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Fate Vs. Free Will for the Future

I like to know the future and at the same time I don't like to know the future. Most people don't realize this about me but I get incredibly angry when someone tells me what will happen in my life. A button gets pushed and I want to retort, "How the hell should you know?" The funny thing is I have this response even if I've paid someone to tell me my future. Even if I'm trusting they will know, there is something deep and primal in me that growls and says, "You're wrong." And you know? I'm right.

In all the years I've spoken to psychics and intuitive readers they have never been right about anything, unless they predicted something within the next few weeks to a month. If they said, "The way you communicate will change," they were spot on. If they said, "You'll start dating someone by Valentine's Day," they were wrong. This blogpost is not to lambast psychics or intuitive readers — for some people they are amazingly accurate — instead, it's a springboard to talk about fate and free will.

If you asked me years ago I would have said I believe in a combination of fate and free will — that some things are fated but most are free will. Or certain free will choices I make launch me into a "fated" trajectory because for every action there is a reaction. After all, that's the basic law of the universe and also how I understand karma. What I'm noticing though is I believe less and less in fate and more and more in free will. My experience with future tellers demonstrates my life is unpredictable and no one knows what will happen next. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I want my life to be neat and tidy, I want to follow a plan and connect the dots from one event to another. I so want my life to be fated and to feel the comfort that comes along with following a map. On the other hand, my visceral response is, "I chart my own destiny and ain't nobody gonna tell me what to do." I'm little bit of rebel in that way I guess.

How does that fit with all my talk of déjà vu and signs? How do I square all this free will stuff with the very important occurrence of déjà vu? Just last night while talking with my friends I had a flash of, "I've experienced this before." My best friend has a gorgeous explanation for déjà vu that I won't be able to do justice, but I'll do my best. He once drew a map for me of squiggly lines and detours, a veritable spider spinning its web while on crack. There was nothing orderly about it. He drew nodes, or circles, at certain points on the web and said, "Those circles are déjà vu. They're intersecting points of one path or trajectory with another. They're an option to change direction or keep going." In that context déjà vu is an important point where our life comes together.

I think about this a lot because I'm scared of "going off track." Like if I miss my train that means I won't meet a promoter who falls in love with my book and wants to spread its message to the masses. However, what I know to be true, what I wrote about for Quarterlette.com, what I've seen evidence of, is opportunity doesn't knock once, it will beat down your door. So maybe fate is like that scene from Groundhog Day where Bill Murray tries to save that old homeless man and he dies anyway — the circumstances surrounding the old man's death are different, but the outcome is always the same. Maybe there are certain events that will happen no matter what and everything else is free will. One thing is clear though, the future is not decided.

I dream of a world where we understand we can change the world, we can change the future, where nothing is set in stone. A world where we grasp our destiny by the hands and steer ourselves where we want to go. A world where we accept what we cannot avoid and work to change the rest.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.    

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I didn’t think so many song lyrics would make their way into my blog but here they are! On Friday I dance walked to Brett Dennen’s song “Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know” and was struck by how appropriate it is right now.

Give it a listen:

The parts I love the most are, “Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know because it won’t last, your worries will pass, all your troubles they don’t stand a chance,” and, “Sometimes your path is marked in the sky, sometimes it fails to fit in between the lines.” Sing it Brett!

I am in two emotional places right now. In one, I am relieved because my worries have passed for the time being. I’m living in a huge house on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. with friends, there is no loud bass music blaring, no yippy dogs, no obnoxious neighbors, and for the first time in a long while I feel financially healthy because I’m not paying rent. Woo! Yes! Life is good! I have escaped from the bowels of hell that has been my life since August of 2011 and I’ve started taking a tincture to reset my nervous system (that’s the real miracle right there).

Brett’s other song lyric about how sometimes your path is marked in the sky and sometimes it fails to fit in between the lines is apt because, well, who would have thunk I’d be back on the East Coast? Certainly not me. I don’t plan on being here long term, but it’s certainly nice as a rest stop (ba-dum ching). The other emotional state I’m in is anxious, not so much about the future, but rather wading into things I know nothing about. If you want to see me clam up tighter than a barnacle clinging to a ship, throw something completely new at me and ask me to forge ahead. For instance, sales and marketing of my book. You want me to do what now? Please excuse me while I flap my arms around and hyperventilate. Brett is asking me to not fear what I don’t really know. My amazing life coach also reminded me of some tools to use when my inner barnacle makes an appearance:

  • Bring out the warrior in me to activate my courageous side
  • Remember everything is an expression of an infinite loving consciousness, and thus I don’t need to attach to any outcomes. Let go and let God, as it were.
  • Have compassion for myself. Honor my feelings, acknowledge I’m scared, and let myself know it’s OK.
  • Ask for divine presence, whether that’s angels, God, a mysterious force, a feeling, whatever, to help me feel I’m not so alone
  • Contemplate, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

I feel better already! I don’t need to fear the unknown because I have a toolkit to help with it all. And maybe you have a few tools to add. Let me know in the comments.

I dream of a world where we are in the ease and flow of life. A world where we dismantle our fears in a healthy, loving way. A world where we express joy and recognize our worries will pass, our troubles don’t stand a chance. A world where we don’t fear what we don’t really know.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Surrender to the Process

I am very self-willful (some would say controlling) in that I want things to go a certain way. I want people to call me back when I want them to; I want the world to revolve around my needs. Train delays? Miscommunication? No good.

Thankfully, I no longer stay in my controlling state for long because I recognize the futility of it. Instead, I've allowed myself to surrender to the process. To give up my tight grip and accept life on life's terms.

Many of you know I'm currently in Washington, D.C. for a spell (three months or so). The reason I'm here is because if I'd continued with my way of life in San Francisco I would have had a nervous breakdown. I don't mean the tie-me-up-in-a-strait-jacket kind of nervous breakdown, I mean the my-nervous-system-is-so-shot-I-can-barely-function kind.

I aspire to be like this guy.

It's only been a short time since I left SF but I can already feel the difference — I'm not in as much fear, I don't startle as easily, and I'm becoming more tolerant of noises. (More being the operative word here.)

I'm not sure what I want to express in this post except that it's important to let go of our wants sometimes in order to receive what we need. It would be very easy for me to lament I no longer live in San Francisco, to continue to compare my life here with the one I left behind, but then I miss out on all the good D.C. has to offer. The more I compare, the more I resist the flow of life. And the flow of life is taking me to good places. For one, I am incredibly blessed that my friends have made it easy to come back to the East Coast. It's been a smooth transition in that whenever I go to parties a whole roomful of people are excited to see me, and there's nothing sweeter than that.

There are so many benefits to being here for now, it's important for me to stay here now, meaning live where my feet are. I have no idea what the next few months will bring (I never do) but I find especially in uncertain times I need to surrender to the process. To give myself over to the divine mystery and accept there are forces at work that I don't fully understand. I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to plan the minutia of my life. I only have to let go of my will to see all the options before me.

I dream of a world where we let go. A world where we give into the process of life. A world where we accept we don't always know what's best for us. A world where we take life as it comes and trust it will take us where we need to go next.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Every so often I notice my blogposts take on a certain theme; they'll build off of each other. Lately I've been talking about self-care and treating myself the way I treat others. While listening to an interview with Christine Arylo I realized all of these separate pieces come under the umbrella of self-love. See, I used to think self-love meant looking in the mirror and saying, "I love you." But I have to tell you, even after years of doing so I haven't noticed much difference. I mean, there are some subtle changes in how I view myself but I still don't feel as if I love myself fully. When I heard Christine's interview the penny finally dropped.

Christine says self-love is about more than affirmations. In fact, there are 10 branches of self-love: self-acceptance, self-care, self-trust, self-awareness, self-compassion and forgiveness, self-empowerment, self-honor and respect, self-esteem, self-expression, and self-pleasure. Like branches of a tree, these parts of self-love feed into self-worth, the root of self-love. Here, I'll show you a nifty picture she drew:

A self-love tree from Ms. Christine Arylo.

After hearing all of this, it made sense why I've felt as if I'm missing something. My self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-expression branches have been massive. Believing I can accomplish anything I set my mind to? Check. Having knowledge of who I am and what I'm good at? Check. Self-expressive? Double check. The others though? Not so much. I can't really profess that I love myself until I take equal care of all those self-love branches.

Why am I dithering on about self-love? I operate under the belief the outside world is a reflection of my internal one. The more I love myself the more loving people show up in my life. The more I take care of myself the more I can take care of others. Self-love may seem selfish (and Christine addresses that in her book Madly in Love with Me) but honestly, how on Earth are we supposed to love other people if we don't even know what it means to love ourselves? How can I show up for other people if I can't fully show up for myself?

This topic of self-love has become so important to me in the past few years because as I get older I realize no one will be able to love me the way I want to be loved. The amount of love I want is infinite and no finite human being will be able to give that to me. I'm not even sure I can give that to me but I'm much more suited to it than anyone else. Also, I have to be honest here — people drift in and out of my life. No one is with me all the time except for me, so really, the only love I can depend on 100% of the time is the love I have for myself and the love the universe has for me. And really, why would I want to put such an essential and basic human need solely in the hands of someone else? I'd much rather balance loving myself and having others love me. I can't get all the love I need from other people nor can I get all the love I need from myself.  

If this blogpost sounds like a ringing endorsement of Christine's book, it is. She has practical tips and activities for how we can love ourselves more. I enjoy how in depth her book is because the stuff I've been doing only works to a degree. I don't want a degree, I want the whole shebang. So in reference to the title of this post, what's love got to do with it? Everything.

I dream of a world where we all love ourselves fully. A world where we understand to love ourselves is to love others. A world where we fill up our self-love cup and allow it to run over. A world where we water every branch of the self-love tree. A world where we show up for ourselves because we deserve it.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

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