“Take each step with love and radical honesty. The path will rise to meet your feet in most unexpected ways.”- Jacob Nordby
In this moment, as I am typing these words, I am bringing to mind the meandering path that led me to this moment. When did it begin? At my birth as the first child of Moish and Selma Weinstein, on the day before their second anniversary? Was it even prior to that when my Soul may have made a contract to incarnate in this particular form as a Caucasian female, born into an Eastern European Jewish family, with a second child to join the family two and half years after that, losing a beloved grandmother right after my 4th birthday, being a precocious, ‘smart as a whip’ kid who felt like an alien baby left on her parents’ doorstep? Who knows? What I am certain of is that even if the road lay before me, I am always at choice about whether and in which direction to step.
Each morning, I awaken (this morning, it was at 3 something initially since Spirit sometimes has ideas that it can’t wait to be expressed, so I began tapping on the keyboard at that hour in the velvet silence) with all sorts of ideas percolating. Butterflies in the stomach anticipation that I identify as fear and anxiety sometimes and excitement at others, lead me into my day. I face the first with courage if I can and delight in the second, using each as fuel to keep me keepin’ on in the midst of life stuff happening.
Many’s the time, I have stumbled over rocks on the trail, falling and skinning my knees or twisting my ankle (literally and symbolically), hidden behind trees, trepiditous about what might be waiting around the corner, hesitant to take the next step, waded in the cool and refreshing waters of the creek, splashed in the lake of love, gotten swept away in the rapids of the river. I remember seeing a tank top in a yoga studio years ago with a quote by Lao Tzu that read:
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?”- I looked at the words and answered honestly. “Nope”. At the time, I was an on the go, rapid paced, running around with my hair on fire, Type A, gotta get it done NOW overachiever (believe me, I have slowed down considerably since then) and could barely be still on the yoga mat long enough to engage in sivasana (the asana/pose that ends each practice). It wasn’t until, a few months later when I could, with clear conscience, say yes to that question that I got the shirt. It reminds me how far I have come and how far I still have to go.
(This is the rest of the quote that couldn’t fit on the shirt: Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment, but not seeking, not expecting, is present, and can welcome all things.)
What would it mean to step out into each day with love and radicial honesty? For me, it would mean being true to myself, without undue worry about what others will think. For so long, I was a goody two shoes, people pleaser who practiced what I call ‘savior behavior’, relishing being the go-to person for anyone in need, since it fed a desire to be ‘loved best of all’. After all, who wouldn’t love someone who met their needs, perhaps even before they were voiced? I thought of it as an insurance policy against rejection. Sometimes I have disdain for the woman who lived that way and at others, compassion. These days, I thank her for bringing me to this point in my life in which I can face her in the mirror with love and respect for how far she has traveled from there to here. The path rises to meet her feet with greater grace and ease than she ever imagined and with willing and intrepid companions on her way.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhdRs4jyA End of the Line by the Traveling Wilburys
“Sometimes the “responsible” choice is to be “irresponsible.” When I left my career, I invested retirement money in my present instead of my future. I knew my present would create my future. And it did. I needed to be alive more than I needed to be “safe.” My joy generated my security then and now.”-Tama Kieves
Tama Kieves is a lawyer turned author turned motivational speaker kindred spirit whose leaps of faith mirror my own even though our paths were divergent. I had the joy of interviewing her a few times and reviewing her books. She wrote about that journey in her first book called This Time I Dance! She is a living example of living full out. . In her second book, Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, she elaborates on the risks and rewards that she experienced after leaving her full time job as an attorney in a bid to save her sanity and follow the calling of her passion and purpose.
I am so there. My leap helped me to break free of a simultaneously rewarding and challenging job as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital where I had worked for 11 years. I stood on the verge for so long, that I wondered if my feet would be permanently imbedded in the rock at the edge of the precipice as I stared at what at the time seemed like an abyss. What it turned out to be, was a vast canyon with a panoramic view. Once I took that deep breath and cast myself forward, after careful consideration and bit of a financial cushion, I found myself in free flight. Exhilirating and holy smokes scary at the same time. For so long, I had desired to be a full time writer and speaker and had somehow managed to squeeze that in between working 40-50 hours a week at the job, commuting 90 minutes round trip, going to the gym, taking care of my house, my son, working as a minister, enjoying a social life, writing a book and on occasion, sleeping. Seven months later, I am writing for half a dozen publications with more in the works, a radio show in the seed planting stages (more to follow on that), book promo, working with coaching clients, as well as therapy clients in a drug and alcohol counseling center, creating a second book, teaching workshops and classes, investing time each day in promoting these flourishing projects. Am I still scared? Yup. Every day. Am I still exhilirated? Even more so. Do I know that the Universe has my back? Ab-soul-utely. Do I still have spiritual amnesia and forget that I know that? Uh huh.
Sometimes I wonder if I am acting irresponsibly and ‘should’ have a full time salary and benefits gig as I had for more than a decade. The answer always comes back to a series of questions….What feeds your soul? What is ultimately more rewarding? How can you best serve? The answer is a no-brainer. It is what I was born to do, which is this.
How can you invest in your present and thus your future?
What dividends would you like it to reap?
How will you leap into your future from your present day springboard?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzScfQzclEE George Bailey by Jana Stanfield
Today was one of those days during which I was immensely grateful for full sensory living. I awoke to the sun streaming in my bedroom window, stretching into the morning. Cheerios and strawberries drenched in soy milk for breakfast. Had a bit of a headache and the gratitude piece about that occurred when an hour later, I notice it had dissipated. I had a skype session with a coaching client and found joy in her rockin’ and rollin’ on her goals that we had set a few weeks ago. A short while later, I was enroute to the counseling center where I work with clients who are facing addiction issues; having some paperwork to catch up on. Music was streaming from the radio and I sang along enthusiastically. I spent a frustrating, but then ultimately rewarding 20-some minutes on the phone with an insurance company, getting services authorized for one of my clients. Anyone who deals with managed care knows exactly what I’m talking about. Then off to lunch and a meeting with a long time dear friend named Bill Bloom. A bit of cool trivia…Bill is one of the songwriters of a classic from the 1980’s called Double Dutch Bus.
“The song title represents a combination of two institutions in Smith’s Philadelphia, PA neighborhood: the Double Dutch jumprope game played by neighborhood kids; and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus system that was a backbone of the local transportation network (and for which Smith had unsuccessfully applied for a bus driving position; the Transpass referred to in the song is an actual SEPTA monthly fare pass).
Smith and co-writer Bill Bloom persuaded contacts at WMOT Records to finance the song, and it was recorded in early 1981, engineered by Gene Leone. The song rocketed to popularity in a matter of weeks and debuted on the US Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart in February, rising to the top spot by July, where it held at number one for eight weeks. It also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 30 in the summer of 1981.”
Bill (also an interfaith minister) and I had gotten together over steaming bowls of squash soup, corn bread and gingerbread to talk about my being a guest minister at his church in February. He wanted me to get a sense of the nature of this inclusive congregation and go over some potential topics and music to incorporate. Although we have known each other since the 1980’s this is the lengthiest conversation we have ever had. Barbra Streisand music was wafting through the air as we shared stories about our families. He has just become a grandfather and he was beaming about that. We also laughed heartily at our ‘middle aged moments’ that had us acknowledging retrieval problems with information that would have been right up front of our minds a decade earlier.
On my way home, I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things and as I was checking out, I noticed an amazing aroma hanging around the counter. When I asked what it was, the woman at the register pulled out a container of coconut body butter and slathered a sample on my hand. As I rubbed it in, I knew it had to come home with me, so I treated myself to it. Even now, more than 5 hours later, I can still breathe in the lovely scent and my dry hands are smiling.
Another delight, came in the form of picking up a copy or Origin Magazine and seeing myself included in a section about community leaders being inspired by the world around them How cool is THAT to be in the same publication as Jane Fonda, Richard Branson, Erykah Badu, Russell Simmons, Deva Premal and Miten, as well as a host of other amazing yoga teachers, speakers, writers, entrepreneurs and conscious creatives? Pretty cool. I’m honored to be among them.
Settling down for the night, sipping a cup of chai and writing to you, aware of being surrounded by beauty.
http://youtu.be/fK9hK82r-AM Double Dutch Bus
Tonight after a sweaty ‘playout’ at the gym, I was washing my face and a woman about a decade older than me limps into the bathroom, smiling and grimacing simultaneously. Knowing nods passed between us and she commented the her legs felt like noodles and I added something about the proverbial line of feeling ouchies in muscles I didn’t know I had. I have been going to the Judgement Free Zone (a.k.a. Planet Fitness) for the past 3 years somewhere between 3-6 days a week, depending on my schedule and motivation level. Each time I go, I feel a sense of pride that I am able to stretch and strengthen this 54 year old body that I plan to have working well into the 6th, 7th, 8th and who knows….even 9th decade. I told this woman, who introduced herself as Wally (and then on the way out, met her partner Bob), that my parents were fitness oriented and as a result, they were relatively healthy octogenarians until Parkinsons swept my father away at 84 and CHF took my mother at 86. Meandering slowly through the parking lot, I engaged in a ritual reinforcing my endeavors, saying “Good job, woman!” As I said the words, I realized that I didn’t believe it and that if it was a ‘good job’, I would be even more flexible, slimmer, trimmer, stronger, more energetic than I am now. Then on the heels was the perpetual question, “When will enough be enough for you?” and “Where the heck did that come from, since no one in your childhood was hard on you?” I had no answer for it, except to consider something that a friend mentioned a month or so ago. She felt as if she had been holding herself and those in her life hostage with her expectations of who she and who they ‘should be’ and that she was releasing the hostages. I have held myself hostage for so long, that just like prisoners and concentration camp survivors who walked into freedom, I’m not sure I would know how to BE in the world without those excessive demands.
Waking up after 6 hours of sleep last night, I went to services at Circle of Miracles. The speaker today was Jason Taylor Morgan who shared on the topic: Energetically Breaking Through Human-Centric Thinking and the Conditioned Human Brain. A mouthful and mind-full set of concepts. Jason does energy healing work and has assisted people in moving past limiting beliefs and conditioning. He had experiences in childhood; some painful and some positively empowering that fuel his current work. Part of the service involves Q & A and I asked him how he maintains the health and sanity of the human container even as he taps into all of this psychic energy. His response included getting ample rest and trusting the Universe. Since a portion of my work involves some of the same dynamics as that of Jason, I was curious about how to balance all of those energetic shifts I have been experiencing as well. His answer resonated so strongly since I don’t often take time out to rest and rejuvenate and my faith in the Universe shifts as well. There is an underlying knowing that all is well, but occasionally there are cracks in the foundation that need tending, lest I come tumbling down.
So, just for now, I am declaring the ‘enough is enough’ and I will ‘sleep in heavenly peace’ tonight.