I wonder why we persistently continue to insanely begrudge other people with our resentments when it never works, yet we stubbornly refuse, or at best hesitantly attempt to rely on a power greater than ourselves–a Divine Source that can actually help us?
Setting an intention is totally different that planning.
Setting an intention establishes the WHAT, but it leaves the HOW up to a power greater than yourself to conspire on your behalf.
Plan(ning), on the other hand, is usually an attempt to grasp an understanding of HOW things will work out.
If we all had to know HOW it was going to work before we started, we’d never get started!
Set the intention; surrender the plan!
I spend a great deal of time thinking about the impact of my life. I once had the very powerful experience of writing my own funeral eulogy as a coaching exercise and it was unforgettable. At first blush that may sound morose, but the point is to project what you would want people to say and feel about you, how you impacted their lives when you still had clay feet; and to let this be a governing light by which you can live your life now.
I’ve also heard it put another way, which is to write a 200-year life plan. Again, at first glance, this seems ridiculous; the vast majority of us don’t live to be 100, let alone 200 years old! But that is precisely the point—the impact of our lives reaches well beyond the limitation of our physical existence.
While it’s impossible to always live our lives congruently with our own long-term projection of ourselves, that doesn’t mean the projection (or plan) isn’t worth having. And having a plan certainly doesn’t alleviate our lives of friction and conflict. Actually, I’d suggest having a planned legacy might create more collisions, because when we’re working toward (or on) that which is part of our soul work, the obstacles are a necessary and essential part of the process. If it weren’t for the obstacles, we would have no milestones—nothing over which to triumphantly prevail!
I read this recently in an issue of Backpacker Magazine:
We make choices, and nearly all of us start out incubating some grand, youthful ambition. We want to write novels when we grow up, or scale unclimbed peaks. But then we do grow up and we become practical. We choose [paths] that are easier, more conventional. We limit our adventures to what fits in the vacation schedule. (Bill Donahue)
WTH? Personally, I can’t stand the idea of getting to the end of my life (whenever that may be), looking back and living with the realization that I didn’t do anything that mattered, that I didn’t make a difference in the people’s lives that intersected with mine, that I didn’t live my life authentically to the best of my ability, that I didn’t stretch myself beyond what I thought were my limits; that I lived a wasted life, squandered my gifts, skills, abilities and opportunities, and that the only legacy I might leave behind is bitter resentment and bad memories for all the things I could have done better or differently and instead chose only actions in service of myself and my own immediate gratification. Yuk!
This is not to say that I have the expectation I won’t ever violate these ideas in the course of my life, and it’s certainly not to say that I am above situational regrets or having to fight on the battleground of my own frailties and weaknesses; BUT it IS to say that somehow in the grand sum total of my life as I lived it, I want the fact that I had one to have made a difference! And the only way I know how to do that is to have spent some time purposefully contemplating what I want the end to look like, so that I have a guide for the middle.
Living a life guided by an intentional legacy is not an easy life , in fact, it may be harder. But it’s fuller and purposeful. And if my choices are to pay the day-to-day price of a purposeful life now or to live a careless, unguided one—well everything comes with a price and I’d rather pay the price daily than the balloon payment at the end!
Commanding power is not the same as demanding it. -Ixchel
Demanding is that childlike tantrum while commanding comes from that place of inner self-sovereignty and is based on the sure and steady knowledge of one’s self.
Commanding comes from a place of love, both for one’s self as well as for others. I once heard that one of the measures of love is the extent to which I am willing to be inconvenienced–both by myself and by others.
Do I love myself enough to walk thru the uncomfortable feelings, tend to my responsibilities even when I don’t feel like it and honor the commitments I’ve made to myself? And do I love others enough to make myself available when they need help, perform acts of unsolicited kindness and be willing to temporarily shoulder a burden that might help them reach a personal triumph?
What the hell does that mean? And who would use ugly wrapping paper–especially on purpose?
I’ll tell you who….Life, the Universe, Nature, God, the Life Force, the Divine!
When we ask for Divine Guidance and Intervention, sometimes the Help we get comes in the form of another frustration, headache, embarrassment, more of the same crap we’re already sick of or a pain in the ass situation we now have to deal with. That’s what I call a gift in ugly wrapping paper. But why is that a gift?
Because it’s exactly these type of situations that put us at wimp junction–that crossroads between choosing to keep doing the same thing over and over or to triumph. Wimp junctions are always uncomfortable (did I say always?), usually don’t give us very much time to make our choice and are always rooted in fear (did I say always?). When we emerge victorious from wimp junction, we have learned a lesson that is paramount to our own unique development. We are released from its bondage.
Let me give you some examples:
Having a client that treats you like crap (gift in ugly wrapping paper)
Risk losing the client and the income they provide (fear)
(1) Deciding the abuse is worth the money, or
(2) Informing the client that the way they treat you will not continue to be acceptable
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) The client moves on and makes room for better clients or changes they way they treat you (gift)
Losing money on a big project (ugly wrapping paper)
The impact of this on your future (fear)
(1) Letting the situation define you as a failure, or
(2) Deciding to do the work necessary to learn from it
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) Being armed with new knowledge and insights that can be applied to the next project (gift)
Having an alcoholic spouse (ugly wrapping paper)
Losing the relationship (fear)
(1) Continue to accept their unacceptable behavior and be miserable, or
(2) Seek help
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) Building new relationships or deepening existing relationships (gift)
Are you catching on? It’s the messes that are the gifts in ugly wrapping paper! They give us the opportunity to stand in the middle of wimp junction and decide for ourselves if we’re going to rinse and repeat or do something different. I read recently in a book that the only people that have their shit together are those that are standing in the middle of it! We all have shitty, uncomfortable messes in our lives. The question is not “Why is this happening to me?”, but rather “How can this help me to grow if I choose to see it differently?”.
“The impact and meaning of a catastrophe are not in the event itself. The ability to tolerate it is a function not of what happens but our relationship to ourselves and our own minds. In that simple realization is absolute freedom.” (excerpted from Lost and Found by Geneen Roth)
This quote hit me squarely between the eyes. It was so powerful for me, I sat straight up from my slouching posture as I was reading and thought “OMG! That makes complete and total sense!” And it comes at a time when I am right in the middle of what my mind is defining as a catastrophe, yet I am observing myself be able to address each day with poise, posture, dignity and more and more often, freedom from the circumstances, while still working thru the circumstances. It is an interesting observation to realize that we are sovereign from our circumstances.
It reminded me of once at a conference about 6 years ago, I heard a guy that was giving a talk say “Rules afford us freedom”. Now this guy was loonier than a fruit-cake, had already sported hugely oversized green-lensed glasses to illustrate a point about perception (meaning that when you’re lenses are green, everything you see is green…to you); he paraded all 500 or so of us in the room thru some sort goofy game that was a cross between limbo and duck-duck-goose and bounced all around the room booming with high energy, as if he was performing on a stage. Well, I guess he was performing since he was a keynote speaker, but he acted more like he was performing for our entertainment, than our education.
So by now, you might have picked up on my judgements as a broadcast of where I was in my life those 6 years ago. If it wasn’t apparent, I was judgmental (obviously!), self-righteous, jealous, arrogant, intolerant and living in my head (it would be more accurate to say that I lived as if I was only a head)!
This gentleman was simply living out loud, living authentically, demonstrating an enthusiasm for his life and a passion for his work–precisely what he was trying to teach us to do!
So what does he have to do with dealing with a catastrophe? I suppose not much other than the paradoxical nature of both. The ideas that rules afford us freedom and that catastrophes have nothing to do with the catastrophe itself and everything to do with what’s going on inside of us; well this just flys in the face of all modern thought. But that doesn’t make it any less true!
I am learning that the physical forms and beings of this world are tools that help us relate to our own spiritual nature. We have relation-ships with people, material things, our bodies, experiences; and from these things we extract some meaning about ourselves. They give our lives context, as opposed to the alternative of floating around in the ether of spiritual space.
So, if it is true that we are spiritual beings, meaning that we are so much more than the things we can see, feel, touch, and interact with; then it would also stand true that there is more to life than only that which we can perceive or believe to be true. That maybe, just maybe, these things that seem counter-intuitive really do have some merit and when we can surrender ourselves to their essence, we just might be amazed at how much liberty they can afford us to live our lives from the inside out–from that core place of sovereignty and authenticity within us all. After all, we don’t have to believe it to be true for it to work!
It seems like ‘writer’s block’ is more about having too many ideas, rather than not enough.
I think the ‘block’ is more about the paralysis that results from having too many thoughts, than it is about being lost in the black void of nothingness.
The real challenge, it seems, is more of a sorting-thru-all-this-great-stuff problem, than it is a finding-new-content problem.
Whatever your feelings about this time of year, the memories you have that cause you discomfort, the presents you can’t afford to buy, the meringues that fall, the strands of lights that won’t work, the hours you spend in an airport instead of with family, the family members you dread having to tolerate, or the things don’t go according to plan – we and everything around us is EXACTLY as it is supposed to be.
So often, we lose sight of the bigger picture because we get caught in the web of expectations – usually our own expectations and, particularly this time of year, what we perceive others’ expectations to be for us. We expect that things will go according to plan and when they don’t, we become irritable. We obsess about appearances and become restless. We impose our expectations on others and when they don’t comply, we become discontent. All of these things take away our peace – that inner peace of knowing that all is well, even though nothing is the way we would like it. We make the assumption that what goes on around us has the power to alter our peace.
I often like to think of my life as a tapestry that is not yet complete. As I am busy toiling away at the stitches of my tapestry, I can only see the back-side where the threads are messy and knotted and certainly don’t appear to make for the fine tapestry I would like for my life. Yet, when I get a break in life and get a glimpse of the front side of my life’s tapestry, I am always amazed at what I see. Suddenly, I get perspective on why things were the way they were at a time when I thought my life was in complete chaos. Even if just for a fleeting moment, I am often comforted in the peace of realizing that once again everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.
There was a time not too long ago that I was really wrestling with some things in my life that were not as I wanted them to be. Simply put, I was not in acceptance, although I didn’t know that at the time. I was sharing some of my woes with a dear friend of mine and she said to me, “Lisa, if you knew that in the next 30 days, everything would be exactly as you would like, what would you be doing different today?” Without missing a beat, I said “The same thing I am doing right now,” which was worrying about the outcome. And in that very next moment, the insanity of my answer struck me. Why would I continue to worry if I knew everything was going to be all right? And furthermore, why was I giving my peace away for absolutely no reason? It was one of those life-stopping moments where I had once been blind, but now I could see. I got a front side glimpse of my life’s tapestry.
The back-side view of our tapestry represents our feelings about things – messy and not always pretty. But the front-side view represents the reality of our life – the way things really are despite how we feel about them. I once heard that feelings are not facts. Yet how often do we assume they are and react to them with sometimes disastrous results?
So, this season, Guard your Peace! And when you feel it slipping away, remember that everything is exactly as it should be and when you get one of those priceless glimpses of the front side of your life’s tapestry, you will know this is so. Don’t sacrifice the precious moments of the Present because you can’t believe it until you see it. Don’t let the things going on around you interrupt your Peace.
Have Peace because you have Faith.
I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do you might just as well turn them over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed-you must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precsion of a machine plus the intelligence of human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin-it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like this, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
Since then…I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many day’s in a row, I know I need to change something.
Your time is limited…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…Everything else is secondary.
-from Steve Jobs at the June 12, 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address