Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life is Epic, and Messages from Goats

Life has been feeling EPIC lately. 

I mean EPIC.  Feels like my chest is swelling and my chin raised is raised.  Like I am right on the cusp of something completely Earth shattering.  Like life is about to never be the same again, or at least I am going to be so changed that I'll never be able to see it that way again.  Like I'm cloaked in courage with a cloud of fear swirling around while huge, seminal things are being shattered and destroyed.  Apprehension, Anticipation, fear in the pit of my stomach, driven to jump out of my skin and act heroically. Like I am about to burst from all of this pressure leading up to this huge thing and its intensity is more than I can bear.  Like my stomach is in knots almost to the point of being sick.  Like there is something huge caught in my throat both wanting to jump free and be swallowed and buried.  Like I desperately need to use my muscles in strong, forceful, desperate ways.  Like whatever is going on is so huge I can't just sit by and watch, I have to do something, have to take part. Like every bit of me that can be tested is being tested.  All I need is a ring or a sword or a wand or an arch nemesis.  Something to focus this feeling on, to explain its existence. 

 I have many friends who are going through epic things in their lives- huge family and marital challenges, cancer, death, moving cross country, babies coming too early.  On a larger scale there is the possibility of making war more widespread than it already is.  I'm sure I'm picking up on quite a bit of that.  But in my own personal life. . . I don't know.  I'm having some health challenges that have necessitated setting aside our homeschool groups for a few weeks at least.  Life has slowed down, and I have been challenged to see what is the MOST important in my life and make specific time for that.  Which has been a challenge.  Also learning to actually really and truly take care of myself. I'm slowly making progress with that one (which is a positive way of saying that I kinda suck at it.  But I'm not saying that. ;) )  I have realized, I can ALWAYS make myself busy and come up with more things to stress out about having to do even when I'm staying home and not going anywhere.  I only have the energy for a few things, though, so I have to really decide (UGH! I want to do it ALL!)  That laundry list of things I've always thought I need to do but didn't have the time because I wasn't home constantly.  Yeah, had to toss that after I noticed that I was making myself worse and was ADDING things to my days that were sucking up my energy but really didn't matter that much right here at this moment.  I have been learning to be slower, to reduce my time multi-tasking, to eliminate things that aren't either true necessities or bring us a crazy amount of joy.  (Most of those things on my list were not happiness-inducing.  They were there because I thought I needed to be doing them to be doing "enough".  Which is a whole other post on its own!)  Still, though, there's been this feeling inside of me calling me to step out beyond fear, to march forward bravely, to be heroic.  To stand on a mountain with my hands on my hips, taking a deep breath with the golden sun shining on me just so, butterflies trying to burst out of my stomach and about to leap off into the perilous unknown.  How on earth could my current life be epic?

I responded to the feeling by making a John Williams Pandora station.  Because if my body isn't doing something epic, at least I can give my feelings a place to play, to wind and dart and stab and swirl and puff up their chests and wield a sword.  The station has been amazing, and I highly recommend making one of your own.  Even if John Williams isn't your thing- grab some of your favorite movies and make a station for the composers.  FEELING the stories in that way, without involving the mind in the plot, has been so incredibly helpful to me. 

This epicness has been going on for close to a month now.  At times I feel so close to victory.  At times I feel that all is lost and there is no possible way to win.  Intense, intense, intense.  And again I've wondered, how could my life possibly be epic?  How could what I'm feeling actually apply to my life right here, right now?

Merriam-Webster lists these as part of the definition of epic:
~telling a story about a hero or about exciting events or adventures
~very great or large and usually difficult or impressive
~extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope

I got to thinking, what about the people who are the subject of Hallmark films or documentaries or biographies?  I wonder if they realized right at the start that they were destined for big things or if it just happened as they set one foot in front of the other?  I wonder if they looked at the choices they made one day and realized they were changing the entire course of their lives; lives that would go on to inspire others?  I wonder if they thought of themselves or their choices as unimportant just to look back in 30, 40, 50 years to realize that they had played a really important part in one life or many lives or the history of the world. 

So, could my life be epic right now because the choices that are in front of me, needing to be made will shape my life in a way I couldn't have imagined?  Are they going to redirect my life, put me on a completely different trajectory?  Will I look back on my life and see that this moment in time was pivotal even though I couldn't see why at the time?  And if so, maybe it would be helpful to take the choices before me a bit more seriously?  Instead of brushing them off like I have for many, many years and continuing to ignore them; what if right now I took a stand for what is REALLY important in my life, what I feel deeply called to do, what I pray I don't die before doing?

A sidestep here to my goats.  We have to tie them up because they like to rub up against the fence in the bird yard and if they keep at it they're going to destroy it in short order, among other reasons like not having a proper fence to keep them in.  (If it won't hold water it won't hold a goat!)  As long as we put them and their house in an area with lots of good stuff to munch they're happy.  Or so I thought.  We've had them near the ducks and their pond to deter foxes.   But they've pretty much eaten everything there is to eat.  

Silly the goat without much to eat.

I have an area on the other side of the yard where I want to plant lots of fruit trees but right now it's a mess of brambles and poison ivy and saplings dotted with random stumps that makes it too hard to use equipment to clear.  But goats LOVE to eat all of those things!  So recently I unhooked both goats and walked them over to the other area.  They were quite happy and excited to walk with me.  They were unsure but interested in all of the tasty things when I hooked them up.  And then I walked away.  And all of a sudden they were DYING, just DYING.  If you've never heard a goat who is sure she is dying I'll paint you a picture: her tongue sticks out the side of her mouth like she's choking, her eyes bug out and she makes the most pathetic, urgent MAAAAAAAAA  you can imagine.  Heartbreaking and comical at the same time.  They were miserable in the center of what should have been goat paradise!  

Nilly with lots of yummy food in a place she doesn't want to be.

 I tried this a few times, in a few different locations even, and it all ended up the same.  They weren't on the right side of the yard, they couldn't see the bird house, the view was too different, and so they were going to DIE, DIE I tell you!  I was getting really frustrated, and then a little voice said "look for the message" and so I did.  Here they were, surrounded by what they love and what nourishes them, but because they were in an unfamiliar place they were miserable.  And I understood- there are all of these things that I want in my life, but I want them in my life the way my life is right now.  I want things to change without changing.  If I were picked up and dropped into the middle of what I wanted but in  a completely foreign place, I would be freaking out and begging to be put back where I was before too. 
So with that in mind, in the middle of all of these epic feelings, I've been checking in- am I getting what I want here?  Am I upset because things have changed too much but really I have more of what I want?  And what DO I want anyway? (Kind of important to know if I'm trying to recognize if I'm getting it!)  Hmm. I want the time and space to do what I feel directed to do for ME (write and paint), while still being able to take care of my health (no more "either write and paint OR sleep"), and supporting my family and enjoying life with them while still meeting their needs and helping them get what they want.  Is that happening right now?  Heck no.  CAN in happen in the way we've been living our lives?  I don't see how.  It's been hard enough fitting in actually taking care of me without adding time to create, and things had to change to get us to the place where I could do that.  Tonight I'm sacrificing sleep again because I absolutely had to get this out so I can move on.  

 If this is indeed an epic time, then epic changes are likely on the way.  I'm not a big fan of change, but I am ready to stand firm with courage to change my little part of the world into a place where we all, even the mama, can thrive.  And maybe I'll look back and realize it was the most important thing I could have done.  It's taking a whole lot of fear conquering, a lot of walking down dark and uncomfortable streets, a lot of letting go of the things I thought I needed with me.  It's taking the courage to walk into the completely unknown, following the light of my heart that says it's time to let it shine and that all the world will be better for it even though voices scream to the contrary.  It's taking getting up and moving forward again after I've been knocked down and feel like giving up. It's taking trusting that this is big and is important enough to strive for, even though on the surface it may seem petty and pathetic.  I haven't placed much worth on myself for most of my life, but it's time to now.  It's vital now.  It really, truly matters.  *I* really, truly matter.

*Deep Breath*
And step forward once again. 

How about you? Has life been feeling epic for you lately? Is it time to allow yourself to have worth?  To stand firm in the bright and strong knowledge that YOU really, truly matter?  What do YOU really want in your life?  Are are you ready to let things change so you can have it?  It's an epic life, because it's the only one we each have to live.  Let's treat it that way, if only for a bit.  Let these be the soundtrack to our lives right now!  (Or something similar, if this music doesn't do it for you. ;) )

Or tell me, what music would YOU pick?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Love You, I'm Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You

So today is an important day.  Those of us who are old enough to remember it don't have to be told what 9/11 means.  It's a day that created a lot of terror, pain, incredibly deep sadness, anger, and hate, 12 years ago.  It's a day we "will not forget". 

But what does it mean to "not forget"?  Does it mean to always hold onto anger and hate? To bitterness and sadness?  Is that what we want when we remember?  Is it possible to remember without it?  Is it even possible to forgive that kind of act?  To find peace?  To find trust in the world again after it has been shattered by an unthinkable act?  Is the kind of world we want to have even possible if we all hold onto the feelings we felt that day?

And if it IS possible, then how?  How can we move beyond that terror and anger and wish for revenge?

This post has been hanging around for awhile, not sure when to come out.  I think today is possibly the perfect day, and if not the perfect day, then certainly as good a day as any.

Have you ever heard of ho'oponopono?  A friend shared it with me about 3 years ago.  It took me quite a long time to be able to say it the name!  But barely any time to learn and understand the amazing value of the prayer.  When she introduced it to me, I already understood that the things that annoy us in other people are the things that annoy us about ourselves.  When I am furious at my neighbor for not respecting my property, it is often because I'm furious at myself for not respecting my property.  When I am irritated at my child for being too shy and not wanting to join in a game with other children, I am probably more irritated at myself for being too shy and not joining in with others as a child, or maybe even still today.  In both cases, I can try to push my neighbor or my child to change what they are doing to stop my fury or irritation.  But the most effective method is to heal that fury and irritation towards myself, and then, quite often, the external situations either fizzle out and disappear or I am able to see them from another angle and with compassion and love, which is much more helpful and likely to produce a solution.  This can be a hard pill to swallow at first, because we have learned that our life experiences are largely "out there" and beyond our control.  It is so much easier to blame someone else and tell them to fix it so we can be at peace than it is to look within, see where we may be contributing, and create the peace ourselves.  When talking about this with respect to our kids, I like to compare it to pouring water into a bathtub.  The bathtub is overflowing and I am flipping out!  I see that my child is pouring water in, cupful by cupful and I need her to stop NOW because there is already too much!  I can yell at her, pull her away from the tub, punish her, take away her cup.  But until I see that I am standing there holding a hose, the bathtub will continue to overflow.  I have to see what I am doing first before I can help her stop.  And often, just the act of me turning off the hose causes her to drop the cup and walk away.

The tendency can be, at first, to then just place the blame on myself.  "It's MY FAULT he won't join in the game!  I'm ruining his life and making him a social outcast!" or "I deserve the trash my neighbor throws on my lawn because I don't take care of my own stuff" or "The bathroom is ruined because I was too stupid to turn off my own hose". Unfortunately, that point of view tends to just shut us down, collapsed in a sobbing pile of shame.  That helps no one!  However, if we can look at it from another angle, amazing things can happen.

What if, instead of exploding at the grocery store because the check-out person is being to slow, and instead of saying "Ugh, it's MY fault this check-out person is being too slow and bothering me because I am always too slow and I can't stand it!"; what if, once we realize what's going on, we look at the check-out person with gratitude and silently thank them for bringing this feeling up so we can see it and release it?  What if that check-out person is being too slow JUST to help us create more peace in our lives?  Not consciously, of course.  But what if that person has been placed there as a gift to bring us a happier life?

What?!? That's BS! Wake up and get out of your dream world, you are obviously not living in reality. 

That's totally cool that you feel that way.  I am not saying you have to change your perspective.  But the option is there, just in case you want to try something other than anger and forcing people to change and being helpless to effect the things that happen around you.  Which perspective FEELS better to you?  Which would you rather go through life seeing from?

Back to ho'oponopono.

I am not a historian, so here is what I understand about it.  Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian prayer of reconciliation and forgiveness.  The modern understanding and application can be read about in the book Zero Limits by Joe Vitale and Dr. Len.  An excerpt of that book can be found here.   

According to Dr. Len, everything outside of us is a projection of what is going on on the inside.  So, any pain going on outside of us can be healed by healing ourselves.  He was able to heal a wing full of criminally insane people by healing himself.  By looking at their pictures and saying "I'm sorry" and "I love you".

Woah, hold it, stop right there!  Are you trying to tell me that all the crazy evil people out there are my fault?  (Insert long string of expletives)

No, I am not saying that because, once again then we have placed ourselves in the blame and shame and unable to function perspective.  (I can't speak for how Dr. Len would reply, however.) What I AM saying, what I have found most helpful, is that everyone in my consciousness (even the crazy murderous ones) is a possible messenger, a possible gateway to greater peace, love, and compassion for myself.  And the more peace, love, and compassion I can create within myself, the more I can create in the world. Said in another way, everyone "out there" is a reflection of a something inside of me.  A chance for me to see a piece I hadn't seen before.  We have SO MANY hurting and angry and fearful pieces of us that are hiding out, away from view.  Loving them helps us to become whole, healthy, peaceful people.

So how does this work with me?

Think of someone who really bugs the s#*@ out of you.  Open the door to the possibility that maybe this person may be a messenger of greater peace for you.  Now, move into your heart and say "I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you" both to the other person and to the part of you that they are showing you. Over and over again until you feel a shift.  Feel what comes up and let it blow away.  You may need to do this for days until you find that peace within you.  And watch what happens with the relationship.

Some people start with "I'm sorry" and say "I love you" at the end.  That's awesome if you want to do it that way.  What I've found for me, personally, is that if I start with "I'm sorry" then I often have a snarky, bitter attitude like I had as a kid when I was being forced to apologize and really didn't want to.  I just naturally fall into the blame and fault perspective when I start that way.  However, if I start with "I love you" I can connect with the power of love which then guides the process and it flows more easily.  It helps me connect with the love my higher self has for their higher self- that complete unconditional love that's hard for our minds to grasp while we're in these human bodies.  But it's always there, ready for us to tap into it.

So you're saying we can use this to heal the parts inside us where we hold terror and hate and revenge? And that that will actually make a difference in the world?  I still think you're nuts.

That is what I'm saying.  And heck, I still think it's nuts quite frequently!  But I've experienced the peace that comes from it and how my outside world changes, so it's a nuts I'm quite willing to participate in.  And it's important enough and powerful enough that it's a nuts I've decided to share with you anyway.

I love you,
I'm sorry,
Please forgive me,
Thank you.