Thursday, June 30, 2011

Trading in comfort for freedom

Most of us are going through huge transitions. I don't know anyone who is feeling very stable right now. Relationships are changing, jobs are going away, moves are happening. It seems that a giant hand is moving all the chess pieces around. Will we get to settle in one place again? Will we ever feel comfortable again? I don't know.

It seems that comfort and freedom are opposites. The more comfortable we try to make our life, the less freedom there is, the less adventure, and the less joy. So my guess is that the giant hand that is moving us around like chess pieces is not concerned with our comfort, but is more concerned with how alive we are. And how free. And how present.

For those of us who are having money problems, have you noticed that just enough money shows up in the nick of time, for our immediate needs? Not so much money that we can feel comfortable or secure, but enough to buy the groceries, or the pet food, or the gas, or something that is very important to us. We are being asked to live simply and to really identify what our priorities are. And we are being asked to live in the present.

I know that if I start thinking about next week I will freak out. There's another bill on its way; I don't have any money coming in; and I have no idea how I'm going to manage. So I stay in the present and ask myself, Am I OK, right now? Do I have food, right now? Do I have shelter, right now? Invariably the answer to all these questions is yes. I am OK, right now. So I stay in the present and I find that I grateful for the beautiful home that I am living in, even if I don't know if I'll be here next month. I am grateful for the friend who is cooking a delicious dinner and inviting me to join him. I am grateful that it's a beautiful day and there are butterflies fluttering around. I remain grateful.

Whatever is leaving my life was no longer giving me joy, but rather was a burden. Each day I notice that there is more freedom in my life. Each day I notice that there are more loving, generous, supportive people in my life. I am starting to recognize that I am not alone in this world. And I am happy to trade my comfort in for freedom and community.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facing the bogeyman

Yesterday I decided to deal with one of my nightmares: the IRS. I still owe back taxes from 2001-2002 when the Internet crashed. While I was working, over the last five years, I was paying on a monthly installment plan. But this month there was no way that I could pay the fee. Not if I wanted to feed the cats and have food for myself. Since when did the IRS become a priority over my survival? I asked myself. Up until that point it hadn't occurred to me that I could call them and discuss the fact that I couldn't pay. It was time to face the bogeyman.

So with a knot in my stomach, I called the IRS phone number. There was a 15-minute wait, which made the knot even worse. Finally I heard a live voice asking if he could help me. I explained my situation. His first response, in a tone meant to engender fear, was, "You don't want to have a lean, do you?" I had to laugh to myself. A lean on what? I don't own a house. My car is old and not worth much. I don't have a paycheck coming in. Sorry, IRS. You can't scare me. And there was such a freedom in that realization.

I wound up getting a two-month deferment, just in case things work out and I can actually continue my payments to them. But if my financial situation doesn't improve, then I guess I'll have to call the IRS up again--but there will be no fear in that. It seems to me that the powers that be are blowing it. In order to control the population you have to keep people afraid. In order to keep people afraid they have to buy into the insane rules that, let's face it, are not for own good. So we are presented with bogeymen--like bankruptcy (been there, wasn't a big deal), lower credit scores (doesn't matter if you never intend to get a loan), not being able to get a credit card (now that's a blessing. I've given all of mine up)--to keep us obeying the rules. To keep us in line. To keep us in the herd. Bahhhhh. Bahhhhh. This sheep is not following the herd into the slaughter house.

So the good news, as our economy goes downhill and people lose their homes, their jobs, their money, is that we are being freed from illusions so that we can discover what really matters: family, friends, community, love, peace, freedom, joy...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Feeling worthy regardless of the circumstances

I have been walking around feeling very happy and at peace the last couple of days. It's not because my circumstances have changed, as much as it is because my perspective has changed. Rather than pray for more money to come in, or for me to be able to live on my own again when I am upset with my house mate, I have been praying for the fear to be released. And it seems that a few days ago some miracle healing occurred and I stopped being afraid.

The fear was about having to obey someone else's rules and being under his control, because I didn't have money. When I was working at a six-figure job this issue didn't come up. I felt that I had freedom, and power, and that I could say exactly what was on my mind. But I finally saw how different I was when I was broke. When I didn't have any money or job, I felt unworthy. I felt that no one wanted me around and I needed to obey their every command or I would be kicked out and be homeless. Basically I felt like Cinderella, trying hard to please the people I was with, but nothing ever being enough. And agreeing to unreasonable terms and feeling angry and like a victim.

Well, this is the third time this pattern has happened, and I realized that it would continue to occur until I healed this false belief that I am worthy of love--or even of being alive--only when I have money. Damn! I have been so hooked up to the Matrix for so long that there are still tendrils of it putting me in hell. Of course no one can make your life hell if you don't let them. We imprison ourselves with our fears.

So my circumstances haven't changed much, but I have. I am back to saying exactly what is on my mind, back to saying "no" when a request seems unreasonable, and it doesn't matter that I don't have money or even another place where I could stay. I am being myself, and myself does not change just because my outside circumstances do. Whether I am unemployed and broke, or a vice president earning a six-figure salary, I am who I am. I am free. I am.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Doing work that makes us happy

Today I did something that I haven't done before. It may even change my life. Who knows? So what is this big thing that I did? I wrote an article and submitted it to a magazine that actually pays writers $250-$500 for an article. The magazine seems to be perfect for me. It's called Guideposts and it is a "monthly inspirational, interfaith, non-profit publication written by people from all walks of life. A typical Guideposts story is a first-person narrative written in simple, dramatic, anecdotal style." Hmmm...Well that seems right up my alley.

It's surprising to me that I hadn't thought of doing this, until a good friend suggested it yesterday. Then I remembered that I had had a psychic reading a couple of months ago, where I was told that my future work involved writing articles for magazines and counseling people. At the time I thought that I would love that kind of a life. Writing and counseling wouldn't feel like working at all, as these are things that I would do whether I was paid or not. But I saw this life in some distant future. It hadn't occurred to me that I could actually start living this way now.

But hello... I have downsized enough that I could earn my living if I sold three stories a month--maybe four. How much fun would my life be if that was the case! I essentially wouldn't have to work--ever. How funny that when something comes very easy for us, we don't value it. We think that work is suppose to be hard, otherwise they wouldn't call it "work." We have it all backwards. God wants us to be using the gifts that He gave us to serve Him. He does not want us to be miserable trying to do something that at worse is stressing us to death and at best is boring us. What kind of a loving God would want his children to live like that? Could this be why I can't find work doing analysis, or editing, or tutoring?

So today, for the first time, it occurred to me to see if I can get paid doing something that I love, that comes naturally for me, that nourishes me and others, and that I would do--that I do--without getting paid. I can picture my guides and angels jumping up and down saying, "Whew! She finally got it! How can anyone be so dense?" Time will tell if I am right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Opening the prison doors

Yesterday was one of the most challenging days of my life. That's saying a lot, as I have had some doozies. But yesterday I hit rock bottom. I was in hell. It wasn't just that it was really hot and there was no air conditioning. It wasn't just that I had five dollars to my name, after buying some cat food, and no idea where any more money would come from. I could deal with that. What threw me into hell was feeling that my relationship with my new landlord/housemate wasn't working. I felt as if I was in prison, having to obey one house rule after another--many of which were around my cats. My cats, who I could see were miserable with all the restrictions imposed on them.

I felt I had no choice but to obey every rule. What if my landlord got really upset and threw me and the cats out? What if we were homeless? All these fears put me in panic mode. I had no freedom, I felt. I couldn't make my own decisions where I lived. If only I had money, then I would have freedom. That was my thought. And I got to see it. This is what has been running my life. I need money to be free. Is that true? I could hear my friend who does Byron Katie work ask me. Well, no. No one can put me in prison except myself. I don't have to obey any one's rules if they don't make sense to me. I do, however, have to be willing to suffer the consequences.

I guided myself through a visualization, to find the shadow Despina who was in prison. I wanted to make peace with her, and so I asked her to talk to me. She told me that prison was the best place for security. All you had to do was obey the rules, and you would get three meals a day and have a roof over your head. So what if there was no freedom, no play, no love, no passion, no purpose. At least you were secure in prison.

Hmmm... I got to see how I imprison myself to be secure, over and over. If it's not with a job that I don't love, it's with a person who I think can provide me a home and security. Clearly this is coming up for me to heal. And I was glad I saw it.

Later that night, my landlord and I had a long talk. It started as an argument, but ended in a good heart place where we both opened up to each other and really communicated. I felt a surge of love for him, and miraculously the problems seemed to resolve themselves.

Today's lesson in the Course in Miracles is:
God's answer is some form of peace.
All pain is healed; all misery replaced with joy.
All prison doors are open.
And all sin is understood as merely a mistake.

I feel this to be true.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose

Well, here I am again, living on the edge. Yes, I have landed in a nice home but work hasn't shown up yet. There's food in the pantry, and actually my house mate cooks incredible meals so I am well fed. There was enough gas in the car to go to the Petaluma Toastmaster's meeting yesterday, but not enough to go to Petaluma again today. Work that seemed promising has not materialized yet. I know that things can change in the blink of an eye, and so I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the present: Am I OK right now? Do I have food right now? Do I have a home right now?

Right now
is the key phrase. I can't project myself even a week into the future as panic will arise. Living on the edge is keeping me in the present. In the present I am fine; if I project into the future I will be in hell. Sometimes I envy the people who think they have control of their lives--who invest and plan for their retirement. Planning is an attack against God, the Course in Miracles states. Whew! That's a relief. Let God lead the way, as I don't have a clue.

I'm not the only one in this predicament, though I may be an extreme case in this moment. Every where I turn, people who were well-to-do are losing their jobs and losing their homes. Why? I ask myself. So that they can unplug from the Matrix, comes the reply. So that they can find out where true security lies, not outside but within themselves. So that they can break through their fears and find freedom.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,
sang Janis Joplin. This seems true to me. The illusory fears that have kept us in slavery are vanishing. So what, if our credit rating comes down. What's in a number? So what if we have to file bankruptcy? So what, if we can't drive a new car, or buy new clothes, or be good consumers. We are being lead away from the Matrix which runs on fear and tries to keep everyone in the herd, to a place of freedom. But the shackles have to be removed. And they are. And they are.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From a leap of faith to a smooth landing

First of all, I want to apologize for not writing sooner. It's not just that I was in the midst of downsizing, selling all my stuff, and moving. I was having trouble signing onto my blogger account. Just as well. Things were so unsettled it would have been difficult to write.

But finally I have landed in a very good place and I am happy. I am writing this post seated in the dining room of my new home, looking out the large windows onto a lovely neighborhood of cute houses with gardens filled with flowers. My cat Max, who is usually stressed for weeks after a move, is sitting peacefully on the couch, while my other cat Bradley is sleeping on my bed.

My new house mate is away during the week, so I have the entire place to myself. But I'm just as happy when he is here, as he has already become a close friend. We have already had long discussions about what's important to us, and we seem to be on the same wavelength spiritually--despite the fact that we come from very different backgrounds. Not to mention that he is an amazing cook. Saturday night is pizza night, and he makes his pizza from scratch--even making his own dough. Delicious.

The wonderful thing is that since I've only moved about half an hour north from where I lived, I still have all my old friends visiting. Actually one friend has decided to move up here too. At the same time my horizons are expanding and I am making new friends. Everything feels brand new and light. The heavy burden of high expenses and lots of stuff, has been lifted. I should be able to meet my monthly expenses easily, and this is a huge relief.

It seems that this shift has finally caused a window of opportunity to open. Finally, money seems to be flowing my way again. I just sold a painting today. A friend sold my pots and pans. I might have a book to edit soon. A student needs help with her MBA. All this came in today. This is how it always happens. When it's time to move the money supply stops. Once I move where I am meant to be, the money starts flowing again. Whew! My mantra these past couple of months has been a lesson from the Course in Miracles which states: I place my future in the hands of God.

Well, I have to say that no matter how scary it gets, letting God lead the way always works.