Category Archives: change

Off to BE the Wizard…

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As the new year begins, I too have a resolution. I am taking Edwene Gaines’ 21 Day Challenge: to fast from complaining for twenty-one days – the length of time psychologists say it takes to change a habit. Complaining is a bad habit. Addiction specialists tell us that the easiest way to overcome any bad habit is to replace it with a healthier one. And so, I will begin each of the 21 days by listing at least eight things in my life that I am grateful for. It’s a wonderfully sneaky exercise as it starts you thinking in terms of gratitude…and you tend to keep thinking this way throughout the day. I’m so grateful someone else figured that out for me…

I’m on Day Three today, and I have a big confession: I have done Day One over more times than I can count. You see, if you slip up you must start over the next day. If you know me, you find it remarkable that I’ve made it this far! Meaning, of course, that if I can stop complaining, ANYONE CAN STOP COMPLAINING!

But I am putting my “money where my mouth is”…as Edwene says in her Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity. It’s time to walk the talk. My friend Nadine gave me this book for Christmas (grateful.) IT JUST WASN’T THIS CHRISTMAS! It was a year ago. That should give you a hint about what I’m working with here….sheeeeeeez….but in my defense, the book was packed in a box for months during my  l o n g  move (not complaining) and I just re-discovered it. With prompting from Nadine…

Last week Nadine sent me this YouTube video which reminded me that I had that book around here somewhere. I invite you to listen to this Yoda in the form of a munchkin…and follow the yellow brick road with me.

“The more you complain, the longer God lets you live.” -unknown

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Sometimes the Truth Is Like A Second Chance

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Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, “I like your Christianity. I do not like your Christians.”

My fundamentalist born again sisters used to wear bracelets with W.W.J.D. engraved on them…they brought a smile to my face and made me happy. They always made me think “What Would JONI Do?” And as long as I was thinking of Joni, I could hardly go wrong. I read recently that when Joni Mitchell met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche she offered him a line of her cocaine. He sat up, appearing indignant and began breathing like a dragon, nostrils flaring…she was sure she had offended him. He continued to breath this way for a long time. Slowly she began to feel differently, and soon entered into an altered state where she remained until she had another thought…as herself, another “I” thought – that snapped her out of it. Three days had passed. She was cured of her addictions.

I have had a similar experience, seemingly brought on by illness. There was no other person present at the time, at least not visibly. I felt a strong presence, and I believed it to be the Christ. Not the man, Jesus, but the Christ – the state of enlightenment. Christ wasn’t the man’s last name – he was Jesus THE Christ – meaning the christened, the enlightened. Personally I think if the man DID manifest himself back into A body and walk the planet, he would be appalled at the behavior of most who call themselves “Christians”. And I also believe that in his disembodied state, moving freely through the cosmos (and us), he IS just dumbfounded by human behavior…but I digress…

I have since tried to research that experience in order to connect with others who have had it; it is often called a “conversion” experience. It is said to have happened to John Newton that night the storm threatened to sink his ship, his last voyage to deliver slaves for auction, and inspired him to write the hymn Amazing Grace. I can believe it. You could not have that experience and not be completely changed. I sure was. I felt every cell of my body being remade. It isn’t something words – at least not any words I know – could ever describe.

I have spent the majority of the last sixty years trying to change people, my family mostly. I came by the arrogance of codependency naturally. How I managed to escape the alcohol and drug addictions of my family I don’t know. But I had a therapist who finally got through to me and convinced me that codependency is an addiction also. And possibly harder to cure.

Jesus the Christ was an alchemist, able to rearrange the molecular combination of the elements. The alchemists of the western world are the artists. They can change our states. They can cure us. I thank God for them every day I am alive…

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change. So I shortened my sights and decided to change only my own country. But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family. But alas, they would have none of it. And now, as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realize…if I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement I would have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.” – on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey

It Was the Wicked and Wild Wind…

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“Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere, I would be different…” -Francis Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun

The winter solstice lulls us into the dark imaginings of what might have been, and awakens us to think of what could be. I still cry in the shower. I miss my Mom; I miss my Dad. They meant the world to me. I miss my dog, Oliver. I miss my four siblings, although THEY are still alive. We don’t talk. I miss who we were as a family, as children…before we were Democrats or Republicans, vegans or carnivores, liberal or conservative, straight or gay, high or drunk or strung out on chemo; before we were right or wrong. When we were innocent and blameless and healthy and free…jumping into the pool from the garage roof and defending each other in schoolyard fights and singing and dancing and playing endless games of Euchre…shivering as we took our obligatory (certainly unnecessary!) baths in Georgian Bay off the stern of the boat…watching the cat give birth in the closet, gathering wild blueberries and making birthday wishes…

We stood up in each others weddings, showed up with food after the cancer diagnosis’, moved each other and moved each other again. And again.

We had a lot. A lot of fun, laughter, prosperity, health, beauty, adventure. We expected a lot. We took a lot for granted. Here, now some fifty years later, we can’t find common ground enough to hold a conversation. We’re all lucky to be alive, and we know it.

In my wildest imagination I never would have pictured my life to be as it is today. I probably would never have chosen it this way…but as the dog and I walked along the Grand River today I realized that -although it doesn’t look like I imagined- it is in many ways what I asked for. Hariat and I go for long walks and get more fresh air and exercise than I have gotten in years. We eat well. I write most every day. In many ways it is as I always imagined I would spend my older years…it’s a good place to be. It’s a good start.

The Way It Always Starts….

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“I want to know what’s become of the changes we waited for love to bring…were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?”  – Jackson Browne, The Pretender

Around the time I started this blog I also began participation in a class based on Julia Cameron’s books, The Artist’s Way and it’s sequel, Walking in This World. The group was being facilitated by my dear friend, Kelly Forrester. Kelly and I met when she was seventeen and had suffered a devastating accident which crushed her leg and her dancing aspirations…she came to see me in my massage practice at my little business office in Traverse City, Healing Arts Associates. She generously claims I saved her life that year…she has now more than returned the favor some twenty-five years later.

But I wasn’t trying to recover my creativity in the class – I was trying to survive. (Turns out they’re the same thing!) I remember sitting across the room from Lisa Perrine Brown, whom I had never met, and having her look me in the eyes and proclaim that if I would commit to this process, to doing the work outlined each week in the corresponding chapter of the book, that my life was about to change…”Expect miracles…,” she insisted. I couldn’t trust that; I could let her trust for me. Danielle Bearre played us Amanda Palmer’s Ukelele Anthem and took orders for $20. ukelele’s…I didn’t order one. I wasn’t at all sure I would be around to play it when it arrived…but I have since become a huge Amanda Palmer fan. And when I learned that her husband, Neil Gaiman, had written some of my favorite movie stories, I embarked on a new reading frenzy. I started this blog and it provided an outlet for my 3 a.m. insomniatic angst…and Nan Peterson blurted out loud in class one night, “You’re a writer, Susan!” I could not see that; I could let her see it for me.

I had never met most of these amazing women. They couldn’t possibly imagine what their influence would mean. But this month I am participating in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I write almost everyday; I have since day one of The Artist’s Way class. I paint and draw, for the first time in forty years. My life looks nothing like it did when I  timidly showed up so raw and vulnerable . My heart is still broken from so much grief and loss. But it remains as open as I can hold it. I love my new life.

For beautiful Kelly.

Falling Apart at the SEEMS…

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Yesterday was a great day. Circumstances have been pretty hard here lately…my father has become quite ill and is fighting for his life. I have had to cut off most communication with my abusive siblings throughout this process, while still maintaining contact with my Dad. A lot of letting go is going on…

My dog and I slipped on the ice about a month ago and are still dealing with our injuries. It remains to be seen whether or not he will walk again, and whether or not I can keep him alive much longer. A second offer on the purchase of my home appears to be falling apart now. It’s looking like we can’t give this thing away. My finances are a disaster. A month’s worth of income runs out after a week…

Wow, I need some relief. It came yesterday in invisible form. I fell into bed late morning utterly spent – mentally, emotionally, physically…and the healing began. Spontaneous healing is not strange to me, it has occurred all my life. “Psychic surgery” is not a new or strange concept; I have experienced it. This was similar to previous “sessions”, but with a bit of a twist. I could HEAR them as well as feel them. Invisible beings were working to restore my well being.

It sounds crazy – no one knows that more than I – because being thought of as crazy has been one of the biggest fears of my life. It just is what it is. I just report what I experience. Imagination? WHO CARES?! Einstein said “Imagination is the language of the divine.” At this point in time I’m in no position to question any blessing I receive…

While I don’t wish to share all of the things that went on over the course of nearly an hour, I suddenly felt a pinching sensation in my back where I had hit my scapula on the pavement when I had fallen. It was far more acute than the pain which had become a general ache in that area, and when I focused my attention there, it felt like I was being STITCHED…I said “I feel like I’m falling apart at the seams,” and I heard, “No, you are falling apart at the SEEMS.”

What the heck does THAT mean?! And then the images…Dad, the dog, myself splayed out on the pavement, the house, it all began to dissolve…and then come back together in a new way…Vibrant. Healthy. Happy. Alive.

Now, I am more blessed than many with inexhaustibly supportive friends. Smart friends. I am a student of A Course in Miracles. And I belong to a community committed to the path of joy through meditation, Bright Path Ishayas. I have received guidance from all over the country. I know I am loved. Now I know I am loved by many beings, and deeply. We all are. I don’t know why we matter, but we matter. Greatly.

The Course teaches “Salvation is my only function here.” Salvation means joy. This world is NOT what it seems, or how it appears to the human eye…Thank God. Couldn’t we please learn to be a little more compassionate with ourselves…and let ourselves fall apart at the seems.

For Nadine and her infinite patience…and all of you. You are my light.

 

Growing Up is Hard to Do…

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This happens to be one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, the very romantic comedy, The Holiday:

“You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for God’s sake…” I think it’s one of my favorite movie scenes because I have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in therapy trying to learn some common sense – the common sense that says: if you are trying too hard, stop. Just stop. You checked your self-respect and integrity at the door of Narcissist Land. Pick them up on your way back out – running!

My life has been changing rapidly these past few weeks. In transition now for the past couple of years, I hope to be able to settle soon into a new home in a new city, and begin a new life…it is terrifying and exciting. With the impending move, an acquaintance is becoming a friend, and she is going through a painful breakup.  We are examining our addictions to emotionally unavailable men, and reflecting on our co-dependent behaviors. Blah blah blah…there’s THAT ugly subject again.

But I am more intensely -and consciously- dealing with my loneliness as I distance myself from close proximity to the alcoholics and addicts I LOVE…some of my closest family and friends. According to Melody Beattie of Codependent No More, I am not an enabler…I am a Master Enabler. And having just celebrated my sixtieth birthday, it is time to grow up…insert here Neil Sedaka singing…but replace the word BREAKING with the word GROWING! That’s a gas, man…

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” -Agnes Repplier, The Treasure Chest

“The light has come.” -ACIM, Lesson 75

For my darling women friends, and my dear new friend…she knows who she is!

Tomorrow Is My Turn

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Last week a friend emailed a song for me to download onto my iTunes, a song that she felt would help inspire me through this tumultuous time as I move into my new life. As is often the case, the YouTube song brought up others by the same artist. I have never been familiar with the music of Nina Simone, but I am smitten. She sings ’em like she means ’em…

The song Nadine sent:

And this week’s theme:

No more doubts, no more fears…XO

If You Find the World Interesting…

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This guy is brilliant, and explains my God. As an energy force, here, now. He explains how God is WITH us, FOR us, and AHEAD of us…in a way we can relate to in everyday life. He explains how science explains God. This is FASCINATING, well worth the time investment. I skipped the music and began watching at 14:37.

Do yourself a favor…because this WILL change your life.

Don’t Mind If I Do, Thanks…

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But before we get to the interior design stuff…yes, I know I’ve been promising…I’ll make good…but meanwhile – have you noticed something? Is it just me, or does it seem like life has suddenly gotten very real here on earth? There is Pope Francis, who even those of us not Catholic – or even religious – can actually relate to…like he’s a real down to-earth-in-touch-with-what’s-going-on-out-here person…

And then, there’s Commander Chris Hadfield singing to us:

Check out his video series, and his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth…We might be getting the hang of this! And maybe just in the nick of time…our hearts are opening…and we are waking up to the beauty all around and within each one of us.

Happy. New. Year. Yes, Thank you…don’t mind if I do….

P.S: Can’t resist:

This Is Water…

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Please do yourself a life-changing favor and watch the video of this commencement speech. I wish I had heard it years ago, and I hope his audience realizes that this is worth more than all the previous days of their education.

This is why I study A Course in Miracles; it teaches us that miracles are hidden in the ordinary, that “this is a required course,” that free will means that you can CHOOSE what has meaning and what doesn’t. It isn’t easy…it IS the capital T truth, it is about LIFE BEFORE DEATH.

This is water.