Discomfort

 

Sometimes I forget, in the intensity of my journey, how my changes affect those around me.

As I have grown, shed, evolved, shed again, and continued to come back into alignment with myself the internal process has been all-consuming. Sometimes, the changes and shifts happen so fast that I don’t understand what has happened…sometimes it takes several months to really comprehend the edges of such things, much less the core. For most of this year, there has been so much inner flux that my concentration has primarily been on breathing from one moment to the next.

So, I suppose it’s understandable that I completely lost track of how my changes were affecting my outer world…and my perceptions of it. And it has…changed.

Through this process, I’ve become more and more aware of an inner restlessness and a pulling toward something, but I have had no idea what that something actually is. I would search for it in meditation, but it was too nebulous…like a bat in the night…fleeting and never quite identifiable. To be honest, I’m not sure if the fleetingness was due to the actual issue or my fear…for there was a great amount of fear. How could I step into that pulling when I didn’t even know what it was? I had a great job…I lived in a great town…I had a great life. I’d be a fool to throw that all away just because something was flitting about “out there” calling me. The whole thing seemed ludicrous to me, so I just shoved the impulse of my heart down and away and continued on.

But a funny thing happened…work began to lose its appeal. My co-workers were no longer so congenial. My boss became less competent and much more out of integrity. I kept bumping up against the walls of my home, where formerly I had felt a lot of room. Gradually, I became aware of all the cracks in my life…all the places that really weren’t so fabulous…all the things I had chosen to ignore for one reason or another.

I told myself I was just ungrateful…that I wanted too much…that I thought too much of myself. I tried to change my thinking by expressing gratitude for all the marvelous things in my life…of which there were many. And then another funny thing happened…the gratitude grew! I had lots and lots more to be grateful for, and so I expressed even more gratitude. But there was a side-effect…the discomfort with my life didn’t ease. Not even a little bit. Instead, it grew! 

How is that even possible?! I’m expressing gratitude for my amazing life…and believe me, it really is amazing…and my discomfort is not abating at all? Rather, my soul’s calling toward something bigger and greater, with more responsibility, more passion, more integrity, more consciousness grew with such intensity that there were times I just couldn’t sit still in my chair at work. 

But, I just couldn’t face this calling. It was too big…what if I couldn’t handle it? It was too much responsibility…what if I failed? It required too much of me…what if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations? What if I risked everything and was left holding nothing? I have responsibilities now…responsibilities I can’t just walk away from simply because my heart is calling me to some unknown, nebulous idea. That is just foolishness. So, down it went again. Yet, I continued to express daily gratitude.

And then work became unbearable. Co-workers’ practices became so distasteful to me that all trust eroded away. I suddenly saw them and their practices because I saw their true motivations, and I was appalled. I realized that my perfect life that I had so carefully guarded, defended, and had given my loyalty wasn’t at all what I thought it to be. But, maybe I could change it. Maybe, if I pointed out the areas that lacked integrity, these things could be fixed and I wouldn’t have to walk away. Maybe that’s why I was still in my job…to teach and to fix. So I opened my mouth.

Alas. My words resulted in me being labelled a troublemaker. My attitude was labelled contentious. My quality of work was called into question…even though the quality of my work was higher than ever before. My honor and my character were questioned and I was accused of things that would be impossible for my character to allow. My protests and scads of documentation fell on deaf ears. I stared in amazement as my life started to crumble. 

In a last-ditch effort, I asked for support from Human Resources and we began mediated conversations to try to reconcile the situation. Each week, as I entered the meetings, my internal discomfort increased. I sat in increased amazement as week after week I presented the documentation, studies, professional guidelines, and accepted practices against the reality of my job only to see blank faces staring back at me like I was a crazy person spewing an incomprehensible language.

Six weeks into the process I broke. I went home completely devastated. I asked my mother that night if I was insane. She said no. I called another friend…and another…and another…all asking the same question. They all replied with the same answer. I called other professionals in my same line of work. Same response.

I felt stuck.

Confused. 

I could see the problem…and the answer. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to me?

Then my heart called again. 

Wearily, I glanced in its direction. 

It invited me to imagine…to take a journey with my mind and heart aligned…to really examine my dreams, my hopes, my wishes, my needs, my wants…to see them fully and completely…free of fear. So, I did. The discomfort, however, didn’t go away…it only increased, because I finally could see. I could see that my present life is no longer in integrity with the internal changes I have made…and those internal changes are calling me to something else. Without the fear, I could see that while painful, my co-workers were honoring my heart more than I had. They were not letting me stay in my comfortable place when I really desired, and was ready for, something more. 

When Monday morning came, I walked into the Human Resources department and stated that it was time for me to leave my job. The response shocked me…they were shocked…the entire school, my boss, my co-workers…everyone. I was incredulous! How could they be shocked? Wasn’t this what they wanted? 

Wasn’t this also what you wanted?

As I walked back to my office, I heard a meeting adjourn in the higher realms. Chairs pushing back, sighs of relief as though breaths had been held, cheers, hands shaking, back clapping, and all kinds of murmuring. What came through most strongly to me was: She finally did it! She finally made a decision. Now we can get to work!

In that moment, I felt like a shell fell off my back.

I broke through.

I broke free.

I expanded into my full self.

The relief flooded in. 

I chose me. 

I chose my heart.

I choose the unknown.

I choose the void.

Let the miracles continue.

 

Emergence

As one begins the process of emerging, one finds words again…able to organize thoughts into coherent lines…have a bit more energy…feel restless. By the end of June, everything is back online again…fully functional, even though I know things are different. It is as though I’ve been hiding in a cave for six months, and have just stepped out…blinded by the light…realizing loneliness…desiring connection with others.

Three weeks later, after practicing my new “feet” and “balance” in my new self, I set off on a month of adventures. I revisit old, familiar places…finding pieces of myself from 10 years ago that I have left behind. I meet, talk, and commune with people…some of whom I haven’t seen in over 10 years…some of whom live many states away and hadn’t planned to see me. Again, I see myself reflected back to me in new ways. Old stories challenged. Old memories challenged. Nothing is quite like I remember it, and yet…I am still there…left behind like a hidden, shameful secret. Professionally, I learn new skills, confronting and pushing through barriers I didn’t know I held for myself. My temporary colleagues reflect back to me my confidence and competence…my passion and my sensitivity, and again, I pick up pieces of myself that I had forgotten even existed.

As the pieces keep coming back to me, my internal peace increases. Where once I would have been terrified to be seen fully and completely for who I am, I gradually begin to realize the safety that exists within me. As internal safety increases, my confidence increases…with startling reactions. People flock to me. They share their souls’ yearnings and dark questions…as though I somehow have answers for them. Of course I don’t. All I can offer is the assurance of safety in pursuing individual paths by staying internally connected. By the time I leave two weeks later, my heart overflows with an abundance of love, joy, and gratitude for the blessings that consume me.

A week later, I journey to another place for a few days. Again, I am confronted with pieces of myself in places with old family history. Grandparent history and family culture history. I see family patterns and stories in new ways, and see my child self in a new light…and I am filled with compassion for her. Again, stories are rewritten…and my place and purpose changes. Again, as my pieces come home, I am startled at the response…an unknown woman stops her truck, rolls down her window, stares at me in awe, and finally tells me that I look absolutely stunning…wishing she could tell me specifically why.

A few days later, I travel to another state. For the first time, I’m completely unorganized and unprepared for a trip. I barely make the airport shuttle and am completely rattled by the time I sit down. As I go within, seeking calmness, I discover an incredible amount of love and compassion. I choose to just sit in that space the entire trip to the airport. Once there, and easily through security, I discover that the flight is delayed. Mildly annoyed due to eagerness to reunite with family on the other end, I wander into a bookshop…always my first place of solace. I realize that I will be purchasing at least one book, so I consciously intend that only books with a life-long impact will make their way into my hands. I leave with the book “Aleph” by Paolo Cohelo.

As the flight takes off, I marvel at my surrounding companions. No one is quite together or controlled. Across the aisle is a tall, black, gay man, clearly terrified of flying, who retreats to a world of lyrically expressive rap…vocalized…volume increasing with his fear. Two rows back sits a family from India, the small boy addicted to kicking the seat in front of him. In between them is a father and son, connected to the mother and daughter sitting next to me. Because their children want the window seats, I’m in the middle of the passing of anything and everything between the two sides of the family. Behind me is a row of women who must have some sort of water issue, for there is rarely five minutes of time that passes without one of them exiting to the restroom…pulling my hair every time. In front of me is a young man, wearing role-playing clothes, a long ponytail and a choke collar. Next to him is a woman in her late sixties, clinging to her youth with her brightly and badly colored red hair, botched plastic surgery, and a smoker’s cough. In front of her is a young woman in her 30s, also embracing the goth culture, clearly smitten by the handsome 20-something Australian men to her left. In order to gain their attention, she puts on her massive headphones and starts to fully rock out in her seat…rarely does her derriere touch the seat for any length of time. Between songs, she turns to talk loudly to the young man in front of me, until he resorts to rocking in his seat…at which point, she talks to the red-haired woman. The Australian young men look around for another place to sit…trying not to panic because there are no other seats open on the flight. It is precisely at this moment, realizing that nowhere else on the plane is there a solitary twitch of movement, how fortunate I am. I’m surrounded by people fully embracing who they are and fully living in the moment. I’m surrounded by people who are unafraid to connect with those around them…creating a network…a web of memories that no one else in the plane will experience.

As the week unfolds, the plane’s lessons stay with me. In the gift of the web of connection with my chosen family…all strongly and beautifully flawed, completely open in brutal honesty…I again discover pieces of myself. Pieces that I’ve left with them…in stories we share…stories that we now realize we want to rewrite. So we do. We recreate ourselves and our web…piece by piece…into a strong foundation of a richer, deeper, more compassionate community.

On my last night of my adventures, exhausted with joy and memories and sorrow at separation, I read this in “Aleph”:

“I skim an article about Chinese bamboo. Apparently, once the seed has been sown, you see nothing for about five years, apart from a tiny shoot. All the growth takes place underground, where the complex root system reaching upward and outward is being established. Then, at the end of the fifth year, the bamboo suddenly shoots up to a height of twenty-five meters.”

I stop.

I realize, I’m completing my fifth year.

I’ve emerged and am reconnecting…preparing to shoot up twenty-five meters.

Stay in the flow…massive change is about to happen.

Trust.

Be Joyful.

Be Peace-filled.

Be Love-filled.

Be.

New Music and New Friends

Guitar Goddess

I love surprises and spontaneous adventures, and recently, after asking Goddess for a wee bit more spice in my life, some amazingly fun things have popped up.

Yesterday afternoon, my mother received a phone call asking her if she’d be interested in attending a concert that evening. The caller had an extra ticket that she wanted to share. My mom then called me and asked me if I wanted to go and she offered to pay for my ticket as a birthday gift (I love that my birthday is being celebrated for almost a month!). As always, up for an adventure, I instantly agreed without even knowing who was performing or what was involved.

Two hours later, we arrived early at the venue and decided to walk the grounds while we waited. As we walked, we met an older gentleman and we began chatting. Even though we had never met, all three of us felt quite comfortable in each other’s presence…like long-time friends. As we turned to walk back to the theatre, the gentleman asked if we’d purchased tickets. I responded no, as we were waiting for the rest of our party. He then stated that he’d purchased two tickets and offered one to us! Happy Birthday to me!! er…for you, Mom. Guess you get to come up with another way to spend that money 🙂

We three sat together during the concert, and had a splendid time. The performer was exquisite, but the gentleman’s company equally so. It definitely felt like a magical moment in time when all things come together at once as though Divinely appointed and orchestrated.

The performer, Lily Afshar, is a classical guitarist. She was the first woman guitarist to earn a Doctoral Degree in guitar performance and is now a professor at the University of Memphis. Originally from Iran, her performance list incorporated many pieces from Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, ParaguayTurkey and Iran…many of which she arranged or commissioned. 

Her performance lived up to all accolades. Her touch is light but with purpose; strong but with nuance. Many times I shifted in my seat in amazement in order to better view her fingers so I could see how she was creating such sounds. Her fingerwork was so clean that I never heard them squeak against the strings (a sound I detest), nor did she pluck a string just to have it die before it could resonate (another thing that frustrates my ears). There was no sliding from one note to the next, unless the piece specifically called for it as an effect. Just simple, clean, elegant, delightful and precise playing.

Thank you Goddess for yet another fun adventure, new music and new friends!

Summer Scents

Natural Perfumery

I went adventuring today. Any good adventure always requires a hat (mine was a large, floppy carnation pink selection), sunglasses, appropriate shoes (cute flip flops), a fresh pedicure and a smoothie to go.

As I wandered, I stumbled upon a little passageway, tucked away in a wall of wildflowers, ivy and trees. Only at one angle could I see that this was indeed a path that only those fortunate enough to know of its existence used. I decided I would be one of those fortunate ones.

As I stepped onto the path, the noise of the busy street behind me diminished significantly and I felt a smile creep across my face as I anticipated what was before me. Four more steps, and I popped out onto a lazy and serene cul-de-sac lined with impeccably groomed homes and gardens. I shivered with delight and slowly made my way down the too short street. 

The scent was so subtle at first that I didn’t even notice it. The sun caressed my back as I admired a tree and then a small puff of wind strengthened the smell. This strong whiff pulled me out of my dream state in search of the origins of this warm, pungent perfume that had enveloped me. I turned a corner, and exclaimed in delight at the vision before me in white and green. The cascading birch trees punctuated the huge swaths of blooming ground honeysuckle out of which sprang fountains of white roses. The resulting air wrapped me in a cocoon of warm damp earth, heady honey sweetness, delicate rose tendrils and tangy scented leaves. Reluctantly I pulled myself away, savoring the lingering giddiness that lightened my step.

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