Why I Unplugged From the Same Old Sh*t

Forgave.FBThis much I have learned about forgiveness: We do what we can when we are ready.

Recently I forgave a dear friend who I felt treated me very unfairly at a certain, tender point in our relationship.

For months my anger at her ‘transgression’ lingered in my mind. Again and again, I played out a nasty fight we had the last day we spoke. I ranted to friends about her wrong doings. I fretted and fumed, and so I was poisoned by fear, loathing and resentment.

This fear and loathing settled over my soul like a thin, grey gauze of sadness. “I’m fine,” I reasoned with myself. “I’m just pissed.”

I wasn’t fine.

Being angry is sometimes quite valid – yet hanging on to that anger never is. For in the end, we are the ones who are hurt the most.

In fact, all of life is a grand experiment in learning and living; receiving and letting go and then receiving once again.

So we bump into each other, teetering along on the brink of meltdowns, triggered wounds, and vacant hearts. We insist we are right, along with other illusions, and live out our days in the lopsided comfort that we are noble victims.

Then one day we cave to the worst fear of all — we decide no one will ever be good enough for us. We determine that the world is made up of bullies, tyrants and thieves, and so we give up, mostly on ourselves.

Yet there is a tender place in every heart where one can find forgiveness. It’s filed away back there behind ‘Story’, ‘Identity’, and ‘My Divorce.’

It’s in a tall, slender, dusty can titled ‘What If?’

What if … you just said you were sorry and expected nothing?

What if … the world kept on revolving and this time you revolved with it?

What if you finally forgave yourself?

It is the breach we make with ourselves that gets played out in angry snits. Behind all the parry and thrust is the simple truth that we are hurt.

Possibly we have regrets. And perhaps we even made mistakes ourselves.

What if the person in question honestly was doing the best she could?

What if she was just as triggered as you?

What if my dear friend – with whom I weathered thick and thin for a powerful and unforgettable year – was just showing up as who she was in that moment?

Do I serve myself in the quest for justice, which is often a thinly veiled vehicle for retribution? Or does it make more sense to step away quietly, sending love and leaving no stones overturned in the process.

I forgave my friend and in the end I felt lighter for it. Perhaps we will remain friends and perhaps not. Either way, I know I am loved, whole and protected.

And that all is exactly as it should be in God’s usual, quite perfect plan.

Learning How to Live Life Lightly … From Teal

Teal sings SMQ.FB I don’t know about you, but most of my life that I believed I must work my fanny off to make anything happen.

Part of me still does … even though I know this concept is inherently wrong. Not that effort and to-do’s and tasks don’t make the world go round. They do, indeed. But what doesn’t need to happen any more is all that blessed self-sacrifice.

I call it blessed because I’m in a new, tender place with myself. Little Susie is worn out. And for her to rise up and be strong again, a whole lot of compassion must be poured in her direction.

Discovering this is the gift of this last 18 months of not working, and just allowing myself to grieve the death of my daughter. Believe me, Teal would have approved. She was a person who played, enjoyed, rambled, sang and hooped her way through life.

Overwork was not only anathema to her – it seemed unnecessary. She never understood why her mother had to work so damned hard. “Because that’s what it takes!” was my battle cry. And Teal would just shake her head.

I had no idea if this was actually true — it was just a belief I’d picked up along the way. And one that worked well with the critical inner voices I’d also picked up along the way.

By contrast, Teal lived in ease and flow. She lived on nothing because her needs were few. She didn’t need a lot of ‘stuff’ — life in general made her happy. At the end there were two dollars in her wallet and four in her bank account, even though the day before I’d asked her if she needed money. “Nope. I’m fine,” she said.

What did my daughter know that I did not? Well, for one thing she knew that her needs would always be taken care of … and not by me or her Dad, but by a provident God who always provides. Sure enough a few days after her death a check came rolling in that would have tided her through the next month or two.

Her little world in San Francisco was abundant, sweet and joyful. She had a bright yellow bedroom in a comfortable, happy place. She played music with friends in their rambling apartment in the Mission, When she didn’t have a place to live, she always found a spot sleeping in one of their empty rooms or on their couch.

Teal stuck her thumb out in life, hitchhiking her way through the world with love and grace, always knowing the perfect ride would show. And it did. Even her death from a sudden, unexplainable cardiac arrest was the way she would have wanted it – fast. Effortless. Guided.

Even the six days she lingered in a coma after being revived from her cardiac arrest turned out to be inconsequential. A medical bill arrived for $110,000 … after insurance. This was followed by a call a week later from a California non-profit asking if I’d like them to take care of the bill. I would – and they did.

At the time I was too numb to react much to any of it, but now it seems nothing less than incredible. Because Teal was an adult, a San Francisco resident and lived close to the poverty level, her bill was covered by state medical insurance. And so, as a result, was I. All effortlessly. Without a shred of drama.

I simply had to allow and trust. And so the lesson was this: When you live life lightly, the light gets lived through you.

We don’t have to effort, We don’t have to strive. We just have to keep showing up, surrendering, and letting our powerful paths show us which way to go. And so I have been letting go again and again as I launch my business anew. It was going to be February, then March … finally it happened in May — and even then it had its own pace and timing which continues to evolve.

The crazy thing is – I’m going with it. Even though the rigid soldier in my head rebels sometimes. Every day I just sit down, dedicate several hours to my business, and I’m shown what to do. I now have team-mates and a cool task management system (Asana) that help me get things done so I don’t get lost.

Never once do I feel like I’m suffering, overworking or stressing. Because I know this is sacred work – and nothing less will suffice. And the launch will happen when it’s ready and not one moment sooner. I think Teal would approve. Because … it’s fun!

In Praise of Reality … And Why We Hide From It

Keyhole-Light-through-trees-dirt-roadI’ve been learning to stay awake. No, I’m not referring to my need to be in bed by ten. I’m talking about the ability to stay conscious, present and tuned in to what is happening right here and right now.

I’m talking about my need to not live in the suspended, sunlit world of fantasy when it comes to people places and things.

I’m learning to tell it like it is, mostly to myself. So I learn to embrace reality.

Reality is not sexy and fun most of the time. It’s a little gritty; it’s disorganized, messy, and it often hurts. It involves things like traffic, bad weather, and physical pain. Which is probably why people who have Near Death Experiences often want to stay on the other side.

And yeah, sometimes it’s euphoric, beautiful and sunlit, too.

The important thing is that reality is neither good nor bad, neither black nor white. Instead, it is a utopia of variety – an ever-changing kaleidoscope of sights, smells, and sounds all woven into the full range of emotional experiences.

Which is downright gorgeous if you allow yourself to stay conscious.

Yet, if you took some physical or emotional hits as a child, you learned to ignore reality early on. Instead, you found yourself suspended in your own little hammock of make-believe. Your arguing, alcoholic parents were ‘normal’. Your bullying siblings or classmates were ‘just kids being kids’. You did your best to tune out the fights as well as those pesky feelings of yours.

Your own anguish and your inability to cope simply didn’t really exist – it couldn’t. Because otherwise you figured you might die.

When you start to heal all these old wounds through therapy, support group work, spiritual work or 12 Step recovery programs you notice an interesting thing.

You start to forgive yourself. And then … you start to forgive the players in your past. All of them. But you can’t get there until you begin to disgorge the quantum pain that is lodged deep in your heart.

This is when embracing reality becomes not only possible … over time, it gets more comfortable. Then it becomes downright joyful.

The pain or recognizing and remembering can seem intolerable at first. Strange waves of grief come out of nowhere and deluge you. Sometimes you find yourself shedding rage, or the big one – fear.

If you can slow down and allow these ghost feelings to pour through you – for as long as it takes — they always, always clear. They must for this is the law of all things. Sometimes they dissolve quickly and sometimes they take a while. But either way, they do eventually subside.

We only ‘get stuck’ when we lose faith, hold back in fear and refuse to allow nature to work it’s beautiful course.

We have hearts and souls that were designed to process pain efficiently, and so allow us to move in grace back to reality. So there is no need to hide in the thousand and one places the world provides – from Candy Crush and sexting to weed, jelly donuts, and Stoli martinis.

Instead, why not try becoming still and quiet just to see what is in there, asking for your attention? I promise that going through the pain of surrender is well worth the release that awaits on the other side.

Here is to your dose of courage, whatever it takes, to gently become present in the embrace of reality. May you, too, discover the magic of the every day.



Getting Through the Pain of Transition

transition-network-2009-survey-report_2pdfToday I am in despair. There is no particular drama in my life – all my physical needs are well met. I feel loved by my friends and family. There is money in the bank. My health is fine and I like where I live.

Instead … I am shedding. I am letting go of an old me that grew past her prime. My son is nearly twenty, an independent young man who’s thriving on the other side of the country. My daughter is a speck of dust in the Universe, a memory, a spirit who still drops in to dazzle me from time to time. My ex of 25 years is living his own life, and I am living mine.

These people don’t need me in the same way anymore. My days of being a van-driving, homework-helping, pie-making mom are over. As were the days of being a devoted, straight wife when I left my marriage to come out as a lesbian.

So … who am I then? This is the question all of us face when we are in the despair of transition.

Maya, my coach, likens such change to a game of cards. She calls this phase the ‘The Shuffle’ – cards get dropped, passed back and forth, and generally mixed up by the hands of life. And that is just how it feels … turbulent at times, then strangely orderly.

So I shed the small, masked self I was for most of my life – the daughter, wife and mother who defined herself through service, albeit with a career as well. In this way I am learning to serve the least likely one of all … me.

My transition is a grand lesson in putting myself first. And honestly, I am just learning how to do this. If you grew up in a dysfunctional household with a needy mother like I did, your own needs were not well met.

In fact, they just became dusty furniture in the house – always there and often ignored. So how do you know what your needs actually are?

A much-desired pocket of time appears and you grab on to it hungrily … but then you can’t decide how to fill it.

You feel half-sick and sad, so you climb into bed knowing there is something you need to do. But what? Journal? Cry? Eat chocolate? Call a friend? You know if do nothing you will feel worse.

Or perhaps you bury yourself in work, or shopping, or meds, or food so you don’t have to notice those troublesome needs in the first place.

It’s like your soul is buried under a thick sweater and wool socks; it’s there but you can’t quite feel it.

So meeting your needs becomes a practice of continually scanning for clues … How do I feel today? What do I need right now? This practice requires becoming intentionally ‘selfish’ – that charged word from childhood.

Then slowly, over time, answers present themselves as you learn to serve yourself, and the world, far more powerfully.

This is a process of becoming intimate with the Self, this unfolding into a new life. Acute attention is required. You must end the numbing, dulling behaviors that cloud your perception. Then you have to start trying things on, just like you would when you’re shopping.

Bear in mind that all of this awkward discomfort and pain is necessary. The despair of shedding has to happen to make room for the new.

There is a bigger plan, a brighter life, a stronger love, a more powerful calling just ahead. And to get there you must release the old patterns and the well-worn grooves that simply don’t work any more.

Relax, trust, and feel your feelings … and then listen like you never have before.

Believe me. Everything really is going to be okay.