Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rhyme and Reason

This blogpost is an extension of “Being Taken Care Of.” There are many things in my life that I thought were random, that had neither rhyme nor reason to them. They happened just ‘cuz and that was the end of it. As I’m slowly unpacking my boxes (I’m mostly finished!), I’m seeing that’s not the case. There is rhyme and reason to everything, even the seemingly random and illogical things.

Ink and pen
Life can be really poetic sometimes.
When I was in Tucson (which is a case of rhyme and reason in and of itself), I spent a good 10 minutes at Best Buy vacillating on whether to buy a small, portable speaker or a car stereo thingy that I could use to hook up my ipod. You see, I possessed a cassette-to-ipod device, but the woman’s car I was borrowing did not have a tape deck only a CD player. I had no desire to lug all of my CDs with me, and listening to music when I drive is a must, so there I was, debating which to get because the likelihood of me using either a speaker or car stereo thingy in the future seemed slim. I settled on the portable speaker and called it a day.  
Now that I’m unpacking, I find myself using my portable speaker all the time. It’s so much easier than firing up my computer. Who knew that seemingly random purchase would come in handy down the road? Also, five years ago (I kid you not) I bought a cable bone to organize my cords and cables. That purchase has been sitting in its plastic wrap with the price tag on it for FIVE YEARS. I’ve been meaning to give it away or return it to the store for store credit because I’ve never found any use for it, and I’ve lived in multiple places since I first bought it. And now, it’s finally being put to use. My inner packrat feels vindicated.

These are not very good examples, I know, but they’re indicative of my larger life pattern. In a review of my book Just a Girl from Kansas, my friend wrote in a private message:
“I know it's difficult to have hope when everything around you is falling apart or not going as planned, but reading your journey really filled me with a sense of no matter what there is a plan for you and everything will be OK and work out for the best.”
When I use my portable speaker or my cable bone or realize I’m experiencing x because I did y, it reminds me of that notion, that there is a plan for me, that everything will be OK, and that everything will work out for the best. I believe in fate AND free will. Really though I believe there is an invisible hand, a guiding force in my life, and when I take a step back for reflection, I see its presence. I see there is rhyme and reason for everything and for that I am grateful.

I dream of a world where we understand even the seemingly random events are connected by a thread leading to one thing and then another. A world where we appreciate that even if we don’t know the rhyme or reason now, we will. A world where we enjoy the poetry of our lives and watch as the rhymes manifest. 

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Something's Gotta Give

I'm hard on myself (maybe you've noticed) so this week has been extremely difficult because there are so many things vying for my attention -- work, unpacking, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, working on my blog redesign, recovery meetings -- and I want to accomplish them all. Right this minute. Obviously I realize that's impossible, and I understand the value of doing tasks little by little, but there's more to it than that.

While on the phone with my recovery mentor on Friday I said, "This work, life, play balance is a bitch." She laughed because she knows exactly what I mean. She said to me, "Something has to give and sometimes that's our expectations." Holy guacamole batman. In my mind, when she said "something has to give" my immediate thought was the cleanliness level of my house, i.e. taking that off of my to-do list but accomplishing everything else on it. So when she said instead that my expectations can give, my mind was blown. You mean I can throw away my expectation that I'll have unpacked all of my belongings by now? You mean I can throw away my expectation that my blog redesign will have been completed by today, Sunday, the day my new posts go up? Whoa there. Just whoa.

I feel like this woman sometimes.
I feel like this woman sometimes.

What I love about this is I can take myself off the hook. I allow myself more wiggle room. I allow myself the understanding sometimes things take longer than I think they will. And that's OK. It means I don't have to take anything off my to-do list but I do get to adjust the when. My self-will is subtracted out of the equation because instead I acknowledge some things are out of my control, even if they seem like they should be in my control! Unpacking, washing dishes, doing laundry, it seems like these things are in my hands, but I'm realizing they are and they are not because they are working in tandem with many other factors, thus when they get done is in this instance not up to me. I'm only human and I can only accomplish so much in a day.

In essence, I'm trying really hard to practice the acceptance part of the serenity prayer. I've heard many times that:

"Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake … [U]nless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."

This means I also accept I'm not perfectly practicing this passage. It means I'm letting go of my expectations that just because I want to no longer feel fear, insecurity, lack, or what have you, doesn't mean the feelings will necessarily disappear this instant. They could, but it's foolish (and troublesome) for me to expect them to. I'm doing my best and that's good enough. And in this instance, I'm releasing my expectation of what "my best" means.

I dream of a world where we release our expectations. A world where we understand sometimes things take longer than we planned. A world where we realize life is messy and chaotic and dramatic and doesn't always fit in neat, orderly boxes. A world where we live in acceptance of what is while also understanding some things can be changed. And sometimes that thing needs to be us.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Effortless is Not Worthless

I’ve had this idea in my mind that if something is effortless for me it’s not valuable. Because if it’s effortless, than anyone can do it and it’s cheapened – we all know it’s only when something is rare, like gold, that it becomes valuable. For me, the things that come naturally are writing, being loving, and acting as a counselor.

I’ve held the notion that because I wrote and published a book myself, it’s not a big deal. Anyone can do it; it’s not such an achievement because it’s not like I sold my book to Random House, or Penguin, or any of the top publishers. It’s not really a triumph. And being loving, sending love to everyone, doesn’t make much of a difference, it’s not like I invented a cure for cancer or something. And so what if people call me up when they’re having a rough time? Because it’s easy for me, because I’m a natural at all these things, they don’t hold much value. In my mind, only if something is difficult does it have worth.

Me meditating
What I love about this picture of me meditating is even looking at it I can *feel* the good vibes I'm emanating.
I’m sure my friend Amal, who’s big into astrology, would say this is my Capricorn rising rearing its ugly head. The sentiment for Capricorns is to find satisfaction in hard work. My lifecoach and I explored this concept of something being valuable only if it’s difficult. We pretended I was a debt collector and played out how I would feel about it (horrible) and how I would be of service to the world (I wouldn’t be). We also pretended I was a math professor – I’m not bad at math, but it’s definitely a subject I struggle with and have to make an effort if I want to succeed. What would I contribute to the world if I was a math professor? Nothing, considering how much work it takes for me to grasp basic concepts.

What I’m getting at here, what I’m coming to understand, is we were all given certain gifts for a reason. We were imbued with our talents not so we could squander them, but so we can use them, so we can make a difference in the world with what comes naturally to us. Our gifts are not worthless because they’re easy, they’re precious because they’re gifts. This has become very clear to me in the physical realm because I lost an earring my sister got me from Prague. I’m not upset the earring itself is missing; I’m upset because it is an irreplaceable gift from my sister. Similarly, the gifts we’ve been given are from the universe/God/Brahma/the divine and are irreplaceable.

What I’m saying here is who I am and what I have to offer are valuable. My gifts are precious. They may be easy for me, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. It’s important to be me, to use my talents, to serve with them. My gifts have been given to me for a reason. Just like Rosie gave me earrings to wear, the divine gave me words to write, a big heart to love, and a sound ear to listen. My lifecoach wrote to me, “You don’t get to make up that not being you is somehow serving you anymore.” Nor is it serving anyone else.

I dream of a world where we realize just because something is easy doesn’t mean it has no value. A world where we hold dear the gifts that have been given to us and we use them. A world where we let ourselves be who we are, understanding there’s nothing more precious than our gifts.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Little by Little

On Independence Day a friend of mine texted me a quote about being in recovery: "It's a million-dollar program that we get a nickel at a time." I both love and hate that concept. I'm sitting in my cottage surrounded by boxes -- although not as many as last week! -- and what I want is to unpack everything now. I want to be settled now. I want all the organizing to be done now. I want my big payday right this minute, not little by little.

I quite often forget this concept of baby steps, slow and steady wins the race, etc. because I'm attracted by the big and bold, by pomp and circumstance. I love hearing about seemingly overnight success and Cinderella stories because, well, I'm impatient. I heard today that impatience can also mask self-centeredness and a controlling tendency. That's certainly the case with me.

Water wearing down rock
True story: The consistent pressure of water can make even the hardest rock smooth.
Little by little is important for me to remember because more often it's the case someone is wealthy because they know how to save -- they sock away money a little bit here, a little bit there. More often it's the case an actor has been auditioning for years before they become an "overnight" success. Truly it's the baby steps, the hard work along the way that builds up to something great. Rome wasn't built in a day and nor will my cottage be unpacked in a day. I want to be a best-selling author this minute, but when I focus on the big goal I forget about selling one book at a time to one person at a time.

For someone like me who's melodramatic and makes big drastic changes quite frequently, doing something little by little is crucial. When I look at all the things that have stuck with me -- my meditation practice, my yoga practice, my recovery from addiction -- it's because I did things little by little. They've become permanent fixtures in my life because I took action every single day -- not because I made one grand sweeping gesture. Sure, the grand gestures are fun and exciting, but it's the little actions everyday that have made the most lasting impact.

I don't know that anyone else will get anything out of this blogpost, but I guess I'm saying for today I realize there is value in the small things. In doing things one day at a time, little by little. That getting a million dollars a nickel at a time means there won't ever be a moment when I'm completely out of cash because I'll have a constant source of income. Yes, I'm impressed by vast canyons, but that's because I'm seeing the end results -- many canyons are created by water wearing down rock little by little, day by day. Little by little adds up to something beautiful and grand, and right now is the time for me to practice that, knowing eventually I'll see the results I'm looking for.

I dream of a world where we value doing something little by little. A world where we understand constant and steady pressure adds up to something amazing. A world where we have patience with ourselves and each other. A world where we cherish our baby steps.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.