away. Money gets spent. Critters we dearly love grow old and leave us.

For many people, it is too scary to look death in the eye and so we choose to put our fingers in our ears and sing a happy tune instead. This is especially true when we are young…even talking about the idea of talking about loss scares the crap out of us. We dare not speak it out loud, in case we attract it to us. Even folks who are not superstitious struggle with this topic.

One time I was at a rock concert and witnessed an angry young man walking my way. He had his fists clenched, his face was red, and his eyes were glazed, so he was probably stoned. It freaked me out so I turned away, as it looked like he was going to hit someone standing very close to me.

Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I flinched but didn’t turn around. They tapped harder, more insistently…

What do you think I did to you? I don’t even know you, I thought…I was coming up with all of my responses – he was a lot bigger than me and he was clearly on drugs.

I was up by the stage, standing in the middle of a frenzy of young people jumping and dancing and cheering. With the music blasting, he probably couldn’t hear me no matter what I said…

Then this person laid their hand on my shoulder. That really freaked me out, so I spun around.

It wasn’t him. The stoned guy was long gone.

You dropped this, the person said, and handed me my sweater.

I think of this story when I think of how I dealt with loss when I was younger. I was totally afraid to even think about it, let alone discuss it, but it kept tapping me on the shoulder, over and over, its hot breath in my ear, reminding me of my mortality. Reminding me of the mortality of everyone and everything I loved.

The day I turned to face the dragon, I discovered my older and wiser self in front of me. She accepted that we are not getting out of here alive, and she was okay with it. She reminded me that I came to life just fine, and I will leave just fine. That the natural order of all things is to be stripped of all things. She said to focus on the in-between, where you get to live, don’t waste time mourning that which you cannot change. She taught me how to celebrate life, instead of mourning death.

I have learned it can be viewed in two ways – as loss or gain. How you think about it is a matter of mindset. The longer you live, the more you naturally accumulate…you choose the meaning you put on this accumulation.

Considering this, I set about training my mind to transmute loss into gain.

Loss is a natural part of living and a wise person accepts this as early as possible. If it is a natural part of living then it happens to everyone, not just me.

Everyone’s mother dies. Everyone’s dad and gram and sister and brother will die. Everyone’s good ole dog dies.

The mindset of abundance allows me to consider what their elegant spirit graced my life to share with me. I thought about it so I could get my mind around their value to me, and how their presence in my life helped me grow. After all, I am still here. I still have things to do, people to see, places to go.

It was a mind-shift to choose celebration instead of mourning. With each loss, it naturally takes a unique period of grieving and adjustment. Embrace it. We are human beings – we love and feel the loss of love. This period must happen if the individual truly wishes to heal.

However, at some point, the resilience of the human spirit will allow us to begin the recovery process. We are not dead.

I have found that choosing to focus on celebrating the life of those who have died, instead of choosing to focus on the circumstances that led up to their death and my loss, was transformative. It opened me up in ways I could never have imagined before this process began.

Loss happens, but those of us who are still here can make the best of it.

Human beings are natural storytellers. Tell the story of how your life is better for having had those people in your life.

That is a story full of loving thoughts, worth telling again and a-gain.

The Gifts of A Writer

We read to confirm.  We read to learn.  We read to gain entry into sacred space. Sometimes we are truly blessed by the writer who blends these into a breathtaking kaleidoscope of support, discovery, and inspiration.

When we find ourselves searching for confirmation of something we believe in our hearts is true, we find our truth in the writing of others.

When we are searching for meaning and a reason to get up in the morning, others teach us, through their words, how to survive and thrive.

Their words offer us Something Colored Beautiful in a day cloaked in wrathful shades of gray.  We feel their hope, their confidence, and their competence so deeply that we make it ours.

Writing is a solo act.  Sometimes, when we feel most alone, the words of a fellow writer offers us encouragement, support, and company.

Writers know.  As artists, writers, dreamers, and creatives…we know that the spirit of reciprocity is life itself.  We share the best and most brilliant part of ourselves because when others feel it, we keep feeling it too.  

These are the gifts of a writer.

What is a story without a Shakespeare?
A novel without an Atwood?
A song without a Lennon?
A philosophy without a Socrates, or Watts, or Krishnamurti or Buddha?

So many times we are so blinded by our faults that we cannot see our own beauty.

When I read your words we share sacred space.  A glimpse of your beauty reveals my own.

Thank you.

Today is The Day

You cannot realize the flow intellectually, only experientially…that is the narrow part of the path…most folks are still carrying too much stuff and cannot squeeze through.  You must be comfortable in your own skin, with your own thoughts and motivations and realize you are enough because you and only you…is all that can flow through.

This knowing is elusive only because when you try to use it you lose it..it is the mastering of the technique of using no technique at all that keeps you in the flow, where you, truly, are always and in all ways.  It is your fear that denies this as reality.

You have created a paradox by loving as well as fearing yourself.

It is not egotistical to express your brilliance.  How else would Inspiration be expressed but through you?  Would you expect less?

Creativity and Inspiration are your birthrights as a human being.  You are worthy of this wonder simply by being born.

What is of the ego self-depreciates…to make yourself less than what is your inheritance – the fantasy of something larger than who you see in the mirror, and then to have you lament what you have made.  Remind yourself that what you give you receive, and when you look around you see what you believe. Remember this.

Do not remake yourself.  You arrived here intact.  It is done.  There is a dazzling splendor in you…to care and share that sparkle and shine with the world. Your artistry sparkles…

Littleness is arrogance. Littleness shrinks and bemoans the darkness, not realizing it is what itself has made – a self that is as unreal as is darkness. Inspiration is expansive and unlimited.  It is expressed through being.  When inspired, you truly see and need to look no further.

What say you?  Most loved and beloved, what works will you be about this day? Are you willing to open and accept the gifts that are your birthright as a human being and share your Inspiration with everyone?

Today is the day.

 

The Life of P

Ever bought a set of sheets – unpacked them, washed them, and taken them fresh from the clothesline and tried to fold them back into the package in the exact same way they were when you bought them?

This morning I was presented with an interesting challenge…How do I fold myself back into the box?

Have you ever thought about what you would tell your younger self about life if you got the chance?  Or to go back in time and meet the younger you and try to steer her (or him) away from life’s crazies and collisions?

There would be a very long line of folks with a very long list of what not to do, methinks!

Well, I am not going to consider it from a Back to The Future prospective, because that would mean knowing what I know now as a young me and that’s been done and done and done again.

This required some mental gymnastics…projecting back in time to me then, wiping the slate in my imagination, and then projecting ahead to me now…attempting to fold myself outside in and imagine myself inside out.

I think of it like seeing a documentary entitled The Life of P.

Here are the parameters:

  • I am 16.
  • I am in a movie theatre watching a documentary that chronicles the life of the woman who I know as P. It is set up to unfold in chronological order.

This is the girl I envision.  She is getting ready to graduate high school within a few months.  Man, did she hate school!  She just managed to squeak by academically.  She can hardly wait to get away and get her life underway.

Don’t let her baby face fool you.  She is one intense little chiquita…

What would she think of me, as she watched the documentary with P as the star?  Who does she see when she sees me?

I asked and my 16 yr old self answered…

I know she is me but she doesn’t feel like me. We look alike but my skin isn’t like hers. I am struggling with the idea that this older, more weathered version will be me. P is being interviewed as the documentary begins and says she has just turned 59. She seems pleased to tell everyone.

At least I made it to 59. Yay.

The words coming out of my mouth sound like my voice, though. P is upbeat and energetic! She smiles a lot. She seems genuinely nice. Nicer than I feel most of the time. And when she talks about me her eyes look really soft and gentle.

And I think, How did you get to be that kind?

I watch as P struggles with making sense of her life, of our life, as a young adult.

It makes me bawl my eyes out. I wish I didn’t have to wait so long and fight so hard to feel accepted and loved, but I am relieved to know that it finally happens.

I think, Why, why, why, did all that crap have to happen me??? but as the movie continues I see how I brought some of that stuff on myself.  And I like how P uses those experiences.  She calls them tattoo moments – moments that are tattooed on your brain.  They show you where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.

We live, crap happens. We choose. We make mistakes.  If we learn, we win.  Every time.

I don’t know what to do with that crap.  Thank you, P, for figuring it out.

I will have two babies! WOW! I cannot imagine actually having a baby. I can see her pain on my face during, but also our joy on my face afterward.  Mom P makes it almost seem doable. And they are the cutest kids ever!! I can’t wait to meet them!!!

And the changes that happen when I’m a mom…so much P does because she is a parent that isn’t pretty and is really freakin’ hard…

Thanks, P, for taking the time to grow up.

But really, though…that 80’s perm?  And could you lose those 90’s Mom jeans, please????

You know, at 16, I KNOW that I can do anything in the world! I WILL do it! As I watch The Life of P, I see the places where I will have the chance to zig instead of zag, and I see where I will kind of get lost in a zig-zag maze like the one I read about that had a Minotaur in it…you know, that half-man half-bull thing that would kill ya if it cornered ya…

But you found our superpowers in there. We can haul ass like The 6 Million Dollar Woman!  Thanks, P, for following the White Rabbit like Alice did in Wonderland, and for not turning me into a scared rabbit.

YES!!! P still knows how to have fun! I am happy that we still get to play sports. I really hate the sports we do in high school, but I will earn a black belt in Taekwondo when I’m 42, and hike Mt. Katahdin many times and Mt. Washington and run in races and cycle in France and hike to Machu Picchu after I turn 50!

This makes me really excited, P!  And now I know why I waited so long to begin. It’s all good.

I cringe, though, because what happens when a person lives long enough happens in the later parts of our documentary.

Mom and dad die. My sweet Grammie and Poppie die. A LOT of folks I know die. Every one of my good ole dogs and cats die.  One will actually die in my arms.

OMG, I’m only 16…I don’t want to see any of this!!!  But I know you didn’t want to either, and you still did it with as much elegance as you had in you. I am proud of those parts of our story, P.

Thank you for caring enough about me and my dreams to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin all over again. I know now that even when I feel like nobody really cares about me, that you do.

Thank you for not only surviving but for learning to thrive.  Thank you for not forgetting about me during those hard times.  You didn’t leave me alone for thaaat long…but I did miss you when you were gone.

I appreciate how you worked so hard to get back to the girl who would become the woman inside me, and how you learned to love me better than anyone else in the whole wide world! 

You know, I have been thinking about something…I like where I am just fine, P, with my life stretched out before me like a softly winding Carrera marble staircase that is waiting to be brushed by the hem of my long, sweeping silk dress...a red gown, of course…

But I don’t want to be you yet.  It is enough to know that when the time comes I will be happy to step into your shoes.

And I am relieved!  Even though I find her super funny, I didn’t wanna end up being Granny Clampett.

And I’m just as happy to know you don’t want to be me again, either.

I see it now!  It’s all connected at the nexus of now.  The paradox of the future me envisioning the past me envisioning the future me will change everyone I have been and ever will be.  What if what I see now, at 16, changes the timeline in all directions, from this moment on?

I have all the time in the world to chew on that idea.

What is my favorite part of the documentary? That’s easy! The part where I finally say, I am an artist!

Where P tells the whole world that the artist within never, ever, dies…that we always carry it in our hearts, like a lighthouse beacon on a cold, stormy North Atlantic night.  To see it revealed in the stories we spin and the songs we write together ignites a fire that transcends time and space!

Annndddd, I LOVED the part where I connect with the 59 yr old P that I know I will be…when time stands still so I can step through the mirror and P is waiting for me on a mountaintop where we feel the wind and the sun and join together in that friggin’ cool little Happy Dance!

Wait for it!!! I can hardly….

It’s the scene where, in the end, she hugs me. For the rest of our life.