Gift of Magic
So I'm sitting here transcribing some interviews I recorded probably a month ago ... one is with my eco warrior friend, Dianne Peterson who doesn't have a website, but if she did, she would also need a personal biographer to keep up with her salons and meetings with the mayor of Pittsburgh and other notable film makers and writers of the eco warrior tribe - and the other is with Todd Fink who is a kind, wise seeker, philosopher and musician with The Giving Tree Band - who, coincidentally, are on tour right now. You should check them out if you get a chance. (Their new album is killer and I cannot wait to tell you more about the energy work that is within it - it's just wonderful!)
Both were great conversations so I will be sharing them soon.
Life, you know, it interrupts me sometimes.
So, as I'm sitting here, I'm getting messages from friends and I'm complaining back, "My butt hurts from sitting so long. My eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen. I'm getting old and my right eye is fading faster than my left eye. And so in so writer is blah blah blah"
To which my friend writes back, "There is no spoon."
This is when I recall an email I had gotten from Derek Sivers two days ago which I didn't open until this morning. He doesn't blog often, but when he does it is short, sweet and straight to the point. I hope you will enjoy Ego is the Enemy and Actions, not words reveal our real values.
So, I see emails and messages coming in and I need to stretch my legs and yet another glass of ice water or coffee and hours pass by and I am realizing how much research needs to be done before I can write these interviews fully and honorably ... and then I realize some of this aforementioned wisdom. Like a gift of magic, it's an invitation, it's permission ... to not be perfect and to get it out there. Brene Brown says it best, and I'm paraphrasing here: there are a lot of perfect unfinished things that just never get out of yourself and into the world.
You probably know this already, as I did - because it's all already out there - everything already exists. My perfectionism gets in the way and my ego gets in the way. But then .. Like Mary Ann reminded me, there is no spoon.
Thanks to all you magicians and alchemists out there. You probably don't even know how wonderful you are.
So what are you waiting for?!
I’ve been meditating on all the joy that is in my life: the gratitude, the little things, the easily over looked things. I just finished reading The Biology of Belief for a Life Coaching certification course I’ve been working on. The author, Dr. Bruce Lipton, says that the cells move toward nutrients and away from toxins and love is a spiritual nutrient whereas fear and negativity is a toxin.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
Knowing a fact or idea and acting on it are two different things especially if 95% of ourselves move and act out of habit. Knowing we have the power and ability to change a script is different than changing a script. Mediation has its peripheral benefits. So imagine we are all energy and the waves of thought and being are radiating outward in waves and entangling with other vibrations and frequencies and they change. They change just upon entanglement. The vibrations can bounce off each other and return to you - to your mediation field.
The thing about meditation is that it hones our ability to be sensitive. One thing we are not really taught is to be sensitive to the things we cannot see. In society we’ve replaced that with organized religion, so where where we are taught in school to work with physical matter, in school we are taught to believe in one thing we cannot see and to hyper focus on the single invisible object with a few others on the side … so, God and angels. And that is fine, but we can expand on that. Also, it can be seen as two contradictory ideas. This method and hyper focus distracts us from being sensitive to the frequencies around us give off because the whole planet is living. The plants, the animals, the other people, we all act as one symbiotic organism. Did I pull out a few skeptics when I used the word ‘symbiotic’?
It’s matter of belief. Now, I am going to have to write a giant essay on the book, which I can publish later, but for now I want to stay focused on joy and love. The two things that came to me when I was meditating is:
I’d like to tackle the second one first and I am going to get really selfish here for a minute, but that’s really the only way I know how to explain this. I have been really sick lately. I have a ton of congestion and body aches and my foot became swollen and my side hurt. I have been a mess, generally speaking, for about three weeks. This is very atypical. Naturally, I was thinking about my death. I want to believe everything will go on just fine without me and I am certain it would after some doing. If I died today, right now, I would leave behind two children that live with me, two dogs and an eighty-five year old mother that is immobile and has dementia. Sounds easy in one sentence, but I would worry about my children (are they able to take care of themselves fully and realize their dreams?), I would worry about the dogs (of course I chose very difficult breeds to take on even though they are complete snuggle bunnies to me and my family, one is a biter. Would he or they be welcome where they go? Would my children take them and take good care of them?) and lastly there’s mom.
I take care of mom because, frankly, I don’t really trust anyone else. That’s the wrong answer, isn’t it? I should say, I take care of mom because I love her. Well, every child knows the mother-child relationship can be tumultuous and mine is no different. Sometimes people reconcile their relationships. I don’t think we ever did and now I am obliged to care for her. I think it’s cultural. Obviously, I could place her somewhere. Last time I did that I was so very disgusted with the professional care I cannot bring myself to do it yet.
Bringing Dr. Lipton back into this story for a moment, it should be noted that it is not the professionals that fell down here, it is their education. This leads back to the idea that we are not taught to be intuitive. Some break boundaries, true, but most want to keep their jobs so they comply and ignore their inner feelings. If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now, they sent her home with thousands of dollars of prescriptions to be filled and she is on zero drugs right now. Yes, she broke her hip and yes, she needed surgery and yes some temporary drugs were great. Creating a cycle of dependency on the pharmaceuticals is not the correct objective, however.
How did mom end up in this place in the beginning? I could list a number of physical reasons. When she began to show signs of dementia she would forget she put sugar in her coffee and kept adding sugar and she would drink coffee all day long. She did not exercise.. at all. She didn’t ride a bike or run or swim or value long walks in the woods. She did not read, she barely had time for television. Not only did she not read, she didn’t value furthering her knowledge. She allowed herself to become less social as she aged. She enjoyed processed foods and instant coffee, but that would be the least of her bad habits. The worst being her fear of standing up and her burying of her feelings. Now I don’t want you to think she was completely horrible. I get my love of cooking and culture from her, she was a perfectionist when it came to sewing and I never would have been so good at math if we hadn’t of played all those math games when I was growing up.
Brain studies have demonstrated how we create pathways in the mind ("Cells that fire together, wire together”), how we can rebuild the mind, how we can intentionally forget traumatic incidents and how our minds struggle with fear. When I was growing up, my father was pretty abusive. One day he threw a heavy glass and oak coffee table that easily weighs forty pounds across the room at my mom. I saw her get drugged down the stairs while trying to hold on to the handrail not to mention his constant demeaning.
Anyone who knew my mom would tell you she is the nicest person in the world. There is no way she deserved this type of treatment from anyone, but he was just a mean angry guy with a whole set of his own problems he wasn’t dealing with. Bottom line is, mom had a lot to want to forget and unfortunately I don’t think the traumatic incidents in her life started when she got married. During her divorce she had sort of a mental break down. What I would later come to see as her “weakness” became something I found difficult to forgive as I often got caught in the cross hairs. To add insult to injury I then had to watch this dude just walk away scot-free. In trying to move on it made sense for her to block unwanted memories while carrying the veneer of a happy go lucky single mom. Little did she know that in actively suppressing her memories, she was also deadening neural pathways in her mind. Once a pathway dies, new ones can be constructed, but the dead pathway will never reopen.
Understanding this has not really made it easier for me to forgive or like this person I did not choose as my parent. There is a lesson in it, however. The lesson is Doing difficult things out of obligation without love will ultimately hurt you. The action involved for me now is to find the love, to find the joy in service, to feel the compassion and empathy and sympathy and to intentionally set forth what is otherwise known as ‘good vibes’ every time I enter the room.
Today when I was bringing her breakfast and helping her in her wheelchair and putting on the television she was smiling. She always says thank you for the meals and the aid I bring to her. Sometimes she’s fussy because she doesn’t know what Im doing, but then she realizes and corrects herself. Sometimes I have to hear the same corrections every day. For example, when I put on the water she says, “Oh the water is cold! Why did you put on cold water?!” She’ll say it kind of in a mean way. Then the water warms up and she says, “ OH, now it’s warm. Okay this is good. Thank you.” Every day she forgets the water is cold when you first put it on and every day I have to hear that. Sometimes I get frustrated at how grabby she is or how I’m trying to help and she resists or questions me. I have to let go of any of that, however, because those things will only hurt what is inside of me and I know she will see after a few minutes and everything will be okay.
I see now that it is not only my job to care for someone, but it is my job to find the love and joy in it and I do believe, if we can change our minds, we can change the world.
To be continued….
by M. LeBlanc
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When I was in my late teens and into my 20's, I was plagued with anxiety and panic attacks. The anxiety was not what many people think of when they imagine anxiety; it didn't seem to have a focus, and would come on often without reason, or so it seemed. It would come on during otherwise peaceful moments at home, or spending time with close friends. The anxiety would hijack my brain, making me totally unable to function. I couldn't drive. I couldn't communicate what was wrong. And this was just one side of it. Around the age of 21, full blown panic attacks started to become a weekly or several times per week occurrence. I would lock myself in bathroom stalls to try to slow my breathing. My brain would convince me that I was suffocating, or having a heart attack. Sometimes I would lie on my bedroom floor, curled in the fetal position, hyperventilating for what felt like hours. I felt hopeless, totally out of control, and possessed.
But I want to tell you what I discovered.
While consciously, it seemed like all of these events had no trigger, subconsciously, much more was going on. As a people-pleaser my whole life, I'd always thought it was more important to be agreeable and pleasant than to cause a scene or speak up. So I never really learned to say no. I never really developed my own voice. But slowly, first out of sheer exhaustion, and then almost as if through experimentation, I began saying no. "No, thank you, I don't really feel up for going to that event." "No, I actually really don't feel comfortable doing what you're asking me to do. I don't think it's right." "No, I'm actually not really that into you." Etc.. And slowly, something I didn't expect started to happen: the panic attacks subsided. The anxiety lessened. And the more I said "no" to things that didn't feel right to me, the better I got. Now, I'm not suggesting to coop yourself up inside and say no to everything. But by saying no to some things, I opened up the space to say yes to better things. "Yes" to more personal time. "Yes" to life enriching things. "Yes" to passions and interests and developing a mind-body connection through things like yoga and biking and physical activity. It is through my learning to speak up for myself, that I learned to defeat anxiety. While it might not be the same for everyone, I hope that maybe someone out there gives this a try and that it helps.
Speak your truth.
About the Author: Arista is a biologist, lay herbalist, urban gardener and rock climber with a passion for all things adventure. She enjoys getting her hands dirty, immersing herself in other cultures and perspectives, and getting in sync with Mother Nature."
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