Purpose

What Are You Supposed to Do? Stop Saying This

Austin-chan-275638-unsplash

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Those were the first words uttered by a client during a recent creative jam session. Which made sense because we were there to jam about the very thing that was underneath the question: life purpose.

In fact, the words “supposed to” drove the first part of our session, it was said 10 times in the first 20 minutes to be exact. It felt like something that was easy to hang on to, like a habit.

So, doing what we do in jam sessions, we played with the things that were bubbling up.

I asked her what that meant, as in, supposing to do anything.

And, what a gift that was. In our discussion, we discovered "supposed to" is not a very helpful proposition when exploring life purpose.

“Supposed to” is passive, as in it’s a directive that’s happening to me, rather a directive I’m helping navigate.

It means ”I’m not the one in charge." As if someone or something else is dictating my purpose.

It reflects the feeling of "required to", as in, follow the rules. It's confining, rigid. 

Simply put, "supposed to" is nothing more than an expectation. In other words, the supposed outcome of something is the perceived expectation of that outcome.

But, when it comes to examining life purpose, until you’re clear about what you desire and what your soul is calling you to do, then “supposed to” becomes esoteric, it’s derived from something outside of you. Then, they become rigid expectations we put on ourselves.

But, what’s the basis for them?

I mean, when you think about it that way, who is it that dictates this mysterious “supposed to” when it comes to exploring your purpose?

Society? What is a person in my place in life, supposed to be doing?

Your younger self? What I am supposed to do now, since my younger self is disappointed in/judging how far I've come at this point? Your younger-self expectations on your now-self can be harsh sometimes.

Family/friends? I’m supposed to be further along, supposed to live up to their dreams for me, etc. Or "they think I'm supposed to be..."

By believing you need to discover and act on your “supposed to,” places you on another roadmap besides your own.

The Reframe

Believe me, I could relate to my client and friend, because I do it too. So, I got as much out of this reframe as she did. Here are a couple things we came up with.

When the urge to say 'supposed to' creeps in, catch yourself. Know that whatever follows that phrase doesn’t really belong to you. Instead try this:

I’m focusing on what life is calling me to do next.

I want to get clear on what I'm doing, where I'm going, with my life.

I intend to do what's right for me, right now.

My mind, heart and spirit know my purpose. I’m listening to that.

This becomes: I know. I am doing. I am living and being my purpose.

Because here’s the thing, your life purpose isn’t some grand oh-my-god sea change that takes place in a nano-moment aha, and then everything after that is nirvana and different.

Rather, it’s an unfolding, an inner and outer journey, a doing-and-being reckoning that doesn’t happen because you’re supposed to. It happens because you’re paying attention to your own life and following your own roadmap.

You may be asking, what am I supposed to do with that? Ah, and so it begins…


Some Establishing-Shot Perspective

Rawpixel-423643-unsplash

It was a clear evening as I headed toward Pasadena for dinner. When I crested a hill on the freeway, the panorama made me pause. It was an expansive view, the roadways curving through the San Rafael Hills where homes were nestled in, and with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.

I thought, if I were writing this scene, this would be a great establishing shot of Pasadena.

In classical filmmaking, the establishing shot is the wide or long shot at the beginning of a scene that sets the tone, and indicates where, and sometimes when (time period), the ensuing scenes are to take place. It can also provide an instant glimpse into the concept and/or character relationships in the story. 

What happened when I took in the stunning establishing shot of Pasadena on that evening drive, was I got a sense of scope, with an eagle eye view, of what lie ahead in terms of landscape and architecture, as well as greater clarity on the direction I was going to take.

It got me thinking about what it might look like to apply the same idea to life, pausing for establishing shots in order to gain some clarity and perspective.

What does that mean? To my way of thinking, it means to stop what you’re doing in a given moment and take an energetic step back to peruse the bigger picture. And, also it means to view a total landscape before getting started on something, whether it's starting your day or launching a big program.

I often like to pause for an eagle-like perspective. It keeps me on track toward a bigger goal and also helps me to refocus on the present moment.

It can take place in smaller as well as grander moments. Such as:

  • Taking a broader glance at what’s on your desk, reprioritizing the day
  • Looking at the year ahead with a wide lens, highlighting special dates and deadlines. Navigation is sometimes clearer from a higher vantage point.
  • Focusing in on health – paying attention to the signals in your body, asking ‘where am I and where do I want to be when it comes to health?’
  • Zooming in on your living space – arranging things so they feel fresh and comfortable, and getting rid of excess that doesn't belong.
  • Picturing your life – through a life establishing shot, looking at where things are working and where they’re not, whether it's a job, a relationship or an idea. A broader perspective helps to light the way for more of what’s working. Also, from that establishing shot, you can visualize the life you desire. 

Pausing often to take these brief life establishing shots not only add layers of texture to your roadmap, but they keep you aware and present to your own life story.

Why not give it a shot? 


Allow This to Be Your Guide When Feeling Overwhelmed

Matthew-henry-64794-unsplash

A recent discussion with my niece solidified my inklings around this thought changer. It was her birthday and we got to talking about how we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed. Her, with her increasing responsibilities at her new job. And, me with my numerous projects in various stages of incompletion or development. 

It hit me after we hung up about how much overwhelm is self-inflicted. I know for me, when I involve myself in the energy of the too-much-ed-ness, the I-have-a-full-plate-ness, the I’m-so-busyness, I become the overwhelm. It starts to define my presence, the monkey mind takes over and internal chaos ensues. Fun, right? 

So, I determined it was time to step back. To reflect and feel into what’s going on. The word that sprung to mind, and the notion I was noodling for this post before my niece and I spoke, is Synchrony. Or more to the present point, being out of sync. To me, that’s the epitome of the overwhelm.

The truth is, we also know the feeling when we’re in sync with life. It's different for everyone. To me, it’s when things connect, when they make sense, they're in flow, when I'm in flow. There’s a vibration to it. A sustaining resonance. The word even sounds rather mechanical or even musical.

Synchrony 

When something is synchronized it hums, like a well-oiled machine. Hmm. Now, I get what it means when someone says “we’re humming along.” Or, “Things are going well. I’m humming.”

It means synchronization and synchronicity is in play. Events, situations, projects or opportunities align themselves in such a way that they connect, they fit. And, when you pay attention by honing in with your intuition, then you’ll start making choices that are synchronistic for you and your life.

"I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path." ~ Dalai Lama

So, how does this help as you’re feeling overwhelm? How do you get back to the hum? To my way of thinking, reprioritizing things using your energetic intuition, synchronizing with your soul, might be the way to go.

Feeling Into It

I decided to do some “synchrony testing” with my list of projects. The same can be done when making a decision or a life choice. Through experimentation, what it does is allow flow. Allowing flow means synchrony takes the driver’s seat. The rightness falls in line by surrendering to life’s flow in the moment and by listening to your own energetic wisdom.

"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life." ~ Eckhart Tolle 

My dear friend, Lisa Greenfield of Truth in Hand, suggests a form of body testing when you’re choosing between options. You write the thing or things you’re considering on separate pieces of paper or 3x5 cards. Lie down on a flat surface (I lay on the floor) and one by one, place each paper just below your rib cage, on your solar plexus. Your solar plexus is your soul’s power center. 

As you do, ask the question, "Is this (...) the most synergistic choice right now?" Whether it’s a career move or choosing between two houses, whatever it is. I asked which project is the top priority in alignment with my purpose.

It’s subtle, but as you pay attention to your body’s reaction to each one, you may notice either a settled or unsettled feeling in your stomach. Or a calm comes over you. Or you feel your engine getting revved up with excitement.

How does it resonate?

What feels in sync with your current goals or your greater purpose?

Another method is to muscle test the idea. My dear friend, Ferrell Marshall of Spotlight Coaching, uses this technique and taught it to me.

Stand squarely. Hold the piece of paper to your heart. Or simply ask the question you’re weighing as you hold your hands to your heart, right over left.

  • Is this the right job for me?
  • Am I to go to Paris?
  • Or on a safari?
  • Is this a healthy relationship for me?
  • Is today the day for this conversation?
  • Should I take this class?
  • Is this the right time to launch my seminar?
  • Is this my top priority project?

Make no deliberate moves but rather rely on your organic energy to move you. If your body sways forward the answer is yes. If your body sways backward, it’s no. If it wavers with no definite move, it’s a maybe or a not right now.

I’ve tried both methods of testing. The first and vital thing they both do is to get you present and out of the monkey mind that feeds on the chaos. From that slower in-the-moment place, I have made decisions based on what my energy flow was telling me. I know it sounds a little woo-woo. But, all I can say is it they’ve often been decisions that felt right and in sync for me at that time.

And, it eased me out of my overwhelm, so there you go.

To quote my niece when I asked her, at 28, what advice she’d give her younger self:

“Be real and be open with yourself, and with others.”

Another way to stay in synchrony and in flow.  Great advice, Peanut!

 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash


When Your Soul Speaks, Listen

Mantas-hesthaven-135478-unsplash

“Does your soul have a message for you today?”

That was the question the meditation teacher asked during session.

It turns out my soul did. It often does, when I’m paying attention.

Usually, the messages are so simple I almost miss them. Or I judge them. Or second guess them. That morning, I decided to just shut up and receive what was given to me. By my soul. Yep. I wasn’t judging it, or questioning whether it really was my soul guiding me, nor was I second guessing it, “Are you sure that’s all?” or “What am I supposed to do with that?”

It was pretty simple. I got quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Body against the chair. Sink in. Inhale. Exhale. When thoughts came that started to take me somewhere else, I floated back to my breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Then, I asked the question of my soul. “Do you have a message for me?”

Inherently, I knew to trust the first thing that came. And, here it was.

“You already have everything you need within you to receive the answers you seek.

Yes, it’s good to seek knowledge and experiences and connections that enrich your life. But, the truest answers to your deepest questions are not discovered externally. Those are found within your own inner and higher wisdom, through your direct connection to the greater knowledge that is source, God and universe. This is your truth, always.”

So simple. And, such a great reminder to trust. And, to not complicate things by seeking outside of ourselves.

Certainly that’s not a new concept, that you have everything you need within you. But, it was the message I needed to hear, right then.

The next morning I asked the question again and got another answer, equally as simple and perfect for what I needed.

That’s the beauty of this short and sweet daily practice. Each time the answer is different, the message is appropriate for what you need right then, on the day in that moment.

It happens when you’re in your body, as your breath connects you to being fully present and the mind is focused on listening and being open to receiving.

In that space, with the curiosity of a child, simply ask your soul what it wants you to know, in that moment on that day.

What’s interesting is that you can tell when it’s your soul speaking. If it sounds or feels like judgment or punishment, it’s your ego, not your soul. Soul speak comes from your highest wisdom and you know it when you hear it.

“Wise souls speak loudly in silence” ~ Unknown

What a profound way to create the day, on message. On your soul’s message. It paves the way for your divine purpose to unfold.

Simply, reverently, freely.


Soaring Above Your Personal Glass Ceiling

Marc-olivier-jodoin-572629-unsplash

On a recent flight, I ran across a story about the first female pilot to fly for a major US airline. In 1973, Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, at age 24 literally soared above that glass ceiling. Today, American Airlines continues to honor her feat by bestowing an annual $50,000 grant, aptly titled The Bonnie Award, to mid-career female filmmakers who are blazing trails and breaking through their own glass ceilings.

It got me thinking about my own personal glass ceilings and how great it feels to be looking down through the glass floor rather than up through a seemingly unpenetrable glass ceiling, where you can see it, sometimes feel and taste it but you just can't quite get there.

Some of the barriers were societally or industry-imposed and some were created and built by me. Can you relate?

Personal glass ceilings aren’t those imposed by society or industry, but rather are our own barricades that hold us back, barriers we place there out of fear. How to tell? If you’re constantly coming up with excuses for not getting what you want, then that's likely a sign that they are blocks you’ve placed there yourself. In other words, you become your own glass ceiling. Yikes.

When you think about it, even though it was a societal and industry glass ceiling that Bonnie Caputo burst through, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at piercing through the ceiling if she’d put her own fears and excuses in front of her. “They’ll never promote me because I’m a woman.” “It’s never been done before so why try.” “I have to be better than I am to do this.” It's certainly possible those thoughts were prevalent during insecure moments, but they never became her personal glass ceiling.

Shattering a glass ceiling sounds kind of messy and dangerous. I mean the notion conjures up the vision of being cut to bits by shards of sharp, cruel edges. The same kind of sharp cruel edges that come from imposing a harsh inner critic upon your dreams. Another yikes. 

When put that way, how about a reframe on breaking through your own glass ceilings. Perhaps as you continue to blaze your own trail, the energy from your own heat will dissolve the barriers. Hmm, it’s a thought.

"I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to." ~ Marian Wright Edelman

And, as more and more of us rise up and dissolve through more and more of our own personal glass ceilings, it stands to reason the societal and industry glass ceilings will dissolve as well.

Here are some heat-generating tools to aid your trailblazing journey upward:

  1. Be optimistic - “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. Set intentions & goals - and write things down. There's power in committing the words to paper. 
  3. Work smart and be diligent - one day after the next.
  4. Do things that scare you - stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Each day stretch a little bit further. You can break it down into bite size pieces that way.
  5. Recognize fear - give it voice and then forge ahead anyway. Often it's not as bad as you've made it out to be in your mind.
  6. Keep track of your progress - you'll surprise yourself when you recognize the baby steps that have grown into bigger ones. All of a sudden you're there and the glass ceiling as disappeared.
  7. Be assertive about your own worth - you are your best advocate and it starts with your own self-talk.

Here’s the thing about personal glass ceilings, as you break through one and continue to evolve into the person you’re meant to be, there will be more ceilings and barriers to dissolve. Because as we break through and start to get used to the air up there, we just keep rising and discovering and reaching for the next height or accomplishment. And, each one is a breakthrough!

So, keep soaring. Keep looking for higher personal ceilings to breakthrough.

Keep moving toward your heart’s desire.

And, take a moment to look back from time to time to appreciate your journey. Honor the accomplishment, no matter how large or small.


Stick to Your Lane

  Robb-leahy-512379-unsplash

"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way. 


Becoming Seasoned

Uros-jovicic-322314-unsplash

“She was a seasoned person.” That was how a woman was described at a celebration of life I recently attended. “She was a seasoned person.” And, everyone nodded in agreement. It was said in such a way that it was an earned recognition, a moniker that came after many, many seasons.

It got me thinking about what that means and what it might take to get there, to become seasoned.

So, what does it mean, to be seasoned?

Certainly there’s something to be said for the years adding seasoning. Experiencing season after season becoming really good at the thing. Vocabulary.com says “seasoned describes a person who has been around forever, doing what they do and doing it well - throughout the seasons.”

I don’t know about being around forever, but certainly when you want to know something about a topic or a skill or an area of interest, you ask someone who is seasoned, or a veteran, at that thing. You want to know about the best way to travel by foot through the south of France, you’d want to ask a seasoned traveler or hiker. You want to know how to craft a meaningful piece of prose or a photograph at dusk, you’d ask a seasoned writer or photographer. You want to find a leader for your sales force or legal department, you’d ask a seasonal professional in those fields for the best results.

When one goes through the seasons, there’s a maturation process that naturally occurs. So it stands to reason that being seasoned is a goal of maturing in life.

But, I love this idea of becoming a seasoned person in life. What is it besides experience in a field of study or industry that makes someone seasoned? Someone who has rich depth of character and possession of vast qualities. Someone who displays and lives a multitude of flavors when it comes to interests and conversation and relationships and tones of attitude.

What flavors add rich seasoning to the palate of life?

  • Yes, experience does add seasoning
  • Laughter adds seasoning
  • Pain adds seasoning
  • Grief adds seasoning
  • Deep love adds seasoning
  • Longing adds seasoning
  • Thirst for constant learning adds seasoning
  • Thought that leads to change adds seasoning
  • Contributing knowledge to new ideas adds seasoning
  • Seeing and feeling the colors of the world add seasoning
  • Having a difficult conversation adds seasoning

A seasoned person knows who they are.

A seasoned person trusts that their wisdom, knowledge and experience is embodied. It just is. And can be called upon at all times.

A seasoned person doesn’t play games. They don’t have to.

A seasoned person doesn’t care so much anymore about what people think of them or what they do or how they do it. 

Even when there is stress, a seasoned person handles it because they know they have the tools, the ingredients, to deal with it. 

A seasoned person that continues to enrich their lives isn’t afraid to add new flavors to the mix. In fact, they seek them out.

“The seasoned woman is going to offer a more seasoned character. “ Robin Wright

A dear friend was visiting for the weekend and we were cooking dinner together, trying a new recipe that included the pungent Egyptian dukkah seasoning, to be added to the roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage and onions. Okay, I have a sensitive palate so I don’t do spicy well. In other words, if something’s too spicy it ruins it for me. She, on the other hand, was a big fan. And, I wanted to be game. So, she suggested adding the heavy spice to half and lightly seasoning the other half. Then, if I tasted it and liked it we could mix the two together. So, I did and we did. It was intensely herby and delicious.

It got me thinking how being a multi-dimensional and layered seasoned person means trying new things, new experiences, new ideas that add to the mixture of life. New flavors tossed into the marinade.

The beauty of becoming seasoned is that it’s organic, it’s gradual. It’s natural human transformation. It’s evolving into being our most authentic selves.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Becoming seasoned is not settling, but rather grounding into purpose.

Do I feel seasoned? At times, you bet I do. What’s interesting is I’m living into it, embracing it, actually rejoicing in it, a little more each day. Those little moments that present themselves when I say, “I’ve got this. This is easy.” Those things that I’m able to do without laboring, without stress, and with calm and grace. 

And, those things that are a challenge but I trust that I know how to fortitude through.

Those things that I’ve practiced, studied, nurtured, worked, worn, expressed, chewed, swallowed, cooked, massaged, explored, exfoliated, babied, battered, battled, loved and owned. For years. 

“In time we grow older, we grow wiser, we grow smarter, and we're better. And I feel like I'm becoming more seasoned, although I don't have my salt-and-pepper hair.”  Usher

Yeah, I’m seasoned and damn happy about it. You?


The Subtle Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

Felix-russell-saw-102515-unsplash
Photo by Felix Russell-Saw

She had bright orange hair that kinked around the nape of her neck. She wore a black lace miniskirt, black tights and combat boots. With a smile that lit up the room and a hyena giggle that pierced it. She greeted everyone by name and with interest. She’s my favorite Coffee Bean barrister and on that day, when I was still sitting on the edges of victimhood after my computer was stolen, she woke me up and got me present.

As I watched her interact with a woman, going beyond your basic barrister and customer moment, I was surprised as I got tears in my eyes. I was suddenly really emotional.

It continued throughout the morning. But, what I realized is that they weren’t tears of sadness or loss. I had certainly shed several tears bearing those descriptions. No, these were tears of gratitude. And, hope. And little flickers of joy. Life. Humanity.

I choose this.

I was still feeling anger and wanted vengeance at some level. I’d just received a denial of claim from the valet company who’d parked my car when it was robbed, which felt like being victimized all over again. And, was getting no response from the garage company where my car was vandalized. I wanted to see the security camera footage. I wanted to catch someone to make someone responsible for the crime. Every morning I woke up with a nervous stomach. The butterflies of vengeance.

Then I saw this Lao Tzu quote: “Victimhood is staying in the suffering.”

Those feelings of gratitude, as surprising as they came, softened the edge of vengeance enough to see through it.

Gratitude reminded me that to dig deep into my own personal power for what to do next. Gratitude reminded me that people are good and most often want to do the right thing.

I appealed to a person at the valet company, with kindness, with directness. And, it worked. They paid for my broken window. Gratitude.

My insurance company (Liberty Mutual rocks) took care of me. I felt heard, believed and resolved. More gratitude.

I felt empowered. Which I realized was the antidote to the suffering. The key to unlock the gate in order to leave victim-hood.

But, could I put it behind me? The nervous stomach still persisted. It still gnawed at me that someone needed to pay for what they did. But, I noticed that what was really underneath the nervousness was something more.

The thing is, I really wanted to just move on. But, I felt guilty about that. Was I giving up if I let them get away with committing a crime against me, and who knows how many others? Why did I want to pursue it? Because, I felt guilty if I didn’t.

Is it giving up if I let it go? Or if I let it go, is that giving up?

It got me thinking about the difference between giving up and letting go. It seems there’s a fine line between them yet they’re vastly different. It comes down to the feeling behind it, the intention inside it, and the embodiment of it. It's a mindset shift.

Then, it got me thinking about all of the other areas in life where giving up or letting go can either hold you down or set you free. Where things didn’t happen like you’d planned. Where a dream fell short of realization, over and over again. Or when you wake up one day and look around at your life and things aren’t what you thought they’d be. 

In this context of giving up:

Giving up is staying stuck in the what ifs. The if-only’s. The I-won’t-be-successful-unless-that-thing-happens. The expectations that start to feel unhealthy.

Giving up is the stomach ache. It’s catching your breath and holding it. It’s shoulders that hug your ears. It’s the energy that gets stuck. It feels heavy. Like being deep under water and holding your breath, in the moment right before panic sets in.

Giving up feels sad and like failure. Falling just short, or way short. Always wondering what could have been. It feels like letting yourself down or letting another down who might have invested time and energy.

Giving up is a never-ending feeling of not quite getting there, of feeling less than.

Giving up is rooted in regret.

It can live in your psyche and permeate everything. Giving up shackles you to the very thing you’re trying to release.

Giving up keeps you in the past.

Letting go, on the other hand, is a beautiful release.

Letting go is acknowledgment of the ending of something, a moment, a life phase, an exhausted effort, a situation that doesn’t serve anymore. Whether it's a relationship or a job or a long ago goal imagined in a former self.

Letting go is releasing what isn’t working anymore. What you have no control over. Events in the past that have nothing to do with the present. That can’t be changed because they’re over with, gone, dead and buried in the past which has nothing to do with right now.

"Letting go is the exhale." Andrea Quinn

Letting go feels like a full breath with an exhale that courses all the way through the body. It feeds the present not the past. It fills it up while at the same time creates alive energetic space where the “stuff” has been taking up room.

Letting go is an unlocking.

It’s the oxygen tank under the water.

It’s air.

It’s the turbo fuel injection.

It’s freedom.

With letting go, comes clarity. It clears the fog.

Letting go is removing yourself from the one-foot-in-one-foot-out syndrome. You know that place, right?

The profound gratitude was the beginning, the way in, to letting go for me.

I was still holding the grief and violation in my body so went to see a wonderful reiki healer who helped me to work the energy out, to release it.

It was during that session when I felt a complete and full feeling of gratitude that it all happened. I actually felt grateful that the event happened.

I released the attachment to the violation. It was something that happened to me, but I let go of the suffering. And, the guilt for wanting to move on.

Letting go put it in my past where it actually is anyway.

Letting go is a 4-letter word. Letting go is love.

Related: Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word where I go into more depth on the subject of Letting Go

Giving up or letting go is a matter of choice.

What’s the solution, not what’s the excuse?” Jack Canfield

Sometimes, it’s a deep-seated desire or lifelong dream that you’re not ready to give up on. The feeling of giving it up can feel like you’re giving up on yourself. Believe me, I'm a lifelong proponent of not giving up on your deepest dreams. 

But, this is where letting go becomes a powerful tool for not giving up on yourself, where you move out of victimhood and into empowerment.

The language of victimhood is full of blame and self-pity and resentment and regret and excuses.

The language of empowerment is about the solutions and taking back your power and letting go of the energy that’s keeping you stagnant.

"When you don’t want to let go of it yet, trust that there’s a better way." Dina Strada

The empowering choice is to let go of old expectations around it, of what you wanted it to be or thought it would look like, all those years ago.

The empowering choice is to change the thoughts within the dream or goal or relationship. It all starts there. 

Give that desire or dream or goal or relationship a fresh conversation. Bring it into the here and now. Modernize it. Give is a new wardrobe. Apply today’s technology to it. Reframe it. Be open to a new way.

For me, the clarity that came from letting go of what happened with my computer, and all of the stuff that come along with that situation, has freed me to look more closely at what's really important. To inventory other things I've been hanging onto, dreams and otherwise. Reviewing and releasing some. Reframing, changing the thoughts and conversation around others. Recommitting in a new way.

That's letting go, not giving up. 

 


The Moon Had a Message - It Was Simple and Profound

 It could be meant for you too

Ganapathy-kumar-163082

The moon woke me up.

4 a.m. and I was wide awake. I could practically feel its energy and like a magnet, a moon magnet, a lunar longing, it pulled me out of bed and outside in robe and slippers, just as the eclipse of the super blue blood moon was beginning.

I texted my sister in Austin to see if she was watching. She was, so we texted as we watched it together.

I tried taking pictures, to capture the view that my naked eye saw. But, nothing came close so I gave up and stayed with the moon. It was incredible as a deep, blood orange veil eased over the pale blue orb.

It was chilly so I got in my car and continued watching through the moonroof. And, it was in that container, my car, that I was able to self-contain and connect to the truly awesome cosmic experience. 

For several moments the moon remained blood orange as I thought about how it woke me out of a dead sleep. It almost felt urgent.

So, what the heck, I decided to ask her. "Is there something you need to tell me?"

I recalled a man I know who once had a profound entheogenic journey with the moon. He was in the middle of a spiritually transformative experience while utilizing the ancient plant medicine, Iboga, an African shrub root still used in rituals and healing journeys, when the moon gave him a deep message about his life.

It wasn’t through plant medicine that I felt this deep connection to the spectacular moon before me, at least not this time, but I felt like if I listened intently there might be something there for me too. It's often said that during a full moon it's a good time to release what isn't working anymore and to set your intentions, your goals for what you desire in life. But, in that moment, sitting in awe of her strength and beauty, all I wanted to do was question her.

What do you want to say? I asked. What am I to know? What can I receive from you? Is there something I should be doing? I asked these questions and more, out loud. And then I shut up. My eyes locked on her and I listened. Just listened, for a long time. 

It got me thinking about the power and life of the moon. For that remarkable moon event to occur a lot needed to meet all at once. It's been a long time coming and the moon showed up effortlessly to do its thing. Just think about all that had to happen for these to take place in concert: a supermoon (extra large because it's closest in it's orbit to the Earth), a blue moon (the second full moon in a month), a total lunar eclipse (when the sun, Earth and moon line up) and a blood moon (the moon turns red as it passes through the Earth's shadow).

Lots of preparation had to take place, astrological planning and movement and alignment had to happen precisely to meet this particular window of opportunity, this moment in time. This was her moment. And she was ready for it.

She seemed to be waiting for my stillness, for my full attention. Then, I got it.

The moon itself was illustrating its message: This is your moment.

My whole body relaxed as I opened up and received the following message from her. And, the hit I got was that it most likely wasn't a message just for me, which is why I'm sharing it. 

The Moon's Message:

This is your time.

You’ve done all of the prep work. In fact, you’ve spent a lifetime in preparation. Everything you've done has brought you here, to this moment in time. You’ve spent a lifetime of intake, studying, learning, watching, improving, gathering input.

Now is the time for output, for visibility, for communicating, by expressing intimately as well as globally, with one person and many. For imparting what you know.

You have the knowledge and wisdom. Within your stories, and you have many, you have much to share. And, you know, you know how. 

It’s all coming to you. The more you use your voice, express your thoughts, share yourself, teach others, the more will come, is coming. It’s already in your field of ownership. In your flow of momentum.

Trust what you know. Trust your life experience. Trust that you’ll do it your way, authentically. Don’t worry how others are doing it. Trust your intelligence. Trust your voice. Trust your words. Trust your body, it always knows when you’re in the flow, in alignment. Trust your mind. Trust your spirit. Trust yourself.

Trust what you love.

This is your time. Everything is in alignment with where you’re supposed to be and what you’re to do, right now. And, when it’s not, trust that you’ll know that too.

No more waiting, questioning, doubting, worrying.

Own your shadows. Behind the brightness and light there is always shadow, where growth takes place. And, sometimes, as with the moon, your shadows are going to show. That's okay. Don't judge them. Don't get lost in them but rather mine the gems and lessons. They will serve you in your best moments. 

"We are all like the bright moon. We still have our darker side." Kahlil Gibran

Embrace the decluttering. This is the reason things have been removed from your field of ownership. To cause a pause, an opening, space, more room to settle into what's real. [For me, it was a stolen computer. Think about where you've cleared or cleaned out space, or perhaps something you might have lost.] 

So, go deep, into deep wisdom. Communicate from there. Love from there. Live from there. Be, from there.

It was like getting a permission slip from the grand master teacher.

What happened next brought it all together in a way that only moon, the sun, God and universal source could do.

As the moon set, from where I watched the entire western sky was a luminous pink. What the super blue blood moon manifested by shining in her moment, in her time, was absolute splendor. A splendor that spread over and permeated everything within its sphere. In fact, as the moon set, the sky in its rich glow, remained. The moon left a lasting impression, an impact that touched so many, just by being all that it had prepared to be.

The message continued:

When you are in your time, in alignment with your truth, your soul's work, your supermoon divinity, the result is a splendor of life riches which will have a lasting impact not only on you but on everything and everyone you come into contact with. 

Then, as the moon hung for a final few moments, it greeted the most glorious sunrise. It was as if they both acknowledged each other’s beauty and purpose in their collective duty to serve the universe. It was as if the sun said, "Well done." And, the moon responded, "You take it from here." It was awesome to witness.

The next morning as I left home before dawn, the still super blue moon was hanging high above a crystal blue horizon. Once again bidding a bonjour and adieu to the sun as it rose with a gold and orange fanfare.

And, it got me thinking about how she's still in her moment, this moment. It’s still her time. She showed up to do her job. She didn't sit back and rest on her laurels, convincing herself that her moment had past or stop herself out of fear that she won't be able to live up to her previous splendor. No, because what happened the night before only further solidified her purpose, her power, her strength, her time, as she just continues to express herself, shining her light as only she can. She's the friggin' moon. It's always her time. 

As I drove toward my destination I passed a billboard that said, and I kid you not:

#ThisIsYourTime

You just can’t make this stuff up.

It was a sign, on a sign.

So, if there was something that resonated with you in that very cool message from the moon, that stayed with you, that hit you where you live, then it's definitely meant for you too.

This is your time. Trust it. Be it. Live it. Own it.


How About Less of This and More of That in 2018

It Starts With the Word of the Year. And, the word is Perspective.

Perspective paul-skorupskas-59950
Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

 I’ve been thinking a lot about Perspective.

This is one of my favorite times of year, when things start fresh, slates are clean, the canvas is fresh, new journals are cracked opened, solid lists of resolutions and goals are constructed and the reset buttons are pushed.

But, I don’t think it’s really possible to completely start with a completely clean slate or canvas because old stories and patterns are still there underneath the surface, ready to become visible. Often it's when we’re just ready to breakthrough or soar that they rear their little heads.

This is where the idea of Perspective comes in.

It’s such a great word and I think is vital to make the most out of the transition from year to year, from an end to a beginning.

Often when someone has a shift take place in his or her life or career, it’s because of change in perspective.

I watched a recent interview with James Franco, who is soaring right now with his already awards-darling film THE DISASTER ARTIST. Franco, as he says, “from the outside perspective it looked like I had this great career,” and he did. At one point he was in a play of Broadway, making a film during the day and flying to LA weekly to teach classes. He couldn’t get enough and thought, as an artist, the more he did the better. But, he “was depressed.”

That’s when he slowed down long enough to look at his life and shift his perspective. It took twenty years, but now he’s approaching his life and career, which shines brighter than ever, with this: “Hard work does pay off. But what I didn't realize is that you need balance, and you cannot make your happiness contingent on work, or on anything outside of you, for that matter, right? At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's gotta be a more spiritual thing. I didn't learn that until a year ago," he said.

Without this point of view it’s likely he wouldn’t have been able to present such a nuanced film because the truth is your current perspective permeates everything you do. And, THE DISASTER ARTIST is all about perspective.

Perspective can make you lighten up and not take things so seriously, while at the same time Perspective can help you get really serious about the most important things.

Perspective gives you a helicopter view. This bird’s eye view allows you to look through history, even beyond the last year, without attachment (or less attachment) to the circumstance so you can extract the jewel.

And, Perspective is what helps you hone in to reveal the truth underneath your old stories including whatever pattern or emotion you have attached to it.

It’s Perspective that starts the process of letting go.

It’s been interesting, as I’m writing my memoir; Perspective is my number one ally, shocking, as it has been at times. As I examine my old journals I've found that over the years I wrote about some of the same issues, fears and desires, over and over again. Like over and over again. At first I was like, ‘Damn Girl, you’re stuck in your story. When will you get it?’

Then, I decided to remove judgment from the question, and it changed my perspective. It became, ‘Wow isn’t it revealing how attached I was to parts of my story and the spiral of comfort and familiarity of discomfort that came from telling it to myself and others?”

Now, that I can work with. In truth, each time I asked those same questions or pondered similar issues I was moving through and past something, working through a relationship issue or breaking through a life or career barrier.

And, I realized that each round of questioning, or even angst, started from the previous ending point because I had some experience and Perspective to lay the groundwork.

It can take some time for Perspective to form. And, it can take an instant.

Perspective IS the Canvas

So, what if rather than starting the year with a clean slate or canvas or blank page, what if Perspective is the base coat, the backdrop, the color with which you paint your resolutions, write your story and pave your path. What if Perspective is the canvas?

Use your Perspective to lift out, carve out the pieces that are useful and will serve your now, your present and your future.

It starts with culling through the last year and using the perspective of being a year more experienced and wiser to cut out the prizes, the things that worked, to carry forward and then leave the rest behind.

Betsy mccallIt reminded me of when I was ten and eleven; I eagerly anticipated the mail at the beginning of every month, for that’s when McCall’s Magazine would arrive. I quickly flipped every page, slowing as I came toward the back until I found the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls. Every month it would be a surprise how Betsy would show up and her outfit, which was cutout alongside her, would be a sign of the season.

Sometimes I would cut them out straight from the magazine; other times I’d tear out the page and then when I was ready I used my round tipped scissors to carefully slice around each tab and edge. Then, I would dress my paper doll in her new garb and take her with me on whatever adventure I'd planned. 

It was the same thing while looking back at the achievements, events, situations and relationships over the last year. I flipped through the metaphorical history book to cut out the gems, the prizes, the lessons. I then sliced around what wasn’t needed anymore, breaking the pattern and leaving the remnants behind. 

Or, remember the carnival claw machine, where after you put your token in you took control of the giant claw in order to try and grab the toy of your desire. ClawMachine It was hard sometimes to get that thing to mind you and to weed through what you didn’t want so you could capture the prize, which was sometimes at the bottom of the heap.  

While pulling out what worked and what I’m carrying forward into 2018, I found it wasn’t the circumstances or specifics that bubbled to the surface, but rather the perspectives, the lessons learned, that were the prizes that are providing the starting points for what’s next. The new foundation and starting line.

It’s Perspective that keeps you from going backward.

For example, breaking my wrist taught me to get quiet, listen within and the power of single-tasking over multi-tasking.

And, speaking up and asking for closure at the end of a brief relationship taught me how much the relationships we choose (and we’re always choosing) provide a very truthful mirror.

It’s Perspective that allows us to do better, be better. Perspective is where wisdom, experience and courage not only get you started on the next thing, but Perspective is also what takes you across the finish line.

It’s seeing patterns through the lens of your now wisdom to change your inner dialogue which shifts mindset and ups your actions. It all starts with Perspective.

Which is why Perspective is my word for 2018

I’m rereading Michael Singer’s “Untethered Soul,” which is a great companion to Perspective. In it, he talks about the inner dialog, the incessant voice in our head that judges everything. You know the voice. Stop for a moment during the day and pay attention. It literally never stops. The voice is what drives us through the day, through life, good or bad. It drives us crazy!

Singer says you are not that voice, You are the one hearing the voice, you’re “the witness.” He says the “only real solution” to change and improving our way to enlightenment, “is to take the seat of Witness Consciousness and completely change your frame of reference. To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem.”

The same can be said for patterns in old stories or the emotions that keep you attached to them. Witness consciousness and Perspective are what lift and change things. As Singer says, the incessant voice will never stop, but you can change your relationship to it.

So, if you continually look at opportunities and self-growth through the lens of Perspective then it’s your own wisdom that leads the way. Combine that with asking what your heart wants, it’s a winning combo.

This year, with Perspective, I’m thinking in terms of more and less.

Perhaps some will resonate and you’ll come up with your own. What are you so over and done with, and what do you want to increase to elevate your life?

Some of mine have to do with my personal lesses and mores. And, some have to do what and who I want to surround myself with.

More and Less of This and That

  • Less input; More output. This is number one for me. Too much input clouds the output.
  • Less resistance; More surrender.
  • Less social media; More real life connections
  • Less fear; More faith
  • Less busyness; More focused action
  • Less going with the flow; More flow within structure
  • Less being an island and going it alone; More collaboration, partnering and asking for help
  • Less judgment; More curiosity and awareness
  • Less negative; More positive
  • Less talking; More listening
  • Less talking; More thinking
  • Less chaos; More moments of stillness
  • Less drama; More peaceful expression of truth
  • Less weight on other’s opinions; More self-trust, self-acceptance and self-reliance
  • Less hierarchy; More knowing importance of self value
  • Less perfection; More just doing it.
  • Less competition; More just doing it.
  • Less indecision; More just doing it.

So... Perspective in 2018 is part helicopter pilot, part conscious witness, part paper doll artiste and part bold creator.

It’s looking good so far! Happy New Year!