Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wisdom from Douglas Adams

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."  --Douglas Adams

For years I have had this idea in my head about MY LIFE - what it would look like, what I would be doing and mostly, that I would finally be IN CHARGE and things would be going according to MY PLAN.

You'll be glad to know I am starting to get over that.

The deeper I go into this spiritual life, the more I realize that true joy, true peace, true happiness come not from making a plan and sticking to it, but from going with what shows up. Having no plan, or only a very vague idea of a plan, then letting The Universe do the rest is where the magic lies.

For instance, you might say, "I'd like to go to the beach this weekend," and The Universe will take that request and start to move. Maybe your friend with a beach house will call you and say, "I'm going to the beach this weekend, would you like to come?" Or maybe not.

Maybe instead, your son will get sick and throw up all over his new carpet and you will spend the weekend watching every episode of Stars Wars The Clone Wars and doing ten loads of laundry and it will seem as if the Universe has not heard you at all.

And then you have a choice. You can rail against this and have a terrible weekend, screaming inside about your planned trip to the beach and WHY didn't my friend call and HOW could this have happened again (because last year you had a trip planned to the beach and your other son got sick) and WHAT the heck is going on.

Or you can snuggle in with a good book and a cup of hot tea and a feverish little monkey under your arm and just enjoy not having to pack and shop and vacuum sand out of your car on Sunday night.

Because let's be honest, going to the beach is just as much work as having a sick kid, and having a sick kid can contain just as many joys as going to the beach if you aren't too busy railing against it to notice them.

Don't get me wrong, this is NOT easy and I am still susceptible to my Ego's need to STICK TO THE PLAN rather than go with the flow, but I'm learning.

Recently I have gotten wrapped up in the 5th Grade Play. Somehow I ended up "in charge" of this thing that was not even on my radar a few months ago. It never occurred to me when I heard there was a fifth grade play that I would be the one to make it happen. I have never been into theater, my son is not into theater. There is no earthly reason why this would become my "thing." 

And yet, as time went on, a group of us got together to find a director, and then it became clear that there was much more to do than a part-time director (and also college senior) was going to have time for. So I volunteered to find some parents to help. And to organize the kids into committees. And to communicate with parents about the rehearsal schedule. And....and.....and....before I knew it, everyone was looking to me for answers. When is the Stage Crew meeting for the first time? Does my student have to be at rehearsal on Tuesday? When are we getting started on Set?

And there were times when I stood still and looked around and thought, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? But most of the time I was too busy to ask questions. And the thing is, most of the time I was also having too much fun to care.

Producing the play was very satisfying. Watching the actors take on their roles and improve with every practice, watching the behind-the-scenes kids take responsibility for the various pieces back stage, watching all of the kids spontaneously choreograph a dance number during a rehearsal. There was just so much joy in going through the process.

And it was great "work" too. I realized early on that I was going to have to let go of a lot of things, that I couldn't do it all myself and that I needed some other parents to help. Shortly thereafter I realized that if I was going to make it out of this thing with my sanity and fellow parent relationships intact I was going to have to just allow each person to do the best they could and to have their own vision for their committee. In other words, if I tried to micromanage this thing, it was going to be a nightmare. So I didn't.

I just didn't. I made the decision to let everyone do it their way and to be okay with that. And for the  most part it worked.

As I stood and watched the dress rehearsal last week, I felt such joy and satisfaction I wouldn't trade it for the world. Even though a lot of writing and reading and laundry and exercise and cleaning, didn't get done over the past few weeks, even though "MY LIFE" was put on hold to do this thing I didn't mean to do, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Our lives are much bigger than our EGO thinks they are. They include EVERYONE and EVERYTHING we encounter, planned or unplanned, expected or unexpected, wanted or unwanted. It's all MY LIFE.

As the "play producer" chapter of my life comes to a close, I am getting the feeling that something unexpected is coming my way, something I never hoped for, never planned on, never wanted in my wildest dreams. But ready or not, here it comes!

I may not go where I intend to go, but I am certain I will end up where I need to be.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wisdom from The Universe

"Behind your greatest fear lies your greatest gift." --The Universe on TUT.com

Amen to that!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson - For a Monday morning

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

I read this on Facebook the other day and it was one of those quotes I immediately knew was going on the blog because it contains a nugget of truth so sharp I want to tell everyone I know.

It's about getting out of your head and into your body. It's about feeling your life and not rationalizing it. It's about living and not just plodding along.

There is more life in a scream than in a thesis. More truth. And sometimes even, more joy.

It you are feeling frustrated or confused or angry today, why not take a break, go somewhere quiet and just scream it out?

Happy Monday All!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother to Many

[An original story, based on a folktale called, "The King's Child"]

After one year, there was still no child. 

On her 21st birthday, the young bride left her house clutching a wad of cash tighly in her hand. Walking quickly, she headed to a nearby street. As she walked she glanced around furtively, hoping not to see anyone she knew. 

A cascade of small bells went off as she pushed open the door. An old woman beckoned her through a bejeweled curtain and into the back room. 

She sat down across a battered wooden table from the woman who looked deep into her eyes and said, "What would you like to know my child?"

Looking down at her hands, and then up at the old woman, the girl asked the question that had been in her heart for many years, "When will I have a child?"

The woman said, "You are but a child yourself, my dear. Go back to school and learn about the world; then you will be ready to mother a child."

The girl left, head hung low, but she did as the old woman had suggested. That fall she enrolled at a local college. 

During her final year of college she got a job at a preschool. Her days were filled with the joy and laughter of children. She felt more ready than ever to be a mother. 

After her graduation she and her husband tried again to conceive, but after one year she was still not with child. 

Again she went to the old woman with a handful of cash. As she sat down, she handed the woman her money and said, "I did as you suggested and got an edutcation. Now I am ready to be a mother When will it happen?"

The woman cupped the young woman's hand in her own and said, "My child, the time is still not right. Did you not enjoy teaching the little ones while at school?"

"Yes, but..."

The woman cut her off. "Then why not teach again for awhile until the time is right?"

The young woman's heart sank, but she headed home and once again took the old woman's advice. 

The next few years went by in the blink of an eye. She loved teaching and she loved her students, but after seven years, she felt the old longing creeping up on her. She still had no child of her own. 

One day while shopping in her old neighborhood she happened upon the palm reader's storefront, the same as it had ever been. She walked inside and once again found herself seated at the table in front of the old woman. 

"Perhaps you do not remember me..." she began. 

Before she could continue, the old woman grabbed her hand and said, "I remember." 

Looking deep into the younger woman's palm she spoke,"I know you wish to have a child, but the tme is still not right. Take a vacation - a trip - far away from here. There you will find your destiny."

Pulling her hand away she said, "Find my destiny? What does that mean?"

But the old woman would say no more. She merely smiled and patted the younger woman's hand, sending her on her way. 

Her heart ached, but once again she took the woman's advice. 

She and her husband packed away all of their belongings and set off on a long journey. Starting in Europe, they made their way across Russia and Asia into Africa. 

In Africa they met a group of missionaries who were building an orphanage, so they stayed to help. Working first to build the structure, and then to make it a home, they eventually created a school for the children who lived there.

Soon seven more years had gone by and they decided it was time to return home. With tears in their eyes they said goodbye to the children they had grown to love and boarded a plane for home. 

The next morning the woman - no longer young - awoke feeling sad and strange. Something was still missing. 

Dressing quickly, she headed out to take a walk. She walked a long distance and ended up, once again, outside of the storefront she had visited for the first ime so many years before. 

The sight of it ignited a fire inside of her. "I have done everything she advised me to do," she thought angrily, "And still I do not have a child."

She pushed open the door and sat down at the table across from the woman, who was now very old. 

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she said,'You have told me again and again that the time was not right for me to have a child. Now I am nearly too old. Tell me the truth. Will I ever have a child?"

The old woman did not react to her anger or her tears; instead she took the now middle-aged woman's hand in her own and gazed at it as if it contained all the secrets of the universe. 

"It is true my dear that you are barren and always have been."

The younger woman gasped,"Why did you not tell me before? How could you have lied to me?"

The old woman looked up with kind eyes and said: 

"My child, I did not lie. It is not always possible to know what life will bring. I say to you truly that your life could not have been more complete had a child been born unto you when you first tried. 

Life has brought you many children, each of whom you loved as only you could. You have been a mother in all the ways that really matter, and you have been a mother not just to one or two, but to many. 

All the love you have given to these children will be passed on to their children and to their children's children, until the children you have mothered will number in the millions and there will be one star in the sky for every child on earth who has been nurtured by your love. 

Now go home my child, and have a rest. And when you rise, go out into the world and find more children to love."

As the woman walked home in the fading light of the afternoon, she thought about what the old woman had said. 

Finally, she arrived home. 

Before she opened the door, she looked up at the sky and saw the first stat appear. As she stood and stared up at it, another star appeared, and then another and another. 

When the sky was full of stars she smiled, and went inside. 

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~ 


Friday, May 10, 2013

What I Live For

"The journey is the destination."--"Physical Phil" from October Road, Pilot

The easy answer is: MY KIDS. Those two little boys whose burps and farts, cries and screeches -  whose very presence - have filled up my world for more than ten years now.

Elizabeth Stone said that having children is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. For me, it feels more like two baby-shaped pieces of myself have been let loose into the world and two similarly-shaped holes left in my body.

At first I could not bear to be away from them for more than a few minutes, then a few hours, and now I can handle even a few days. But if I think one of them is lost, or I am not absolutely certain of where they are - even for a few minutes - that old panic starts to surface and I feel the loss again in my body.

The truth is, however, that living for them gets me into trouble. It leads to unrealistic expectations of behavior (mine and theirs) and a desire for appreciation of my efforts that no human being, especially a child, can ever meet as fully as one might hope.

And this can lead to all manner of bad things: anger, resentment, despair, longing, sometimes even hatred.

So I am trying to learn to live for myself again. And it is not easy. Because what else is there?

Writing, as Sy Syfransky notes:

"...[D]on't wait for the English language to bat her eyes at you. If she does, don't wait for her to whisper something sexy in your ear. If she does, don't expect her to go home with you. If she does, don't imagine she's going to spend the night. If she does, don't ask for her phone number the next morning. If you do ask, and she pretends she hasn't heard you and slips into her dress and heads for the door, do not, if you ever want to see her again, tell her how used that makes you feel."

is a fickle mistress; amazing when she shows up, devastating when she doesn't.

Work, even of the best kind, can only take you so far. Any proper job I have ever had has left me feeling a bit empty when it is all I concentrate on. Is there any job - making widgets, selling tchotchkes, counting beans - that is worth living for? If so, I have yet to find it. That's not to say that good work is not worth doing, and doing well, just not worth living for.

Relationships with others - my husband, my family, my friends - both give me great joy, and sometimes, cause me great pain, but I learned long ago that no single relationship is worth living for. No one can handle that kind of pressure and these people I love have their own lives to live, they cannot make mine worth living.

So the search continues....

And then it dawns on me: the search is the thing. The journey is the destination.

That thing that I am searching for is all of these things - children, work, relationships, food, travel, experiences - and so much more, in a perfect balance of agony and ecstasy, hope and despair, longing and fulfillment.

It is nothing less than Presence. God. Love.

And that's what I live for. All of it.

[This post is part of a writing event called What I Live For. To read what others writers live for, go to www.satyarobyn.com and click the EVENTS tab.]

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wisdom from Radhika Chough

"Don't compare someone else's middle with your beginning."--Radhika Chugh

Following on from Tuesday's quote about having the courage to be where you are, we have this from Radhika Chugh, my newest internet angel, from her weekly reading on Youtube.

Sometimes being where you are means starting something new and that can be SCARY. Especially if it is something you haven't ever done before, or haven't done in awhile.

Comparison can be our worst enemy at times like these because we tend to judge ourselves harshly and often find ourselves coming up short.

Just as these three spindly palm trees don't look like much when compared to the 140 year old Banyan tree from the other day, we can feel weak, inferior and a little bit funny-looking when we compare ourselves to someone else.

So, if you are starting something new this week, resist the urge to compare your beginning to someone else's middle, or even to their beginning.

You are exactly where YOU need to be right now, doing exactly what YOU need to be doing right now, in exactly the way YOU need to be doing it. Way to go you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wisdom from the Banyan Tree

"Have the courage to be where you are." --The Universe

Sometimes it takes all the courage we have to move forward; and sometimes, it takes even more courage to just stand still and be where we are.

When we have a job, all we want is a little time off. When unemployed, we just want a job and can't stand all the free and unscheduled time we have been given. When we have a relationship we often long for something new and exciting. When we are alone, all we want is someone to snuggle on the couch with and watch TV.

The hardest thing to do is to embrace what is, to live in the now, to be where you are.

This tree is a 140 year-old Banyan Tree that stands in the town square in Lahainia, Maui, HI and it is my new symbol for this kind of courage. For 140 years it has stood still, providing shade and a place to sit, climb and explore for all who walk beneath it. It never wishes it were somewhere else or tries to walk away, and yet, it never stops growing. Expanding its roots and putting out new shoots that become new, smaller trees just a few feet away.

It has the courage to be exactly where it is.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is Happiness?

"Ricard's Buddhist notion of happiness is better described as 'well-being' or better yet: 'a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment, a state that pervades and underlies all emotional states, including all the joys and sorrow that can come one's way.' It isn't to be confused with pleasure, not even hours of it." --From "Stories for Boys" by Gregory Martin

This is the third in a series of photographs I took on our recent family vacation to Maui. First came PEACE; then LOVE; so now, of course, HAPPINESS.

This quote is from one of the books I read while on vacation and I loved this Buddhist idea of happiness. It seems somehow less daunting, more achievable, and less rooted in factors often outside of our control such as the weather or our income or relationship status.

A deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that pervades and underlies all emotional states that can come ones way. Bring it on!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Love is All Around - Maui

"Meet anger with LOVE." -- The Universe to me on April 12, 2010

I have been thinking about this advice from the Universe a lot lately. As I have gotten a better handle on my own anger over the past ten years, I have started to see the pain and the sadness and the loneliness hidden deep within the anger of others.

I know from my own experience that when I get angry and lose my temper what I really need is love, understanding, compassion, but it's kind of hard to see that at the time. And it's even harder to show love to someone who is yelling at you.

But I know for sure that is what we are called to do so I'm gonna try. Won't you join me?

[This photograph is second in a series of three. Come back tomorrow for #3.]