Sunday, May 29, 2016

I Choose... the Pause (Part One)

I Choose… The Pause (Part One)

Hi everyone!

Yesterday was Day #1 of a bit of a challenge that I’ve set for myself for the next 30 days.

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve actually felt physically well, so I decided last week that I would do a 30 day “life cleanse.” This involves three very specific things.
  • First, a deliberate choice to change my food choices (pretty drastically). This was originally all I was going to do, specifically for health reasons. But then I thought, if I'm going to do something that feels this big to me (no chocolate. no sugar. no wheat. minimal dairy. this is a big deal for me.), why not go even bigger? Which brought me to the next two...
  • Second, a “Facebook Fast,” which means no Facebook activity, other than two posts each week that I am committed to and that people count on.
  • Third, no television. This includes YouTube, Netflix and DVD’s, too, which is going to be my challenge, because I don’t actually watch that much television, but I’m usually on Netflix all day long when I’m at work.

Basically, for these 30 days I am removing those things that only serve as distractions—those things that keep me from making the changes in my life that are necessary for my own physical and emotional well-being, and my spiritual expansion and fuller expression (i.e. “personal growth”). I am taking a break from those things that keep me from knowing my own self as deeply as I’d like to.

And—oh what a coincidence—it just so happens that the last day of this experiment/experience will be June 26th, which is the 16-year anniversary of the day I left Portland—and my domestic violence life—behind me in favor of a new way of living. I did not plan this timing, which is why it feels significant to me.

Those two days that I spent on the Greyhound bus, moving forward into a Grand Unknown, served as a big, significant “pause” for me, back then. In fact, it wasn’t just a “pause.” It was also a pivot-point. I spent those two days observing my own behavior, very aware of every single choice I was making, and getting to know a “me” that I had never recognized in myself before.

I did not try to control ANY aspect of that experience, except for the choices I was making in each and every moment. And this was actually pretty easy to do, because I had taken myself completely out of the familiar, and placed myself in a position in which I had no idea what was going to happen next because I was so far outside the realm of anything I had ever experienced before. In that, I found that I could clearly see the kinds of choices that I would “normally” (habitually, by default) make out of fear, and I was able to deliberately choose something other than that.

I stood in that “pause,” in that “space between the notes,” in the “turning of the page” moment, which contains no content, and I paid attention to the choices that my habits of thinking would try to make. In that pause, I discovered that I could leave what was past, in the past. I would change the tune. I would write a different story. Even when "what was past" was something that had just happened five seconds before.

I would make a new choice, based on what I wanted the “new me” to be like.

During that experience, I did my best to be both patient and compassionate with myself, recognizing that the discomfort of that Grand Unknown was an amazing Gift that I had given to myself, and that how I chose to handle every single challenge was completely up to me.

This month, I will be doing this exact thing. Back then, I had no agenda except to learn who I really was and to move forward from there. The same is true in this new adventure, the biggest difference being that back then my actual life was at risk. This time around the only thing at risk is my comfort zone, my habitual ways of being that keep me living a “same shit different day” kind of life and that don’t allow for anything new or expansive to happen.

Because this is a 30-day thing, and because day 30 happens to be a Sunday, I figure I’ll just make it a five-part series, just for fun. :-)
I Choose… the Pause (Part One)

This week as I remove major "habits of distraction" from my life, I stand in compassion for, and non-judgment of, myself as I breathe my way through the discomfort and deliberately notice the choices that want to be made purely out of habit, and purely for the purpose of remaining comfortable and safe (and small). I stand at the edge of the void before me, and I simply be willing to let things be as they are for now. I choose to trust this beginning phase of the Pause.

I’m not going to ask you to join me in something this drastic (unless, of course, you feel Called to). I do suggest, though, that you do some version of it, whatever that means to you…

For me, this “same shit different day” life is definitely being shaken up in a big way. What is one thing you could do to give yourself your own gift of a little bit of chaos?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please do respond if you’d like to!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Choose... My Destiny

I Choose… My Destiny

“My history does not determine my destiny.”
(Mary Manin Morrissey)

And just because something painful may have happened in my life does not mean that I have to carry it around with me and allow it to color my current experience.

Dead weight is exhausting, and it has a tendency to “prove” itself to be true for us for as long as we choose to carry it around.

This morning I noticed that I’ve been unconsciously carrying a load that could have been set down at least two years ago. And that load has been determining my attitude about a certain area of my life for those entire two years. I had a painful experience. I had what felt like a “BIG FAT FAILURE” and, as a result of that, I retreated into safety, and here I sit, flattened by that load that I, myself, have not chosen to let go of. Here I sit, allowing my history to continuously “prove” to me that it’s not really worth it to me to be bold, because “look what happened the last time I tried that!”

In a nutshell, I have been allowing my past experience to determine my current perception of this one particular aspect of my life. This has been influencing my destiny because the decisions I’ve been making in my present circumstances have been based on that past experience. Make sense? In other words, I’ve been being a victim of that one experience that felt painful to me. For two years.

How many of us have done this for decades? For lifetimes? For 34 years, I carried around the fact that I had been abused as a child. And the presence of that load – the power that I had handed over to my history – as I lived my life DID (in every area of my life) determine the destiny that I was creating for myself. Right up until September 19, 1999 when I came across the above quote by Mary Morrissey, and decided to knock it off. And, as any of you who know me or have read my books knows, it worked!

And now, here I am again. Thank goodness it’s only been two years, rather than thirty! I think that after two years, it’s time to set it down. It’s time to let go of this piece of my history and make my decisions without that particular experience influencing my current perception. Or, at the very least, it’s time to recognize it when it’s happening, because that is the first step toward changing it.

I Choose… My Destiny

This week I choose to NOTICE when I’m allowing “past experience” to influence my current perceptions, attitudes, and decisions, and I purposefully let go of it and stand in my Now. I stop, let go, take a breath, and ask myself what I would be able to see if my history were not blocking my view. And then I take my next step unburdened by that which, in reality, has no weight except that which I give it.

Check it out for yourself. Look at how you are currently perceiving the different aspects of your life: Friendships, intimate relationships, job situations, finances, health, etc. Where are you looking at your life through the filter of “past experience,” allowing it to influence your current view, which DOES influence your destiny.

And, if you choose to, remind yourself that “your history does not determine your destiny,” unless you allow it to.

I repeat, your history does not HAVE to determine your destiny… but it WILL if you let it.

Join me this week, if you’d like to, in choosing your “destiny” deliberately, rather than defaulting to your “history” out of habit. Just do it as an experiment, even if you just notice when and where you’re doing it. From there you will be able to decide consciously how you want to see those things and, from there, you can choose much more consciously what your next step will be.

And—from there—YOU, rather than your history, will be determining your destiny.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

I Choose... the Quality

I Choose… the Quality of my Day (and my Life)

Hi All!

As you all have probably figured out by now, I like Facebook, and I spend a lot of time there. I have lots of Facebook friends, some of whom are very positive people and that is why I’ve chosen them to be my friends.

Others of them are people – family and friends – that I’ve loved for a very long time. Some of my loved ones know how to choose the quality of their lives, and they do so consciously and purposefully. I love them. Others know that they have that capacity, but they choose not to use it deliberately because – to be blunt – it’s way easier to live a victim life than it is to do the work of being responsible for their own results. I love them, too.

And then there are a number of my loved ones who simply have not discovered that capacity within themselves yet, and when it feels to them like their life is happening TO them (which is NEVER the case, for any of us), they live at the mercy of that belief, and it feels to them like their life hates them. Not only do I love these people, too, but since I vividly remember what it felt like to live my life that way, I feel deep, deep compassion for them, as well, because I understand that they really do believe that they have no choice in the matter.

It’s an incredibly painful way to live.

This morning the very first post I saw when I logged in to Facebook was this: "The day hasn't even started yet and I'm already wishing it was over."

That sentence took me straight into remembering what it was like to live that way. Hopeless. Powerless. Painful. The feeling was that I was living at the mercy of things that I could never hope to control.

I then went from that memory to the memory of what it felt like when I learned that I am only a victim if I make one of myself. That was when I learned that my "day" does not feel good or bad. My "day" does not care one bit what I think of it or how I feel about it. It just IS. It's my thoughts ABOUT my day that cause the feelings that determine the quality of my day.

Which means what? It means that I have COMPLETE control of what my day feels like to me, and I am NEVER a victim of it.

It is my sincere wish for the young man that posted that sentence that he – sooner rather than later – makes the discovery for himself that he is the only person on the planet who can control the quality of his day, because I know from personal experience that when he figures this out for himself, his whole life will change.

I Choose… the Quality

This week I remember that my day has nothing invested in how I experience it. It just IS, and I can deliberately choose the quality of each and every moment.

In the above statement I use the word “deliberately,” very deliberately.

Because here’s the thing: Whether or not I’m doing it deliberately, I am ALWAYS, in each and every moment of my life, choosing the quality of the moment that I am living. Choosing the quality of my moments is what creates the quality of my day. And my life.


I Choose... The Gap

I Choose… the Gap
May 8, 2016

Hello Friends!

As you know, I am all about knowing that I always get to choose what I think about things.

Last week I began a practice of creating a gap between the time I perceive something (anything) and actually having a thought about that something. For example: I’m driving on the freeway and someone cuts in front of me. Am I obligated to think something about that person? No. For a long time, my unconscious reaction would have been to think that he or she was a jerk. Over the last few years I have deliberately trained myself to tell a different story about them, a story that would give me a feeling of compassion or understanding. That always feels way better to me than being judgmental or critical, because I know that everyone has a story behind why they behave the way they do, and if I knew their story, I would have at least some understanding of their behavior. So that has worked well as a way for me to be responsible for my own inner peace.

Another example: I hear a gossipy, not-very-nice conversation between two co-workers about another co-worker. Am I obligated to think something about that? No. Whether I join in the conversation (which would be RARE), or judge them for gossiping (which is my normal not-thinking-deliberately reaction), or walk away making a deliberate choice not to judge – all of those responses come from a belief that, yes, I get to choose what I think about things. But it also comes from a belief that I’m supposed to think something about everything. (Eckhart Tolle describes this as being a slave to compulsive thinking. He also calls it an addiction.)

Last Wednesday I decided to do an experiment (thanks to a book study I’m in right now of Tolle’s “Power of Now” material). He says that the longer we wait to have a thought about something after we’ve perceived that something, the more empowered we are in our response to that something. I thought I’d check out that idea for myself.

And I have to agree with him. Not only is it empowering, it is actually freeing.

I will never forget my second “ah-ha” moment ever, which happened on September 19, 1999 and which was, “You mean I get to CHOOSE what I think about things?! You mean I get to CHOOSE what I think about THIS [abusive man that I was in relationship with, or the situation, itself]?!”

These last several days have taken that ah-ha to a new level. It has now become, “I get to choose whether or not I think ANYTHING about this. Just because I’ve observed or perceived it, does not mean that I am obligated to have any thoughts regarding it. I can let it be a non-issue.”

AND, in the gap between the perception or observation and the thought, should I choose to think anything about it, I get to choose both the content and the quality of the thought that I allow. What’s in that gap? Complete peace. Empowerment. And freedom.

I recommend this experiment. Try it for yourself and watch what happens in your life as you begin responding deliberately from the GAP, rather than reacting from your unconscious habit.
I Choose… the Gap

This week I purposely create a gap between my observations or perceptions and any thoughts I may have about those observations or perceptions. I choose to tap in to the peace that lives in that gap, and from there I decide whether or not I will even “go there.” I know that “going there” is not an obligation, it is a choice, and it is completely acceptable not to go there regarding most things. 

If you would like to feel what real empowerment feels like, practice this and watch what happens both within you AND in your circumstances as you start thinking differently, which creates responses that are different, too.