Saturday, July 30, 2011

The right to be me

I'm moving tomorrow--again. I just moved two months ago to share a house, and it didn't work out. I wouldn't follow the many rules my house mate/landlord tried to impose. The cats and I took too much energetic space. I wasn't willing--though I tried for a while--to make myself small enough to be invisible.

I realized this morning that this is a pattern. When I have money and live alone, I can be as large as I please. I can expand as much as I want. But when I don't have money and live with someone else, I feel as if I need to wear an energetic girdle to be acceptable. I walk slowly instead of at my usual fast pace. I stay in my bedroom instead of reading on the couch. I start whispering, as my voice is too loud. I no longer laugh as my laugh is too loud. Actually, I no longer feel like laughing.

So this morning I decided to do an internal journey, and meet the Despina who needs to stay small. I wanted to make peace with her, so that I could heal this very painful part of my life. The Despina I met was a little girl. Her father, who was in his sixties at that time, had no patience for kids running around, playing, being loud. So she learned that she needed to be quiet and still, to be accepted. Otherwise she would be kicked out of the living room, as her father wanted to sit on the couch and work on his cross word puzzles. How interesting. I managed to play this out with my landlord, who though only a few years older than me started acting like a father figure.

I know that when external circumstances are painful, they are calling me to heal something within myself. When there is an intense pattern repeating, it's usually a deep childhood issue that needs to heal. Nothing changes in my external world until my internal world shifts. In my visualization journey I also realized that my main health issue goes back to this same Despina who needs to stay small. Despite the fact that some people think I have a large energy, I actually have very little physical energy. I can make myself rise to the occasion when I need to, but then I need to rest for days. I've always thought that I had chronic fatigue or hypothyroidism. But I believe that all illness comes from the mind. And I must have decided when I was young that having too much energy--which I assume as a five year old I had--was not a good thing.

Healing cannot happen until there is awareness of the root cause. Today I am walking around thinking, I have the right to have energy. I have the right to be happy. I have the right to be large. And I have the right to live in a home where I am welcomed the way I am. The last two months have been among the most intense months of my life. Today continues to be intense. But I finally am feeling relief as once again, I take a leap of faith into the unknown.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Life becomes fun when you start saying yes

A while ago I mentioned that I wanted to shift from saying no to things that I don't want (which is a necessary emptying out) to saying yes to things that I do want. I prayed for things to show up that I would be able to say a true yes to--things that I would feel happy doing. And lo and behold, my prayer was answered.

First, a friend invited me to go to a Wednesday night gathering in Sebastopol called the Love Choir. A group of musicians and non-musicians gather together to sing mostly old hippy songs from the 60s and 70s. My first reaction was to say no, but then I stopped myself. Why was I saying no? I like to sing, and while I'm not great at it, I'm not too bad either. I can carry a tune. When I'm happy I automatically sing in the shower. Maybe it would work the other way around too. Singing would make me happy. And it did! The music was good; the people were loving; and I had a blast. I believe this was one of those breakthrough moments. From this point on, my life shifted from being a hellish nightmare of things I didn't want, to an exciting adventure of new, fun things coming into my life. And abundance came into my life as well.

The next day I opened the mailbox and there was a card from a generous friend, with two gift cards--one for gas and one at Safeway. Yes! I spent a wonderful hour buying things that I hadn't been able to by in a long time. Then my hair colorist called to ask if I would consider doing a trade with her. She was looking for a name for her new salon and asked if I would do research to come up with one. She gave me the parameters and while I wasn't sure I could be that creative, I said yes. Within a day I had found the perfect name for her, and the next day I was getting pampered at her salon--something I thought I could no longer afford.

That wasn't the end of it. My network chiropractor called to ask me if I would do a trade with her. I hadn't been able to have a session with her for months due to lack of funds. The trade was something totally fun. I would host a booth at the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market the end of the month. How perfect.

To my surprise the only challenge I had was when my landlord/house mate asked me to move out, as our living together really wasn't working for either of us. Still, I found that I could say a resounding yes to that, from the deepest part of my being, despite the fact that I had no cash and no place to go to. Within a day I met a woman who had written a spiritual book that needed editing. She offered me a place to stay for a month in addition to a payment. It's a lot of work but it's work that I enjoy, that I feel serves a purpose. And so I happily said yes to her offer.

Switching from saying no to saying yes continues to bring wonderful things into my life, things that give me joy and that are in sync with my values. Not only am I using talents that I know I have, but I am beginning to use talents that I didn't know I had. I had no idea I could be creative enough to come up with a new name for a salon. But I did it, and my comfort zone got pushed out a little more, and now I am willing to try more new things. What else can I say yes to?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In my defenselessness, my safety lies

My intention is not to make this a blog about the Course in Miracles. However I find that the lessons, such as the one above, really speak to me and are relevant to what is going on in my life.

Last week I had a huge argument with my new landlord/house mate. I was feeling attacked and I attacked in return. We both yelled at each other, and finally he said, "That's it! I want you out of here in three days." It was very clear to me as well that I needed to move out. It didn't matter whether his request was legal or not. We were making each other miserable and each day spent in misery was a day too much.

So I brought my cats into my room and closed my door. I was feeling unsafe, alone, and helpless. I had no money and two cats, and who would take me in? I called my mother to see if I could move to Florida (I so can't see myself living there!) as I didn't see any other alternative. I emailed my siblings to see if they could send me the airfare. I called a friend who said she could store my things. OK, I wasn't alone. But I was in a house with a man who was angry at me and I didn't feel safe. I wanted to blame him for all my misery and make him the villain. And I did just that for a little while.

Then sanity prevailed. I prayed and opened The Course in Miracles at random, as I often do when I am suffering. And as is usually the case, the Course spoke to me. Will you forgive your brother his illusions? it asked me. Will you remember the good things? There is no sin and guilt, there are just mistakes that need correction. Make your brother guilty and you are keeping yourself guilty and in hell. Forgive your brother and you both get to Heaven.

What the Course was asking me to do went against every fiber of my body. All my friends would totally support me in feeling wronged. But I had a small amount of willingness and I prayed and meditated. The next morning I was able to send my landlord an email apologizing for yelling (the fact that he yelled didn't give me an excuse), committing to move, and offering him a gift--a painting of the ocean that I know he likes, as he is a surfer.

What came back to me was a very loving email. He was "flabbergasted" that I could see through his anger to his pain and not make him guilty. He was touched and sad. And he would help me. We still agreed that I needed to move, but we could end this in love.

That day I met a woman who had written a spiritual book that needed editing. We talked for a couple of hours and connected. When I told her of my need to move, she offered that the cats and I could stay in her house for the month of August, as I edited her book. She also offered to pay me a nice sum and gave me a deposit. For the first time in months I could fill my car with gas, have the oil changed, buy all the groceries and cat food that I wanted, and even go out for a bite to eat. I felt so abundant!

My landlord and I are back to being good friends, and we are working out the best way I can move. My shift from anger and attack to defenselessness really did result in my feeling safe and taken care of. The Course is so right, and following its advice really is the path out of hell to Heaven. According to the Course, anger is never justified. People are only doing one of two things: they are either extending love or crying out for love. Either way, love is the only sane response

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Balance is over-rated.

If you've been reading my blog lately you may have noticed that I am not very balanced. I seem to go from the depths of hell into the heights of heaven, sometimes within a day. If I pray, meditate, and stay in my heart and in the present, usually I find myself grateful and joyful. If I listen to scary thoughts from my mind--Oh my, God, how can I survive with no money??--then I find myself despairing, angry, and feeling hopeless. Let's face it. I'm not enlightened--yet. I don't even know what that means really, since words of enlightened masters cannot convey their experience. So I fall off the razor's edge so to speak. As long as I keep inquiring within and not blaming others or my circumstances, all my experiences serve.

Of course I would like to be comfortable, which I guess is what balance is all about. You are not swinging from one extreme to another: You are not terrified and despairing; But you also are not ecstatically blissful. How unbalanced is that? Really, you can only feel joy to the extent that you are capable of feeling suffering. Most people stay in the superficial realm, never going too high or too low. They are not enraged, they are merely impatient and frustrated. Hello? What do you think lies beyond that superficial frustration? They are not terrified of death, they are merely anxious all the time and running constantly. What do you think lies behind that anxiety? Everyone who is running non-stop is trying to run away from death. The only way to heal is to go to the source, and to go through the depths of all the feelings. Our fear is that we will stay stuck in hell. In truth there is a trap door that leads to freedom from there.

Society would have us stay balanced so that we can be functional peons. We can be unhappy, as long as we still go to work and don't hit rock bottom in despair. Hitting rock bottom might wake us up to actually healing ourselves. We can be content as long as we aren't wildly, passionately, ecstatic over life. After all, who can work in an office doing spreadsheets if they are wildly and passionately in love with life? Nope, you can't control ecstatic employees. So Society's response to any extreme is to medicate it. It's fine if a herd of compliant zombies is created as a result. They will tow the line and follow rules, no matter how insane the rules are.

I ask you, have any of the great men and women led balanced lives? Or were they driven to work non-stop at what their passion was, forgetting to eat and sleep? There is plenty of time to be balanced when we are dead. So let's forgo the antidepressants--unless there really is a serious chemical imbalance, which is unlikely--and face our fears and challenges. If we are depressed something is not working in our lives. We are betraying ourselves by either being in a loveless marriage, or by doing soul-deadening work, or by listening to others instead of our inner voice. So let's get to the source of our pain, heal it, and move on to joy. I for one am willing to meet death and terror to be free. Are you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The ego is our only enemy

A few days ago I really got to see how ugly my ego is--not me, but my ego. First I felt fear hit me, then I went into a story about how nothing ever works out for me and how God has it in for me, then I wound up having a temper tantrum where I hated God. I keep saying "I" but really it was a murderous part that didn't seem like me. I felt possessed, as the killing rage kept coming up. I hate God, I kept telling myself. But then a more aware part of me said, This is a projection. You are the only one here. This is self-hatred. Bingo. It seems that I had hit the bottom of my ego, beyond all its nice masks of being loving and concerned or even sad.

The Course in Miracles talks about the ego as the enemy. The ego is not your friend. It wants you dead. And really, listening to the ego results in suffering and death--death of relationships, death of joy, death of love, and eventually death of the body itself. A good friend today pointed me to an excellent YouTube clip about the ego as our only enemy:

Joyce Meyer, a Christian minister whom I find speaks the truth and is inspiring, talks about the enemy as well. In Christian terms the enemy would be considered Satan or the devil, but really that is just a projection of our own ego. I watched a few videos on her website (, where she talked about not listening to the enemy. Why is it easier to listen to what the ego tells us, such as: I'm a loser; I'm never going to be happy; Nobody loves me; I don't deserve to be loved; I'm guilty; and the list goes on and on? Why is it easier to receive that, than to receive what God (and the Course in Miracles) tells us: that we are children of God, unconditionally loved, who are entitled to miracles?

Joyce asked that question and I find myself asking it too. So I followed her advice yesterday when ugly thoughts came up, thoughts such as nothing is ever going to work out for me, I'll never be happy, etc. I stopped in the middle of the thought and said, "I do not receive that!" These thoughts come from the enemy and I will not receive them. Instead I will receive God's thoughts. A miracle is in the works for me, and I am already grateful for it. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All fear is past and only love is here

This is my lesson today from the Course in Miracles. As usually happens, it's perfect for what is going on in my life at this moment.

The last day and a half I've been in a very dark place. What triggered it was finding out that I was probably going to share my house with someone who would not be my first choice for a housemate. His mind spins and he talks non-stop. There is no space for silence when he is around. At least that's what I told myself, as I fell into a dark vortex of despair. I'll have to move, I told myself. There is no way that I can live with him. I won't be able to write, or edit, or meditate, or earn a living, or have peace. I'm going to be in hell.

So without the man even being here, I put myself in hell with my fears. Then I started telling myself more stories, about how things never really work out for me, and how God promises me heaven and always delivers hell. The relationships that I think will give me pleasure wind up causing suffering. This house that I moved to, that I thought was a little piece of heaven, was turning out to be hellish as well.

That's it, I told myself, God has it in for me. I am done with Him. I am no longer praying or meditating or doing the Course in Miracles. God's just a sadist. And I proceeded to cut all ties with God. I went into meditation (I thought I said I wouldn't meditate) and had all the gods come up to me as I said goodbye to them. Goodbye to Lakshmi, you haven't been delivering prosperity. Goodbye to Kali, you are a bitch who has made my life miserable. Goodbye to Jehovah, you abusive patriarch. Hmmm...It seems I wasn't saying goodbye to God but to the gods, the idols, to whom I had given my power away. Christ showed up. I couldn't get myself to say goodbye to him. All I could say is, "I won't worship you. I will only consider you my brother and my friend." And that seemed alright.

Slowly, I found myself getting out of hell. What was I so afraid of? This man, who will probably be moving in, is a nice man going through a hard time. He needs love and support. He needs to be welcomed. I don't have to support his many stories--in fact I am clear that I won't. And I will ask for silence in my space, during certain hours. I can have my needs met and I can still be kind and support him. I have committed my life to help end suffering, my own and others. God is giving me an opportunity to walk my talk. And for that I am grateful.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I am entitled to miracles

This is my lesson today from the Course in Miracles. Not "I hope for miracles," or even "I expect miracles," but I am entitled to miracles. A few days ago I completed the 365 lessons from the Course, and now have started opening the book at random in the morning, to determine my lesson for the day. This lesson seems to be in sync with my mind set today.

I went to bed last night asking the question: What can I say yes to? Not a wobbly yes, but a strong, passionate, excited yes. Just asking this question left me feeling optimistic that good things would be showing up. I felt that I had taken scarcity and being limited to the extreme. My cup had been totally emptied out--from money, from furniture, from my home, from independence, from arrogance, from being in control. Now that the cup had been emptied of the things that needed to go, it could be filled with things that would bring joy to my life, such as an unconditionally loving relationship with a man; a writing career; a way to support myself that didn't involve boredom or stress; laughter and celebration with friends, etc.

Life seems to go in cycles. We breathe in, hold our breath, then breathe out. A wave goes into the ocean, stops, and comes back to land again. We experience an emptying out, a stopping, and then a fulfillment. The problem arises when we think, because we have been emptied out, that we will always be empty. We think that God has forgotten us, and there will only be loss in our lives. We go into fear and start worrying about the future. And then the good things can't come in.

We are not meant to get stuck in emptiness and loss. Like our breathing, we are meant to let the air out so that new air can come in. We are cleaning out the cup from the old, cold tea so that we can pour in a new flavor of hot, delicious, nourishing tea. OK, so my cup has been emptied and I have extolled the virtues of loss and emptiness. But I will not stay here holding onto an empty cup. I am entitled to miracles and I look forward to a full cup of joy soon.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Going from no to yes

Lately I've been dealing with many of the negative aspects of life, the things that I find painful: lack of money, the IRS, credit card debt, etc. As a result I have found myself saying no to many things that do not serve me. No, I will not work full-time at a job that I find boring and soul-deadening. No, I will not be part of the Matrix. No, I will not obey rules that don't make sense to me. No, I will not pay the IRS or my credit cards, if I am barely surviving. No, I will not stay in relationships that do not honor me, that feel abusive. No, no, no, no, no.

And I have to admit that I have felt good saying no. I have felt powerful. I have felt that I have been listening to my own guidance, and not agreeing to do things out of fear. But today two different friends talked to me about the possibility of switching from saying no to saying yes to life. When the first friend mentioned this, I felt that he wasn't getting where I was coming from. But he patiently talked about how saying yes to life opens up new horizons and gives way to abundance. "My prayer for you," he said, as we were driving through the lush country side "is that your life is as abundant as this lush nature, and that you are overflowing with everything that brings you joy." OK, I could accept this prayer. Then a few hours later a girlfriend told me how she had switched to saying yes to life, and how that was opening all sorts of doors for her.

I knew they were both right, but I found myself feeling angry. I didn't realize how much anger I was holding around being pushed to my limit financially. Getting in touch with that anger was a good first step. Then I asked God to help me switch to a yes. I started with little things. Yes, to the ice cream sandwich. Yes, to the check that my brother sent me to pay the rent. Yes, to the often intense relationship I have with a man who has been in my life for four years. For four years I have refused to even acknowledge that I am in relationship with him. OK, that's a good start.

I read a story a while ago about the three different levels that people exist in:
  1. The first is the camel, self-satisfied and half asleep, doing whatever is asked of him without question.
  2. The second is the lion, who wakes up and starts roaring "no" when he realizes how he has been betraying himself.
  3. The third is the innocent child, enthralled by the wonder of the world.
Going from the camel stage to the lion stage is a good first step. But moving to the next stage of the innocent child is saying "yes" to everything that life has to offer. And that is when life becomes joyful and abundant.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The upside of not having money

There are a few good things about not having money--not many, mind you, but a few. One is that life becomes very simple. I can't drive around, or go out to restaurants, or plan trips, or invest money, or do most things that I would normally do if I had money. I can go for walks, or go to the library, or hang out in the garden, or play with my cats, or talk with friends, or write blog posts on my computer. It feels like God has stopped me and as a result I am being more present, noticing things that I would have missed before: the butterflies, the flowers, the wind, the trees, my cats.

Another good thing about not having money is that I have become very clear about my priorities. I only have so much gas in my car, so I think twice about where I am driving to. Yes, I will drive to Petaluma to go to Toastmasters, because speaking is important to me. No, I will not drive around aimlessly. When some money comes my way, I think twice before I spend it. Cat food is my top priority. I made a lifetime commitment to Max and Bradley--I am their steward--and I will take care of them no matter what. I am willing to skip a meal--or eat peanut butter sandwiches over and over again--as long as they are taken care of.

What are no longer priorities are the credit card companies and the IRS. A hundred year old woman was asked on the Tonight Show what the worse invention was in her lifetime, and her reply was "credit cards." I would have to agree. We have enslaved ourselves by buying stuff when we didn't have the money. And now it feels like the banks own us. Well, I am committed to paying off my debts if it's feasible. But when the economy is falling apart, and we middle class people have lost our jobs and homes due to the greed of bankers who are still rich, I will be damned if I starve myself or my animals in order to give more money to the banks. In the middle ages charging a 30% interest rate, which credit cards often do, would be considered a sin. And taxes of more than 10% were considered unreasonable when our country was founded. When did this change?

If by some chance I start earning the big bucks again, I will be happy to participate in normal, mainstream society. But right now, I am down to the basics: food and shelter. And the good news is that I recognize fears like going bankrupt, or a bad credit rating, or having a lean, as the illusions that they really are.