Enlighten Me

Reflections on Reflecting

Everyone’s reflecting right now. I attended my husband’s church with him this morning and heard several people reflect on 2018…what went right; what went wrong and how it played into their purpose, their dharma.

President Obama posted a list of things that had impacted him in 2018 on his Facebook account. You should check it out…it’s basically a list of nonfiction books that he read…movies he saw…songs he loved…which filled me with awe and wonder! How can the guy read that much and still have time to see movies and listen to music? If I had done all that reading, I’d never have had the time to play Words with Friends, Destination Solitaire and Fishdom!

As it is, I barely squeezed in my favorite podcasts, and forget about exercise…I abandoned walking 5 miles a day somewhere in muggy-forest of August.

Tomorrow night, I’ll attend a Burning Bowl ceremony at the Centers for Spiritual Living. It’ll be a ritual of reflection, letting go, ushering in. I like rituals like this one…it allows me to contemplate the insights gained over the last twelve months and the obstacles that need dismantled.

So, what are my BHI from 2018? (BTW, BHI stands for Big Hairy Insights…oh, and BTW stands for By The Way, as if you didn’t already know that one.)

BHI #1:

Miracles happen every day. REAL miracles. And they happen to REAL people like you, like me, like my husband. They happen because there’s a force bigger than us who listens when we pray on a thought. Ok…I call this force God, but that’s a trigger word for a lot of people. A lot of people believe in a creative being who set everything in motion but they don’t believe in a bearded, angry spirit who lives in the sky.

I don’t care what you call Her. I call Her God and She came through for my family BIG-TIME this year, in a number of REAL MIRACLES.

We have a GOD-team behind us who won’t leave us stranded on third base. 

BHI #2:

Love isn’t always kisses, heart-filled cards, red roses, and blindness. My biggest irritant in life is the guy who’s been by my side for 42 years. This year I realized when I almost lost him to a subdural hematoma that he really is the love of my life…even though, like I said earlier, he also keeps me in a state of constant irritation.

Love is the commitment we honor with another person through thick and thin, even when it isn’t pretty. 

BHI #3:

Manifesting Miracles doesn’t mean that The Sun or Creative NonFiction editors are going to contact ME and ask what inspirational essays I have stored on my computer. IF I want to get published again, I need to SUBMIT!

We are active participants in manifesting MIRACLES!  

BHI #4:

Honoring my boundaries means that I don’t say yes to something out of obligation, guilt, fear. If my heart isn’t filled with love, it isn’t the right thing for me to do.

Honoring my boundaries keeps me sane, kind, balanced, at peace. That means that I take all that good energy into the next thing I do with you…for you…because of you. And isn’t that better than sending more regret, resentment, bitterness out into the atmosphere?

Boundaries are wonderful things!

BHI #5:

There’s 3 Kinds of Business: Your Business, God’s Business, My Business. And if I’m in yours or God’s business, there’s nobody home to mind my own business. That’s lonely…and a little crazy because I can’t control you anyway, so minding your business is like running on a treadmill…it wears me out but gets me nowhere. ANd minding God’s business just fills me with anger and hopelessness because Her issues are way above my pay grade!

Minding my own business is my new mantra! 

BHI #6:

Traveling continues to teach me that my priorities can become really mixed up very quickly. In other countries, people are satisfied and HAPPY with so much less stuff than we think is absolutely necessary in this country. I come home from traveling and empty one more excess from my life. It’s cleansing, refreshing, exhilarating. The idea of keeping things I haven’t used for a decade because I might need it someday, is a little wacky. The thought that the brand of our cars, the size of our homes, the label on our shoes means anything is lunacy.

I HAVE enough. I AM enough. I DO enough. 

BHI #7:

Who do you remember from your life?

I bet you answered that with people from 2 categories: people who made you feel special and loved, and people who made you feel stupid and inadequate.

When there is fondness as the thought of a specific person crosses my mind, I know that that person is from category # 1…they add love to my life and therefore to the world. That’s the category I want to be in too.

There is nothing more important in life than how we treat other people. 

BHI #8: 

I love this quote from Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s been my favorite ‘insight’ for years!

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

BHI #9:

Plastic is everywhere…some of it is good and some of it isn’t. Single-use plastic isn’t…plastic in our cosmetic isn’t… plastic in our food isn’t…plastic in our oceans isn’t. A good life isn’t just about morals and legalities. It’s also about ethics. It’s been tough to refuse straws in restaurants when I love straws; to remember my reusable tote bags every time I walk into a store; to pay more (a lot more) for disposable utensils made of bamboo instead of plastic. But it’s the right thing to do for our future.

Being ethical isn’t always easy, but it’s always right. 

BHI #10:

I always want to be right. Always. I know it’s an ego thing and I should be over that by now, but I’m not. I admit that I have ego issues…I want to be right. And I don’t just want to know that I’m right; I want you to know it too. I know that everyone has this need to be right…we’re all part-ego, so it makes sense. But this year that realization hit me in the gut. I mean, I finally get it… my need to be right conflicts with your need to be right when we’re on different sides of an issue. Last evening I had dinner with a dear friend and learned that we disagree on a very prickly issue. I couldn’t believe it, actually. I felt myself digging in and then all of a sudden there was a flash of awareness…EGO! I love this friend, so do I dig in or let go? I let go…as soon as I did…she did also. We had a good discussion about the issue and it turns out…we’re both right to some degree. And to that degree that we’re both right, there’s a small pinpoint of resolution…I mean actual resolution to the decades-old argument. We stopped debating and began creating and it was an amazing feeling…energizing, inspiring.

EGO has created a rift in this country politically. We cling to our party-identity instead of prioritizing our relationships, our country, our fellow citizens and friends. THat’s ego. And the fact is…it’s stopping us from solving so much. Wayne Dyer said that EGO stands for Edging God Out. If you don’t like the ‘God’ thing, replace it with ‘GOOD’.

A world that works for everyone is a better goal than always being right. 

 

Those are my Big Hairy Insights from 2018. I want to hear yours. In sharing your thoughts, you are expanding your influence and helping us all build a better world…one that works for all of us.

Let us hear from you.

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Enlighten Me

F.E.A.R.

I don’t know why but the Edwin Starr song WAR is my current earworm…just began playing when I typed the title and I suppose you could interchange those two words:

FEAR, huh! What is it good for?

Absolutely Nothing!

Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet too…

Except, technically, that isn’t true. Fear is not evil, harmful, or bad in and of itself. It’s value-equal with joy, shame, happiness, guilt, anger, calm…and any other emotion we human beings experience.

The emotion itself is neutral.

Our reactions to the emotion are what can cause positive or negative consequences.

Fear can create reactions that keep us safe…like staying back from the edge of the Grand Canyon where there are more deaths from falling than you might think. (In 2012, the count was 685 with two or three deaths added each year.)

But if we let fear keep us from ever SEEING the Grand Canyon, then we’re letting it limit our lives.

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon once in my life…on my honeymoon. My crazy husband could, and did, lean out over the rim of the 6,000-foot drop and was lucky enough to NOT experience a dizzy spell, slip on loose gravel, get pulled off balance by a gust of wind, all of which have been reasons for GC deaths.

I never made it closer than 15 feet from the edge. I saw the brilliantly colored layers of rock glisten in the Arizona sun while remaining at a distance that kept my fear at bay.

Adrenal junkies may test their fear by hang-gliding off the edge or flying across it on a jet-packed motorcycle, but I feel fairly proud of myself for just getting out of the car.

In my life I’ve known a LOT of fear:

  • of flying, though now I fly three or four times a year
  • Of riding a motorcycle…before I married a Biker
  • Of public speaking…until I began facilitating presentations for my career
  • Of embarrassing myself…until I became aware that my embarrassments turned into fabulously funny stories that entertained friends and family and became some of the best essays I’ve written, one of which won a Thurber prize.
  • Of having surgery…until one saved my life
  • Of going to the dentist…until…okay, I’m still a little nervous about dentists, but I have found one who doesn’t terrorize me!

Once I told a friend that I was like Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh books; afraid of anything and everything. She said that made me one of the bravest people on earth.

Because I challenge myself to get uncomfortable, even through the fear. If you are never afraid, you don’t have the opportunity to be brave. Pooh told Christopher Robin:

You are smarter than you think,

stronger than you believe,

and braver than you feel.

I go back and forth on whether or not I believe her…or Winnie the Pooh, a bear of little brain, but most days, I choose to believe them both. And why not? To believe I’m brave gives me the ability to face my fears and do it anyway. If I believed that I am a coward, I’d act like I’m a coward and then fear would be the boss.

The Loving Wisdom of Molly Cameron

Last Sunday at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living, Rev. Molly Cameron talked about fear. She talked about how limiting it can be when we allow it to push us around and she gave us a great acronym for fear that is the antidote to fear:

Feel

Everything

And

Release

 

Here’s how it happens according to Molly:

You don’t deny your feelings or shift them to the bottom of your to-do list. Feelings give us valuable information that we MUST pay attention to if we want to make effective and productive decisions. When we feel fear, there’s a reason. Don’t ignore that. Feel everything…even the negative emotions that can rain on a great parade.

Start with your head:

What do you think about this fear? Is it rational/irrational? Is it there as a caution light or a stop light? Am I feeling afraid because of the Grand Canyon or afraid of falling?

Move to your heart:

Is this true? Is there evidence this is true? What’s my heart saying? Do I want to see the Grand Canyon? Will I regret staying in the car?

Then to your soul:

What do I truly believe will be the highest vision for my life? What actions will be a lighthouse for others? How does this all fit into my purpose?

 

Release it to your higher power. By this point, the fear has dissipated; the rational part of your brain is back in charge.

You can decide to stay in your car if that’s what ration is telling you…as I said, I got out of the car but stayed back far enough from the rim that I could actually enjoy the vision of natural beauty that was in front of me without worrying about vertigo, a major gust of wind, or a bout of the ‘klutzies’.

A braver person might have walked to the edge.

I can only be as brave as me. I can’t be as brave as you.

 

Be Braver than you Feel…

If this is a topic that speaks to you, practice Molly’s process this week in the privacy of your own head, heart and soul.

When you feel afraid, ask yourself what your first thought was before the fear crawled up your spine. That thought will point you toward what you’re REALLY afraid of…and it probably isn’t the 6,000-foot ditch in the middle of America.

Tap into your heart’s wisdom. Is that something I really believe? Is there evidence for it? Will being close to the Grand Canyon cause me to absolutely fall? Will a great gust of wind? Vertigo? Slipping on loose gravel? Well, there’s evidence for those things. Will I regret missing the vision if I stay in the car? Yes.

Get in the spirit…what is it you believe is part of your purpose? What’s your highest vision for your life? I have a passion for travel, so to be in the parking lot of one of the Natural Wonders of the world and NOT get out of the car would go against the learning from experience that I believe is part of my purpose.

This fear was a caution light for me…and once I took precautions, I could enjoy the wonder this site had to offer.

I’ll never forget standing fifteen feet from the Grand Canyon; the oranges, reds, golds illuminating the space between the bottom and the soft blue of the Arizona sky. I’ll always remember the insights gained there as I stood mesmerized by a 6,000-foot ditch made by the power of water, a power I knew about from physical science classes and could now feel in the deepest part of my heart. Water, that keeps us alive, relaxes us with its rhythms and fascinates us in its flexibility; reflects back to us the images of heaven in diamond sparkles on its surface; holds us in its arms as we trust in the science of buoyancy.

That same water is one of the most powerful forces on earth.

Authentic power isn’t physical strength; it’s flexibility, adaptability, the art of influence and persuasion; it’s challenging the status quo of the shoreline gradually, gently without violence or hatred.

I doubt I would have seen all that from the car.