If you are anything like me, making major life decisions (and even some of the smaller ones) can feel like walking though a house of mirrors. Analyzing all the data can be disorienting as we attempt to navigate our way through the options in front of us. We ask friends, compare information and use up a lot of brainpower. Sometimes, even after making this investment in time and energy, we are left guessing.
But what if there was a better way?
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Here’s the magical thing about faith—it’s hiding in plain sight. Faith isn’t something we have per se—rather, faith finds us. Like the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, faith shows up when you’re in a big mess, your knees are knocking and you have no idea how those red sequined shoes got on your feet! Faith comes quietly; it’s not loud and attention seeking.
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This second line of Emerson's quote is not for the faint of heart... this is a life’s journey. The Hero’s Journey.
In order for us to summon the courage to be “who we are”. we have to first answer the question: Who Am I? Not easy stuff! In the world of creatures, we’ve been categorized as Human Beings. So lets break that down, shall we?
HUMAN– In this category I would place most of life experiences of “I am…”. I am...5’4’, with brown hair, brown eyes. My ancestry. Where I went to school, how many siblings I have. Whether my parents were “good” or “bad” parents. The first boyfriend, first breakup, and the last. The physical challenges and illnesses. The marriage, the children, the divorce. The years I defined myself as “being” a television producer, the change of careers… becoming “a therapist”. Basically, the story of my human existence.
BEING– Now here is where its gets a little more elusive. Who am I as a Being? According to the great spiritual teachers, who we are, is none less than The One. The Oneness, God, Creation, Universal Energy…the most accessible words for me…Consciousness itself. Conscious Awareness.
Got it? (kidding)
Being, leads us to the word...Is. As in, Being Is. And the sentence could really stop there.
But as we are mortal, with these minds that need to know, I will attempt to elucidate, from my humble place as a student/teacher. I have been studying spiritual teachings for the past two decades, wrote existential poetry as a child, and the one thing I have read, learned, and know…is that I know nothing when it comes to what “Being” is.
And yet, we have to start somewhere. As the purpose of this post is to explore these ideas along with you, dear reader, I humbly share my observations and realizations along the way, in pursuit of the answer to this question.
Where was I? Ah yes, Being Is. Which leads to another omnipotent one syllable word…Now.
Being Is Now. Being is what animates us, in this moment and all of the moments we ever have and ever will experience. Being is consciousness and consciousness can only be Now. There is nothing else beyond the awareness that is the present. Could it be any accident that when you ask if someone is “present” it means “here now”?
You still with me?
Being is the very fabric of all we know ourselves to be. To Be is the awareness, that I Am. It’s that. Both what we are and what we are part of. But even those words don’t define Being, because to be a part of something means to be separate, and we are not separate but simply aspects of the One. Better to gaze at the sunset, or a beautiful flower. The powerful presence of a tree…there we experience the Oneness Being Now. The great spiritual teachers tell us, we are all that, we are all The One. Like rays of the sun, we are in our essence the energy itself. Like what appears to be waves upon the ocean, in our essence, we are the sea.
Being is in and of everything. Nothing exists without being, or consciousness...Awareness is what we are.
O.K,, back to the Emerson's directive: The Courage to Be Who We Are.
If we want to speak and think more simply, (yes, more simply!!) we can see the question as a matter of Truth. “The courage to be who we truly are”. This understanding can be more easily grappled with. What are our innermost yearnings? Are we pretending to BE something in our day-to-day lives other than who we really are? This question is a natural extension of the previous call of freedom - “The escape from all false ties...”.
From this perspective, the courage to be who we are means letting go of pretenses and living from our truest selves. It means not “trying to be” anything, but just being. It’s those walls and boundaries that we keep up between each other. To impress, to protect ourselves, to hide because we fear rejection. To be who we truly are is to be quite end hear our deepest truth about our highest possibilities, our yearnings to be…to reach our full potential, even if we don’t quite yet know what that looks like. Its to follow that still small voice, and faithfully follow where it leads us.
How does this look practically? I thought you might ask that. If we had the courage to be who we are, it might mean:
· Leaving that job that suffocates the joy and love out of us and finding something where we can thrive both inside and out.
· Becoming vocal and asking for what we want and taking action on our behalf.
· Speaking our truth when we do not share the same opinions as others.
· Speaking up when someone makes a racist, sexist or derogatory remark, instead of letting our silence communicate our agreement.
· Admitting to ourselves that we don’t know it all, and that its ok
The Courage to Be Who We Are is accepting ourselves with our strengths and flaws. Its not hiding or playing small, because we fear our brilliance. Its working on ourselves with loving acceptance that we are a work in progress, and have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. It’s knowing that ultimately, if we are not accepted and loved for who we are, than the love is not really love, just comfort, which comes at much greater cost than being alone. Its knowing that our Creator, The One Being, accepts us As We Are.
Next up…."Love of what is simple and beautiful." Hopefully it will be simpler than this post! LOL
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
What do I have to offer? Why am I here?
It’s a question that many of us ask ourselves as we seek to grow and find meaning and purpose.
There are so many people offering their advice, “the way” to contentment and fulfillment…how do we connect with one, or another? Who can know our journey? Whose words will be the keys to unlock our mystery? For some its Jesus, for others, the Dali Lama, or maybe their mothers or fathers. These wise ones speak a language that inspires and helps us to understand.
Ultimately, what I have to offer is not much different from what any of us have to offer; our unique understanding of life, through our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned. In my case, I’ve chosen to make this process my profession. I have educated myself, learned about how people change, what helps them to heal and to face the challenges with grace and hope. This is my life’s purpose.
And with that understanding I share my thoughts, hoping in my words you will find insight, comfort, and meaning, and that my interpretation of life will spark something in you to further your understanding of your journey.
I'll begin where I began. Inspired by one of the world’s greatest thinkers, Emerson. I’ve attempted to live according to these ideals:
The escape from all false ties ; courage to be what we are ; and love of what is simple and beautiful; independence and cheerful relation — these are the essentials. These, and the wish to serve, to add somewhat to the well-being of men. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Starting today, and with my next few blog posts, I will be taking apart this quote line by line. Mediating on each message. I hope you’ll enjoy unraveling it with me!
THE ESCAPE FROM ALL FALSE TIES
Huge concept. What are the false ties in your life? For some it may be a sense of obligation to others, or to a career path. Perhaps you think you have to appear a certain way to be loved. To be cool, liked or admired. To make your parents proud. Maybe its fake friendships. Do you truly enjoy the company of those you spend your time with? Are you comfortable enough with them to share your dreams? Do you feel accepted and loved unconditionally? Or judged and discounted? These are difficult questions…and they lead to answers that could be hard to face. But I have come to know that living an authentic life is worth more to me than false ties. Only you know the answer of question for yourself, and only when you’re ready will you ask it.
Is your marriage a true union, or are is it a false tie? Do you pretend all is well when your spirit is dying? That’s hard to face. But if its truly not supporting you as a person, then maybe its time to look this truth in the eye. This doesn’t mean you should divorce your spouse. Chances are your spouse is suffering from this false tie as well. What would it mean to be honest with yourself and with each other? To have the courage to take steps to move the relationship in a direction that is more in line with your truth. It takes work, and again we have to ask ourselves…what is the value of authenticity in my life?
Perhaps a false tie is achieving financial success, or a sentimental attachment to scarcity…to being an “artist” and not “selling out”. Is it a Fendi bag? Cartier watch? An Audi? Membership to the beach club?
And what about social media? The appearance of being well, popular, loved. Is the image you present on social media a false tie? Its great to share good news! But if you are feeling a social pressure to keep up with the friends, co-workers or family…if it feels fake, then you may need to evaluate what motivates you to want to put on this front.
I am sincerely thankful that my sense of self worth is not wrapped up in the possession of things. I don’t suffer anxiety because of the things I don’t have. Rather, I remind myself of all I do have. Gratitude is truly the antidote for the illness of envy, entitlement and lack-based anxiety.
I stumbled upon this experience several years ago...when I was gripped by a fear of lack. It was torturous, and in seeking relief, I began to think about what I did have…and it was a truly transformative experience. "Counting your blessings" is not just a corny admonition. It really works!
If you find yourself wishing things were different…if only you had done this or that, or gripped by anxiety of what will be - I recommend you give gratitude a try. Make it tangible. Write down all you have in your life. The family, the friends, the job or career. If you don’t have much of those, just count the blessings you do have. If you’re in good health that’s a major one. Or maybe its that one neighbor who always says hi, or your dog or cat who are so happy to see you. For me its my family and friends that truly love me. Its the sunrise and ocean, the beautiful night sky, simply an amazing flower. I am grateful that I can perceive beauty, and that it fills my heart with joy. This is such a blessing. Let the emotions settle in your soul. Even if all you have is another day to try, you can choose to view that as a blessing. Opportunities to grow, although at times painful, are blessings. They keep you moving forward.
What are your false ties? Where in your life are you pretending to be, want, or feel something you’re not?
Next post: THE COURAGE TO BE WHO WE ARE…