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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

How Do You Define Success?

When you hear the word ‘success,’ what comes to mind?  Do images of wealth, accumulation of objects, travel, prestige, a large home and hoards of people singing your praises float on through?

For many, that is the ‘gold standard’. We are often taught to look to the external as the measure of accomplishment. For much of my life, the yardstick was affirmation in the form of good grades, praise from family, friends, employers and teachers, winning swimming competitions and overcoming physical challenges related to asthma and issues with my feet. I felt like I was on a ceaselessly spinning hamster wheel with no clue at the time how to stop it. It never occurred to me that I could simply jump off and that the world itself wouldn’t stop turning on its axis. It took even more serious health crises to propel me from it. It was either that or literally die trying. I chose life, but at a far slower pace than ever before.

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Each day, I continue to be mindful about what it means to feel successful. I used to measure it by outcome. Now I see it as a willingness to put my heart and soul into all I do, regardless of the final result, since I ultimately have no control over that. I just give it my best and then (here’s the tough part) relinquish it. Paradoxically (or maybe not), I have seen even more beautiful manifestations as a result. Creative endeavors, career opportunities, new friends and business connections, gifts from generous people and miraculous occurrences have all shown up. Truth be told, it does take reminders from others to keep me on track.

I watched a video this morning that was created by Strayer University about a social experiment. In it, people were asked to rate their perception of their own success on a 1-10 scale. Then, a person in their life was asked to rate their view of their loved one’s success. The outcome was no surprise to me, although it seemed so to them.

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Take a moment to do this yourself. If you rate yourself lower on the scale than others do, ask yourself how you measure your own success. Is it a realistic view? Do you set the bar too high? Not high enough and then beat up on yourself for feeling like a slacker? Do you (like I do) have an inner perfectionist who expects that you hit a home run each time at bat?

These days, my measure of success is on a different scale. I ask myself how healthy and loving my relationships are. I question if I am taking care of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. I inquire if I am following through on my commitments to myself and others; in integrity as a woman of my word. I query if I  am using my creative gifts in service to the world as I abundantly support myself as well.

How do you define success?

 

 

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Push or Flow?

I read a marvelous bit of wisdom this morning. It was written by Barry Kerzin, MD , a Buddhist Monk who is the founder of the Human Values Institute. It touched a chord that had me reverberating in the key of ooooohhh yessss.

“When we get stuck there is a tendency to push and push harder. A square peg just does not fit into a round hole, no matter how hard we try. Often we fail to recognize this fact. We keep on pushing. But pushing is exhausting, and does not produce the desired result. We must mentally step back and take a few deep breaths. We can recognize that everything is like a dream: oneself, the desired goal, and desire itself. This allows space for inspiration, imagination, and creativity. Then almost like magic, approaches present themselves. We feel movement once again. There is openness. There is flow. There is lightness. The dance of freedom and joy begins again. The glue has dissolved. We are once again whole.”

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I can’t tell you how many years I spent in push- pull mode. From the time I was born, I was kicking and struggling to move forward. My mother told me that the umbilical chord was wrapped around my ankles when I emerged from the womb. I would fall asleep when being fed initially and the nurses would tell my mother to ping me on the bottom of my foot to wake me up. I broke both ankles in childhood (one twice and one once). I was diagnosed with asthma at age four. I had this internal drive to prove I could keep up. Is  it any wonder I became a workaholic?

I had a desire to succeed beyond all expectations and the truth is, I set the bar far higher than anyone else did for me. I hurtled over most of them, stumbling occasionally. I recall times in my life when I sleepwalked and coasted. These days I am conscious and aware of choices I make.  In my work as a writer and speaker, I would effort in order to spread the word about what I did, scrambling to find writing and speaking gigs. The result is that I would ‘spread myself too thin’ and indeed experience exhaustion. Wise words from motivationally kick butt teacher and author Lisa Nichols pushed my reset button, when she told me a few years back that I needed to “attract, not pursue.” Although I flinched at first, I realized that all of the pushing I had done, wasn’t what brought about success. It was a combination of seed planting and surrender.

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Consider the birth process. If all the mother did was push, without breathing and relaxing, the process would be even more arduous.

In times of ‘stuckness,’ I contemplate what I can do to grease the wheels and ease my way through the impediment. I can twist and turn with thoughts of ‘how did I get here in the first place?’ or I can extricate myself and THEN revisit the process. It is like that Chinese finger puzzle in which your fingers get stuck. You can’t struggle your way out of it. It is when you relax your fingers that you can free them.

I love the idea of creative flow too. Colorful creativity is the life blood that enlivens me. When I gently clear the blockages in that realm, I am astounded with what comes cascading through.

 

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Facing Life: A Ten Week Journey-Week Nine

Just returned from a one week Jamaican journey and  Debra/Deva Troy  had come back from her own vacation, so there was a two week space in our experience with the modality called Facial Reflex Therapy created by Lone Sorensen. It allowed for some healing to settle in. The theme this time seemed to be release and cleansing on the physical and emotional levels.

My intention in traveling to a Paradise I had not visited since my honeymoon 28 years ago was to relax and rejuvenate. My customary busy-buzzy lifestyle was due for a major makeover. I knew that some serious beach lounging, pool and ocean floating, healthy food eating, yoga class enjoying and meandering would be forthcoming. The opportunity was there for all of those things and I was not about to miss them.

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In addition to a great deal of fun, I noticed a distinct shift in physiological function. Although I was able to work out in the open air gym, the beach and yoga room, with a fair amount of energy, I did notice that my lungs, which were getting accustomed to the intense heat and humidity, were rebelling. A bronchial cough developed that required attention. When I got back and lie on the treatment table, Deva detected residual reaction to the pulmonary condition. After the session, I experienced relief. At the moment, I am breathing freely.

My skin was also rebelling. Although I am not prone to acne, I do experience some post-menopausal breakouts. My cheeks were speckled with blemishes when I returned, as I could feel my body letting go of built up residue. Since our minds and bodies are one, it came as no surprise, since I am also noticing emotional flow. One observation I made recently was that even as I am in the therapeutic field and encourage clients to freely allow for acknowledgement of feelings, I tend to manage mine, rather than simply feel them.  I am amply aware that I often write my feelings away, so that they move through me rapidly. I have learned that what we don’t feel, we can’t easily heal. My body was expressing what I was not able to do verbally.

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This time, I noticed that I remained awake, not falling into a snoring trance on the table. After the session, Deva reported that my immune system and lungs were calling out for attention. I consider the symbolic meanings of those aspects of physiology. Immunity protects the system from attack. There are times when I feel a need to hide behind whatever shielding forces are available in order to seem less vulnerable. I make it appear that all systems are secure and impenetrable, when there are times when I am a quivering mess behind it all.

Lungs relate to life force, but also unresolved grief. When I look back at my life, I can count many losses. My maternal grandmother died when I was four, and my paternal grandmother followed 10 years later. My husband died when I was 40, my home was destroyed in Hurricane Andrew in 1992;  six years before that. This was the same year I had an ectopic pregnancy and my husband was diagnosed with Hepatitis C which ultimately ended his life. In 2008, my father died and in 2010, my mother joined him. Each of these experiences was absorbed into my body as I have been able to keep them from overtly impacting on my life on a daily basis ….. until I consider that in a year’s time I experienced shingles, a heart attack and kidney stones. As I am facing my emotional traumas, I am letting go of the need for my body to act them out with dis-ease.

Looking forward to the final session later this week.

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Emotional Weather

I am a Force of Nature. So are you. So is everyone else on the planet. We are affected by the moon, the tides, the barometric pressure. When the winter comes and the sun isn’t as visible, people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD) and may feel cloudy as well.

How about when the emotional environment is unpredictable?  The solar power could be on overdrive one day and storms might be raging the next. I witnessed that physical manifestation when in Jamaica last week. A cloud bank appeared over the erstwhile calm ocean and then spread like peanut butter over whole grain bread. Small droplets of rain scattered and were joined by splish-splash others that created puddles inviting stomping in. Then things got wild. Thunder and lightning flashes rocked the resort. I watched from the shelter of one of the restaurants as several risking taking people remained in the pool; some even holding on to the metal hand railing. This former lifeguard wished she had her whistle so she could insists that they clear the pool. As it was, all I could do was pray that they didn’t get struck by lightning. A drunken couple moved from the pool into the ocean, diving in, in defiance of the storm.

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As it always does, the deluge passed, the clouds parted and the sun came beaming back out. I would guess that there was even a rainbow somewhere nearby. So it is with our emotional weather. Although I do my best to keep my own temperate zone in range, there are times when storms are bubbling up beneath the surface, but the waves are pretty calm. I have learned to ride them without capsizing my boat, or those of others.

What happens when someone else’s storms come to call? How do we maintain our own balance? When someone in our life feels as if they are on a ship gone astray, how do we remind them that they could benefit by changing course, so that they don’t continue to steer toward the rocks while we watch, feeling helpless to do anything but wave our arms?

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There are times when this consummate caregiver (alright … control freak), wants to commandeer the ship and move it out of danger, since I can see where it is heading. The person keeps wresting the wheel from my well intended hands. It gets exhausting and sea sick inducing. As a result, I am learning to relinquish control.

Yesterday I was doing what I call a ‘sanity check’ with my wise friend Paul Dengler who is a Forrest Gump impersonator. He called because he sensed I had something on my mind that needed some support and perhaps course correction myself. After I shared my winds of change experience, he offered this:

“The emotional weather changes from day to day. Sometimes you shouldn’t try to go anywhere or do anything in the storm. Just wait it out. Sunny skies are up ahead.”

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This is true for me, as it is for this other person in my life. I need to trust that they will see their way clear out of the clouds into the bright light.

What I have also  learned is that I can only steer my own ship of dreams and no one else’s and that I am not doing it alone. The ‘captain’ that put my hands on the wheel is observing to see where I take it.

 

Previous Posts

How Do You Define Success?
When you hear the word 'success,' what comes to mind?  Do images of wealth, accumulation of objects, travel, prestige, a large home and hoards of people singing your praises float on through? For many, that is the 'gold standard'. We are ...

posted 9:18:39am Sep. 03, 2015 | read full post »

Push or Flow?
I read a marvelous bit of wisdom this morning. It was written by Barry Kerzin, MD , a Buddhist Monk who is the founder of the Human Values Institute. It touched a chord that had me reverberating in the key of ooooohhh yessss. "When ...

posted 9:17:28am Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Facing Life: A Ten Week Journey-Week Nine
Just returned from a one week Jamaican journey and  Debra/Deva Troy  had come back from her own vacation, so there was a two week space in our experience with the modality called Facial Reflex Therapy created by Lone Sorensen. It allowed ...

posted 8:32:08am Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Emotional Weather
I am a Force of Nature. So are you. So is everyone else on the planet. We are affected by the moon, the tides, the barometric pressure. When the winter comes and the sun isn't as visible, people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly ...

posted 8:19:45am Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

What Sustains You?
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”- Julian of Norwich In your darkest, most frightening moments, what sustains you? What has you knowing that all is well?  For me, it is a deep spiritual ...

posted 11:02:08pm Aug. 26, 2015 | read full post »

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