It’s a gorgeous visual, isn’t it — throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. That sticky shit, that mess! That’s life! Or the story of my life, anyway. What is to follow is a bit of an un-tamed self help blog, full of unsolicited advice, impatience, and wily twists and turns with the following themes:
- Follow Your Bliss
- If you’re miserable, quit
- Start before you’re ready
- You are the only YOU
- Prepare for death
- Be kind, be responsible, but do what you want/love.
Read on with a little soundtrack!
follow your bliss
My general formula for my students is “Follow your bliss.” Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it … if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.– Joseph Campbell
I learned that incredible quote in my college days by one of my fave professors Dr. Bud McClure in Transpersonal Psychology. While I wanted SO BADLY to drop out of college and just “do” music (whatever that means), I stayed on and gleaned some nuggets like that aforementioned quote.
I just wanted to travel, sit in cafes and journal and read, practice yoga, and make music and paintings for hours alone in my room. I wanted to hear music, I wanted to be in nature, I wanted to be with inspiring and friendly humans, I wanted to see the world. How to do all of this? It’s taken a long time to get to where I am …
If you’re miserable, quit
Do you stick around in the grind for so long that it sucks your soul? Why? Kids? Mortgage? Student loans? Just asking, no judgement.
Many a friend of mine would say that perhaps I’m impulsive or can’t stick around for long. In staying in one place for too long, in relationships. Fast moving. But there are a few things I’ve tried that have stayed constant. They are music and yoga. I have been singing my whole life, playing instruments since 4th grade, and started performing and recording original music in my late teens. Yoga came in through a side door when I was taking Tai Kwon Do in 7th grade – the guided meditation and visualization before our form practice and sparring struck a chord and then I found an article about yoga in Seventeen magazine and was hooked. Been teaching now since 2009.
I organized a life where I was not tied down at ALL. No kids. No house. Tried being married but it all fell apart. I wanted to leave space for the big musical break … or the night in shining armor. I decided that if something was sucking my soul, I would change and seek something new … because we never know when we are going to die. This lifestyle, admittedly, isn’t for everyone. If you have children, if you have student loan debt, if you are taking care of sick family member, if you struggle with mental illness.
And so, while some jobs had me coming back because they were easy and forgiving of my travels and tours, others would lose me for their demands (my one desk job was as a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital & Cranston prison in a Substance Abuse Research Unit – researching HIV risk behavior and its link to drugs, sex, and alcohol use – implementing therapists in the prison to see if motivational interviews would reduce risk behavior … fascinating work that spoke to my psych degree, but i couldn’t hack the office life at that time. So I booked a music tour to Austin and New Orleans and kept slinging coffee and waiting tables …
I was always SO worried about what my life’s calling was. Am I living my true purpose on this earth? My divine plan?
The feelings that drove me to frustration and despair in my work life, whether it be a barista, or providing clean needles to addicts at needle exchanges, to serving booze to Seattle-ites, to singing at weddings and funerals, to eventually owning and running my own little yoga studio – everything I did called for reflection and wondering – how much energy is this taking? Am I miserable? Is someone else better suited for this work? If the answers leaned to the negative, I quit. I take the risk and quit. We serve no one by being miserable. We serve no one by complaining all the goddamn time. What good does it do except drag everyone around us down? Seek the things that energize you and fire you up. It may take time to uncover, but you might just enjoy your life more.
What fires you up? What are you really excited about? What do you keep coming back to? How can you make more of THAT part of your life?
For me, again, it has been music, yoga, travel. I’m so thrilled to launch my retreat business, as this is a synthesis of ALL of that! (Wanna join us in Grand Marais and Bali??? Check them out here!)
Start before you’re ready
I hear this in the entrepreneur podcasts and blogs I read and listen to. If we strive to make things absolutely perfect before they launch, they may never get launched. If we aim to please every goddamn person with our work, we realize we never will nor should we (and it never gets launched). If we feel like we aren’t ready or a fraud to do the thing we really want to do, we may never do it. Trust that there is beginner’s luck, like the Fool in the tarot. We learn by doing. Start before you’re ready. Learn as you go.
YOU are the only YOU
There is no other collection of cells / memories / sound vibrations / likes / dislikes / quirky smile / weird cartoon voice / unusual talents / etc. that is like you. YOU take up just as much space as everyone else on the planet (and yes we are overcrowded, but we still are HERE and all equally deserve to be here). As Marianne Williamson famously says:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
Prepare for death
This may seem morbid but having witnessed deaths in my young adult life — or dare i say, midlife — ultimately we only have this brief blip on the planet in our unique form to do what we really love. If we are feeling shitty, if we are around people that make us feel shitty, if we are consistently telling ourselves and other people around us negative things, then it is time to seek help. It is time to dig into your insurance policy and see if therapy is included in that plan, and it should be. MAYBE it takes medication to bring our hormones and brain chemistry into a healthy cycle. Maybe we need to physically move away from harm, away from unhealthy patterns so that we can start fresh. Maybe we need to take a new commute to work, or better yet – walk, ride your bike, or ride public transportation to be in the fresh air, to be around other human beings.
We are sensory beings, and our emotions are here to help us to grow and learn. There will always be suffering. There will always be misunderstanding. How does that feel in our body? Can we talk about it? Can we write about it? Can we be in a safe space to feel through it? This may all sound ethereal and euphemistic as fuck, but I truly believe that we are here on this earth to learn, to grow, to become the fullest expression of ourselves, and to love and enjoy ourselves. This has taken me to antidepressants, years of studying yoga, therapy (and yes, now too!), forcing myself to eat fresh produce and exercise.
And we will all die. We will watch people and beings we love die. There is not a goddamn thing we can do about it. So how can we make our lives on this earth as beautiful as possible? Talk to your therapist, bestie, or journal about it.
Be kind, be responsible, but do what you want/love.
When I feel myself going down the negative spiral, when I feel the gossip come on, when I feel the jealousy, when I feel the grind of competition and fear and inadequacy, I have sometime stayed there and binge ate, drank too much, cried, or moved across the country. Now I try and listen. These negative voices all point to desires. For what we so desperately want but aren’t experiencing / can’t have. The teachings of yoga have helped me to see these negative emotions AND desires as clouds in the sky, just passing though, and yet always arising … kind of like a game of psychic whack-a-mole
If we all could carve out some time in the day, even if we are going to jobs that we hate, to do something good for ourselves. Eat nourishing food. Have some sex. Take a run. Journal. Meditate. Even 5-10 minutes a day that is completely YOURS helps to begin to craft the day you dream of. What is it they say, the pyramids of Giza weren’t built in a day? (or install any human-made wonder of the world). Just as WE weren’t built in a day. We were tiny babies. Now grown up. We took a life to fill ourselves with experiences. We are what we eat. We are what we think. We are what we do. Be kind, be responsible, but do what you want / love.
So much love, Mary
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