Friday, February 20, 2009

What kind of world would we have, if we all did exactly what we wanted to do?

Hypothetically, people worry about everyone being selfishly oriented. "If everyone did exactly what they want to do, what kind of world would this be?" And we say, a really, really good one. Because if everyone did what they wanted to do, everyone would feel free. And if you feel free, you feel empowered. And every negative emotion that exists—hear this—every negative emotion that exists is because there is some sense of loss of freedom somewhere in there.
Excerpted from an Abraham-Hicks workshop in Syracuse, NY on Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

I received this quote from Abraham-Hicks ( a few days ago. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I didn't try. This is how I've been living my life in the more recent years, and why I am happy.

But I find that I am misunderstood quite a bit. What if everyone did what they wanted to do? Most people think that the world would be chaos. But I'm not talking about letting psychopaths do what they want to do, and harming others. I am talking about people knowing what gives them joy and following their hearts, even if it doesn't make sense to others. I am talking about people committing to that which gives them joy.

I started living this way about 15 years ago. I left a job that I hated because I had an abusive boss. When I wasn't terrorized by him, I was bored. I had worked for him for five years because the salary and the perks were really good. Up to that point I had been motivated by fear of survival. But one day I woke up and realized that I wasn't willing to live that way anymore. I confronted this scary man, told him the truth about how I felt, and calmly discussed whether I could continue working for him. He was shocked and for the first time in my life, I felt empowered.

Having had my first taste of telling the truth and following my heart, above survival, I couldn't stop. I found that I didn't want to live in New York anymore. The idea of moving to Marin County in the San Francisco Bay area made me jump for joy. It didn't matter that I didn't know anyone there, that I didn't have work, and that I didn't know how to drive. I took a leap of faith and found myself happier than I had ever been in New York. I could go on and on, but you get the drift. That's how I've been living my life ever since.

I don't hurt anyone. Some people feel hurt because I am not meeting their expectations. But it's my life and I get to live it any way I want. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am serious about my commitments. I have a contract with a high-tech company and I fulfill my obligation to them, giving it my best effort. I meet my work deadlines. My colleagues know that they can depend on me. When I find that I don't want to meet my contract the way it is, I renegotiate it.

So by all means, honor your commitments. Just be diligent about what you are committing to. For me it's work, my book, speaking, and my blog. I have no problem saying no to requests that I don't want to fulfill.

So what happens when you follow your heart and do what you want to do? You wind up doing the work you're suppose to do. You wind up using your gifts and talents in a creative way that inspires others. You wind up having everything that is important to you--not to someone else, but to you. You become of service instead of being just another hamster on the treadmill, running for dear life and going no where. You become happy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spirituality: It's about being real, not being loving.

At least for me. In case I haven't made it clear in this blog, everything I write comes from my own experience and my own process. Sometimes it comes from being triggered by something someone said. Sometimes it comes from feeling so much gratitude and love that I can't contain myself. (That hasn't been the case lately. I wish it were.) I do not profess to being enlightened. Hello? This blog is called Not a Guru, for a reason. I am not a serene, loving person who is living in Oneness with All That Is. Do I need to repeat that?

So what am I? I am real. I tell the truth about what is going on with me. No, it's not the Truth, with a capital T. It's my relative truth. Because I have found that until I tell the relative truth--no matter how ugly it is--I cannot get to Truth. And I certainly can't get to Love. I can pretend to be loving, but people see through that. Real love is as different from pretend love, as nourishing food is different from vomit. The first feeds you and nourishes you. The second makes you sick.

So for me, the noble qualities that guide my life are truth and freedom, not love. I rarely see love showing up in its pure form, so I don't trust it. Love usually shows up in a conditional way that tries to control the other. There is no freedom in that, so please stay away from me if your love comes with conditions. I myself don't know that I'm capable of unconditional love--probably not--so I won't pretend to be loving.

What I promise is that I will tell the truth the way I see it, to the best of my ability. For me, this always leads to freedom. And freedom, for me, leads to happiness. You will notice that I keep saying "for me" as this may, or may not, be the case for you. If any of this rings true for you, you are welcome to it. If it doesn't, ignore it.

So I can tell you that I am happy, most of the time, because I am living my life the way I want to live it, instead of following someone else's rules--whether that someone else is society or an enlightened guru. Since I have started doing this, I have felt an enormous amount of freedom. True, people who I thought were my friends are leaving my life, but each time that happens all I experience is more freedom and more joy. And new people are coming into my life who seem to accept me--more than accept, like me--the way I am.

I dedicate this post to my good friend Kalli, who has always been real. She will be the first to say that she is not spiritual. She sometimes curses like a sailor and I would think twice before getting in her face. And yet I have found her to be one of most loving people I know. We had stopped talking for eight years, while I was on my "spiritual" path, because I couldn't handle her dark side. It seems that now that I am embracing my dark side, I can embrace her as well.

My prayer is that some day we can love ourselves and everyone else, regardless of our foibles. When we get to the point of unconditional love, I will accept that love is spiritual. Until then I will stick with truth and freedom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Women no longer being silenced

It's been a little while since I wrote my last post. I wasn't in a writing mode. I was very angry. And that anger did not go away. It turned into immense rage. For days I felt this tremendous energy run through me. It was rage only when I tried to name it. When I didn't, it was just energy--my life force.

I stayed away from people as I didn't want to lash out at some poor, innocent soul. I didn't want to express my anger any more. At the same time I didn't want to suppress my anger and pretend that I was OK. So I felt the anger. When I asked myself what it was about, the answer came quickly. This was pent up anger from eons of being silenced as a woman.

It seems when men don't like what you're saying, they trivialize you. You're too emotional. Compared to what? Compared to a man who isn't in touch with his feelings. You're not being rational. Well, look where men and their rational behavior has gotten us. Or you're just some angry woman who is over the hill and upset because you are no longer getting attention from Neanderthal men who just want to have sex with you.

I've noticed sometimes, when I'm in a restaurant and speaking a little too loud, I get dirty looks from some men. In the past I have meekly toned down my exuberance, but not any more. I talk and laugh a little too loud, as I am happy and fairly self-confident. It seems that there is something scary about a happy, loud woman. I can only guess what that is. Too much power? Good girls should be seen and not heard.

Which tends to be the case when there are men and women in mixed company. I read that women talk about ten times more than men do. This may be true, as we connect by talking, but it's not true when there are men present. You could have ten women in a group who take turns talking. But throw in one man and he will monopolize the conversation, talking about stuff that doesn't interest the rest of us at all. And yet we stay quiet, look at the man, nodd our heads, and pretend we care. Why?

So I have realized from my processing this last week that I am angry because I am tired of being silenced by men. Let me rephrase that so that I don't sound like a victim. All anger, from my perspective, is self-betrayal. I am angry with myself, because I have chosen in the past to be a good little girl and keep quiet when a man disapproved. No more.

I intend to speak my mind, whether I have approval from men or not. I invite you to do the same.

Not coincidentally, I just received an invitation to be interviewed on the radio. I guess I needed to have that commitment from myself before I could start speaking.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The slings and arrows of projections

People's reactions to my blog never cease to amaze me. Sometimes I write something that I think is controversial, and no one reacts. Sometimes I write a post about something that seems innocuous--like women needing rest--and I get attacked. Some guy left an insulting comment on my last post. He called me a lazy hag and said that he wanted me to stay away from his women. A friend followed up with a comment calling him mean. While I appreciate and love my friends for defending me, they don't need to. I have chosen to write exactly what I think in my blog, which almost always is contrary to the way most of the sheep--oops, I meant Society--think. With this choice come attacks from people who are triggered because their way of life is threatened.

I'm not sure what's going on with the man who was so triggered by a column addressed to women. I can only think of one of two things: Either he's afraid his wife is going to stop working or he isn't willing to look at his own laziness. This has nothing to do with me, which I have to remind myself as these attacks are pretty new to me. My guess is that this is just the beginning, and I need to learn the lesson to not take things personally.

Of course since I can't take the negative stuff personally, I also need to not take the positive stuff personally. It's nice if people like what I write and agree with it, but to the extent that I need people's approval, I will be upset when I receive negative feedback. Better to just say what I think and let people do their dance around me, reacting as they will. If I'm pushing some buttons then I must be doing a good job.

I did go through a process of trying to figure out what to do with insulting comments. Do I delete them? Do I prescreen them? On the one hand, people are allowed to say what they want. But if they're not respectful then there is no opening for discussion. It's just some guy venting and taking his anger out on me. Maybe an enlightened guru would have compassion for him, see his suffering, and love this person. But I am not a guru, remember? So I have compassion for the women in his life, and wish them the strength to find themselves in the midst of his aggression. But if someone showed up in my house and was insulting, I would ask him to leave. So I think I'll delete his comment. This is not a post for people to spew their energetic vomit.

Setting boundaries continues to be the lesson for me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For women: setting appropriate boundaries

Last week I attended the third Pax course on understanding men. It's nicknamed the Queen course and one of the subjects is boundaries. They explained the difference between men and women, in terms of how they consider their needs and how they set boundaries.

When men have a physical need (such as food, sleep, or going to the bathroom) they treat this need as critical and urgent. They need to eat right away; they fall asleep where ever they are. Women, on the other hand, take care of their physical needs at the last possible moment. This is true for me. I'm working on an excel spreadsheet from home, the bathroom is next door, and I keep working on the spreadsheet until I have to run to the bathroom before it's too late. When I was younger I used to work until 2 am in the morning ignoring my body's need for sleep. I used to work in the office all day without eating anything until dinner at 8 pm. Menopause ended that. My brain shuts down when I'm tired and I can't think. If I don't eat within a few hours of being hungry I get so shaky I can't type. Nature has a way of taking care of our needs when we insanely refuse to.

Of course there are other needs that aren't physical but support our emotional well being. Time out to hang out with our friends, puttering in the garden, taking a walk, playing with our cats. It varies according to the person, but these things help us relax and bring joy to our life. How do men treat these needs? As important. They are not willing to give up their football game easily. Nor should they. We women need to learn from them. How do we treat such needs? Oh, it's something that would be nice if we had it. Hello? These things fulfill our lives and we don't think they're important?

In the past when I've set boundaries I've been angry. I wondered why I couldn't set boundaries in a kind way. The answer came to me at this workshop. I wait too long to set a boundary. I don't do it early enough, when I need something. That's so true. I'm seeing how I don't consider my needs as important as other people's. And it's been reflected back at me as I seem to have been surrounded by people who consider their needs more important than mine. Like the male friend who showed up two hours late to our brunch without calling and letting me know, because something more important showed up. Someone needed his spiritual help, and I waited for hours starving and angry. Why didn't I just take myself to brunch? Or the girl friend who, when she visits me, constantly interrupts me when I'm on the computer trying to get my work done, while I give her the courtesy of quiet and space when she's on her computer checking emails. Somehow I've bought into some unspoken agreement that my needs don't matter as much as theirs.

Well, on Friday I started paying attention to my needs. I was exhausted and needed to take care of myself. And I did. I declined invitations, I said no to requests, and I ended the relationship with the male friend with all the important activities. He's been taking up psychological space without really showing up for me. True to form, as I was discussing my issues he interrupted our phone conversation and told me he would call right back. He called a couple of hours later because something important came up; he needed to support a "brother". That was the confirmation I needed that I was doing the right thing.

So dear sisters, please consider your needs as important. Start eating when you're hungry; go to the bathroom when you need to; get some sleep when you're tired. Men do. Set your boundaries to take care of yourself. And for God's sake, if there is something that gives you joy--writing, painting, knitting, gardening--please do it. These are the things that feed our soul and make us not mere women, but Queens of our realm.