It’s been a rough week. Not only have I still been sick but a client is late on payment and we’ve been going through a heatwave. All of this is a recipe for FUN TIMES. I’ve stewed in anger and resentment, I’ve cursed out God, told Him how much I hate Him. I haven’t felt serene, not even close. After I exhausted all of my options and had enough of simmering in anger, I stopped fighting.

One of my favorite ways to describe surrender is exactly that – it means to stop fighting. When you’ve exhausted all your options, when you’ve taken all the action steps you can, what else can you do? All that’s left is surrender and acceptance. I’m saying, “I’m no longer fighting reality and I’m accepting life on life’s terms.” Do I wish I wasn’t still sick? Do I wish my client would go ahead and pay me? Do I wish it wasn’t so hot I almost burned my hand on the doorknob? Yes. Of course. But what is wishing doing for me other than keeping the wheel of angst spinning?

white flag

I’m waving the white flag. Photo by Pedro Farto on Unsplash

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I’m the master of my fate, I’m the captain of my soul, but then I have a week like this one and I remember, “Oh yeah. That’s wrong.” In my spiritual tradition we say, “[W]hatever happens in this Universe of ours is nothing but an expression of Cosmic desire or Cosmic will. Neither can there be any volcanic eruption nor can any blade of grass move without [God’s] order. . .Living beings cannot do anything without [God’s] support; that is, when a human desire and [God’s] desire coincide, then only does the human desire become fruitful, otherwise it is a sure failure.”

Sometimes I HATE this sentiment. What do you mean not even a blade of grass will move without God’s support?!? Are we all puppets on a string? Should I just throw in the towel? Lie around inert while I wait for an invisible puppet master to make something happen in my life?!? I hope you know the answer to that by now. But/and, there’s something to be said about accepting the existence of Cosmic will. There’s something about recognizing I’m not the general manager of the universe, as much as I wish I was.

When I say to myself, “OK God, OK,” I’m reminding myself who is really in charge. It’s a simple way of saying, “I may not like what’s happening right now but I accept the reality of my situation. I’ve done all I can to change, fix, and control it. Now I’m offering it to you.” Doing so brings me peace and I’d much rather have peace than what I experienced this past week. I want to move through life with ease and the only way I’ve found to do that is by saying, “OK God, OK.”

I dream of a world where we remember who is really in charge. A world where we understand the stars don’t control us, and neither does an invisible puppet master, but there is a force greater than ourselves at play. A world where we recognize fighting reality is a recipe for frustration. A world where we say, “OK God, OK.”

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

I didn’t know this was a saying splashed over Pinterest and Etsy until recently: “Everybody wants to change the world but no one wants to change the toilet paper roll.” Personally, I don’t mind changing the toilet paper roll but I understand the underlying message. When people talk about changing the world, they often think of something big and grand. They fail to realize the little things they do also change the world.

I’m guilty of this too. I have big dreams and pooh pooh the small things I do on a daily or weekly basis that make a difference in the lives of others, as if somehow that doesn’t count because I’m not touching millions. This week offered a perspective shift because I’m sick. Not just sort of sick but really sick. “Sleeping for 12 hours” sick. “Going through tissues more swiftly than I ever have in my life” sick. To top it off, I wasn’t sure if I had COVID because I ran out of tests and felt too terrible to walk to the drugstore to get more.

Box of tissues

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

While trying to psych myself up to run that errand, my dear friend and former neighbor called. I told them, “I wish you still lived next door because I’m sick and ran out of COVID tests and I would ask you for one if you still lived here.” My friend lives about a 10-minute drive away and said, “Oh, do you want me to drop some off for you?”

You GUYS. My heart melted. Not only did my friend leave two boxes of COVID tests on my doorstep but also a box of tissues because I am a veritable mucus factory over here. In the scheme of things, does dropping off supplies really matter to anyone other than me? No. But that’s the point, it mattered to me and changed my world. That’s what I often forget when it comes to making an impact.

I’ve written about it before, but all of this reminds me of the starfish story. If you’re unfamiliar, it goes like this: One day a man was walking along the beach littered with starfish, also called sea stars. He noticed a girl picking them up gently throwing them back into the ocean. Approaching the girl, he asked, “What are you doing?” She replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

The man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the girl bent down, picked up another sea star and threw it back into the ocean. Smiling at the man she said, “I made a difference for that one.”

We change the world by making a difference for one person, one animal, one plant at a time. Yes, sometimes it’s more than that, but even one life changed is tremendous. The point of service isn’t fame and acclaim. It’s not so people write about you in history books. It’s an act of love for the person, animal, or plant that could use some support. As my spiritual teacher says about service, “Try to make them happy with all the sweetness of your heart.” And you do that one person, animal, or plant at a time.

I dream of a world where we recognize the small actions we do can have a lasting effect on the people in our lives. A world where we understand service is about helping others when they need help. A world where we recognize that changing the world doesn’t have to be in a huge way, it can be a little at a time.

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

My self-esteem has taken a beating this week and it’s all been self-inflicted. I’m comparing myself to other people and coming up short. And look, I know someone out there envies me (and you too), that comparison is the thief of joy, etc., but that doesn’t help me in the moment when my chest burns and my cheeks get hot with envy. It doesn’t help when I’m looking over at so-and-so, marveling at their achievements and wishing I had the same but don’t. My rational brain might as well not exist for all the good it does me when I’m emotionally activated.

The emotional self needs soothing and one way I’m doing that is coming back again, and again, and again to a quote from Richard Tarnas‘ book Cosmos and Psyche. He says there are two ways of grappling with the universe and uses the analogy of two suitors to explain them. In the first approach, the suitor treats the universe as if it has no intelligence and is something to be exploited for his own gain. In the second, the suitor seeks to know you (the universe):

“[N]ot that he might better exploit you, but rather to unite with you and thereby bring forth something new, a creative synthesis emerging from both of your depths. He desires to liberate that which has been hidden by the separation between knower and known. His ultimate goal of knowledge is not increased mastery, prediction, and control, but rather a more richly responsive and empowered participation in a co-creative unfolding of new realities.”

In other words, we are all bringing forth something new and unique as we co-create with the universe. Yes, there are billions of people on the planet and many of them might be doing similar things to me but no person has my unique set of circumstances, experiences, beliefs, and talents. And I’m here to give form to something that would otherwise not exist in the 3D world.

blurred image in spotlight

We all have a role to play in co-creation. Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash

Posted on my bathroom mirror is the question, “What does my higher power want to work through me? And what part of self needs to step aside in order for that to happen?” It’s a good question. When I’m looking over at so-and-so doing such-and-such, I’m not asking that question. Instead, I’m asking why I can’t be like that person. Doing so robs me and the universe of a gift that could otherwise come into being.

I know it’s cliché to say everyone is unique and special but … everyone is unique and special. There is something only you can birth as you’re participating in a co-creative process with the universe. A quick story for you from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Liz had an idea to write a novel about Brazil in the 1960s that she summarized as such: “It’s about this middle-aged spinster from Minnesota who’s been quietly in love with her married boss for many years. He gets involved in a harebrained business scheme down in the Amazon jungle. A bunch of money and a person go missing, and my character gets sent down there to solve things, at which point her quiet life is completely turned into chaos. Also, it’s a love story.”

Liz researched this story, even sold the idea to a publisher, but got sidetracked by life things. When she came back to the idea two years later, it didn’t have any juice anymore. She couldn’t write it. During this time, she met Ann Patchett and they developed a friendship. They exchanged long, handwritten letters and Ann casually mentioned she was writing a story about the Amazon jungle which could be summarized in exactly the same way as Liz’s.

The finer details of the novel were different but the idea was essentially the same. There’s a lot I could say about this story but the relevant part for this post is that coming from Ann, the story was slightly different — it was a contemporary story, not set in the 1960s. Ann’s was about the pharmaceutical industry and not the highway construction business. She put her spin on it in a way that Liz could not. She made it special because it came from her, not Liz.

There are a ton of similar ideas floating around in the ether but the way I make them concrete, the way you make them concrete, matters. Focusing on what someone else is doing misses the point. All of us are special and all of us have something of value to bring forth into the world. The more we recognize that, the better.

I dream of a world where we realize we’re in a co-creative dance with the universe. A world where we understand every person is bringing forth something that couldn’t have existed without them. A world where we realize there may be a million similar ideas that people are working on but the way we work on them matters. A world where we remember that all of us are special.

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

It’s the Jewish New Year, and I’m wondering what the new year will bring. Will some of my dreams come true? Or will this year be a nightmare? I want to know because I derive comfort when I know what’s ahead. But is that really true? When journaling about this topic I wrote, “You do better left in the dark.” Um, excuse me?

As I pondered it, I realized the statement is true. If I knew the future, I might not live it. There have been many instances in my life where if you told me what was before me, I would have laughed in your face and said, “Yeah, right,” or, “Nope. Not doing that.” If I knew what was in store ahead of time, it would feel too daunting. I only accomplish things when I do the next right action, and then the next, and then the next. When I have the full picture, I’m paralyzed.

road sign

You don’t always needs to know in advance. Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

As if to underscore this point about only focusing on what’s next, I pulled a goddess card and the message was, “Allowing the self to evolve as you go and discovering new things today sets the path for destiny to unfold. The power of the present and how you respond to life’s potential is the potent fertile seed of the future. In order to claim the future, you must attend to the now.”

I’m claiming the future by living in the now. This tracks with what my spiritual teacher says about destiny: “The stars do not control you; your original actions control you. And where the original action is not known to you, but the result is known to you, the result is experienced by you, you say it is fate.”

In other words, for every action, even one from a previous life, there is a reaction, and that reaction is often called fate. My teacher also said we think things are predestined but “destiny cannot be the absolute factor, for if you do not exist, if you do not act, destiny cannot exist either.”

Destiny requires action and actions change our destiny. About 10 years ago when my life was completely chaotic and I kept moving all over creation, I consulted psychic after psychic because I wanted comfort. I wanted to know when the drama would end and where I’d settle down. Not one of them was able to accurately predict what would happen more than six weeks out.

One psychic told me I’d move to Vancouver but then I visited Vancouver and discovered, no, I didn’t want to live there. Another psychic told me I’d be married with two elementary-age children by the time I was 35. That didn’t happen either. I kept putting my faith in psychics only to be let down over and over again.

Instead of focusing on the future, I’m better off attending to the present. Living in the present, taking the next right action, I live into the future, which is constantly changing anyway! For this Jewish New Year, I’m affirming I do better left in the dark, that the future will take care of itself, and life can be surprising in a good way.

I dream of a world where we understand destiny isn’t set in stone. A world where we recognize our actions create our destiny. A world where we remember if we knew everything in advance, we’d likely become overwhelmed. A world where we remember sometimes, we’re better off left in the dark.

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

Lately, I’m on a genealogy kick trying to suss out who I’m related to and how. It’s endlessly fascinating because it’s a puzzle but also a web. As you know, there are many offshoots of a family tree — aunts, uncles, cousins — who all have their own direct family lines. But what’s even more interesting is that we’re all related, literally.

If you go back far enough, you reach a date when family trees share not just one ancestor in common but every ancestor in common, which is called the genetic isopoint. In other words, the family trees of any two people on the earth now, no matter how distantly related they seem, trace back to the same set of individuals. Geneticist Adam Rutherford told Scientific American, “If you were alive at the genetic isopoint, then you are the ancestor of either everyone alive today or no one alive today.” The genetic isopoint occurred somewhere between 5300 and 2200 B.C., according to statistical calculations.

family on the beach

We’re all family! Truly! Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

“In relation to race, it absolutely, categorically demolishes the idea of lineage purity,” Rutherford added. That’s because no person has forebears from just one ethnic background or region of the world. Instead, we are all related. The poet Satyendra Dutta expresses this beautifully when he says, “There is only one race in the entire world, and the name of that race is the human race. We are bound together with the same breast milk of Mother Earth, and the same sun and moon are our common companions.”

Exactly! The same sun, moon, and stars are our common companions and we are all living on the same planet Earth. Yet somehow we forget that. We get caught up in dividing ourselves into this group or that. We say, “I’m not like you,” but is that really true? Don’t we all have the same feelings and needs? Aren’t we more alike than we are different? What do we get by focusing on differences, anyway?

My spiritual teacher said, “The opportunists tried in the past, are trying at present, and will try even in the future to fulfill their narrow desires by keeping the human race disunited. By severely reproaching this opportunistic craftiness through your noble deeds, you draw nigh the unknown strangers living far away and build a healthy world-based human family. Ignoring the brute forces, the sky-kissing arrogance, hypocrisy, immorality, and glib outbursts of the conceited people, go ahead towards your cherished goal.”

The cherished goal isn’t to become a billionaire, by the way. As you likely guessed, it’s to feel the sweet union between yourself and something greater than yourself. This is a quote from my spiritual teacher, after all.

Learning about genealogy reminds me we’re a universal family, quite literally. We are like a garden filled with numerous flowers, but ultimately all a part of the same garden. Like flowers, on the surface, we have different petals, different leaves. Some of us require more water and some of us require less, but we are all flowers. In other words, we’re all humans a part of the same race.

I dream of a world where we treat each other like family. A world where we extend care and appreciation to strangers because we recognize, they, too, are our siblings. A world where we understand there’s only one race, the human race. A world where we embrace the idea of a literal universal family.

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

Changing in Cycles

Right now I’m migrating old pictures from my phone to my computer. In part, it’s to create more space but it’s also because I’m in the mood to clean and clear. In other words, I’m acting very much in line with Mercury retrograde, which is the time to reflect, reassess, and remove. Anything that begins with “re” is an appropriate Mercury retrograde activity.

What’s interesting is that instead of looking at the photos with wistfulness and nostalgia like I usually do, I’m struck with the parallels between then and now. My pictures from 2015 and 2016 show me with friends, visiting beautiful places in nature, flying to different states to attend weddings, and smiling with my meditation community. You might say, “That’s always what your pictures show. That’s nothing new,” and while there is consistency, 2015 and 2016 also held an excitement, a verve to my life that I haven’t felt in many years.

In the ensuing eight years, the community I built broke apart, people moved away, relationships changed, and I didn’t have excitement or verve anymore. I was in a different cycle of life. But here I am, with a resurgence of verve and excitement. I’m meeting new people left and right, I’m building community, and there’s more energy. It’s as if the wheel of life turned once more and I’m re-experiencing a similar pattern.

spiral

Sometimes change is like a spiral. Photo by Li Zhang on Unsplash

As if to underscore my point, while writing this, an enormous dragonfly whizzed by my window. I haven’t seen a dragonfly where I live for years and I regularly stare out the window. According to animal shamanism, “Dragonfly reminds you that change is the only constant in life. When dragonflies surround you, change is on the horizon …. Dragonfly can also be a positive omen indicating you are ready for a change to take shape in your life. Be flexible and adapt to evolving circumstances and you can progress in ways you haven’t imagined.”

So often when I think of change, I think of linear progress, of transporting me somewhere I’ve never been before. But today I’m realizing change is cyclical, just like everything in nature. We have day becoming night, spring becoming summer, and the moon waxing and waning. Human beings are embedded in nature, we are not separate from it so it makes sense that our changes would also be cyclical.

Change is the only constant in life, which is why my spiritual teacher says, “Here in the universe, nothing is stationary, nothing is fixed. Everything moves; that’s why this universe is called jagat. Movement is its dharma; movement is its innate characteristic.”

We are also moving and sometimes that movement is a spiral. It seems like we’re in the same place, but as with a spiral staircase, we aren’t exactly. We’re approaching the situation with a new perspective from a similar place. And it wasn’t until today that I realized the spiral is also a part of a bigger cycle. In fact, it could be said that we change in cycles.

I dream of a world where we recognize we are always moving and changing. A world where we understand just as nature has its cycles, we do too. A world where we realize change isn’t linear, progressing in a straight line, but more like a spiral shifting us to a similar, but slightly different place every time. A world we understand that we change in cycles.

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

Sometimes I put my happiness on layaway. I think about how amazing it will feel when I move somewhere big enough for a dedicated office space. When I have a house with a lush backyard illuminated with twinkling fairy lights. In the interim though, I’m in a one-bedroom apartment with no green space. Yes, I have plants in containers, but it’s not the same as a true backyard. Does that mean I’m doomed to be unhappy?

I’m currently reading the Artist’s Way and one of the exercises is to write out your ideal day. My ideal day includes, you guessed it, eating outside in a lush backyard illuminated with fairy lights. The author, Julia Cameron, asks, “What festive elements of your ideal day can you have right now?” Well, that certainly isn’t a question I ever asked myself.

I don’t have a backyard, but I do have a walkway that serves as a porch so on impulse, I purchased fairy lights to string along the railing and a camp chair to sit in. I’m still waiting for the fairy lights to arrive but tada! For less than $20 I gave myself something I’ve been dreaming of for years, or at least a small taste of it. I don’t have to earn more money to move to a bigger place, and then find the perfect place, and then live there. I can give myself what I want right here, right now.

fairy lights

My happiness includes fairy lights. Photo by muhammad asif on Unsplash

It begs the question, “Why was I waiting?” I was waiting because I wanted things to be “perfect” first. I wanted my ideal and not the less-than-ideal, as if only the ideal could make me happy. But is that really true? Psychology professor Robert Emmons says:

Research on emotion shows that positive emotions wear off quickly. Our emotional systems like newness. They like novelty . . . . But gratitude makes us appreciate the value of something, and when we appreciate the value of something, we extract more benefits from it; we’re less likely to take it for granted.

In effect, I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness.

In other words, I can be happier, right now, by celebrating goodness. By enjoying that I have a porch to sit on, that the fairy lights will twinkle in dusky light, and that a breeze ruffles my hair. I don’t need to wait to feel pleasure. I can feel content right here, right now. It reminds me of Mary Oliver’s famous poem “The Summer Day.” She writes:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

As for me, I plan on creating my ideal life before everything is perfectly in place. I plan on giving myself the simple things I yearn for, sometimes for years, before it looks exactly how I think it should. Instead of adapting to goodness, I plan on celebrating goodness.

I dream of a world where we stop waiting to give ourselves the simple pleasures we long for. A world where we make our dreams come true before they are perfect, before they are ideal. A world where we recognize positive emotions wear off quickly but we can cultivate contentment right here, right now.

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

What follows is a post from five years ago about dreams and delusions that is relevant as I continue to chase my own dreams. Enjoy.

I read an article in my university’s alumni magazine the other day about Andre Ingram, who at 32 became a rookie for the LA Lakers. Reading his story, I teared up because the whole thing seems so surreal, so unlikely.

Since he was 8 years old, Andre dreamed of playing for the NBA. He played in high school and then at our university. Once he graduated, he toiled for years in the NBA’s minor league. And I mean toiled – he made $13,000 for the entire season in the minor leagues, which is less than what NBA players make for a couple of games. He tutored kids in math while his wife also worked. He says he thought about quitting several times, and some friends advised the same, or to find a better payday overseas. But he persisted.

“Every time I was ready to jump off that ledge something pulled me back,” he said. “Whether it was in training, when I’m hitting every shot I take, or in the weight room getting encouraged by the guys. My story is to let that voice, let that encouragement, pull you back in.”

basketball

Sometimes a dream seems unlikely but then it happens. Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Andre is the oldest American rookie in the NBA since 1964. His story fascinates me because at what point does a person give up on their dream? Sometimes a dream is a delusion. We’ve all seen those auditions on TV where someone thinks they’re an amazing singer or dancer and they have zero talent. To the rest of the world, it’s obvious the person will never be a star, but they can’t believe it.

At what point is it harmful to keep believing in a dream? At what point is it better to let it go? I don’t have the answers to those questions. I’m sure many people told Andre it was unlikely he’d ever play in the NBA. A 32-year-old with gray hairs competing against people 10 years his junior? What are the odds he could share the court with them? But it happened.

What struck me the most about Andre’s story is that quote about how something kept pulling him back. Every time he wanted to quit something kept him from doing it. That to me reeks of intuition, which my spiritual teacher says “establishes the link between the crude world and the subtle world. And as a result of a closer link being established between the subtle and spiritual worlds, and as a result of its closer acquaintance with the sweetness of the spiritual world, this intuition guides human beings along the path of spirituality.”

It seems to me that if something keeps coming up over and over again, it’s intuition, guiding a person on their behalf. We don’t know how that journey will unfold, and it likely won’t look the way we want it to, but I have to believe if some dreams don’t disappear, then they are meant to become reality.

I dream of a world where we pursue our dreams if something keeps pulling us back in. A world where we recognize the fruition of that dream likely won’t follow the route we intended. A world where we understand something may seem out of reach, but that doesn’t always mean it is.

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

After a long day of staring at my computer screen, I walked outside to my apartment complex’s terrace where something caught my eye. Leaning against the far wall beneath an overhang is a bag of detritus. It’s filled with dirt and pine needles and everything workmen scooped out of our gutters from at least eight months ago, if not longer. Do you know what was spilling out of that bag?

A well-developed nasturtium vine. There are so many things about this that are astounding. Number one, I’m on that terrace every few days watering my plants. How did I not notice it before? And number two, it hasn’t rained here in MONTHS. How did that nasturtium vine survive?!? It’s not like any of my neighbors were watering a bag of soil in an attempt to keep a plant alive. And yet, not only did it survive, it thrived as you can see in the picture.

nasturtium vine

The vine in question. Look at how big it is!

When I saw this plant, I literally laughed out loud because it was so unexpected and also miraculous. It reminded me that miracles are everywhere if we look for them. Miracles often have the connotation of being something big and obvious, but they can also be small and discreet, like this nasturtium vine.

I could use more miracles in my life. It’s easy for me to become disheartened by the ever-present pessimism in the news. Fires leveling towns. Floods. Famines. It’s a lot. And yet, if I look around, I also see evidence of miracles. Back in November, scientists captured footage of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon, which hadn’t been seen since 1882! In Brazil, the Golden Lion Tamarin used to be on the brink of extinction with about 200 animals in the wild, but the population has rebounded to around 4,800, according to a recent study.

Miracles happen every day with people surviving deathly car crashes, or getting pregnant when they thought they were infertile, or walking again when they were told it was impossible. It’s easy to think, “Well, that wouldn’t happen to me,” but what if it could? What if you could also receive a miracle? And like me with the nasturtium plant, what if miracles are all around and we’re just not noticing them?

Given the choice between a world where we’re all doomed and one where miracles take place, I vote for the latter. It reminds me of a concept we have in my spiritual tradition called madhuvidyá, which literally means “honey knowledge.” It requires seeing everything as an expression of an infinite loving consciousness, also known as Brahma. My spiritual teacher says, “This madhuvidyá will pervade your exterior and interior with … [ecstasy] and will permanently alleviate all your afflictions. Then the ferocious jaws of [degeneration] cannot come and devour you. The glory of one and only one benign entity will shine forth to you from one and all objects.”

That may not seem relevant but for me, practicing madhuvidyá means remembering God is here, there, and everywhere. And because everything is Brahma, everything is a manifestation of that infinite loving consciousness, then OF COURSE miracles are everywhere. How could they not be?

I dream of a world where we recognize the strange and the unlikely occurs all the time. A world where we make room for magic and mystery. A world where we understand this entire universe is composed of an infinite loving consciousness and from that place, we recognize miracles are everywhere.

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

For the past almost two weeks I’ve had pain in the spot where my shoulder and neck meet. My chiropractor characterized it as a drum beneath her fingertips. It’s pulsing, it’s intense, and as much as I would like to think it’s only from sleeping weird, I know that’s not the case. The mind and body are connected with the body acting as a roadmap for my life. It marks the terrain.

When I shared with my close friend what’s happening with my body, they said it sounds like I’m in the in-between place of “I’m stuck,” and “I take my power back.” In the chiropractic model I use, network spinal analysis, there are 12 stages of healing. The stages are fluid and not hierarchal, meaning I could cycle from stage 12 to stage three to stage nine all in the same day.

Stage three is “I’m stuck,” and stage four is, “I take my power back.” I struggle with making that jump. I’m really good at being stuck. I repeat patterns over and over again. I find myself in places where I can’t seem to escape from. Taking my power back? Not an easy thing for me. I’d much rather give my power away to someone else. Someone else has all the answers. Someone else knows what I should do. Someone else is the key to my healing. And sometimes that’s true but there’s a difference between saying, “I’m choosing to see this person or take this course/class because it feels in alignment” and “Aaaaaah! I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck, let’s try this thing and that thing and that thing. Throw spaghetti at the wall!”

standing on a wall. Taking your power back

Not a spaghetti picture but a powerful one! Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

I usually throw spaghetti at the wall. I’m really good at trying random things from a disempowered place. It’s easy for me to take action. It’s not so easy for me to believe in myself. And yet, that’s what I’m here to do. The two tenets of my spiritual practice are self-realization and service to the universe. What is self-realization?

According to my spiritual teacher, “[I]t is the natural wont of each and every living being to see others, not to see [themselves]. That is, whenever one becomes a subjective entity, [they take] others as an objective counterpart, but never the self as an objective counterpart. One’s subjectivity never merges with objectivity and that is the trouble. You want to know so many things but you never want to know yourself. Your ‘self’ is your nearest entity but you never want to know yourself. That is the pity, that is the trouble.”

By knowing the self, I don’t mean just what my favorite color is, or even what my hot-button issues are. Knowing the self means knowing my true self, the self that’s always here, witnessing everything. The calm, quiet, inner voice within that’s ready and willing to help me if I let it. My recovery mentor tells me frequently, “Higher Power is very polite and only goes where invited.” When I invite my Higher Power into my life, that is a form of taking my power back. It’s me saying, “I can trust my self. I can trust my self to lead me where I need to go, to show me what actions to take.”

Knowing the self doesn’t mean becoming egotistical, that you shut out other people and say, “I already know everything.” Instead, knowing the self and taking your power back means being an active participant in your life and recognizing that not only is life happening to you, but you are happening to life. Both are true. There are circumstances outside of our control but some things are not. How are we showing up for life? I, for one, want to take my power back.

I dream of a world where we recognize the wisdom in knowing the self. A world where we understand that doesn’t mean arrogance but rather a recognition that a force within us guides us, shows us, and inspires us when we’re willing to listen. A world where instead of being blown about like a leaf, we take our power back.

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

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