unbecoming

There’s something special about the approach of autumn. For me, the feeling is unique to this time of year, and is entirely different than the change over of any of the other seasons.

Maybe it’s the promise of relief from the heat of summer with the cooler weather we know is surely on its way. Maybe it’s the return of some much-needed structure as the kids go back to school and resume the routine of their organized activities.

Or maybe it’s something far less tangible…the mere glimpse of hope, possibility, and new beginnings I feel waiting in the wings.

There’s a special type of magic in the air in September, and the feeling is even more pronounced for me this year than any other. While I may not be able to put my finger on what it is exactly, I know with great certainty change is coming. I can feel it in my bones.

It began several weeks ago with a restless ache in my body. What started as little more than a twinge in the pit of my stomach has grown much larger and is taking shape from deep inside. The structure of my cells is being altered as this ‘thing’ takes root in my core.

Having wiped away the dust and residue from the stories of the past that previously clouded my vision, I’ve started to see with fresh eyes. I no longer need to be shielded from the truth; no more distortion or protective filters required to paint a more palatable picture of the prevailing reality for my ego self.

I think it’s human nature to seek out evidence—a sign, or better yet, some type of actual physical proof—that supports our hypotheses and assertions. It’s normal to want to be able to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch something before we can truly believe in it. But sometimes, before a thing comes to life, before it’s actually manifested in the physical form, you just need to put all of your trust into its becoming.

And yet, evidence of change is all around for those who are willing to see it. Watch the leaves show us the wisdom of the natural world, as they change from their deep, glossy greens, to the glorious shades of golds, rusts, and purples. This is the leaves way of demonstrating their trust in the knowledge that their season of life is over and the time has come for them to surrender. Although temporary, the results are remarkably beautiful, even breathtaking to behold.

Not long after the beautiful display of fall colours, we also know the trees will shed their leaves to help conserve energy for the winter. The leaves that hang on will, no doubt, be torn from their branches by a swift autumn wind eventually.

As evidence of my humanity, on a purely physical level I can see my skin is changing and I’m shedding my hair like mad. I am releasing physical and mental clutter in every corner of my life. I am more committed than ever before to my own evolution and metamorphosis, and at the very least, I continue to become increasingly aware of my actions and reactions.

And I suppose that’s how I know with all I am that the time for harvest must surely be nearing. The seeds that were planted within me long, long ago are sprouting with the beginnings of new life. It’s a life that’s bursting with the hope that anything is possible—even really difficult things and maybe even miracles—when I believe and put my faith in the power of love over fear.

Through the infinite wisdom of a universe in which everyone and everything is connected to everyone and everything else, I am aware of the change that is occurring, both all around and deep within me. I trust not only in what I can see, but also in the less quantifiable feeling of what has not yet materialized.

Like the leaves, I am immersed in the surrender of my own unraveling. As I continue to challenge old beliefs and peel away the protective layers, I’m removing the costumes and masks I’ve worn. This is the real me; exposed and vulnerable. Just being.

It’s messy and complicated, and may not look like much on the outside, but when I get very still and quiet I know that a space is being created for something significant to enter.

I don’t know what it is yet, but I trust in whatever it will be.

This is the season of my unbecoming.

Just for Today

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Is this thing even on?

Hi, it’s me. I know it’s been a while. Like 56 days, I think. But who’s counting?

So, the kids are back in school and it’s eerily quiet in my house today.

The sounds of doors slamming, footsteps thumping, and raised voices fighting have been replaced with the soothing nothingness of an ambient hum.

Today no one has expected me to referee an argument. No one has come to me hungry, looking for a snack only 20 minutes after they ate their last meal. And no one in my house is whining about being bored, eyes fixed on me as the sole proprietor of fun and entertainment.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this moment—secretly, or then again maybe not so secretly—and actively counting down to it for the past week.

I am basking in this glorious alone time. I love the peace. I relish these silent moments. I’m soaking it all in on a deep, cellular level.

I can be quite extroverted when the situation calls for it, but I am an introvert to the core. This time is very much essential to my sanity and overall well-being.

But much more than that, this time affords me the luxury to get quiet and listen to the tiny whispers of my soul. It is in these beautiful moments I remember that the truth of who I am is not who or what my ego self would have me believe. I have nothing I need to do right now other than to just be. Best of all, there’s absolutely nothing I must prove to anyone.

lessdo_morebe

The shift from doing to being—from living a life ruled by the voices in my head to being guided by the truth in my heart—is something I must constantly bring my awareness back to, over and over again. ‘Just Being’ is deceptively tricky, and it is perhaps the most important work I can do, here in this lifetime. It represents the totality of what it means to be the best me I can be. This is my commitment.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived.

So, even though the kids have returned to school and there’s at least a thousand things waiting to be completed on my to-do list, I am committing to the practice of just being.

Just for now.

Just for today.

Life as a Practice

I think most people are familiar with the terms ‘yoga practice’ and ‘meditation practice’, but has anyone ever heard of a ‘life practice’? I’ve been thinking it would be not only wise, but also prudent to view my own life this way—as a practice. Let’s just think about that for a moment, shall we?

Quite simply, a practice is something you do over and over on a regular basis. Practice. All life really asks is that we continue to show up, day after day, and give it the best we have. Practice. Life asks us for the consistency of showing up and putting in our best effort. Practice.

Many people live by the mantra that practice makes perfect, but I’d like to suggest that it’s really not about perfection at all. In fact, sometimes we’re so busy trying to be perfect in our daily lives that we miss out on the spirit of what it is to practice. In all our attempts to attain the elusive ideal of perfection, we forget that doing our best and then releasing—physically, mentally, and emotionally—is the better way.

By the way, I think this is the actual mathematical formula for the practice of life:

(Showing Up) + (Doing your Best) + (Releasing [x Infinity]) = The Practice

I am coming to understand how this is one of the most important (and perhaps also the most challenging) lessons we are meant to learn during our time on earth. It isn’t always easy, but that’s why we practice. Anything more than the practice is excessive and controlling. Anything less is a copout. Both extremes block the flow of life and the ability to surrender to our own inner guidance.

Distractions, challenges, and off days are guaranteed to come your way. But when we start to see these distrurbances as part of the practice, that’s when the magic starts to happen. They are gifts from the universe, lessons in disguise, if you will. They provide opportunities to dig deeper and learn to know ourselves better. They create momentum for our continued forward movement. And so, when we feel lost, tired, weary, or frustrated, all we need to do is have faith and keep showing up.

Having an off day, week, month, or year? No biggie. Be aware, assure yourself the world is not ending (because it isn’t), and then bring yourself back. You may figure out the lesson right now, or you may not. There’s no need to worry, regardless. That’s the beauty of the practice: as long as you keep showing up, life will keep giving you another chance to try again.

There is a quote often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson that says: Life is a journey, not a destination. To me, this means focusing on the here and now, or emphasizing the process, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket and placing greater importance on specific outcomes. Rather than rushing through life, each moment should be given the proper care and attention it deserves. It means the whole of life is greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak.

Journey

The joke related to this quote is, when I met my (now) husband and he was still living at home with his parents, he had these words typed on an 8.5 x 11” sheet of paper attached to his bedroom wall. There was a typo on the page, and all I ever saw when I looked at it was the mistake. At the time the meaning was entirely lost on me. I suppose the punch line is that I’m finally getting the message over 20 years later.

Continually looking ahead and putting our energy into the next route marker or destination only robs us of today, whereas being here now for life allows events to unfold naturally. Approaching life as a practice is about enjoying the journey and being ‘all in’ for the ride. It is surrendering to the richness and fullness of the experience.

It goes without saying that I haven’t always had this understanding. Life as a practice is something relatively new I’m learning (and practicing) because I’ve lived the other way. I’d like to share this idea with others so they, too, can see how life is like a two-sided coin.

When you allow your life to be a coin toss and it comes up heads, you are ruled by the head (logic and ego); you resort to controlling; you need to be right; and perfectionism is your nemesis disguised as your ally. However, when you allow your coin to come up tails, you can be ruled by the heart; guided by the force of love and the knowledge of your soul; you open yourself to learn the art and magic of surrender; you trust life and go with the flow. This is what it is to practice life.

I’ve personally experienced the limitations of living from my head and ego, constantly striving for perfection, and being so attached to specific outcomes that I could no longer see the big picture. The costs were steep: losing my place in the present and sacrificing my happiness for some  far off place in the distance.

I now know better and I’m choosing another way—living from my heart. For me, life has become a practice that I must show up for every day. My practice is my commitment to let go, cut myself some slack while I hold myself accountable, and relish the sweetness of each day.

Do you approach life as a practice?

How are you showing up for life today?

My story is unfolding, with major changes and subtle shifts

This summer has been a time of significant transition for me—a time of both major changes and subtle shifts. My daughter finished Grade 2 and my son graduated from Kindergarten, I left my job at the end of June, and I somehow finally summoned the courage to announce to the world that I plan to pursue my dream of becoming a published author.

While I’ve always insisted on working outside of the home (I felt I had something valid to offer the world and felt strongly that staying home with the kids wasn’t right for me), over the last year it became increasingly apparent that my children needed to have me around more than I needed to have a career, even if I was only working part time.

At first this message came masquerading as something else, but as time went on it got louder and much more obvious. This dance went on for a while but I began to see through the veiled disguise, eventually coming to understand being available to my children was the answer I didn’t know I was looking for, yet desperately needed to find.

But don’t let me fool you into thinking the decision to become a stay-at-home mom was an easy one for me to make, nor that it wasn’t met with any resistance on my part. In fact, resistance might just be the understatement of the century. My ego screamed and kicked and dug its heels in on this one. My identity as a career woman—a working mother—has guided every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years, and I was fiercely determined not to let go of the “working” part. I was extremely emotional just discussing the idea of not working, and I cried as I gave notice to my employer, all the while knowing it was what I needed to do.

As more friends and family members learn about my decision, many have asked about my motives and how it feels to assume this new role on a full-time basis. It’s not an easy question for me to answer, as I have mixed emotions and likely will for some time. What I do know, on the other hand, is this: the major changes that I’ve recently initiated are precipitating several smaller and more subtle shifts, which seem to be coming at me, fast and furious, in a successive chain reaction.

These subtle shifts have helped me to realize it’s time, once and for all, to release the pain and stagnant energy that is not serving me in the pursuit of my greatest good. I am learning to let go of things I can’t control. I am allowing myself to love and be loved. I am listening to my intuition more freely and uncovering what I desire most, which for the moment is to create, to nurture, to express love, and to receive love into my heart.

I want to live my life on purpose, starting right now with just one season (thanks to Melsha Shea for creating #SummerOnPurpose). This summer I want to be the most loving mother I can possibly be for my two beautiful children. I want to experience, through them, what being a kid is all about—having fun, playing, and seeing the world through innocent eyes with childlike wonder. I want to grow flowers and vegetables in my backyard. I want to do more art journaling. (Art journaling is an incredibly therapeutic process, and I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t already done so. Check out http://www.jenngarman.com. She’s a great teacher!) I want to read, cook, bake, dance, and move. Oh, yes, and I want to WRITE!

My first art journal page, "My story is unfolding"

My first art journal page, “My story is unfolding”

Through a series of synchronicities, I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop on How to Write and Publish Your First Book in Seven Steps, presented by Kelly Falardeau and Carrie Kohan. These two wise women removed the mystery around book publishing by providing a series of practical and easy-to-follow steps, as well as sharing a process to capture my ideas and create outlines for the books I want to write. Further, Carrie Kohan rocked my world with her ability to “read” me, while confirming my deeply held belief about the incredible healing power of meditation. The workshop was both simple and extremely powerful, as it helped me realize I can stretch beyond my perceived limitations and pursue my passion of writing. With the knowledge Kelly and Carrie shared, and as I remain open to the possibilities life brings, I will share my words and stories with the world.

All of these changes in a relatively short period of time has felt like a whirlwind. It all feels like a bit much for a girl who prefers life to happen on her terms while having both feet firmly planted on the ground. But I can honestly say, without reservation, that my soul is downright giddy to have uncovered this path. So I’d like to thank the universe for these major changes and subtle shifts that are leading me to my truth. It’s like a reassuring pat on the back that’s letting me know, in no uncertain terms, I’m on the right track and my story is unfolding exactly how it’s supposed to.