Archive for August, 2014
Lately, the idea of community, what one needs from it, what one contributes to it, and how to create it have been on my mind a lot. There have been such huge shifts in my life in the last few years, with many things still in flux, my sense of community must also shift. More now than ever, I’m conscious of who is in my life and why and I’m purposefully asking, ‘Who are the people that make up my various communities? Who do I want in my life? With whom do I want to work? Play? Live? Worship?’ I’ve reached the age and stage of my life where I don’t want to rely on the happy accident. Life can be serendipitous, it’s true, but I also think consciously choosing with whom I spend my time and share my experiences is worth a little extra time and effort.
Merriam-Webster defines community broadly—it’s both a group of individuals joined by common interest and the society at large … and several definitions in between. Family is often our first community, whether by birth or design and it’s there we start to understand what works or doesn’t for us. We begin to recognize need versus want and find the comfortable place in the middle. Outside our immediate family we often find those who most resonate with us, but this can change as we do. Most of us end up with a small community of intimate friends and a larger community of casual friends. Then there are the acquaintances and colleagues that might make up our professional community and many of us also have a spiritual community to which we belong. Some of these groups and individuals may overlap, but for others there won’t be any mixing at all. And some of these groups seem to naturally evolve in a way that makes it seem as if we have no control over their makeup. But, I think we have choices.
My life has gone through some radical changes in the last few years and as I look at what I’m working toward and what I want to manifest in my life professionally and personally, it has me seriously contemplating on how to consciously cultivate the communities that will support and help sustain those desires. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That was an eye opener, but it makes sense to me; I realize I need to be pretty picky about with whom I’m spending my time. I think we ALL need to ask ourselves, ‘Are the people with whom I surround myself supporting me? Positively challenging me? Are they ambitious? Are they caring and generous? Will they offer me emotional/mental/physical support as I learn, grow, and develop both personally and professionally? Are they people I can support similarly?’ Asking these questions and honestly looking at the answers will bring a consciousness to how we cultivate community in our lives.
Beware the Energy Vampires
It’s not always easy, of course. Sometimes this consciousness means we need to sever relationships because misery loves miserable company. If there is someone in your life who is a vampire (not the sparkly or Spike-like blood-sucking variety, but rather the one who drains all your energy every time you spend time together) that person needs to go. If you turn to someone for feedback and you’re never given anything but the dark view of things, that person needs to go. Creative, positive challenge is a good thing; it keeps us sharp and learning. But if all you’re met with is competition and one-upmanship, how does that help either of you? If someone turns every discussion into an argument, determined to drill the fact there’s only one way to look at something, then that person needs to go.
All that being said, I am NOT suggesting you ditch the friend who’s going through a rough patch—we all have those times in our lives. But you need to watch for a pattern—is the negativity and energy drain a temporary rough patch or actually that person’s normal? If negativity is a person’s permanent way of being, and if you can’t have a positive effect on that person or that person is unwilling to work on him or herself, ask for help, or change things, does it make sense to allow yourself to be pulled down, too? No, it really doesn’t. So, notice who leaves you feeling drained after interacting. Who’s call are you reluctant to take? With whom do you keep delaying plans? Those are the folks you need to consciously look at; the fact that sometimes these negative folks have faces we’ve known for years and are people who’ve long held a place in one of our communities becomes irrelevant when we look at the bigger picture. Day to day life can be challenging enough without turning your quest to move forward, learn, and grow into a daily battle.
So, with as much love and compassion as I can summon, I intend to continue consciously choosing how I cultivate community. I want to interact with people with are willing to learn from each other, offer support during good and difficult times, share experiences, nurture connections, and in general help all of us keep growing and expanding in our minds and hearts. How about you? How do you define community and where do you feel a sense of it? Do you consciously make choices about who to let into your life or who must go?
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Two weeks ago, my back went out and I found myself in constant pain and discomfort and on the floor alternating between laying on ice or a heating pad. AGAIN. Funny enough, one week after launching my business full time in August 2013 (yes, one year ago almost exactly), my back went out in a severely painful way. I was literally on the floor most of the month of August and struggling to manage the most basic of tasks, so my business was put on hold until Sept. It was the perfect storm made up of my fear of going out on my own meeting the Universe’s desire to see me STOP pushing so hard for a little while after 13+ years of doing nothing but pushing. It wasn’t fun; instead, it was agony, frustration, and feeling utterly betrayed by my body. But in truth, what it really was, was an amazing situation that began to teach me how to ask for help because I simply had no other choice.
This time around, I’m grateful to say the situation isn’t quite so acute (not quite past it yet.) That being said, it’s not comfy, either. I had to slow down again, re-make friends with my nest on the floor, accept that the progress I’d made rebuilding strength was taking a hit, and acknowledge I had to start looking at what my body was trying to tell me. Instinctively, I knew I couldn’t accept that my back going out (in my sleep, mind you!) was merely a coincidence. First, it was the one year anniversary of launching my business and I had been doing a lot of contemplating about how that was going (and judging myself harshly) and second, I was beginning to reach out and re-seek a spiritual community after having an integral part of my spiritual practice ripped away … I was no longer willing to lie to myself that the disconnection I’d experienced over the last couple years was ok. So, I concluded that although there are physiological issues that need attending to (chiropractic, massage, and PT visits help with that), there’s clearly an energetic/emotional/spiritual element that was trying so very hard to tell me … something.
In the past, I’ve prided myself on the fact that I would often get “intuitive flashes” of what I needed to do, hear, or accept. This time? Yikes. I just couldn’t get it. I felt almost as if my subconscious had willfully put on blinders in order to NOT look at whatever it was that was throwing my first and second chakras into a painful tailspin (literally! My tailbone wouldn’t stay put, LOL!) And because I’d recently been in this position and I’ve learned a little bit about asking for help in this first year of business, I knew that’s exactly what I needed … what I still need.
My partner was right on the front lines, thankfully. He reminded me to stop and let him help. Seeking some clarity and understanding, I pulled out my much-neglected tarot cards. (Great tool for glimpsing and understanding our subconscious motivations.) BUT, I only understood some of it, so I went with my gut and asked a dear friend within my spiritual circle for help understanding the message. A couple days later, when I found myself losing my shit one late afternoon, unable to stop weeping because of frustration, pain, and complete overwhelm over everything on my plate, another loving friend offered an ear, a shoulder, and some insightful advice—be compassionate with myself and ask for help. On her advice, rather than “toughing it out” as I would have in the past, I let my mentor know the situation and she provided a nurturing way for me to still participate in her two-day business mastermind while providing space and the means to still care for my back. Because I allowed others to help me in large and small ways, and I let go of my self-reliant resisting, I rapidly got the message over, and over, and over again from different sources in slightly different ways.
In hindsight, it seems simplistic. But personal growth and development never feels that way. I had created a maelstrom of unrealistic expectations and married them to my fears and feelings of inadequacy, wrapped it up in a bow of low self-worth, and stuffed it all down deep so I wouldn’t have to look at any of it. The problem with that however, is that stuff never stays buried. And believe me, you launch a business and you will meet your crap … in Technicolor. I was so busy protecting that ridiculous package, I couldn’t hear or see anything good, nor could I hear praise. If I let in any of the compliments commending my work, skills, talent, or know-how—in all arenas, physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—I shut it down and kept on going. But then I was shut down. In that moment, I knew there was nothing to be done but surrender.
What it all comes down to is that I matter and I have much to offer my business, personal, and spiritual communities. What I think, say, and do matters. WE ALL MATTER. I wrote recently about working with a self-compassion meditation and this latest drama tells me that particular meditation is something I need to hold close and work with for quite some time to come. When I let my defensive stance drop, when I let go of fear of rejection and dismissal and instead remember my own divine roots connecting myself to Spirit, it allows me to start listening to what others are saying to me … and it’s revelatory. Unless I want to start calling everyone I respect and love a liar, I’m going to have to start receiving what they’re offering: love, compassion, respect, empathy, understanding, support, and help. It’s no less than what I try to offer others (as much as this learning spirit in human form can), so why do I question when others want to offer the same? Life is challenging, exciting, and full of painful ups and downs. But it offers us gifts large and small if we are open to receiving them. And when we’re not sure we can do that, we must remember to ask for help because truly we can get by with a little help from our friends.
Somehow it’s August already. (I’m honestly not sure how that happened, but time does seem to turn much more quickly now than it ever did when I was a young child.) The advent of August also brings (to those of us who celebrate and note it) Lughnasadh (or Lammas). This holiday is a lush one, abundant and full. It has us celebrating with profound gratitude the things we’ve achieved, the gifts we’ve received, the experiences we’ve had, the talents we’ve developed, and the things we’ve learned… It’s time to begin to reap what we’ve literally and figuratively sown.
Historically, Lughnasadh is a Gaelic seasonal festival that marks the first harvest—the sun is high, the gardens are lush and growing well and we begin to harvest what were seeds just a few months ago. Although few of us truly depend on our own agricultural skills beyond perhaps a small vegetable garden plot, the concept of reaping and sowing is one we can apply to all our lives. We can ask, where in my life do I feel abundant? Where are my efforts yielding fruit?
At this time of the year, it’s great to celebrate accomplishments and honor the efforts that went into the achievements, but it’s also a good time to check in and see what perhaps is being neglected. We all make our resolutions and set goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year, and now’s the time to ask if those goals and resolutions still serve you and if so, where are you in meeting them?
For me, this year has been an exciting year full of ups and downs. I set a number of goals for both my business and my personal life. And when I look at those goals, I realize that some are in very good shape, and others … well, not so much. It’s time for me to really look at what I expected to do this year. Some of it makes a whole lotta sense, some goals were good but perhaps a bit unrealistic, and others were made from an ego place that really isn’t serving me anymore. So, what to do? Well, I’m not going to beat myself up. With all the meditation and self-compassion work and talk I’ve been doing lately, that doesn’t seem like anything I ought to do. No, instead, I’m going to re-energize myself around the goals that make sense and will help me continue to move forward. I’m going to let go of what isn’t working and see if there are better ways (or goals!) to pursue.
This year, my harvest doesn’t come without some difficulties (first year in business after all), but I’m so proud of the work I’m doing and the work I’ll continue to do that I’m just allowing myself to tip my face up to the sun and feel the joy of the season. I got my hands in the dirt, I planted the seeds, and now I can see the growth and my future harvest. I can say that I am utterly grateful for the effort I put in daily to build my business. I’m beyond-words grateful to my partner, Mike, for supporting me in this endeavor. I bow in gratitude to all those who support, guide, teach, remind, prod, and brainstorm with and for me. I’m grateful for my crazy, loving, and fun family. I’m grateful for you who are reading this right now. I could write all night the things for which I’m grateful … but I’ll stop. 🙂
The point is, gratitude makes it so much easier to notice where there’s abundance in our lives. Otherwise, we habitually take note instead of the problems, the discomforts, and the challenges. So, take a few moments right now and be grateful for all the blessings in your life. Take time to relish the places in which abundance shows up. And if you are loved, you are abundant!
What are you working toward? What brings you joy now? Where does abundance show up in your life?
“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” ~Henry David Thoreau