The Eagle Doesn’t Flock Around with the Chickens… And Neither Should You

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Growing up, I was very clear on what I wanted to do with my life.  My friends and I used to talk about the dreams we had for ourselves.  Over the long weekend, I thought about this a lot, and reflected on some of the heavy situations that we’ve all had to endure.  There have been many divorces, children to raise and several traumas, which none of us could have predicted, but… such as life.  I know we all wanted to be mothers, so mothers we became, but what about all the other dreams we had? 

So often we manage to overcome our greatest obstacles, yet we leave behind the desire of our hearts along the way.  What if these obstacles were placed before us as guiding posts toward our goals, rather than being forks in the road to throw us off course?  Personally, overcoming my addiction brought me closer to my genuine self, which has been a great reminder of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.  I knew as a child that I was a writer.  Nothing has changed.  Through my recovery I’ve simply been directed in a specific direction with my writing.  Where I was once confused about what I should write about, now I am sure of myself.  I’m more refined, and my writing is more organic.  I don’t have to fight with my pen, or struggle with the keys every morning because I know which way I’m headed. 

When I was a child, it occurred to me that all the animals were genuinely playing out their specific role here on earth, and each role balanced out the overall ecosystem of the planet.  The lion never acts like a bear and an eagle never flocks around the ground like a chicken.  It’s very clear that mother nature is incredibly balanced, and each creature is true to their specific purpose.  Yet the humans seem to be extremely unclear about their role here.  The difference between the humans and the animals is that we have egos, and we also live in a monetary system that keeps many of us in survival mode.  Rather than thriving in our purpose here, most of us are struggling to stay above water.  If we are strong enough, we become competitors with the other humans, and if greed has got the best of us, we take as much as we can without concern of the balance of the planet.  Then there are some of us who don’t care at all.  We are lazy and consumed with remaining entertained, instead of serving a purpose while we are here.  And while most of us are concerned with the state of the world, we continue to consume, compete and survive. 

I used to have this fantasy that everyone who worked nine-to-five jobs would just STOP all at once, and walk away from their offices.  I imagined the insurance adjuster loosening his tie and picking up his dusty guitar, and the CEO of an ad agency kicking off her heels and dancing along the street.  We leave behind our dreams to pay our bills, but at the end of our lives, how many of us regret not writing that book, or traveling the world with a symphony?  We are basically artists playing the roles of robots.  It would be so cool if everyone everyone would STOP in the tracks of their busy careers – all at once – and pick up where they left their childhood dreams.  This has always been a fantasy of mine, but I can only live out my own dream.  I can’t force anyone else to live out theirs.

I’ve had friends come up to me and say, “Oh my gosh, you’re really doing it.  You’re writing books, and you moved away from our hometown.”  It occurs to me that this is not a common thing, and it strikes me as silly.  “Of course.  What else would I be doing?”  It’s not an easy life I’m living, and I don’t have a lot of things my friends have, but I am happy.  I’m fulfilled.  If I died tomorrow, I could honestly say that I have no regrets.  Even if I haven’t traveled the world yet, I’m well on my way, so I can’t say that I didn’t try.  I’m always trying to get where I’m going.  Even my career has eased up enough to allow me to follow the path of my dreams.  I can wear jeans to work.  I don’t get in trouble if I’m late, and if I have to leave early – or take a day off – no problem.  This is the life I’ve created because I’m following my own innate purpose.  If I would have bought into a belief that it was too late for me, or my addiction got the best of me, or I’ve got children to raise so my life needs to be placed on hold, or I have to keep up with my friends, or I can’t move away from my family… I would be working a corporate job, and miserable.  That just isn’t me.  Maybe that’s for some people, but I’m very clear that I’m supposed to be writing. 

I guess the point I’m trying to make, is that if you follow the path of your dreams, the world will open up for you.  It truly will.  You may not own the largest TV, or have the nicest car.  You may not get to own a home, but you will feel completely fulfilled and mother nature will do her part and provide exactly what you need, at the exact right time.  It’s a little bit like free-falling and trusting that a parachute will be provided, but once you realize that you ARE the parachute, the fear and doubt will vanish. 

This is a lot to take in, but the bottom line is that there is a natural balance that occurs when each of us serves our innate purpose in life.  It may seem impossible, or too late, but that is just a lie we tell ourselves as an excuse to remain comfortable.  I tend to think about the day I die.  I realize that there will come a day when I look back and review what I’ve done here while I was alive.  If what I’m doing right now, doesn’t add up to living out my role here and serving my purpose (or living out my dreams), then I chuck it aside.  It’s real easy to see the distractions when you are clear about your purpose.  The giraffe doesn’t end up in Antarctica due to a hook up with the penguin.  It just doesn’t happen because nature knows it’s role.  We all came here with an innate desire to be something.  Stick with that.  Find your way back if you’ve gotten lost. Ditch the water bird, and get back in your African groove.  That’s all I’m sayin.’

 

 

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QUICK… Slap a Label On Yourself Son, Before They Deem You’ve Disappeared!

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What if went to a meeting today, raised my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Jennifer and I simply AM?”  What would the people in the room think?  Would there be an awkward silence followed by a few snickers and then some sweat beads mounting on the heads of those who follow the rules of the program without falter? Some people do go in there and state their names without the alcoholic label at the end, and it’s obvious to us that they are newcomers.  Some newbys are uncomfortable with that label, and that’s just fine with me.  I didn’t particularly like it in the beginning either, but then I just succumbed to the program because it works.  However, it’s not who I am, and I think most of us in the rooms know that it’s not who we truly are… or perhaps we don’t.  I mean, have you really thought about this?  Do you walk around kind of shaming yourself (or gloating) for being an addict, an alcoholic, a junkie, a drunk?  I sometimes wonder why we need to keep reminding ourselves of the past.  Why not state that we are “recovering” instead?  Or “I am recovering from…”  This is not only removes the labeling of ourselves, but it affirms that we are in movement.  It declares that we aren’t stuck in time, and we aren’t just that one dreaded thing that separates us from the rest of society.

But we don’t question the program because it’s worked for so many people.  In fact, we don’t question a lot of things.  Once we get on our feet and find our own balance in our recovery, we should really start taking a look at what works for us and what doesn’t.  I’m tired of calling myself “an alcoholic.”  At work I’m a “Transaction Coordinator.”  At home I am a “mom.”  In my own mind I am a runner and a writer, but what if all these things were suddenly removed from me?  What would I be then?  What if I lost the ability to form a sentence from some terrible accident where my children were taken from me?  What if I could no longer work or run because my body was paralyzed?  What would my new labels be then?  I would be looked upon as a paralyzed woman who “used to be…” so many different labels.  But what if I saw myself as whole, and what if I realized that my challenges were set in motion so that I could realize who I truly was without all the labels? 

How do you label yourself?  How do others label you?

It’s a question worth asking because without labels, a lot of us don’t know who we are.  How many people retire from their lifelong careers and discover themselves completely lost?  They spent their lives believing that their career was who they were.  It’s what we do and it isn’t right.  I mean, it’s another form of separating ourselves from others, which is one of the themes I’ve been writing about this week.  We should take it from a master and follow the statement of “I AM,” without a label to follow.  Jesus wasn’t just stating that “HE WAS.”  He was always pointing us back to ourselves, but people who claim themselves to be “sinners” (another label mind you) seek outside of themselves for the truth.  I AM was a statement of being.  It was a gift of knowing… the way, the truth and the life.  (For those of you who know your scripture). If I AM… then the way, the truth and the life is within my own being.  And if no one can go to the father (God) except through “ME,” then I must have to enter into my own being in order to meet my maker. Talk about lost in translation! The road to truth is narrow because it is an internal experience. This is so important to understand, because the other way around is what most people follow and most people (if you’ve noticed) are really lost, though they will disagree with this statement because no one likes feeling lost when they believe they have found the truth.  They would rather be in a state of denial than to look at themselves honestly.  But we all do this.  I constantly have to remind myself to look in the mirror.  I’m blind to myself too, which is why I ask a lot of questions and why I appreciate being challenged by the people in my life who point things out to me, although it kind of sucks in the beginning.  If I hadn’t been challenged by my counsellors and peers in treatment, I would still be suffering today.

It’s important to ask questions even in a program that has worked for a lot of people.  It also hasn’t worked for a lot of people.  That’s why it is imperative to really understand who you truly are, with a knowing that goes beyond a belief.  If everything was suddenly removed from you, you need to know that you could remain sober because you no longer are that alcoholic label, or that addict label.  You are in movement.  You are in recovery.  You are not a stagnant being.  You are always in motion, so I challenge you to stop labeling yourself and to walk in the wholeness and completeness of yourself.  And I’m going to stop announcing that I am an alcoholic in those rooms.  Tonight, I’m Jennifer and I AM in recovery.