doing

Notes from a Recovering Over-Achiever

I'd rather be whole than good

if you really knew me, i was raised as an enabler (check out this really great definition), trying to prove my worthiness by cloaking it in a pretty package of helpfulness, busyness and achievement. in other words, a classic codependent. the thing about this is, i came to identify myself as useful and good because of my helpfulness and achievements rather than being whole and good simply because i exist. and, in the process, i set up myself and everyone around me with this expectation, even at my own expense. can anyone relate to this? it's a habit, once established, that's very hard to break… especially after 52 years.

as i often share with my clients, i've come to see that we all go through cycles of healing and growth, and that, if we allow ourselves to really feel and be present to them, we can come out the other side with more clarity and completeness. well, if you really, really knew me, i've been in the midst of one of those cycles the last few months with no real clarity other than knowing that i've been in nearly constant physical and mental pain and that i need to continue to stay the course with this incredible discomfort. i liken it to being in the "imaginal soup" of a cocoon… you know, no longer a caterpillar (head popped off, body turning to mush) but not yet a butterfly? like, what the hell am i, anyway?

this deep, painful and undeniable letting go of my old self and yet another layer of ego has come up (uhgain!) and i'm just now feeling like i'm coming out the other side.in other words, i've been "in the trenches" this last few months, mucking about in the dark corners of this lifelong dynamic… and it's been humbling to say the least. sometimes more than i wanted.

Metamorphosis - Dongale Studio

it all came to a head one morning a few weeks ago when i woke up in tears and spent pretty much the whole day crying. i was totally unclear about why until i shared with my husband that i was feeling deeply out of place and totally overwhelmed returning home to California after our beautiful trip to Switzerland. as i talked it out, though, i realized a few things:

1.  in Switzerland i had an experience of being wholly accepted by his family for who i was without my having had to do anything to earn that acceptance. they didn't know anything about my work or accomplishments, my efforts and failures, my compulsive over-achieving or my tendency towards almost constantly comparing myself to others who i view as more successful than me. all they knew and experienced was that i love their brother with all my heart, and that i love to laugh and sing, try new things (foods, languages, experiences) and spend time having meaningful conversations.

2. that this inveterate expectation of myself to be everything for everyone began when my mother, whom i loved very much and with whom i had a very codependent relationship, carried me in her womb.

3. that i must diligently work to give up this pattern of expectation if i want to be happy.

having said that, i imagine that you may be thinking, "Well, duh!"… especially since these are things i've been writing about for years. with all honesty, however, i can say that i have been fully, utterly, humbled by this last round of "learning what i teach." i'm so grateful to Jakob for pointing out to me with such compassion that i am creating my own reality, and that maybe - just maybe - i have some attachments i can give up, and for tenderly holding space and time for me to cry and be "in it." in that space, i got to raise my head above it enough to see that it's time to give up possibly the biggest chunk of the identity to which i've clung for nearly 52 years that is clearly not serving me anymore… the need to "make a difference" in the world, the need to be seen.

in other words, it's time to choose being whole rather than good.

i think what's been brewing as i've been swimming in this soupy space between caterpillar and butterfly is that i'm being re-wired to be moved by what's right in front of me rather than my ego-driven visions and plans for the future. to find my authentic rhythm with life and trust that my muse will return if i just give her some space. it's like the Universe has been forcing me to re-evaluate how i'm being in the world, guiding me to look really deeply at myself and urging me to slough off anything that doesn't feel like an absolute "yes." as i've been listening, mostly i've heard, "just be. it's not time yet." so, i've continued watering and weeding the garden, watching my internal responses to the process (comparison, self-doubt, worry and anxiety about not doing enough), breathing and letting go (allowing myself to enjoy this simple life with the love of my life and our family).

and, as much as my ego wants to press forward with all the plans i'd made for myself, i'm giving myself as much time as i need. i'm learning to… unwind the tightly wound springs of a lifetime of doing, unravel and release the threads of voices other the one that says i'm enough just because i am and for no other reason, unbend the shape i'd twisted myself into believing i had to prove myself and achieve anything in order to justify my existence.

it's not an easy journey for a recovering over-achiever, but it is a necessary one.

as my friend Jordanna shared recently, "The more driven we are to do big things in this world, the less we may allow ourselves to slow down and take full advantage of the lessons that are popping up in front of us to learn. Not only do we risk missing out on the sweetness of life and the many glories that can come from it,... we also risk not receiving the full transformation that comes when we slow down long enough to not only get the lesson, but to be our own teachers and take each lesson a few chapters deeper in the book of life."

life has forced my hand. it's slowed me down without question and i'm finally listening.

what i know for sure is… i matter enough to take this time and dive deeply into what is coming forth now as my deeper layer of authentic expression. it is truly a blessing to have this opportunity to do so and i'm excited for what will come of it, even if it's just spending more time planting seeds and harvesting zucchini.

Figures drawing "Metamorphosis" by Don Gale

being vs. doing… part 2

giving up my personal will… ahhhhhhhh!!!

Worry won't stop the bad stuff from happening

wednesday, february 19 2014

i've been up since 3:46. feeling hopeless, less than grateful and slightly numb.

i've been struggling. again. with my spiritual practice. with getting things done. with wondering what i'm missing that is causing my bank account to be at another all-time low. with anxiety (if you really knew me). with pride. with saying what i feel i need to say even when it's f-xx-ing terrifying. like right now.

am i depressed? i don't know.

i'm struggling. yet again. with another cycle of Being vs. Doing… the cycle of staying present one moment enjoying the ride, then flying off the merry-go-round in some version of the past (practiced apart scarcity tale) or future (feeling unsure terrified uncertain restless expecting- ooh! good acronym!) the next.

i'm struggling. with this great urge to WAKE UP - myself, others, the world - to what's going on in the world. to the tragedy of repeated human folly, this broken record of behaviors we seem to be incapable of changing. to my fear that i can't do anything about any of it. to this hopelessness sometimes disguised as cynicism about my government, the corporate machine and about our ability to make a real, lasting shift before it's too late.

i'm struggling. with the fact that i pour my heart into these blogs and hope that someone will comment on them, but when i check for comments, all i see are 2,344 pieces of spam which, although sometimes look like actual comments, turn out to be complete crap. i wonder… am i writing into a black hole? are all these words just my over-active brain on some really great ego-trip thinking that someone else actually cares about the things i care about? is this just a glorified diary minus the miniature lock and teeny tiny key? am i just shouting into the void with a big, colorful yet broken, silent megaphone?

ok. i guess i'm depressed. a little bit. (and indulging in a pretty good-sized pity party.)

maybe the fact that i wake up at least once a week at 3 or 4 in the morning with anxiety - about everything from money to worrying about the elephants to the fact that my to do list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter- has something to do with it. hmmmm….

and, then of course, i worry that, if i post this blog - this one - the confessional about how messy i feel right now, it will be the one that gets more response than the one i worked on so hard about the NSA and our blasé attitude about the fact that we are all being watched by our own government. i keep asking myself, "what's the point of all this writing, anyway?" am i just jerking off publicly? or are these random postings actually helpful to someone else? (i sure hope so.)

to be perfectly honest, i'm struggling with this habitual drive to make a difference in the world and my deep desire to just go work in the garden. i really, truly wonder- what is the best way for me to "be the change" i wish to see in the world? 

option a) make a difference:

strategy… try to make Get That You Matter the global movement i envisioned a few years ago. use my will to "put myself out there" in the biggest way possible. go boldly forth into what i make up would be a more-than-busy schedule of marketing, promotion and sales (gag me!) in a go-go-go frenzy to "make my mark" and get this message out. sell the book on Amazon (booooo!). do the "power woman" thing (i.e. sacrifice my personal relationships, down time and walks in nature) to serve "the greater good" as i sally forth to make real my vision of inspiring millions of people.

outcome… honestly, as much as i know this message is good (maybe even great) and as much as i believe in it (having poured my heart and soul into it for the last 7+ years), whenever i think about what it would take to do this, i want to throw up.

hmmm… is this my resistance? or is it my deep knowing that something is really "off" about this entire approach? i don't know.

option b) work in the garden:

strategy… allow Get That You Matter to grow organically, slowly and locally (kinda like the only food we should be eating). work on a grassroots level. "think globally, act locally." maybe get a job so i don't have to worry about how i'm going to pay next month's bills. trust that it will get to who it needs to get to with word-of-mouth. let someone else do some gentle yet effective marketing (yes!). meditate. pray. write books, blogs and poetry. read good books. grow lettuce and carrots. cultivate my personal relationships. laugh and love with my sweetheart. walk in nature. slow down, knowing that my will is shaky and deceptive at best. use and TRUST Divine Will. serve the "community good" and, if it unfolds naturally, the "greater good" as i sally forth with my journal, computer and pitchfork in hand.

outcome… even though this option is scary for my ego to even consider, whenever i think about it, i breathe more deeply and want to cry.

hmmm… is this my resistance to being "unstoppable"? is it me giving up on my dreams? or is this my deep knowing that something is right on about this approach? i'm 97% sure this is the option to choose.

the trick is… remembering to give up my will, to let the Divine be my guide and to be grateful.

Is This My Resistance To Being Unstoppablei have written about gratitude and all kinds of things to help me remember. and sometimes, i forget. huge chunks of my joy and peace flake off like the Manhattan-sized iceberg that calved off of Antarctica a few weeks ago. sometimes it feels like the surrender, the joy, the gratitude are as slow to grow as glaciers. sometimes it feels like it's right here. like this gorgeous sunrise shining through the window (yes, i've been up since 3:46am.).

i recently saw a couple of posts by two women who are very wise and popular… women i admire for "making it" with their life's passions and, to be perfectly frank, women whom i envy for the same reason. kind of like they inspire me and make me sick all at the same time. (and that is so not about them… i hope some day i have the opportunity to share this with them.)

the first post was on facebook by Lissa Rankin. i really resonated with it because i think that's partly what my struggle is about:  "…the more I deepen on my spiritual path, the more I realize that the very will I've counted on my whole life in order to achieve my goals is sabotaging me. As Adyashanti writes, 'True realization, true enlightenment, comes through a complete relinquishing of personal will- a complete letting go…. By surrendering the illusion of personal will, a whole different state of consciousness is born in us; a rebirth happens.' Imagine that. Rebirth. Resurrection. Surrender... Anthony de Mello said, 'Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.' Wouldn't that be a relief, to finally let go of the handle, stop trying to force your personal will on an uncontrollable universe, and just TRUST?"

after that, i saw this gorgeous piece, "The Initiated Woman," by Danielle LaPorte which sang to my soul, especially this line. "She knows that when people are ready, they’re ready, and they’re never ready before they’re ready. Still, she holds the light for your readiness, because she knows how sweet it is when the time is right." honestly, it made me a bit sad because i don't think i have completed my own initiation. what i mean is, i make up that i haven't yet become as fierce as i may need to be. but, what i know for certain is that we are always ready when we're ready- never a moment before and never a moment too late. i know that, deep in my bones, because what's going on here is that i simply haven't been ready. until this year. and so it all comes back to giving up personal will. i've had moments of that - even months on end - when i let go of all the drive and comparison and surrendered to the moment, to the "inevitable" truth of the Divine, rising up and greeting the day with tears of joy and gratitude. total bliss. but… it seems like every time i'm striving or efforting or wanting to "make it" (whatever the hell that means!), i spiral down into this place. right here.

yes. i'm depressed. today. i've been forgetting that my will is not what matters. i've been forgetting to surrender. i've been forgetting that i matter just because i exist, and that my words are ringing true somewhere - even if it's just in my own heart.

what to do about it?

choose option b.

pray. pray. pray.

drink some more hot cocoa (that always helps).

go pull some weeds.

get busy and write my next blog.

 

or just breathe.

A Transparency Story: A Human-Being/Doing/Shoulding

There is something bold abouti have a confession to make. i struggle. pretty much every day. with Being. here. now… and Doing. worrying about the future. stuck in the past.

i've thought about this for a long time and realized that, in writing this month's blog about my experience of Being Bold, i need to be completely honest. Back in December, i had intended to write a bunch of blogs ahead of time - you know, get ahead? i was going to write one about other people i admire who have been bold like Edward Snowden and Nelson Mandela, and about things happening in the world that i want to share boldly like the travesties of the Keystone Pipeline and the NSA. But the truth is, i did not feel like writing. Instead i spent my time preparing for the holidays, buying gifts and making plans for wonderful meals with family and friends.

i kept telling myself, "i should be working on my blogs for January, writing the January newsletter and clearing out my email inbox like i promised myself!" Instead i worked on my Getting That You Matter workshop and spent countless hours posting, tweeting and blasting emails to market it… because, if you really knew me, i was terrified that, after all the years of working towards launching my work in the world, no one would show up and i'd be sitting there in a room full of mostly empty seats - ashamed and alone.

What actually happened was amazing – a miracle really! Twenty four – yes, 24 – brave, bold souls took the chance on me and my invitation, and i witnessed a powerful, inspiring, beautiful process of awakening unfold before my eyes. i really can't tell you (because words have been failing me a great deal since the workshop) what a blessing it was, how gratifying it was, what a precious gift it was – to witness that unfolding in each person who hung in there for the ride. i was truly blown away, finding myself in tears many times over the two and a half days, at their courage, willingness and tenacity. it was long, intense and chock full of information. And here's the kicker – here's why i'm writing what I'm writing:  i am coming to a deeper understanding (and i imagine this may be true for some of you, too) of just how much i struggle most of the time with striking that fine balance between Being and Doing.

i guess what makes this blog as bold as it is is that i have to expose the truth of just how great that struggle can be sometimes here in this body. i know, with all my heart, who we Be is what makes the difference – what really makes us matter. And yet, without the doing, nothing will happen to shift us out of the mess we're in – i mean the global mess. Because, if you haven't noticed, we are in a mess - the biggest one we've ever been in as a species. And, the thing is – we've messed it up, not only for ourselves but for countless others on this precious planet. We have forgotten that we are part of this planet. We've been living under the illusion that we are separate from our mother earth. And in doing so, we have allowed ourselves to treat her, our brothers and sisters, each other and ourselves as though we don't matter at all.

The great paradox is that part of what's gotten us into this mess is forgetting who we are – our Being – which has caused us to allow ourselves to do the terrible, mindless things we've done. We have sacrificed who we really are for what we thought we could do. And we are paying a terrible price which is only going to get higher and higher the more we sacrifice our Being on the altar of our Doing.

So, if you really knew me, i struggle every day with how to balance my Being and my Doing. Why am i writing about this now, at the beginning of what promises to be another powerful year? Because i really believe there is something bold about speaking our truth, admitting what goes on "in here" especially when we're driving in circles in the "bad neighborhood" of our stuck thinking when we forget that we are connected to everything.

i realized that i go through cycles… sometimes i feel really grounded in my being and in my deep faith in my connection to God. Other times, i feel so ungrounded and stuck in my doing, flailing around wondering where i "lost" my connection to God. Do you experience that? i make up that most of us do from time to time. So, here's my request. i'd really like to hear your thoughts. What do you struggle with? How do you "should" on yourself? How do you get stuck in your Doing? And how do you reconnect to your Being? I look forward to your comments and stories, and i promise i'll reply. This is an important conversation.

Next time, i'll write about all those big, bold things and people. Today, i get that i matter. Today, i'm really happy to Be here. Today, i hope you are, too.