Somewhere long ago I was told, perhaps not in words but by a much deeper means of communication from those who held all the power in life, that I could not fully shine, celebrate, or be all that I knew I could be if people around me were suffering. The instant question that was installed and always arises when I am about to leap into joy, or love, or something wonderful is “Will this make someone else feel bad?” After all, they may not have my talent, my relationships, my resources, or the gifts I have been given in life. If I let my light shine and share all that is good in life…. will it add to other’s depression and despair? And thus I became a shadow artist. Stepping out on special occasions to create something that delighted me, then quickly disappearing back into the shadows so as not to seem too full of myself, too good at anything, too happy or satisfied or proud, or toooooooo……you get the picture. The crazy thing is that my holding back never seemed to help relieve others’ suffering. It only added to my own. That is one of the false narratives and lies that we grow up with that I believe robs us all of finding out what’s possible. So we find ways to express ourselves through others. “I am here to help you. I have an idea for you. I have something that can help set you free.” And sometimes we do make things better, and at other times we are unable to make a dent, and then we get angry that others are not taking the necessary steps or living the life we want them to live so that we can be happy. It is so messed up! Be clear, helping others IS a source of great joy and fulfillment and how things get better, just not “helping” in the place of living your life fully and with as much love and joy as possible on a daily basis.
Today I am contemplating laying down my life as I have known it for a while, (it’s just an exercise, don’t worry), and going inward. What if I let God handle all the finances for a while and supply all of our needs? What if I lovingly bless and let go of all the people I think I have to save just for now? What if I become like a child again in the midst of all the chaos, and begin to play, create, imagine, and celebrate the life I have been given here? What if I make an apple pie, spend time listening to Dakota our horse, Riley our dog, and Max our cat, sing songs around a fire pit, clean and decorate my home, dance with abandon, paint, write, read, take long walks in nature, make trips to the ocean, take pictures of life, laugh a lot every day, do QiGong for healing, make love and lay in bed talking for hours, hear other people’s stories, tell stories of my own, ride bikes, take hikes, have picnics, celebrate being alive, and focus on all that makes me happy? What if I try something completely new? There are times to go into the cave and sit around the fire and rest, eat, reflect, and renew. This feels like one of those times. Time to try something new. Go gently with yourself right now. Joy is within your reach, just stretch a little to touch it.
I wrote in my last entry about leaving the prison cell of dysfunctional family dynamics, self doubt, and false beliefs, and beginning my journey to freedom. Dysfunctional family dynamics can show up in a single family, a community, a state, and an entire country at times. With only weeks away from one of the most volatile decisions our national family will be making in my lifetime; and with tempers flaring, energies spinning out of control, lies being announced as truths and more, I find myself shuffling down the dark hallway having left the cell itself, but wondering how to get the heck out of this place to real freedom.
I am trying to drown out the many voices competing for my attention right now, and I am going inward to listen to God and to my own true voice. In my search, I found a training online that was useful that I wanted to paraphrase and share from Kevin Daum for Inc.com. (https://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/5-ways-to-stay-positive-when-the-going-gets-tough.html)
5 steps to keep going when the going gets tough (thank you Kevin)
- Strip Away The Excess. When it all feels overwhelming, write down everything you have on your plate (to do lists, tasks, people to deal with, issues to solve, anything that makes you feel overwhelmed), and then delegate to others, postpone, or just remove things from your plate until there are only a few truly important items you can put all of your attention on. By focusing and accomplishing a single task that matters, it can restore your own personal sense of power.
- Jump Into Something New. Look for new ideas, a new approach to something, a whole new venture, new friend, or a new group. By refreshing and pivoting just a little, you can bring fresh air and fresh thinking into a place that feels stuck and unproductive.
- Fast Forward The Negative Movie Reel In Your Head. I particularly love this one, being a filmmaker, because you can fast forward the movie called your life to a happy ending that is up to you to create. When we are in a bad place, the mind will tell you that this is all there is and will ever be, but that is a lie. It is seriously like pausing the film and just staring at a dismal scene that you find upsetting. Instead, imagine a wonderful outcome and remember that whatever you are going through, this too shall pass and you never know what lies just around the corner. Focus on what great things you want to create when you get through this particular storm.
- Find The Lesson. Kevin Daum says “Setbacks and Transitions are lessons to help you move forward to something greater.” If you read any of the great leaders’ biographies, there are countless stories of dismal failures that led to some of their greatest insights and personal breakthroughs. Say to yourself at any given moment “This could be my greatest lesson and opportunity of my life right now…. what can I learn from this and how can I allow this to change me for the better?”
- Focus On Health And Opportunity. We don’t realize it, but any real change or transition that we go through can also be a source of trauma. We are creatures of habit and when our routines get shaken up, sometimes our systems go into tilt. We are all going through tremendous change while dealing with the pandemic, the elections, our jobs, relationships, even daily activities. Now more than ever we need to attend to extreme self care, health practices because we matter and are of value, and the discovery of the opportunities that lie in every challenge. If anyone wants some special guidance in terms of health and new opportunities, please message me as I have some suggestions and ideas that might help.
So, my friends, we continue to hold hands and shuffle down the dark corridor together in search of the big doors that lead to freedom. We’ve got each other, we’ve got some amazing tools and templates, and we have bright faith in better days ahead.
Blessings to all and much love,
We were trapped… my family, friends, and I were all trapped together in a dark, dank dungeon of a medieval castle. There was wailing, howling in fear, tempers flaring, people pushing other people as we all wondered what the future held. Fights broke out among us as one cast blame upon the other for our predicament. Exhausted from being in the middle of the ongoing drama, I decided to explore the cell… looking carefully at each of the bars, the stone walls beyond, the dim light that cast a yellow pall on all of our faces. I pushed gently against the cell door, and a breath went through me… IT WASN’T LOCKED! Is that possible? Has this door been unlocked the entire time?
“We can get out! We can leave! Everyone, this door isn’t locked!” I said. Nobody seemed to be listening. “Please, we don’t have to be here, THE DOOR ISN’T LOCKED!” The fighting continued. Time passed and my beloveds continued to cry, fight, and give up in despair. Nobody would listen. For years I stood at the door of that cell, trying to convince the others, beg them, show them that we could leave. Nothing changed. Then one day, with a heavy heart and extra dose of courage, I said “I have to go”. I was leaving with or without them, and I would leave the door open if anyone wanted to follow.
I pushed the door to the cell open wide and stepped out into an opening that led to a long, dark hallway. There were 2 guards standing against the wall at the end of the hallway and I thought “this will surely be when I die”. With my heart in my throat, I started walking down the hallway toward the guards. It was the only way out. They were talking, and as I drew closer they looked up briefly, acknowledged me with a nod, and then continued to talk. I walked past them in amazement. They didn’t stop me. They barely even noticed that I had walked by. Why had they been there if not to stop me from leaving? I worked my way up a circular stone stairway in the damp, cold castle. As I got to the top, there were two more guards. “Oh, this was a trick. They let me get this far just to lead me to believe I could be free, and now I will die” The second set of guards nodded, smiled, said nothing, and let me pass. I just had to keep walking. In the distance I saw 2 giant wooden doors. A ray of light peeking through the crack between the doors told me that I had reached the entrance. Do I dare? Do I push these heavy doors open and face whatever lies beyond? Yes. I had to know.
I pushed the doors open with all of my might, and there it was. Before me was a huge, open field of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, beaming with color in the sunlight. Above me, billowy white clouds floated effortlessly in a crystalline blue sky, and in the distance giant trees swayed and danced together with their leaves shimmering like tiny diamonds in the breeze. I could breathe. Really breathe. It was exquisite. I was free.
I could have left at any time. The door was never locked, and the guards never meant to harm me. It was my own fear, my imagination, the rules we had made up together that we were living by, and my not wanting to leave anyone behind in their suffering that kept me in my own personal prison for so many years.
No, I was never really physically imprisoned with my family and friends, thank God. But mentally, psychologically, and emotionally I was imprisoned with false beliefs, unhealthy family agreements, hard wiring from my childhood, doubts about the possibilities, and decisions I had made long ago that held me back from exploring my full potential. It felt as if I was being held in jail.
This is the new journey I am embarking on. I am finally ready, still with my heart in my throat at times and legs trembling, to walk past the inner guards of my life and find out what is out there, what is possible, what beauty lies ahead with my hand in God’s hand and my eyes toward the future. I have to find out. Hold my hand, if you want to, and together we’ll begin our adventure and journey toward freedom. I love you!
I am beginning a campaign for love. It starts now, but this campaign will go far beyond November 3rd and beyond the election of my lifetime. This campaign will reach beyond a single country and political idea. This is a global campaign to remember who we really are, deep beneath the hurts, the anger, the misunderstandings, and the agendas.
This is a campaign to challenge those of us who remember to take the actions described in 1 Corinthians 13… “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE NEVER FAILS….. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
In my short film, “The Face, a film by Elizabeth Browning” the opening lines say “…the battle will end when you stop fighting. ‘Stop fighting?!?’ Her tribe had always fought. How else does one remain victorious?” There is a way to emerge victorious. There is a better way. Love is a decision, an action, a verb, a doing… not always a feeling. And yet, this I know… feelings follow actions. Will you join me? LOVE NEVER FAILS. My hand in yours dear friends!