You create it

life

I am inspired.

I’m reading the book “Creation Untamed” by theologian Terrence Freithem.

In the book he audaciously asserts that we humans were made to be co-laborers with God in life, love and the land (he uses a close read of the Genesis 1-2 creation accounts as his basis).

Paraphrasing, he writes… “What if the God of creation is imagined as one who, in creating, chooses to share power? Then the way in which we see how God exercises dominion is to be shaped by that model.  If the God of the creation is seen as  one who also involves non-human creatures in further creations, (as shown in some scriptures) then that should inform our understanding of the value that we have been given by God.  God’s approach to creation is communal, relational and in the wake of God’s initiating activity, God works from within the world rather than on the world from without.  God’s work in creation is a communicating with others, rather than a top-down world.  The creation scriptures show a sharp interest on God’s part in sharing creative activity.”

Fretheim’s claim that we are co-creators of the world [especially our own worlds] will make some of us angry.

If you believe that God is a master puppeteer and orchestrates every single move of your life, and your role is to only be passive agent, you will hate the idea of co-creation.

If you believe that God only has one path for you, and not an abundance of choices, you will despise the idea of co-creation.  [Here's a great post about accepting and loving God's abundant choices] 

If you are passive in your own life and constantly wait for mysterious signs and signals to go forth and claim your life, the idea of co-creation will make you sick.

You will reject co-creation, lastly, if you believe in the doctrine of pre-destination…cause there’s nothing that says that you don’t have choice like using the argument that God pre-destined every single choice you make.

So yeah, this passage reminded me that I am an agent in my own life/relationships/work,.  And that in many instances, life doesn’t just happen to me.  I can chose to participate in it, or allow it to kick  my butt…you can, too, you know.

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If-you-born-poor-its-not-your-mistake-but-if-you-die-poor-its-your-mistake

Allow me to go back a few steps.

I saw this image a few days ago and it irked me, and in some type of way it ties into this post.  People attribute the quote to Bill Gates, but it’s so STUPID that I really have a hard time believing he’s that dumb.  It’s stupid because it totally ignores that there are certain things, people and systems in this world that are built to keep you from flourishing. It’s dumb because it negates every single ‘ism’ that we humans create to keep each other bound.

It made me think about those of us who were born  black in a country that really hates us and systematically and systemically oppresses us,  those of us were born into toxic situations or economically disadvantaged families, folks whose companies and jobs have disappeared never to be seen again because of our country’s wacked out economy and fiscal policies, folks who’ve undergone a health crisis… and it just pissed me off.

It pissed me off because I understand that there is another side to the co-creation piece.

Yes, we participate in the current lives we have, but there are some things that we didn’t create, they just happen to us.

And some of those things, we may not heal from, escape from or get over in our life times (not because of laziness) but because that’s just how life is sometimes.

You may be asking,  what do we do with the stuff that ‘happens to us’…that stuff we didn’t create, but the stuff that we must deal with, anyway?

Well, I think we would have to realize that the gift of life comes with the burden of suffering.  Secondly, it sucks, but it would help us to remember that life does not owe us anything...we are not entitled to one thing (every breath we have is a blessing) .  We are not entitled to health, we are not guaranteed  wealth (prosperity gospelers say that’s not true, but they’re lying).  That stuff is a grace gift from the universe.

Life could give us a blow, set up us in the “wrong” family, ‘skin’, genes, gender, or sexuality and we still have a responsibility to ourselves and our souls to make the most of the gift of life.

 

What if you’re REALLY losing?

Image from: http://images.uulyrics.com/cover/a/american-hi-fi/album-the-art-of-losing.jpg

*this post has not been edited for errors*

I wrote yesterday about possibilities.

I wrote that as a reminder to myself for those moments when I start believing in impossibilities.  I have to create truth breadcrumbs along my path, because I forget.

When turmoil hits and the storms of life get me down, I forget.

(And I start blaming God for the bad stuff).

******

I could not have written about possibilities in 2011.

2011 was my year of losing, loss, failure.

Everything I touched turned to ashes.

Every step I took, I was kicked back on my ass.  I ate dirt so much, that I just learned to lay there, face down and shut up.

Every time I wanted a yes, the universe told me No.

Flat No.

A no negotiation No.

And left it at that.

What happened?

Well, everything.

And quite a few of my life-long fears bubbled to the surface and came to pass.

******

NUMBER ONE. 

Every job I applied for, I was rejected.

At last count, it was over 300.

I’ve worked off/on officially since I was 14.  It never occurred to me that I couldn’t get a job when I wanted one. Whenever I’ve wanted to work, I’ve worked.  That experience was demoralizing and humbling.

This was the impossible struggle number one.

NUMBER TWO

I had to leave my apartment.  It became too expensive.

This was the place I called home the entire time I lived in New York.  To say i was devastated, angry, morose–those would be understatements.  I felt hollow.  And unsettled. And PISSED.

I packed my things up, put them in storage, and thought that it would only take a month or two before I got back on my feet again and got another place.

That didn’t happen.

None of the apartments I viewed or applied to worked out.

Graciously, during this shitty phase, my friends had an extra bedroom, and they allowed me to stay while things tried to come together.  I lived out of my small suitcase, and slept on a pallet on the floor for 2 months.

This was the impossible number 2.

NUMBER THREE

Financially speaking? I was tapped out.  After 2 years of unsteady work, all savings were gone, my 401k was liquidated and I was broke.

This was the impossibly irritating struggle number 3.

NUMBER FOUR

The only yes, and space of movement I experienced during that time, was the journey back to school.  More specifically, seminary school.  I grumbled and groaned about going.  You see, I had applied with a half-heart.  I sent my (incomplete) application off the day it was due.  I hoped to get a rejection letter.  That way, I could finally let go of the niggling feeling that I was supposed to be walking down that path.

Unfortunately for me, that rejection never came.  After some weird, and slow screw-ups on their part, I received my acceptance letter.  Months later, I showed up at orientation.  In some weird way, I wasn’t included in the communication’s list of the incoming class, so I missed the first day.  As a result, some folks in the administration told me go home and think about sitting out another year, so I went home to think about it.

For that weekend, I centered myself and asked my soul if this was something I really wanted to do.  My soul said umm, yes, maybe. So the next Monday, I went back to school and told then that I was enrolling.

This time, the admissions officer said that she ha decided to rescind my admission.

I said, what the f*ck?  And chile, please. She obviously didn’t know how crazy I was.

What’d I do?

Sad ass job search log

The next day, I showed back up at the school with a 50 page packet that had all of the correspondence with the school and went talked to a Dean. They had screwed up in everything: my orientation, my late acceptance. Everything.

She reviewed my docs, admitted that the school screwed up, and allowed me to register.

This was the stupid struggle number 4. I was pissed the fkk off that I had to struggle into the one yes that my life had opened up.

In all of this crap, I wondered how in the hell I ended up in such a losing space.  Every week I lamented to my therapist about how the universe was a bitch, and how it was holding me in place.  She admitted that she had never seen such a space in all of the clients she’d worked with.

It appeared that my struggle life was some type of weird anomaly.

**********

Everything about last year stole my confidence in my ability to take care of myself.

My mental and physical house was stripped down to its foundation.

This was not a part of my life plan.

******

I was reading a journal entry I wrote to myself during those months.

I wrote,

“God has forgotten me.

Disappointments mock me behind every door.

I always understood that if I worked hard, I could overcome any circumstance.  This is a lie.   Bootstrapping is a myth.

I guess I never understood that there is a grace component in all of this.  (Efforts + grace actually create opportunities. I did not accomplish the things I accomplished though my hands alone.)

This is not how or  where I imagined myself to be at this age.

My life, currently, is an impossibility.

(My life is showing me that) Every one is not allowed to dream.”

…indeed, everyone does not win.

Cause I shole was LOSING.

*******

iChuckle

Everyone can’t win?

This is what my friend said this weekend.

And clearly, not too long ago, I believed it.

But then.

Odd things began to happen.

A friend was leaving town, and needed someone to sublease her space while she was away.  This was at the same spot that I was rejected from just a few months earlier.

I now had my own space. I began to fill a bit settled.

From there, every thing started falling back in to place.  Spiritually, financially, emotionally, mentally, romantically.

Next, the first job I applied for this year, I got.

Now, this was a ‘what the fck movement’ by the universe.

This may seem odd, but I admitted to my therapist that I was disgruntled and resented the fact that the universe seemed to be giving me ‘YES’ in just about everything this year.  Considering how all I got were flat out NOs last year.

This made no sense.

Things just starting working again.

Grace, indeed.

**********

After that sad, sad, sad journal entry about my life being an impossibility, the next entry was interesting.  It was written three weeks after the morbid entry.

I said,

“Was that previous entry true?  I’m not sure.  After reading Kester Brewin’s book Other’ I have to pause.

I have to acknowledge that my life is pointing me to a path that is counter cultural.

I bought into the system and its myths, and once it stopped working for me, I cursed God.

How awful.  God did not make the system. (I worked in the financial services sector for all of those years, and I believed in it while it worked.  When it didn’t work for me anymore, I started blaming God).

(I understand) that if I participate in the system, I have to be a part of the boom and the bust.  This human financial and cultural system, the highs and the lows, God didn’t create it.   We did.  It would be best if we left the divine out of it.

Secondly, I’m hopeful about this space.  I can get very down at the thought of not having a place of my own.  It hurts. But I understand (that I’ve bought a myth–the American Dream.  And I can just as easily return the gift of that myth).

My problem is that I bought into the overconsumption mindframe.   What will this look like if I began to craft Kingdom dreams, because whatever system that America bull shit has going on on is broken.

So now what?  I can bemoan it all, or go another way. (it is my choice)”

**********

What I hope to never forget (i.e. what I learned)

Life Lessons

What did I learn in all of this?  In living in this mind space of impossibility?

Well I’m happy that you asked.

(pre #1) Life doesn’t work like the Job story.  

God does not dole out double for your trouble (I really hate that stupid saying). 

1) When life isn’t working, just sit in it. (cry in it, moan in it, complain, whatever).

I had so many blind spots in the ‘losing’ space.  I could not see that all of that rejection wasn’t, necessarily, a bad thing.  The truth is, it  did my soul good to live under my friends’ roof, surrounded by their support, love and acceptance.  My self and my soul needed to be around them.

2) Bad spaces are only temporary

Oh. Seems so trite.  But it is true. Womp.

3) Life’s big No(s) are often a re-routing.

**this is especially for the hard-headed folks**

I don’t like No(s).  And I don’t like NOT being able to do what I want to do.

But.

I don’t know who came up with the crappy idea that just because there’s a no, that the prize for waiting for the No to turn to a Yes will be what we want.

This is a LIE and the truth will not be in you if you believe it.  Believing it is a set-up for perpetual disappointment.

Life’s No(s) are sometimes our lives telling us that we are going wrong.

If I would’ve gotten a job I would not be on my purposeful path right now.  I would’ve said “screw seminary, it can wait for another decade.”

But.

I had put off this part of my life’s journey for far too long.

All of those No(s) was just the universe calling me higher and calling me into myself.

I hated every moment of it though.

4)  Some friends and family members will slyly celebrate your failures.  Don’t allow their poison to ruin you.

I had one family member remark that I should have never gone to college and that whole phase of my life was just a waste of time.

She reasoned that I was having such a hard time getting a job, while all of the people she knew that didn’t go to college HAD jobs.

I was stunned and hurt and had no rebuttal.

Another friend always had a sly way of putting down unemployed people.  I thought I was being paranoid, or ultra-sensitive, until another friend (who was in the same space) remarked how she had started distancing herself from our mutual friend because of her sly put downs.

I learned that many friends are in your corner.  I had far more support, encouragement, and truth to power spoken to me than I did the sly friend-haters.

But.

I wasn’t immune to the common ailment of allowing one person’s negativity to overshadow all of the Love and Support I had.

Allowing this poison to sit on me meant that I became very closed and stopped talking about the movements in my life.

My supportive friends admonished me for being secretive and encouraged me to open up.

But, I had been poisoned.

A healthy, adult option would be to call out the friend or family member who’s throwing shade.  I could’ve said, “the comments you make about unemployed people are demeaning and sadistic and quite mean.”

Surely my friend and I could’ve called out our mutual friend who was throwing shade–but I think the most life preserving thing to do was to make sure I was distanced from her until I was in a healthy space.  Besides, she has the tendency to think everyone is a jealous person (more poison). She was showing us who she was, what more was there to say?

5)  Every strength is a weakness

Every strength you have becomes a weakness when you lean in to it too much.

My independence is a strength and something I was quite proud of prior to my year of Losing.

This independence did not nothing but hinder me, however.  My refusal to ask for help kept me in the Lost space longer than I had to be.

I learned we do nothing alone.

6) Everything you have is a Grace Gift

No matter how hard you work and what you accomplish–you didn’t do it alone.  Grace allowed your efforts to be met with success.  Remember that. Believe that.

7)  Failure is the greatest teacher
8)  There was never, not ONE moment that God did not take care of me.

Not one.  My needs were met. They just didn’t look like how I wanted it to look.  And maybe, that’s really the only lesson that I needed to learn.

9)  Get some people around you who understand your struggle & No One Wins all the Damn time

If only for the healing effect of a pity party, get this.

10) Get some awareness on how you played a role in your losing space

In every struggle situation I named above, I had a hand in each one.  I was no victim in any of this.

*******

So, what to do if you’re an impossible phase?

Get love, get support, talk to someone (therapist, counselor, pastor, life coach), have an outlet, ease up on being angry at God, find something joyful to do, get some rest and just be.

Losing is a slippery slow.  Many times you will need clarity of thought and healthy outside sources, prayer, meditation, the divine, and healthy people can give that to you. Don’t stumble down that hill alone.

Impossibilities don’t last forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FwB: Friends with Businesses

Some smart person once said that your circle (your friend circle that is) rises together.

And I absolutely agree with that. My friends do amazing things, and I wanted to highlight a little of what a few of of them are doing lately.  

Check them out below!

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1. www.jasminepennama.com

 

Jasmine P’s website

Founder:  Jasmine S. Hill. / Jasmine the Jeweler

Jasmine Simpson

What’s her business:  Jewels. Pretty, pretty Jewels that have been seen on some of your favorite celebs.

To Read More:   http://www.poshglam.com/author/jasmine-pennamma/

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2. www.elevensixtwelve.com

 

11/6/12

Founders: Diane, Sherea, Maria and Rochelle

Diane

What’s the business:  ElevenSixTwelve.com was founded on the premise of helping to fashionably re-elect President Obama on 11.6.12.

To learn more:  http://www.theroot.com/buzz/black-professionals-weve-got-obamas-back

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3. http://www.allireallywant.me/

 

allireallywant.me

Founders:  Julia Collins & Andrew Thomka-Gazdik

What’s the business:  ALL I REALLY WANT lets you give and receive the perfect gift on every occasion by allowing you to create and share wish lists

To read more:  http://mashable.com/2012/02/20/all-i-really-want/

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4. RiFashionMe

 

Ri Fashion Me Online Boutique

Founders:  Melissa Mitchell & Rita Rose

Melissa M.

What’s the business?:  An Online Vintage boutique

De-mythed: 4 things that aren’t always true

http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/files/2011/11/Fact_or_Myth.jpg

2011 was the epitome of the #strugglelife for me.

Failure, mishaps, and oddities assaulted me on just about every angle of my life.

In the midst of those assaults, there was a whole lot of personal, professional, spiritual, physical and emotional myth-busting taking place.

I hated it.

No one likes to have their mental, financial, spiritual or emotional foundation rocked. I had all of that.

And then some.

I reconnected with my life coach yesterday and decompressed what I felt the last year was for me, and my hopes for this year.

She said, “it sounds like your mental and physical house was stripped down to its foundation.  Now it’s time for the rebuilding.”

“Hmph”. I thought.  And Yes, I agreed.

So yea, 2011 was house stripping and myth-busting for me.

And on that same note, I want to bring to y’all a few common (seemingly random) myths that I want to talk about.

1) Myth:  If/When He(She) cheats…the other partner will leave

While in DC last weekend, Me and the girls were talking about some random cheating. It went something like.

Friend: “Amanda cheated on Pete.”

Me:  ”So.  He’s not leaving.  And furthermore, who are all of these people who ‘leave’ once they initially find out their partner has stepped out.”

You see, I don’t know one person. Not one person.  Who has ever left after they initially found out their partner had went astray.

I’ve never left. My friends have never left. My family members have never left.  Friends of friends have never left.

So, that leads me to assume that most people don’t leave.

At least initially. Maybe eventually.  But almost always, never, initially.

Don’t believe me?  Think about it.

2) Myth:  Your dreams/purpose/passions are gifted to you to make you rich

Where in the world did we get the idea that our innate reason for being and our inner purpose was to buy more stuff, accumulate excess, and feed the beast of capitalism?

Who told us that our passions should pay?

And what do we do when something that gives us life and purpose doesn’t pay monetarily but actually PAYS by giving us ‘life’, energy, inspiration, motivation, joy?

Is it (the dream) not real if it doesn’t lead to greatness in the eyes of the world? Is the (the dream) not real if you can’t buy an expensive THING off of it?

Nope.

The reality is this:  God didn’t make us and give us our purpose to get paid, he gave us our gifts to serve, to make us happy, to give us life to give us peace.

You may say, “Well, God wants me to be rich so that I can be a financial blessing to others?” And to that, I say…”huh? the main contribution you can give someone is some dirty dollars?  Not time, not attention, not relationship?”  Ok.

I’m not saying that passions/purpose/dreams don’t make some people rich…that’s obviously not true. What I am saying is that overwhelming financial success or external accolades aren’t needed to validate passions/purpose/dreams. 

If all of your dreams revolve around getting paid, if you believe your sole purpose is to accumulate stuff, I’ll have to ask you…why? And who’d you get that from? And are those dreams feeding you or chasing you into a weird despair?

3) Myth:  You know what will make you happy…always. You can predict future feelings

I’ve read about Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness.   Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, writes that we are horrible predictors at what will make us happy.

I thought that was a crock of crap…until it happened to me.

I’m a seminary student. But before I was a student I was ambilvalent, angry, anxious, weirded out about the prospect of going to ministry school and taking this path.  I was flip-flopping on going even up until the first day of school.

Then school started.

And I loved it.

And it became a source of salvation and peace in my otherwise frustrating world.

That experience let me know that: my fears be lying and I can’t predict future feelings. 

Dont believe that you will always know what makes you happy?  Think about the times you’ve been surprised by happiness. I know you got some.

Bottom line:  You can’t predict future feelings.

4. Myth:  People have to be perfect to give advice

Penelope Trunk, a popular blogger and entrepreneur, wrote a telling post last December about her experience with domestic violence. 

Most of the commentors railed and roared against her for still staying with her abuser.

Some of the commentors expressed deep sorrow at her turmoil

And other commentors worried about ‘how’ she was dissolving her ‘personal brand’ by writing about such intimate matters.

And some more commentors thought that they couldn’t take anymore advice from her because her life was such a sh*t show.

Reading those comments, I realized that most of us only want to see and hear about the good things in people’s lives.

This is exaggerated when the person is a thought leader, a spiritual authority, celebrity, etc.

We people have a desire for our ‘experts’ to be perfect.  My psychology professor would maybe say that we project this, our inner most desire for perfection on these type of people because we want to know that perfection is possible. And then we become disappointed, angry and disgusted when an ‘expert’ shows that they are indeed just like everybody else and go through the same crap as every one else.

I thought further still:  this is why religious leaders stay getting in trouble.  Especially the more popular ones who brand themselves “moral authorities.” (a post on personal branding and honesty).

The problem happens when moral authorities perpetuate the lie that they are indeed perfect. There is an interplay between the expert and we ‘regular people.’  The experts play a part in the deceit, and every one eventually loses because of the lack of true transformative transparency that can not happen in the name of appearing holy or developing a ‘personal brand.’

The bottom line is this:  Does the world need more people pretending to be perfect and creating perfect personal brands? People that give expert advice, may not be experts in their own lives. Or in all areas of their lives. But, so what?  Great advice doesn’t have to come from perfection for it to be true. (A Steve Harvey joke could be inserted here, I’m sure). 

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I’m also on twitter: Follow me on Twitter 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remixing the Vision Board

It’s vision boarding season.

And like last year, I had a vision board event that focused on intentions, inspiration and motivation–and less on gaining excessive ‘stuff.’ 

So last night, me and a few friends re-did our visions from last year [Previous Post].  One friend threw away her vision board from last year, much like the post here.  And wanted to start over again.

I remixed the purpose of the vision board party by suggesting different types of boards such as:

  • A Gratitude board
  • An Achievement board
  • A Purpose board
  • A “Stop doing/start doing board/list
To jog our memories about ‘what’ to put on the board, I pulled out Susan Jeffers’ Whole Life Grid as well as Paige Laight’s, Circle of Life. 
An explanation of the types of boards is below:
A Gratitude Board
This lists the things that you are most grateful for.   I had a very hard time calling forth and remembering the things that I should be happy for last year.  This type of board helps someone like me but pictures to the words I sometimes forget.
An Achievement board
These are visual reminders of the things that you are the most proud of [this could include things as big as an external award, or as internally affirming as getting over a bad break-up].
A Purpose board
This is a board that focuses on your purpose and calling and path and passion.  Includes pictures of what you’re good at or existing skills that you want to develop a bit more.
A “Stop doing/start doing board/list:

The start of the New Year is a perfect time to start a stop doing list and to make this the cornerstone of your New Year resolutions, be it for your company, your family or yourself. It also is a perfect time to clarify your three circles, mirroring at a personal level the three questions asked by Smith:

1) What are you deeply passionate about?
2) What are you are genetically encoded for — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?
3) What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

Those fortunate enough to find or create a practical intersection of the three circles have the basis for a great work life.

But what about the boys? Are vision boards for men? 

A male reader, or two, has wondered how they can make my challenges/activities tailored toward them.  

Now, I know most men aren’t going to get together, pull out their old GQ mags and glue cute pictures to cork board…but they can do lists.   If you’re a guy, you can use the guidelines above and make a nice little list in your composition book (because guys don’t keep journals) and it will be just about the same thing. 

Ok. Happy Envisioning!

Here are some pics:

Vision Board

 

Vision Boards

 

Gratitude Board | Achievement Board

The Waiting Women

waiting on life

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” ~Eckhart Tolle

A group of the girls and I huddled together a few weekends ago to ride out the hurricane that never was. We made tons of food, drank loads of drinks, painted pinky toes and fingers and watched a few girly movies.

Our most anticipated movie of the weekend was based on Emily Giffin’s, wildly popular book “Something Borrowed.”

The story goes: Rachel and Darcy have been bff’s since the womb. Well, BFF frenemies is more like it. Darcy, the more dominant and self-absorbed friend, falls in love and gets engaged to Rachel’s crush from law school, Dex. Rachel, having low self-esteem, always thought Dex was out of her league, but she harbors a secret longing for him.

*cue the drama * So years pass, and one night, Dex and Rachel share a cab ride home and end up sleeping together. Over the months, they hook up again. Somewhere along the way Ethan, Darcy and Rachel’s childhood guy friend, admonishes Rachel not to become “one of those women who wait for things to happen.” Rachel is flustered, but actually hears what Ethan has to say.

Ethan’s little jab got me to thinking—about how I wait, how my friends wait and three ways [we in the women tribe] wait.

The waiting women.

1) Waiting on God for…

Women who say they’re waiting on “God” for something sometimes pique my interest.

The conversation sometimes goes like this:

Waiting Woman: I’m just waiting on the lawd to tell me when to start my book, send me a husband, tell me when to leave my job, give me the heads up on moving. I’m waiting for a sign.

Me: What kind of sign? A James Earl Jones Voice? A swarm of flying locusts? Couldn’t the desire to have those things be the inner voice, the God in you telling you, it’s time to put some action and intention behind those wants? At least to start sketching out a plan?

Waiting Woman: That’s quite crazy! I will just pray a little bit more, and wait on the lawd.

Me: But, Isn’t there a being and doing part of the faith journey? The being (in the God relationship, praying, etc), and the doing (actually doing stuff?). I’m not a big scripture quoter, but I’m sure there’s something in there about faith plus works?

I wonder why we, I, you do this waiting on God thing. Perhaps part of it is that with waiting on God we hope that the waiting will make whatever we’re waiting on FAIL PROOF. Maybe we hope that the extra waiting time will ensure an even bigger, more awesome blessing. Perhaps some of us think it is noble to wait, and that waiting will mean we’re putting more favor in our favor treasure box.

I’m not sure this is true. No. I know this is not true. I know this because, along the way we’ll engage in some divine steps that look like ‘failures’ from the outside, but were necessary for our internal evolution and transformation.

And so, this type of waiting always makes me curious because I wonder where is the agency, where is the personal power, where is the sense of ownership over your life, if you’re waiting with no end goal? Sometimes the spirit of God doesn’t tell us our next step until the waiting has stopped, the journey has begun, and your path is engaged.

It would be flagrant for me not to honor that sometimes the divine voice does call us to wait. In some instances we may get a vision of something to come. That vision, which serves as a seedling of hope, can be tricky though. It can be tricky because we humans have a penchant for taking a small glimmer of divine hope and heaping our own wants and needs on top of it.

An importance piece of waiting is understanding the why of ‘why’ you’re waiting. Is it on God, because your whole life is telling you to, or is that waiting borne out of insecurity and inaction? There is a difference.

2) Waiting on Someone Else to…

“When we start polling people [about a decision] it’s often because we don’t trust our own knowing. It feels too shaky, too uncertain. We want assurances from folks with whom we can share the blame if things don’t work out.” Brene Brown

Some of us, even when we’re not aware of it, require some type of permission or approval from others [our social circle, our family, a mate, a best friend] to do some things.

That some thing may be to drop something you find unhealthy (like a job, living situation) and move on.

That some thing may be to like and invest in a guy who wouldn’t necessarily ‘fit’ in with your social life

That some thing may be to wait on the PERFECT time to do that SOMETHING you’ve always wanted to do.

Masked in advice, some of us clamor around, going from friend to friend, sibling to therapist to life coach to pastor, asking for permission to live or explore a dream.

The real skinny is this: we don’t need anyone’s permissions except for our own permission to do anything. We do need support from those external sources and friends, and a hint of help, but we don’t need their permission. The rub is this: I know from personal experiences it’s hard to get to there. To that place where you don’t need any one’s permission to Do You. I get it because I’m working on it, too.

 

3) Waiting until You Feel Like It…

Ok. So I buried my own ‘waiting’ issue at the end. Are you still reading? J

I have the unfortunate tendency and weakness to only do things when I feel like it. When I get the motivation for it. When I get a hit of inspiration to do it.

And do you want to know the result? A lot of anxiety, imbalance, unnecessary drama and a lot of dis-organization and just a lot of things not getting done, or getting done at the last minute.

But, why do I do this? I know some part of it is because I’m an adrenaline junky through and through. And how does that adrenaline junky-ness lead to this Ultimate, Ultimate Result?

It feeds into the quality of my life, because waiting until I get the motivation to do something starts a weird cycle:

I don’t feel like doing it

I put it off till I do feel like doing it

I have to do it any way

So I drag to do it

I’m late

Then I become anxious and upset with myself because I had the time to do it all

Then I tear my apartment up looking for the stuff I need to leave

Then my apartments in disarray

A disarrayed living space jacks up my head space, so I don’t feel at peace

Then it starts all over again.

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 this am, with the intention to go outside and jog before my morning class. Now, I wake up with this intention EVERY DAY. Do I do it EVERY DAY? Hell no.

My best friend I talked about how I’m going to beat this little-Big issue, and we discussed some ways on how I could learn to power through the bouts of un-motivation and low inspiration. We came up with THE answer that I need to establish more rhythm to my life. Get a more concrete routine. Find something to look forward to every/single/morning. Simply, do the work anyway.

My brother sometimes says in a very stern voice: “part of being an adult is doing some thangs that you don’t want to do a lot of times.” He’s surely right, but it just feels so wrong.

So, there it goes. The solution. Powering through. I have to find a routine and I have to find something to look forward to. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there, but I’m hoping that my awareness of all of this will help as I create more concrete actions and stop my own damn waiting.

And so, lastly, what are you waiting on? Who are you waiting on? And when will you stop waiting on ‘You?’

Limits and Not Becoming the Next Anybody Else

Unlimited Limits :-)

“Despite the American myth, I cannot be or do whatever I desire – a truism, to be sure, but a truism we often deny.  Our created natures make us like organisms in an ecosystem:  there are some roles and relationships in which we thrive and others in which we wither and die.”  – Parker Palmer

Four times now I’ve read, “When way Closes”, the third chapter in Parker Palmer’s “Let your Life Speak.”

I keep reading it, and re-reading it and reading it all over again because I’ve never read anything like it.

Parker, an older, white, middle-class male writes about limits and potential, and the tension between those two spectrums with a whole lot of depth.

Palmer even had the beautiful audacity to talk about the truth:  that we all are limited, created creatures–with our own set of potentials.

He says: “Our problem as Americans—at least, among my race and gender—is that we resist the very idea of limits, regarding limits of all sorts as temporary and regrettable impositions on our lives.  Part of me treasures the hopefulness of this American legacy.  But when I consistently refuse to take no for an answer, I miss the vital clues to my identity that may arise when way closes—and I am more likely both to exceed my limits and to do harm to others in the process.

Further yet, he says when we don’t “readily admit our limits embarrassment may be the only way to get our attention.”  “Each of us arrives here with a nature, which means both limits and potentials.  We can learn as much about our nature by running into our limits as by experiencing our potentials.”

 

The Fallacy of Limitless-ness

God asks us only to honor our created nature, which means our limits as well as potentials. When we fail to do so, reality happens—God happens—and way closes behind us.”

I saw the movie “Limitless,” recently.  In the film, “Bradley Cooper (from “The Hangover”) plays a down-on-his-luck writer who stumbles on an illegal mind-enhancing drug that activates 100 percent of his brain.”

Enjoyable the movie was.  And it had a cute little plot and premise.  I mean, it surely showed our American obsession with wanting to be without limits [could even point us down the path (religiously speaking) to our want to be immortal?].

In the movie, things worked out for ole Bradley in the end.  But right before the ending, he almost died because he was chasing potential that was not his to have.  He almost died trying to be something and someone who he just wasn’t crafted to be.

 

Wanting to be the next ‘Somebody’ Else

 At dinner a few nights ago, a friend said: “People are always telling me I have the potential to be the next Oprah.”

“Chile please,” I chuckled.  “You don’t need to be the next Oprah, you need to be the next you.”

True that, she agreed.

Now, my friend didn’t say anything that most of us haven’t said, probably at some point in our lives.  Our culture is obsessed with someone being the next someone who already is.  We love to say silly stuff like:

He’s the next Michael Jordan

She’s the next Madonna

Or, they’re the next Will and Jada

Our culture makes it ok to desire to seriously, sickeningly want to be someone else, any one else, other than ourselves.

But, the limit in wanting to be someone else is that the only person that can be that ‘someone you want to be’ is that person.  And, so it goes,  we all experience a huge loss in all of our potential when we desire to be any thing other than ourselves.  And, we all miss out, all of us, when we resist the “who” of who we are.

The F Word:  Failures as a clue to who we actually are

A guy tried to argue me down on this point of limits & potential.  He said he worked with kids in his first career, and part of his job was to instill in each kid that they can do ‘anything’ and be ‘everything.’

Welp, I wanted to firstly know why he sat up there lying to those kids.  I pointed out that everyone was/is born with certain gifts and talents.  No one person has every gift and talent.  And, if everyone had the potential to do all things, and to be all things, what in the world would need each other for, anyway?

He countered that people could train themselves to be great at most things and to do most things.

I disagreed. And pointed out that was definitely another fallacy and deeper still, why would someone want to invest all of that energy into crafting a gift that they didn’t possess.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to work on whatever talents you already have?   And since the universe ultimately makes way for our talents and gifts and potential, wouldn’t that really make more sense?

My wrestling with my own set of adult failures over the past few years have clued me in to the fact that I can make my life a whole lot easier by developing the stuff I already have, which are my gifts to the world.

In the same vein, I’ve watched as friends and associates deal with their own set of adult failures.  Failed relationships, engagements or divorce, repeat lay-offs, failure to launch or progress in a career after years of hard work, shuttered businesses–and I’m struck by a few things.

There’s the camp of folks who listen to their failures and put their energies elsewhere, and there’s the other camp of folks who keep repeating and revisiting their failures because they’re unaware of their limits.

There’s the camp of folk who turn their back and go the other way, once way and door closes. And the other folk [who are like me] who stand and bang on the closed door until our fists bleed. Or until someone is gracious enough to point out the silliness of the door banging O_0

And so it ends, since our lives consistently point us to who we are, what we are–we all, in the end, only have the unlimited potential to be who we were uniquely created to be.  Nothing and nobody less or else.   We can’t be any one else.  And, so, we can remove a whole lot of struggle and tension when we decide to acknowledge, thrive and live between the two spectrums of our limits and potentials.

Our Three Big Things of Life

Life's Things

A quick post…

I had an infamous A! Ha! moment a few weeks back about my life and, I guess, life in general.

The thought came to me that life really is about and is defined by three things.

  • Experiences
  • Events
  • Relationships

It may seem odd to think of distilling the bigness of life down to three little things, but allow me to ‘splain you right quick.

Experiences & [SN: RUN ME MY MONEY $$$]

We live our lives through experiences–good and bad–layoffs, new jobs, promotions, a bomb vacation, college, breakups, breakthroughs.  Some of these experiences are in our control, but most are not.

Now, some of us are in the hunt for more $$$ for external validation [to accumulate more isht to make you feel better, etc, whatever]. But some of us are in the run the money game to create more experiences [through travel, by giving back, with free time, etc, whatever].  A friend pointed out that if you’re a big wig making loads of $$$, but you work 100+ hours per week, that totally takes away from your varied experiences and your quality of life.  So, money doesn’t always lend itself to life enrichment.

Events:

Our lives are best remembered and lived through a series of small and large events: birthdays, weddings, deaths, anniversaries, weekly drunk brunches, having a baby, etc and whatever.  The more of these we have, the better our quality of life appears, no?

Relationships:

To top it all off…most of our events and experiences happen through relationships. This includes any type of relationship: husband, wife, partner, boss, employee, friend, cousin, daughter, son, mother, God, father relationships. The more relationships, the deeper the relationships, the healthier the relationships–the better our lives. I’ve witnessed how limiting life can be when one doesn’t know how to build create, maintain, or participate in various types of relationships & friendships.  I’ve even been there and done that, and that is definitely life limiting.  At the core of failing to build relationships is lack of trust, in one self and in people in general.

Learning to cultivate and sustain quality, authentic, relationships is one of the biggest life challenges and one of the greatest life rewards.  If you want more of those [relationships and events and experiences by way of relationships]…get to building & trusting.

Lastly, the question is to all of us:  how can we create more great experiences, events, and relationships that speak to and aide us in our daily living.

 

 

 

The Other Side of the Game: Purpose

Other Side of the Game

“By psychological work we are changed.  In spiritual work we are revealed.” – Dave Richo

* cue Other Side of the Game * I’ve been wanting to write some things about “the other side” of [failure, success, purpose, etc] for a while.

We are an obsessive chasing culture.  We love to pursue stuff.  I get it.

I do, have done, and will continue to do my share of hunting.  Chasing intangible stuff is a luxury, a privilege, and an odd grace that we Americans get to revel in.

My rub, however, with our chasing [happiness chasing, purpose chasing, relationship chasing] and all of the other types of chasing is:  there aren’t many discussions about what happens after you’ve conquered the quest and wrangled down to the ground THAT THING you were hounding?

I can’t remember where I read this, but someone once said in an article: “there’s all of this stuff about ‘how to get married,’ but where’s the stuff about ‘how to stay married’.  I think you can’t find many books on that because that’s not as sexy, no?”

I think that’s probably why you don’t hear much about what happens after the searching and the conquest.

The “living in” whatever you were pursuing isn’t always all that…exciting.

So, here I am to bring you my thoughts on some of the other sides of the game.

My poison today?  PURPOSE

 

Departure:  You haven’t arrived once you’ve discovered your purpose

You’ve actually JUST started.

I love Dave Richo.  He’s one of the smartest former priest-present Buddhists-master teachers-psychotherapists out there.

He made my lil heart go pitter-patter as I re-read some passages from his classic, “How to be an Adult.”    He wrote:

“The stories of heroes & heroines tell of a journey that takes them from home, across dangerous thresholds, into new unexplored territories, and then back home with an expanded consciousnesses.

These 3 phases of this journey—departure, struggle, return—are metaphor for what happens in us as we evolve from neurotic ego through healthy ego to the spiritual self.”  [See pic #2 & chart #3]

3 Phases Dave Richo

I believe the phases of the journey can be applied to the journey into purpose.

Struggle: What if you don’t ‘like your purpose?

What you are made to do may not be as exciting as you think it should be.  It may not be as pretty as you think it could be.

Whatchu gone do then?

Accept it?

Or run?  [that’s a bad plan, trust me]

Acceptance: What happens if you don’t accept ‘it?’

I was sitting at brunch this weekend with friends. And they started talking about me, like I wasn’t there….

Friend 1:  “Carmen is going to  (insert one of my life goals here)

Friend 2:  “Oh, I didn’t know that?”

* then turns to me *

I just ran into you a few weeks ago, and I asked you what was new and you didn’t mention that?

Me:   * shrugs *

Friend 1:  That’s because she’s ashamed of it.  She doesn’t want anybody to know.

Me:  “that’s not true?” ßan emphatic protest that was way too much

Friend 1:  Yes, it is.  You don’t think you’re good enough for it or something. I hear you talk about xyz and abc, but you never, ever mention  (insert one of my life goals here)

Awkward moment

Me:  SCREAMS:  YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE?!?!?!?!

* Mentally melts into the chair, floor, walls *

Ok, I didn’t scream.  In the middle of the restaurant. That she didn’t know my life.

But, I thought it.  And that brings me to my next point….

Ever got a gift, and you just wanted to give it back?

Well, that’s how I’ve oft felt about a piece of my purpose and one or two of my passions.

But why would I, or a sane person for that matter, not accept a piece of their purpose?

I’m glad you asked.

It’s because the ego might not like ‘it.’  And the ego may not like letting go of the ‘illusions’ of what it should be.

There is something to be said of purpose & passions that don’t stroke your ego; but, instead, point you to more of you.

All I know is, my ego has waged a grand fight to not accept all of who she is.

And I know I can’t be the only one.

Lies:  But I don’t know my purpose

I really think most folks are lying when they say that.  To humor myself sometimes, I call people liars, straight slap to their faces, when they say: “I don’t know what I’m here to do.”

Lies. Lies.  All Lies.

Why do I think that and say such offensive things to people’s faces?

Scan back through the ‘acceptance’ bullet point.  Ego & illusions can mask a whole lot of things—and you can lie to yourself about who and what you really are.

Below the surface, you could be masking your purpose to yourself because of another external and internal reason.  Externally you may be concerned with other people’s expectations.  Internally you may be afraid that you will lose your identity [even if it is a partially false identity].

So, what can keep your purpose cloudy?  Allowing anyone outside of you to point you to your path.

Are you interrupting your path?

Discovery:  But, you already know….

You know who you are.

I don’t believe one day you find a treasure chest labeled, ‘my path.’

I do believe whatever ‘it’ is,  it reveals itself to you all along your life.  And it’s up to you to pay attention to it.

Fame:  They lied when they said $$$ follows passion & purpose

Some people get rich and famous by following the real ‘who’ of what they are.

Some people get rich and famous by doing absolutely nothing at all [eyes people in the below photo]

But.

The purpose of following purpose isn’t to make you rich or famous.  You’re gonna get your poor little feelings hurt if you internalize that false belief that, that is the end goal.

The whole point of it all is to bring you full circle, into peace and to gift the world with ‘you.’ [Is that reward enough?]

Don’t believe me?

Think about this, do you really think God made you the way you are, and are supposed to be for you to go forth into the world to accumulate more crap [I really wanted to use another word]???

Moving along…

Multi-purposed:  We are all more than one thing

We are all multi-purposed, I believe.

I also believe we have primary and secondary purposes.  So, what does one do with that?  Ughh…Live in all of them.  [talk about tiring?]

Known for the nothings...

Flow:  It won’t all flow

…but it will all work out.

Don’t believe those lies that that your path of purpose is supposed to be all flowy and trouble free.  Tell thee satan to get thee behind thee with such a lie. * sarcasm*

 

I’m watching a few folks, right now, who have known their purpose for a long time.  They’re operating in it. They’re living it.

But guess what?  Things are not flowing the way they think they should be.  Financial woes, house woes, health woes, family woes.

Yep, some of them are experiencing them ALL. At the same time.

What a bummer.

But, does that mean they’re ‘off path?’   Off center?  Off target?

Naw, I don’t think so.

I think that just means that life is happening.   And living a purpose filled life does not grant one immunity against life’s other not-so-pleasant sh*t.

Failure:  Outwardly failure? Inward Success?

I’ve had some false starts in the past two years.  I bemoaned, all that in conversation a few weeks ago.

In the midst of my ‘woe is me’ rant, I caught myself.

I realized that rant was a lie.  I didn’t feel like I was failing.  Instead, my ego felt that it was being perceived as failing….from sources outside of myself.

Gross.

I realized in the next moment that even though stuff doesn’t look like it’s going well, outwardly, I am the closest I’ve ever been to my path. Ever.

Now, no one could’ve ever told me that.  I am living one of those odd dualisms of life.  Winning and losing @ the same time.

The repeat lesson learned is: you don’t know what someone’s life is like just by viewing their external circumstances.  There is so much that the eyes can’t see.  But, Watch yourself.  Watch your self.

Experiential: This is an experienced based journey

Are you still with me? Even after all of these words????

Well, lastly, this whole ‘path’ thing is so damn, crappily experiential.

I would much rather ‘think’ about it, than live in it.

But, the unfortunately-fortunate part of this all is that being purposeful and authentic and intentional about your life requires a different level of living.    You can’t figure it out by thinking about it.   Or talking about it.  Or writing about it.  Or dreaming about.

It’s not all intellectual exercises.  It is all living exercises.

And that’s all.

The last piece?  Peace

I’ve nudged peace at the end of this big ole piece.  Because, lastly, it’s still something that is on the fringes of my journey.  I catch glimpses of it, and those glimpses are really the only reason I keep on trucking.

Some folks conquer ‘peace’ earlier on in their journey.  I’m jealous of alla that…but hopeful.

Peace is the reward for following purpose and there is no way I’m going to stop chasing that.


 

What’s Motivating You?

This is the second part of: What’s your life like? Motivations, Dreams

“Your dreams are your gift to the world.” –K. Lightfoot

Picture from: http://www.license2live.com/

Every person is supposed to leave an indelible imprint on this world.

Every soul has a legacy it’s supposed to be getting about fulfilling.

Each one of us has our own brand our genius.

It’s limiting to think, though, our legacies are to be defined by being famous or well-known.    [There was a recent study published that 50% of today’s kids want to be famous.  How depressing]

I think some of us get caught up as we try to find what their individual legacy is supposed to be.  In the mire and muck of frustration, those folks adopt other’s dreams.

For some, their talent and dreams match.  And they successfully dream chase their inner heart and soul’s desires.

For others, we craft what we believe our legacy should be—not from divine inspiration or soul yearning–but from our egos, fear of lack, security, and or societal and family expectations.

Now, I can talk about ego-driven-dream making, because I’ve sat in that seat many times.  In fact, my most recently crafted dream of divine unimportance was my stint in Journalism school.

The Beginning

Let me take y’all wayyy back, way back back to two thousand, two thousand and nine. (2009).  *Cues way-back- time machine *

What Motivates You?

I was in a job I hated, at a firm that just imploded [LARGEST BANKRUPTCY IN ALL OF MAN KIND], and agitated with life.  I knew a lay-off was imminent, so I upped and applied to J-School.  And not just any J-School—the best J-School in all of the land.   I reasoned, I’m a writer, life is changing, maybe this could be “IT.”

I got in.

But.

Then another form of inner turmoil began.

I HATED IT.


Discontent of the Soul

I arrived at school feeling odd.  From Day One “It” didn’t feel right.

In the application process I remembered, cheekily, remarking to God that I was finally going to do something that “I” wanted to do??

Now.

At that point, in my doo-doo dummy head state, I didn’t realize that for the past five years I HAD been doing what I wanted to do.

I chose to work in financial services.

I chose Wall Street.

God didn’t make me do it. [isn't it amazing how we like to blame God for our own silly decisions and sufferings?]

I WAS out here focused on getting that Guap.

I WAS out here trying to my cake up and my weight up.  [And insert every other hood saying you can think of about getting money]

Never once in the whole process did I stop and ask myself: what am I doing. And MORE IMPORTANTLY, why was I doing it [going to school].”

My friends celebrated my choice to go to writing school.  It all looked like it was ‘on my path.”  Maybe they were right—but my motivations weren’t right.

It dawned on me while in the throes of the program, that ‘wrongness’ was my soul saying, “We didn’t’ need to do this and why did we spend all of this money???”

I realized I enrolled not only because I wanted to strengthen my writing, but because I wanted external validation of my talent and my intelligence.  My ego, silently said, “sure, I’m smart—but an ivy league seal puts a different seal of approval on a person’s mental aptitude.”  Insecurity.  I didn’t believe enough in my talent or skill.  Furthermore, I didn’t believe God when he clearly told me that one of my skills in this life was this writing thing.

Nope, something in me needed that outside confirmation.

You're going the wrong way

The joke was on me, eh?

In my post-school analysis, it sickened me that I needed something outside of me to affirm what I already knew—that I was indeed smart enough, and that I was a damn good writer.

It pissed me off further, that I had not eyed, spied and weighed my motivations.  I count myself as a pretty reflective and introspective person, so I felt I failed myself because I didn’t check in with my soul to check out what was driving me.

In all of that over analysis, I came to the conclusion that in all things, I will start checking out my motivations.  I would start eyeing my goals and dreams and checking out from whence their source was/is.

Surely, I pretty much known to get bogged down in analysis-paralysis.  I ALREADY, don’t make impulsive decisions without weighing all sides.  But I’ve learned over the past 2 years that checking out the ‘why’s ‘ of what I’m doing helps to keep me on my proper personal path.  Even though it extends the over analysis phases that run my life.

Maybe it’ll come together?

I previously wrote, “In dream designing, dreams should match talents.”  There’s an addendum to that: “Your dreams, motivations, goals should have positive origins and inspiration”

I do believe there are some dreams that God sits down in your soul [think Santiago’s Journey in Alchemist].  I do believe there are some goals that are birthed out of immeasurable talent and passion.

But.

I am also convinced there are some goals and dreams we [ego or insecurity] place into our own souls.  I’m not convinced that all goals have divine or positive inspiration.

Sometimes you can tell the source of a dream just by the talent versus goal rule.  But sometimes, it’s hard to make the distinction.

A part of me wonders though, do our dreams and heart’s desires always have to have a positive source?  One piece says yes–because if the source isn’t a good one, then perhaps when [if] you do reach the goal it could deflate you, take you out or destroy you.  Oprah remarked on Master Class the other day that when people that don’t know themselves become famous, it kills them.  I think it could be said also, that if a person doesn’t know why they want what they want, in the end it could [maybe] kill them, too.

There is a small piece that says no, though—because, some folks succeed every day in paths that are not on their purpose and these folks have ok lives.

But.

What’s YOUR life like?

In the end, since it’s the beginning of 2011, I challenge y’all to test out your goals, dreams and motivations.

Ask yourself:

What do I want?

Why do I want it?

Is this a borne out of insecurity?

Is this my dream or have I adopted someone else’s dream?

Is this dream a response to trying to lead a ‘safe’ life?

Is this the product of false enthusiasm?

Is this an internal or external motivation?

Do I have the talent for this?

And, [a trickier question] has this talent noticeable to others.

Now, I sure hope your inner analysis comes up positive, and that you gone ahead and become a fierce dream chaser.   Because as Paul Coelho wrote in The Alchemist Every blessing ignored becomes a curse,” and “People are afraid to pursue their dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”     You deserve your dreams.

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