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Awake at Midnight Thirty

Sooo, this is me awake at midnight thirty, listening to my new favorite musician Ben Howard, the night before my big spoken word show & CD release party. A time when normally I’d have around three hours of slumber under my belt.

It seems I forgot to heed the doc’s warning not to take the steroids prescribed to me for the acute treatment of laryngitis past the hour of 2:00pm.

Welp. I may be running on little to no sleep tomorrow but I should have a voice with which to use for the show, which is kinda important. So there’s that :)

In attempts to combat the pulsing energy of the meds, I’m drinking a cup of herbal tea. The teabag message – tossed overboard like a climbing rope from my mug and currently resting beside my keyboard – reads: You will always live happy if you live with heart. I used to regard teabag messages as rather trite and hokey – but not anymore. We need more positive messages strewn about from teacups the world over. We need em wherever and however we can get em.

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Along the thread of messaging, I’ve been making an effort lately to share about my inner workings of fear, centered around the unfolding process of my upcoming show. I think it’s helpful to share this element with others who would otherwise be quick to judge a book by its cover, deeming me as someone who has no qualms whatsoever about getting up on a stage, performing, recording herself in album form, and so on – which is most assuredly not the case.

Earlier today – or, I guess yesterday now technically – I posted this on my personal Facebook page:

With nerves in rising swell preparing for tomorrow night’s big show, the following exchange took place between my husband and I before he went off to work this morning:

Me: Sooo, I’m probably going to be rather a pill until the show tomorrow night. Just sayin. So, I pre-apologize.

Him: What kind of pill?

Me: Like one of those horse pills. The kind that’s unpleasant and hard to swallow.

Him: Mmm mmm.

Me: But if it’s any consolation, I will ALSO practice to infuse some comic relief into the mix, too – so there’s that.

Him: Like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down?

Me: Sure. Okay. Yeah. Like that.

 

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Hello Fear

Hello fear.
How’s it goin’ buddy?
Okay. Here’s the deal.
You can stay in the car – ya know, the car being a metaphor for myself – but I’m not giving you the keys.
You can kick it in the backseat.
You can even act like a 2-year-old and throw a fit, if you’d like.
I’ll even let you ride shotgun once in a while.
But like, you’re totally NOT driving, is what I’m saying.
End of discussion.
So you might as well quit asking.

 

P.S Did I mention this gig I have coming up next week is a REALLY big stretch for me?! :)

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Creative Writing

 

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Choosing to Shine

A few years ago, I started on a journey to practice shining more. Shining my talents, abilities, and forms of creative expression. For me, shining means stepping into something and not letting fear run the show. I came to see how often I shirked back from shining – out of fear. Fear of ego and fear of out-shining others.

In a little under 3-weeks, the culmination of my journey thus far will manifest in a solo spoken word performance and CD release party here in town. To say that I am nervous would be a remarkable understatement. But, as I’ve been sharing with folks lately, I’m proud of myself because despite having feelings of doubt and fear and uncertainty, I’m still doing it. I’m still moving forward, one scary moment at a time. My tracks are recorded and mastered; my CD’s are ordered; the gig is set; my booklet of lyrics is at the print shop. It’s happening!

If you’re interested in checking out my event page for this upcoming gig: https://spark.adobe.com/page/hC5Y8cQ32xv1e/

Something I’ve realized over the years is that fear isn’t rational, which is a big part of what makes it challenging to work with. If fear were a rational process, it would be fairly easy to talk our way out of it. But we all know that engaging in an intellectual dialog when it comes to a certain fear we have is futile. For example, let’s say we’re afraid of flying. Would it reduce your fear, even an iota, if someone were to give you the facts and statistics about how flying is safer than driving? No, probably not. Fear cannot be addressed in the head, it has to be addressed in the heart of our experience. In order to work with fear, we have to get out of our head and into our heart.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. Since fear lives in the head, I’ve been breathing in and practicing to exhale and delve deeper into the fragrant and calming waters of the heart. I’ve been practicing to use gentle and loving speech with myself: I see you fear. You are present and part of my experience AND I’m choosing not to let you run the show. You can hang out and all – but I’m choosing to shine.

I love that the following poem is so well-known. I’ve encountered it in a variety of places over the years – my most favorite spot being the middle school my stepson went to a few years ago, where an excerpt hung in large lettering on a banner in the hallway.

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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On Fear

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A week or so ago my husband Mike and I were discussing the topic of difficult emotions, in the context of our mindfulness practice. He mentioned being continually surprised by the common lack of mentioning fear, as one of the big prevailing emotions. Anger is referenced often, but seldom is fear spoken about. He posited that fear was, in fact, the root of all other difficult emotions. I agreed that anger, for instance, is not a root emotion, but a response to feelings of either hurt or fear. Most of what we feel arise as an emotion is rooted in another deeper layer of experience, often in our subconsciousness. But I never considered that fear may be what lies at the heart of all strong/challenging emotions. I took it as food for thought and have been chewing on it, so to speak, ever since.

When I first encountered the well-known quote by Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” I didn’t connect with her words and quickly sloughed them off. But now, years later, I understand. While I don’t presume to know how often this is true for others, I do know that a couple of years ago I discovered her insight to be true for myself. During a month-long retreat at Deer Park Monastery, I came to realize that I had a strong tendency of holding myself back from shining, which is what I refer to as our capacity to emit a certain inherent radiance when acting with joy and confidence in who we are and what we’re doing. I realized that what sat at the root of my trepidation, was fear. Fear of ego, fear of offending others or making them feel uncomfortable, fear of growing apart from certain loved ones by outshining them. Fear of becoming powerful beyond measure.

Ever since this light bulb of self-realization turned on, I’ve been slowly transforming this fear, working to dissipate it into the clear waters of understanding, where freedom resides. I’m learning the difference between egoism and self-confidence, and how it’s easy to confuse and misinterpret them. I’m learning that in holding myself back from shining, I’m also holding myself back from connecting fully, with both myself and others. I’m learning that to not shine as brightly as I can is to perform a disservice to who I am. And I’m learning to let go of over care-taking for people, by trying to affirm responsibility for their reactions, feelings,  and experiences.

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I’m learning to embrace the abilities and talents that I possess and shine as brightly as I can. It’s an ongoing process that continues to unfold and deepen. The more time I invest in becoming good friends with myself the more I see clearly about how important it is to develop this relationship – to relinquish my fear and embrace who I am with inclusiveness and ease.

Imagine the possibilities if more of us were less afraid of shining our light, helping to usher others forward to claim their own strength and wisdom. We all have the capacity to be the ones we’ve been waiting for.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Everyday Practice

 

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Daily Practice – Day 20

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Day 20 – I did my 10 minutes of sitting meditation before leaving the house this morning.  I’ve been finding this online meditation timer really helpful: http://onlinemeditationtimer.com/  Since I’m on my laptop a lot when I’m at home the online timer gives me the flexibility to sit anywhere in the house and not just in the bedroom where my meditation clock/timer is.

I stumbled upon the quote above a couple of weeks ago and really resonate with its message.  This saying is interwoven with what I often talk about in regards to having a small comfort zone and not being able to step outside of it.  When we cultivate a security bubble, never challenging ourselves in different situations, places or around other people we generate a small comfort zone and then have difficulty engaging in anything outside of what we’re familiar with.  In our attempt to avoid discomfort and suffering we often will create more discomfort and suffering simply by trying to control the parts of life that are out of our control.

In my experience when we are able to make friends with the things, places, people, and situations that create fear, stress, anxiety, sorrow, frustration, discomfort or difficulty we are then able to let go of the tension we create by trying to control and avoid those things.

This is one example I’ve heard a lot over the years from people in our meditation sharing circles – let’s say I’m afraid of spiders (we have a lot of them around the mindfulness center :).  If whenever a spider appears I react by shrieking, shirking away, turning my head so I can’t see it, tensing up my whole body, and eventually fleeing the area I will never be able to make friends with the spider.  In that moment I would be making friends with my fear and imagination instead.  We have very active imaginations (and many of us have watched WAY too much tv/movies).  We allow our minds to carry us far away from reality and what is happening in the present moment.  When we are able to stop and come back to our breathing our breath will be our anchor to the here and now.

Of course with all things there is a balance and it will be different for each of us.  I’m not saying we need to immerse ourselves in a tank of spiders or that we have to pick one up everyday and say, “Hello little friend, how are you today.”   But I know for myself that when I am able to take small steps in the direction of making friends with whatever it is I am uncomfortable with I move in the direction of ease and joy and I then become more skillful when it comes to the next situation.  And there is always a next situation to be encountered.

 
 

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