7 WAYS TO TAKE FLIGHT IN YOUR OWN LIFE

flyingbirds

 

 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…

Lift up your eyes all around, and see

and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult.

Isaiah 60

 

Image supplied with permission by David Eyestone

 

Thank God my friends don’t treat me like I treat myself!

My friends somehow see the me I don’t see.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves?

Where do we get the idea that driving ourselves relentlessly towards perfection and flogging ourselves for our failings is the best way to go?

I had to finally break wide open to finally let up on myself and discover that gentleness works. The above quotation is the beginning of the cure for this spiritual malady because it stands in stark contrast to the lie at the root of it all: I AM NOT ENOUGH.

Here are some tools to take the weight off your wings:

 

1) Let yourself take off and soar and realize that the belief that it is wrong to do so, is lie #2. If a loving God created you, then hobbling yourself is denigrating something that God made and loves. Quit judging yourself. It isn’t your job. Fire your inner critic and run him or her out of town.

2) If it is true that nothing can separate us from our loving creator, it must also be true that there is no mistake I can make that will separate me from Him or the flight plan he has set out for me, and if that is true, then a host of wonderful things follow:

  1. a) There is no such thing as too late. There is no such thing as too old. There is no such thing as technologically obsolete. There is no such thing as too young or inexperienced. These things do not apply to your Plan. You can be what God wants you to be, because you already are. He doesn’t make mistakes.
  2. b) God loves me unconditionally and he made me. If that is true, then he has compassion on me. If that is true, then I am deserving of compassion and gentleness from everyone including myself. This concept was so alien to me; I had to teach myself how to do it, with the following exercise. This may seem ridiculous, but this daily practice has transformed me by teaching me compassion and love for myself: I face myself in the mirror every day, look myself directly in the eyes and say, Baby girl, God loves you and so do I. I see you. I hear you, and I will never let you down again.

In other words, I treat myself as a loving Higher Power would. If I was created by something divine, I have a purpose, and am worthy of love and affection and joy right now- not when I finally have mastered Everything.

3) Dare to suck and forge ahead. Redefine success as daily progress, not perfection. I haven’t seen Shakespeare’s first poem, but I bet it probably sucked. Those on their deathbeds regret the things they never dared to say or do, not the things not performed perfectly.

Remember the 10, 000 hour rule. I read a book recently that pointed out that behind each and every singular, supposedly unique success story like Bill Gates or Steve jobs was a common trait: each of these geniuses and stellar successes had spent 10,000 hours practicing and honing their craft before they reached critical mass. None was truly an overnight success story.

So keep going, keep practicing, keep singing, playing, writing or programming. It is impossible to fail as long as you are still learning, growing and trying.

Embrace joy instead of perfectionism. The two are almost mutually exclusive. Leave perfection for living saints, dead martyrs and maybe Martha Stewart. Psychotherapy is expensive and treating yourself like a machine will eventually require a major tune up.

4) Ask God instead of beating yourself up. Even if you don’t believe, ask God to change you, instead of using willpower to try and change yourself. In any event, it takes the fear out of your head, and puts it someplace where you can forget it, pause, and shift your attention to what is great in the present moment.

5) Want to be popular and well loved? The kindest thing you can do for your fellow man is be gentle with yourself. If we are rigid and unforgiving of ourselves, imagine how we might judge others. In any case, the constant ” I am an undeserving worm ” recitations are a pain to be around and, as the philosopher, Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you.

6) The past is just a story we tell ourselves (from the movie, Her) The fact that you weren’t perfect in the past doesn’t mean that you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Regret is premature. We don’t know how everything is going to work out. Miracles are the things that happen outside of your carefully prepared plan. Take a forensic look back on your life, looking for God’s breadcrumbs. How many “ mistakes’ and detours turned out to be blessed course-corrections?

7) If God never wastes a hurt, as I was told when I was in a great deal of pain, then maybe C.S. Lewis was right. Pain is the megaphone of God. Might as well ask, what is the gift or the lesson in this situation?

I will never be old enough to stop making mistakes, and if I look back with objectivity, those ” mistakes ” were the catalysts to growth, and a necessary change in direction. Labeling myself unkindly is libeling myself, because it isn’t true. Clipping my own wings, hurts me, doesn’t help anyone else and doesn’t glorify my Creator.

 

 

DIGITAL GOD

IMG_2819

He sits on the couch beside me

tending his Digital God.

She stops mid – word

heeding her Digital God.

I schedule my Tweets and Posts

to serve Him or Her,

fearing I’m not fast, witty or prolific enough.

I travel only at the Navigation Minion’s behest:

Siri is a power- lusting bitch.

She leads me to the middle of nowhere then, according to her whims, says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Did you mean Istanbul?”

The Memo Pad barks its commands

and I spring into frenzy while

the owl outside succumbs to sleep.

I can see it now:

Death by To Do List

I am absolutely in love with Twitter. Nothing but death will part me from it. It stimulates my creativity and my intellect, and I love its brevity and immediacy. One can get involved and informed immediately. But I fight being a slave daily. Without the proper mindset, I become nothing more than the agent of my digital tools.  The  infinite totality of digital access (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Vine, and all of the others) makes me twitchy and affects my creativity. It says, Hurry Up. I’m never going to catch up- ever. .

It’s like the proverbial Lays potato chip: there is no such thing as viewing only one cat video or vacation photo from someone I met 10 years ago at a conference, at least not for me. I love that I can keep up with friends and family quickly on Facebook. Sometimes getting a window into someone else ‘s life is thought provoking, inspirational, and a blessing. But, it’s like quicksand.

image002As an artist, I need the digital media to get my works and myself out there, but, without balance or a limit, it stops me from creating. Ultimately, it’s what draws me closer to my higher power that must be my treasure and my priority, for, without that link to infinite intelligence, love and creativity, I will be dominated by external criteria ultimately having nothing to do with me. That divine link is sparked by the act of creating, even if no one sees the creation.

It makes me joyous, and that draws me into my ultimate creator’s arms.

So, I’m going on a digital diet. Not a complete fast, just a daily time limit for all things digital.:) If you need to get in touch with me, tweet or call. I’m running a little behind on my e mailJ (5000 unread messages).

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

 

 

 

DIG

SHOPPING MALLS. ENTRY HALL TO HELL?

Devil_cartoon_charactor

I found this little rhyme I did many years ago:

 

Hell’s Entry Hall

must be a shopping mall.

Vendors try to take from me

my most precious commodities!–

money and time,

while I wander

like a listless lab rat fed too much soda

in an IQ measuring labyrinth ,

the piped -in Christmas music-like sounds of singing slot machines of Vegas quickening my pulse,

urging me to hurry, hurry “ save 50%”

of nothing I would want to buy.

Is there an exit, not blocked with perfume-spraying trolls?

Kudos to those with mall- mastery.

It is above my pay grade, and brings only misery.

If I wake up after death, strolling in a mall,

it means God had no faith in my choices at all.

~~~~~~

I don’t feel this way because I’m virtuous, but because I am completely tasteless.

Right now, I am wearing super low- rise jeans that were in style two years ago. Because of weight loss, they fall in the wrong place and look like the SNL sketch about the repairman unknowingly displaying his butt crack. All that is missing is the tool belt. I don’t care.

I still have sweaters from my college days, which were an official eon ago. I once had an employee tell me I looked like a homeless person, and take me shopping, because to be seen with me embarrassed her. I don’t care.

I will probably always be a little out of date, or as I prefer to call it “ classic”, because the time I don’t spend looking for ways to spend money is time I can spend, writing, creating or making music or spending time with those who do.

Someone said that wealth is discretionary time. To me this is true .It is also freedom. It’s freedom to do what I love to do, measured in minutes hours or days. It’s not how much I can buy or even how much I can buy on sale. I save money in other ways: I tend not to spend it at all. Christmas is the exception and the Wild Card. It is fun shopping for other people, but I’m not going to take out another mortgage on my house on the 50 percent chance the gift I buy is what they really, really want.

For me, biology creates destiny: I am a woman born without the shopping gene. My mom and grandmother were born without it too. Childhood shopping trips usually resulted in tears all around.

Hey, Mall Mastery is an adventure and a challenge. I prefer walking a different type of tightrope– the life of the artist– gathering my creations, going through the painful process of self- editing, assimilating them in some semblance of order or perfect disorder, and standing there naked, daring someone to react. That means, if I do get paid, it is rarely and not much.

The less I buy, the more time I have to engage in this process, and the less pressure I have to put on myself to be a product instead of producing one. I still do, but not as much. So, if you see me on occasion wearing my clothes backwards, kindly tell me:)

 

LET GO OR BE DRAGGED

 

( Why and How to Meditate, If You Can’t Sit Still)

 

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal

 clenched fist

Having the attention span of a gnat, I find traditional meditation practices impossible.

This writing attempts to give a practical real world answer to the two questions most of us with short attentions spans would ask:

1) why should we attempt to martial our million –mile- an- hour- thoughts for even the briefest of time, and 2) how on earth is it even possible?

The answer to question 1 of this conundrum came from a bit of very popular culture, my favorite TV show, Scandal. I heard this sentence and it really got my attention. One of the characters said,

“ True power hides in plain sight. It is subtle and doesn’t’ swagger.”

An arguably evil fictional character spoke these words, but it started me thinking of how true they really are.

Real personal power cannot be acquired by sheer force of will or intellect. In fact, if we are in a mess and don’t seem to be able to get ourselves out, it is our best thinking that landed us here.

True power comes from the Source of all power, and that is never ourselves.

My thoughts can race out of control like a quarter horse on speed, circling around and obsessing about a problem, a goal, an anything, until I’ve made it worse.

It’s time to let go, or I will be dragged. The harder I clench down on a problem and focus solely on it, the more I will be dragged away from any possible solution.

The reason and the method are one in the same:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us, and the power to carry it out.

 xenia and palm

It doesn’t say we have to do this perfectly. It says we have to improve. We have to try. It also doesn’t say we have to be a cleric or a mystic to do this. We have to only seek the God of our understanding. He will do the rest.

The simple answer to the question of why is so we can let go of this world just long enough to link up with the divine world and remind ourselves that it and He is there, waiting for us to ask for help. Improve conscious contact….

 

The answer to how? Seek to improve conscious contact. Seek him.

All we have to do is let go of turmoil and questions, unclench, and seek our higher power for a few minutes, long enough to open ourselves to our power source and receive his infinite power, infinite love, wisdom, discernment and everything else that is good.

I have such admiration for those who can place themselves in a meditative trance for an hour, who have prayer closets that they visit regularly, or who write in their journals every day.

But, we don’t have to do that. I can’t do that.

For me, it is enough to go outside, sit in the sunshine, and listen to the wind chimes on my front porch for a few minutes. If the weather is bad, I have a meditation playlist on my iPhone that contains popular songs that inspire me. Some are worship songs. Some are not. It isn’t important what anyone else thinks about what they mean. I get what God is trying to impart to me. By letting go and listening periodically, I can keep his word and his will in my heart.

It is NOT easy, but it is simple and it is worth it. Anything can be a meditation or a prayer. A walk, a song, a journal, a wind chime. They key is finding one that works for you.

THE UNDERBELLY OF IMAGINATION

 

 

purpletreeWhat ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Napoleon Hill, on belief

 

This quote is frequently used to say, “Dream big or go home.” But, there is an unattractive underbelly to imagination, isn’t there?

What are we doing to ourselves with our imaginations?

The problem is this: what we lay claim to in our minds becomes ours, whether we ever wanted it or not. The Bible calls it “ calling those things that be not as if they are.” Emmett Fox used the analogy of branding someone else’s cattle as our own.

It is selective imagination and focus that is a gift. Unbridled imagination can actually cause a kind of paralysis. What do I do next? What do I respond to next?

I refer to my fears often. My fears. Aren’t I then making them forever mine, by branding them as my own? I waste so much time planning for False Evidence Appearing Real- FEAR. While bold and fearless imagination is creative, imagination based upon fear, is stunting, freezing creation, including the creation of solutions to our problems, right in their tracks.

As a storyteller, I can go from “ how do you do?” to Zombie Apocalypse in 60 seconds. That’s good when I’m writing, but not so much when I’m living my life, creating relationships, paying bills or trying to step away from the safety of the printed page and communicate what’s in my heart, what I might dare to want to any audience greater than one. Isn’t it strange that there are no limits to the negative things I summon into my head, but imagining success, abundance, those thoughts, I limit. Who do I think I am, imagining good things for myself?

In my former, life I was a lawyer. This meant basically planning for the end of the world every day and being ever ready to act, based upon that contingency. Every workday, someone would bring in a bomb, put it on my desk and then run away. I became really good at imagining worst case scenarios and planning my days based upon those scenarios. The problem was, they weren’t my scenarios. I was there to solve problems to the extent of my ability, not live or take responsibility for my clients’ lives.

When I imagine doomsday scenarios, failure or things to be afraid of, I am laying claim to these things. I am literally branding cattle that aren’t mine. My preacher says temptation is the warning light on the dashboard of life. We set ourselves up to be vulnerable to it by the way we use our fantasies and imagination.

.

backyardblogNegative imagination creates artificial limits and makes them seem real. It’s the adult version of imagining a Boogie Man under the bed. We all have our boogeymen, keeping us stranded on our beds in the darkness. What we claim as ours and what we choose not to claim determines if we stay on the bed or get up and go.

THE 2 GOLD KEYS TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS

 

 

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

This phrase in the Declaration of Independence suggests that happiness is a needle in a haystack to be located, hunted down and pounced upon before it gets away, never to return.

When I follow that logic, I am anything but happy or successful.

 

sunsetbeachI’m in my happy place right now. Who could really be negative at the beach?

I had to take a spiritual road trip here, because I was making myself miserable pursuing happiness. I had chased the American Dream until I had overtaken it, run it over and left it in the dust.

The rhythm of the wind and the waves echoes my heartbeat and reminds me that life, success, happiness and answered prayers have a rhythm all of their own. I have to listen to myself to hear them. If I’m in this rhythmic flow, letting the waves carry me, I realize all of these things are the same thing.

But, happiness happens when the only thing we are pursuing is our true self, tuning inward instead of onward. When we pursue “ happiness” or “ success” in and of themselves, we lose our only true compass: the conviction of our own hearts.

The hardest and most worthwhile thing any of us will ever do is to be ourselves, no matter the pressure to be someone else. It’s starts with the courage to meet our own eyes in the mirror each day, and say, “ I’m here for you and I won’t let you down.”

 

.

 

Don’t give in to your fears, if you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.

Author of “The Alchemist” Paulo Coelho

sandals

 

 

 

The key to my successes and the reason for my failures was agility or the lack thereof. I had to learn to be limber enough to get out of God’s way.

Get out of my head and my plans: they are interfering with what is already happening on my behalf. Just because I don’t know what is happening, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

 

At this moment, I am reminding myself:

Let happiness happen. Stop looking. Stop chasing. Stop forecasting. It’s happening now in this moment. Let it fall on me like rain. Let it happen. That sounds like success to me.

 

To paraphrase my friend and great songwriter, Chris Taylor,

Now the ears of my ears awake,

Now the eyes of my eyes are open.

Yes! Is the living thing. Yes! is the only living thing.

IMG_2241

 

 

 

 

The Secret Seductiveness of “Small”

small

 

 

It is almost as important to know what is not serious as to know what is.

John Kenneth Galbraith

 

We live in an age of screaming. We are all screaming trying to be heard. In an effort to be heard, many resort to broadcasting details as headlines. “ I am washing my hair now!!!””

This is reality; there is no point in railing against it. But, in this loud, life- or- death, virtually connected world what is an introvert like me to do? What do we have that is valuable?

The answer: more than one might expect.

When it seems that most people are talking, who is actually listening? We are.

In a world where everyone has the power to publish, tweet, post and instagram his or her every thought, grudge, twinge or yen to

millions, those who speak the loudest are competing with others who have just as much ability to yell loud. It all blends into white noise.

When everyone is flailing about to get noticed, is it possible that what actually attracts attention is:

The person who isn’t electronically screaming at you?

Someone who respects that you really don’t want to see her sex tape?

Someone who simply patiently waits until the guy who dominates every meeting has exhausted himself, and then makes reasonable suggestions?

Someone who doesn’t share his or her every opinion on everything unless actually asked?

I was at a conference this week and one of the speakers was Susan Cain, the author of Quiet and TED Talks expert on introversion. I was shocked to learn that about 1 in 3 people are introverts. That is enough people to make a difference and offer a fresh perspective in any family, company, church or community. That’s a large enough group to hear, assimilate and make sense of what everyone else is saying.

There are a rash of Naked Reality shows at the moment. Naked Dating, Naked Real Estate, Naked and Afraid. Stay with me here, because I think there is a connection between this phenomenon and the deafening level of noise. At least nakedness can’t be faked. Though weird, the naked part sparks real interactions that are authentic in their awkwardness. A naked person has no power.

The paradox of power and influence is that the small and unassuming can be more seductive and persuasive than forcefulness just because it is different. Vulnerability is more powerful than brute force if brute force is everywhere you look.

I still wish I were an extrovert every time I am in a social situation or needing to ask someone for help. My stomach would not always be in knots and I would not be nearly as familiar with the taste of my own foot. I am so envious of that effortless charm and confidence that extroverts take for granted, it compelled me to pretend to be one. I came off like an over the top used car salesman on TV.

But, even more important to me is the spiritual link to quietness and smallness. Being still and quiet enough to listen to the tiny voice within is the only way things get done in the spiritual realm. It is different for each of us, but, for me, my source and my power come from the ability to dial back the noise and tune in to the sound of the wind chimes, the cadence of my soul and the song in my heart, put there by something infinite. After all, David was small, and we all know what happened to Goliath.

blue grotto

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson