The Winds of Change Are A-Blowin’ and I’m a Butterfly

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As summer kicks off and my life turns into a new direction (one that I couldn’t have predicted even a few weeks ago), my first instinct is to be excited, but my own body revolts in quiet disagreement.  It knows from experience that change is not as easy as my free-spirited self makes it seem.  Just last year I made one of the biggest changes of my life.  Everything that I desired was delivered to me into one dynamic package, and it was mind-blowing, but the actual change was overwhelming.  It took a few months to settle and depression was hanging out with me trying to grip me into its mighty claws.  I didn’t succumb, but it was all very unsettling in the beginning.  After a few months, life calmed down a bit and once the routine was simplified, there was harmony.

I dreamed last night of two fabulous and massive butterflies.  One was a brilliant monarch who kept coming back into my space to enlighten me with her beauty.  Her colors were marvelous and she made me feel alive.  Then there was another type of butterfly that looked more like a fairy.  She had what appeared to be crimson petals for wings.  They folded easily with the wind and below her body was a lavish extension of her wings.  They floated behind her and touched every leaf she passed as she fluttered through the trees.  I wondered if she was going to be caught up in the branches of the mighty tree, but she floated on without being held back by anything, even the leaves that seemed to entangle her as she moved through them gracefully.  Of course upon my awakening, I knew these two butterflies represented me.  Transformation.  Change.  Moving through life gracefully.  Illumination.  Carefreeness.  Life on life’s terms. The crimson wings represent being passionate.  I’m not getting snagged into the moments as I move along and follow my intuition. 

There are so many ways we move through life, and I do not think that any certain way we choose is right or wrong, but I do know that the way we choose to think while we navigate through life, determines the experience we will have.  As I embark on a new experience with my daughter, and include my son in what I desire for him as well, I have to ask myself what it is that I so deeply yearned for, and how I’m going to use this extra money which is suddenly coming to fruition?  How can I use my creativity in this experience, and what are my long term goals?  In the past, I would have dwindled the extra money away on clothes and conveniences, but now that I’m more mature, my thinking is that I need to invest it into something.  Debts will be paid, a vacation will be taken, but there has also got to be an investment of some sort, and because my daughter is a natural business woman, I have the chance to teach her something that will benefit her for the rest of her life by thinking outside the box of our smaller living space. I trust that this is a perfect opportunity to explore a home based business.  We will work together and create an income.  We will build a harmonious life together and no one will be there hovering over us when our dishes aren’t put away, or complaining about the cat who is licking himself and shedding on the bed.  We will be like two butterflies, free to move about our world and open to experiencing all that life has to offer us.  How can I not be excited?  We have just entered the land of opportunity.

There is great fear about things that I have no control over right now, and some things are happening a little too fast.  My body wants to panic, but my experienced soul tells it that everything will be ok – which is exactly how it has been so far.  Everything’s ok.  When you reach for your dreams, and focus on your well-being, all the little details that we often get hung up on, seem to work themselves out.  I’m choosing not to get tangled into the branches right now.  I’m moving through the leaves as they rustle all around my body, and floating along with this dynamic wind that is taking me above and beyond what my mind can fully comprehend at this moment.  The winds of change are a-blowin’ and I’m going with them.  I am so grateful today, and excited about where I’m being lovingly carried.

   

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I Walked Through My Anxiety and There I Met Abundance (A Follow Up on What Lies Beneath Anxiety)

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 For the last few months, I have been faced with a decision to either identify with the anxiety coming up for me during a very heart wrenching breakup, along with not having a place to live when my lease is up at the end of August, or to allow this anxiety to be part of my experience without wrapping myself into it.  The fear has haunted me, but my awareness of it has kept it at bay.  During this time I chose to live my life in peace and harmony regardless of the shitty situation occurring, and honestly I have been quite happy.  There have been some days when I’ve felt defeated, but I looked at those moments as gracious opportunities to surrender to what I have no control over.  For five months I have been in a place where I could have been completely broken and miserable, but I made a conscious decision to walk the talk.  I entered the wilderness of myself and began a dialogue with my anxiety.  “Let’s do this, my troubled friend.  Let’s dance together for the time being, and then I’m going to have to let you go, because you’re taking up way too much of my precious life.  I am so ready to move on from you, but you can hang out for as long as you need to.”

Because the relationship with my former boyfriend is so strained and we live together, I have put my well-being (as well as my daughters) ahead of my desire to stay in the home we live in now throughout the summer.  This meant that I was even more under the gun to find a place to live without any money saved.  This cottage house is taking up most of my paycheck.  I realized that I didn’t want to live in tight-budget mode any longer, but instead of straining myself by getting another job, knowing that it would not be in the best interest for my daughter’s and my own well-being, I put it out in the universe that I either needed a bunch of money dumped on me immediately, or I needed to reduce the amount of money that I was spending each month, but more than anything, we needed a nice roof over our heads in this exact area we live in now because my kid needs to continue going to the same schools.  It wouldn’t be fair to uproot her after so much time and energy has been placed into her getting straight A’s and making new friends.  She has been through enough and I trust that when I ask for what I need, that the universe keeps her in mind as well.  I put a lot of pressure on God in this request to take care of us.  I made very specific requests, and then I went on about my life knowing that I would be provided for – ignoring all the fear and doubt that told me that I was going to need to pack up and move back to my hometown because I was failing.

I attend a Sunday night meeting and have the coffee commitment.  I’m there every week and last week, one of the women whom I’ve made acquaintances with stopped me after the meeting and asked if anything was wrong.  Prior to the meeting I had just been in another argument with the ex and I was feeling very defeated.  I told her about my living situation and mentioned that I need to find a place for my daughter and I to live as soon as possible, but it needs to be cheap because I need to pay off debt and save some money.  Part of my own recovery is to get myself out of debt.  The debt weighs on me heavily and I need to be free from it.  She listened and then we went about our business.  She was very caring and I needed this kind of support at that moment, so I was overcome with gratitude and it was relieving to be able to vent a little bit.  Throughout the week, I have been sending out emails for rentals without placing too much of my energy into it, but trusting that when I move forward, the universe is also working for me. 

Thursday I get a call from the woman at the meeting.  She’s so excited because her boyfriend has just given me a lead.  He is a pool cleaner and has been cleaning this elderly woman’s pool for over 20 years.  She has an apartment above her garage and the tenant has just moved out.  She needs someone there to take care of pulling out the garbage cans each week and to check on her once in a while because she lives alone.  She needed me to call her right away because on Saturday (today) she is leaving for six weeks to go to physical therapy in another town.  The house will be empty and she needs someone to water the flowers every other day.  Of course, it all sounded too good to be true, but I made the phone call.  When I spoke with the woman, something clicked.  It simply felt right, and I went over there to meet her on Friday.  Her family was there.  Her son, her daughter-in-law, two friends – it was a full house and everyone was so welcoming.

“Come on in, let my daughter-in-law show you the apartment and then I’m going to give you the garage door opener and let’s see if this is a good fit.”  I checked out the apartment.  It’s a large and accommodating studio with a deck overlooking a massive backyard and the solar heated pool (which we get to use) near hills with trails and in the best neighborhood of the town we live in.  Everything we need is in the apartment.  It’s furnished, and I don’t have much furniture, so this is a major plus.  There is a kitchenette, a stove, a refrigerator, a walk-in closet, a large bathroom and shower, a washer and dryer and a separate entrance.  I get to park in the garage, unlike now where my poor car gets hit with oak tree branches.  It’s quiet and would make the ideal summer home.  I decide that this is a treasure and I’m not going to pass up the offering.  When I go down to chat with the elderly owner, who is so incredibly kind and genuine, she tells me that the rent is less than what she originally quoted over the phone, which includes all utilities and cable.  The last thing that I am worried about is that I have a cat.  “Oh, yes, the cat is welcome,” she graciously says.  “There is a cat door and an acre of fenced backyard.  He will love to roam around here.  It’s a peaceful place to live and I need someone here for the six weeks that I’m gone, but you are more than welcome to live here however long you want.”  Needless to say, we hit it off.  I was given the wifi-code, the garage door opener and lots of smiles. Her family was kind and gracious.  She didn’t ask for a credit check, an application fee, references or any sort of deposit.  The rent is less than a third of what I pay now!  She went only on her intuition and apparently I made the cut.

Need I say more?  I mean, this is nothing short of some kind of cosmic miracle, right?  The most amazing thing is that I’m not even the least bit shocked.  This is what I asked for.  This is what I trusted would occur, and as I went about my life doing the next right thing, everything was manifesting in the background.  For the next several months, I will get to pay off debt, save money, buy some furniture, and take my two children on vacation.  My daughter and I are safe.  We found a temporary home that meets all of our needs and we don’t have to be in a rush to move again.  It’s all sitting pretty right before our eyes… AND THERE’S A POOL, which I didn’t even ask for, but like I said, my daughter’s needs get met when I am looking out for my well-being.  All of this happened so quickly, and the timing was immaculate. If I had been one beat off, none of this would have occurred.  It’s all just so sweet and loving.  I mean, how loving is the universe?  It’s so loving – it simply waits for us to be open to receiving.  We spend so much time with our head down to the ground, digging our heels in and trying to get somewhere, that we miss out on the magic of life that awaits our awareness of it.  I had no doubt.  I walked through my fear.  I faced my ancient anxiety and there I met abundance!

 

 

To Walk in the Power of The Serenity Prayer

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The first time I heard this prayer, it was through a former boyfriend who was helping me to let go of my anxiety.  I wasn’t even in recovery yet, and oddly, he wasn’t much of a “God” guy.  For a second after I read it in his email, I actually thought that he wrote this prayer… specifically for me (self-centeredness is so blinding), but then later (in the rooms) I realized that this was a prayer written for everyone.

This isn’t only a prayer of letting go, or relinquishing the need to control outcome; it is a deliberate prayer for balance.  Most of us can digest the first sentence “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” but what about the last two requests, “The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference?”  How do we know when to walk in the path of courage, versus letting go of outcome?  And if we don’t know whether to be brave or to sit still, then what?  Honestly, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here.  No matter what path you choose, there is always a learning experience, but this is when “doing the next right thing” comes into practice.  Either way you choose, if you’re doing the next right thing, then this is your opportunity to practice your own balance.  The questions to ask yourself in deciding if your doing the next right thing are:

Is this harmful to me?

Is this harmful to another person? (There is a huge difference between hurting someone, and harming them, so be clear on this.  If you’re breaking up with someone, they may be hurt, but they are not ultimately harmed.  Harming someone would be like a betrayal, or lying to them).

Are my intentions pure?  (In other words, are you doing something for selfish reasons, or do you have an ulterior motive?)

If you answer “no” to all the above, then you’re left with a decision.  If the decision is whether or not to look for a better job, or to wait for one to fall in your lap, I would say… there is no harm in looking for a better job.  If your decision is something that involves another person, then I would suggest communicating with that person before proceeding, so that you can make an educated decision with all the information laid out before you.  I know this is vague, but so often we think there is a “right” or “wrong” decision to make, when in fact, we are ultimately being guided, loved and provided for, no matter what path we choose to walk upon.  Even the bad decisions we make deliver consequences that ultimately provide opportunities to learn something of great value. 

In my own recovery, I have learned that if I’m getting hung up on the decision making process, then clearly I’m still stuck in “controlling outcome” mode.  Sometimes you’ve just got to follow your gut and move forward.  If moving forward feels wrong, then stop and sit still for a while.  Get used to “feeling” what goes on for you as you’re navigating throughout your life.  Most of us are result motivated, but the real treasure of our human experience, is the abstract abundance of personal growth.  I’ve met several people who have virtually nothing of value in their possession (house, car, income, etc.), yet they are spiritually rich and incredibly content.  They’ve discovered something that most of us fail to recognize; life is not about what you have, it’s about who you are.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept… The courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom…”  Walking in the light of this prayer is courageous.  It’s the both a statement of surrender, and the vow to stand on my own two feet within a powerful state of acceptance.  It’s a rich balance between humility and strength; it’s trusting in something greater than myself, and trusting in myself; it’s faith and reason all in one magnificent package.  This is the balance of our human existence.  This is what we practice when we are living consciously.

As we make decisions on a daily basis, let us remember this delicate balance without getting hung up on outcome.  Remember, it’s not where we end up, but what we learned along the way. 

 

 

 

 

What Does it Mean to Get Out of My Own Way?

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The constant conundrum of addiction: HOW TO GET OUT OF MY OWN WAY.  What does THIS MEAN?!  If I knew what the hell it meant, I would have GLADY moved out of my own way several years ago, but it was the biggest mystery of my life.  Of course I knew I kept messing things up and destroying my life.  If not completely destroying, I was always a hair follicle away from the edge, but what was this self-destructive factor that I needed to remove?  It’s like a blind spot.  I drew a complete blank when I was faced with the idea of “getting out of my own way.”

Perhaps I’m a little slower than others, or maybe I over-analyze, but when I finally began getting out of my own way, it was through the saying, “Do the next right thing.”  This little ditty was a damn life-saver for me.  It was like someone finally threw me a bone and gave me something to chew on.  Doing the next right thing became a tape I played in my head at all times, yet still, I had no clue that this was the simple answer to my enormous problem. 

Doing the next right thing is valuable.  It’s NOT picking up a drink or drug under any circumstance, because that would be the WRONG thing to do.  It’s NOT being an asshole when I’m angry.  It’s NOT putting myself first above others.  It’s NOT manipulating, lying, running from life, or trying to be in control of everything.  Doing the next right thing is basically telling my addict mind to take a flippin’ hike, while my soul leads the way.  This keeps me out of trouble, and helps me stay present.  It gives me the ability to take a step back from my reactive thoughts, and to make better decisions.  What a phenomenon! 

They say that most addicts are intelligent… PSHHHH!  Why do such simple concepts boggle our minds? 

Most human beings try too hard, and most addicts think way too much.  We are in our heads more often than not, and when it comes to moving down into our emotions, we would rather go down into the bottom of a liquor bottle, or into a baggie (depending on what kind of addict you are).  It’s equivalent to telling a fish to spend a day on land.  FEELING to us, is foreign.  Thinking is what we do best, but obviously the result is dismal.  So instead of forcing myself to drop down into my emotional body all the time, I’m whispering to myself, “Just do the next right thing.”  This is the quickest way to become humble and to get back down to earth, out of the demise of my addict mind.  There are no reactive actions, no dramatic Jerry Springer moments, and no destructive behaviors with this. 

We all like quick fixes… well, here’s the greatest quick fix there is…. DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING.  Be aware of what you are about to do in any situation, and immediately switch it up with this shot of reality.  And if you’ve already stepped into a messy situation due to anger, or just out of habit, it’s not too late to stop yourself from going further into the drama… simply DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING, my friend.  That’s what I’m doing today… before I self-destruct!