10 things learned in the past year

Like most lessons, many of these are repeats, and now I get it even deeper. I hope this inspires you in your self-made lesson plan.

1 ~ When life happens, roll with it: Around this time last year a chain of unforeseeable events started in my personal life. By the time I got to the end of that chain, 5 months later, it felt like I’d been hit by a tidal wave. When the first challenge came, I pressed on, determined to be unshaken. By the time the rest of the challenges stacked up, I felt as if I had died and wasn’t sure what mattered anymore. I was shaken, stirred and on an odyssey to rediscover everything. When I let go and rolled with it, I found deep gratitude for all the lessons that came my way.

2 ~ Perspective is paramount: I know by now you’re guessing it was the economy. Actually, the news of Wall Street was mostly background noise to the challenges I faced, which included hospitals, the death of loved ones, accepting that I would not be having children of my own, and wondering if anyone really wanted to learn what I wanted to share (self-doubt is so syrupy isn’t it?). My “tidal wave” was a mere ripple in comparison to what some people have experienced in the past 12 months. I am so grateful for the way these events got me to step back and take a long slow look at it all. I softened my focus, widened my view, and tried on other people’s ideas. This practice helped me let go even more, saved me from getting stuck in grief, and opened me up to new possibilities.

3 ~ Being a beginner is transformational: In the midst of my odyssey, I began to embrace beginnings in a general way. I came home one day from a funeral and decided we needed more life in our house, so we adopted two kittens. They changed our household instantly from a chamber that memorialized life recently gone to training new life that needed direction and love. I rediscovered my sense of wonder at a Ki-Aikido demonstration and enrolled in the beginners program. I found more energy, more focus, more ease in that class. Now, as I start the beginners program for the fourth time (1-2-3-4), I continue to learn these simple things more deeply. I collaborated with a loyal customer to learn more about online stores and translating successful strategies to the internet. This led to an intense body of knowledge, which I am now delighted to share in a course offered through Incubator, Inc., a private business school. I now understand Goethe’s words in a whole new way: “Whatever you dare to do, begin it!”

4 ~ “Boldness has genius power and magic in it.” (Yes, that’s Goethe, too.) As many of you know, I’m a great fan of boldness. Sometimes I’m bold just for the sake of being bold. This time, I’m learning a fine point of being bold. I have been writing a book for 5 years. I’ve done research. I’ve done pre-writing. I’ve taken long vacations just to write. Still, it all mostly sat in a big box in the corner of my office – until now. Here’s the fine point: When boldness is combined with a different perspective and a new beginning, the genius and magic wake up with a great force. Now, I am writing a book proposal. Suddenly this new perspective and approach is raising this first book from the dead and I’m enjoying the work!

5 ~ Really having big feelings helps them move out of the way. Grief is an amazing teacher about all feelings. Its like the big Kahuna – an all powerful medicine man of the tribe of Emotions. It sneaks up on you for your own good, and then lifts you up by your clothes and shakes the bejesus out of you, releasing voodoo you’ve been clinging to. There’s no escaping it. When its done with you, it just leaves you in a heap, looking bewildered and feeling … better. I learned that the trick is to let it have its way with you. I mean really have it. Follow it. Express it fully. When I did that, each visit from this Kahuna was more brief than the last. I’ve learned that this holds true for all big emotions. Go have them. As my mother used to say when we played too rough indoors, “Go get that out of your system!” My brother built a three-story tree house as a teenager, getting big anger out of his system. Today he is one of the most laid back people you will ever meet. The hammer can be so satisfying.

6 ~ There is great power in lightness. I used to notice power most when served with a heavy hand. Force and power are not the same. Power without force is even more potent – and easy. Ki-Aikido is a marvelous experiential education in noticing oneness with the Universe and where my mind is. It is quite common for the instructor to say things like, “Do less” or “Relax completely.” Somehow, it is also a martial art that leaves attackers laughing on the floor, wondering how they got there. What’s that they say in InterPlay circles? Oh yeah, “Life doesn’t have to be so hard.”

7 ~ Firmness brings clarity and that is really helpful to people. When I’m wishy-washy or ridiculously patient to the point of following when I could be leading, it drives people nuts. When I’m firm and create structure that people can lean against or push on, they express thanks and we move together with ease. I get more benefit from being firm and clear because others are more engaged with me. That’s the way I like it.

8 ~ Shedding Shoulds and inviting Desire releases immeasurable JOY. I’ve created many dream boards and goals. Many of them helped me manifest quite a few things and experiences in my life. And yet somehow, I had never dared to truly let it all hang out and say what I really wanted, no matter how outrageous or silly, until Grief had had its way with me. Only then did I find a personal focus that takes no effort to remember and brings up spontaneous giggling. For me this happened while working with James Ray’s audio program, The Science of Success. This personal focus statement is for me. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else. It is helping me relax completely, be productive, and centered.

9 ~ I have more energy in the moment when I relax completely. It was my third time up the narrow ladder to the trapeze platform. The first two times I was a bit terrified and unconsciously gripped the rungs with white knuckles. Now I was tired and I really wanted to have one more swing, to feel flight again. Then I remembered to relax completely, as I was taught in Ki-Aikido. My muscles let go, yet my limbs became more graceful and smooth as I ascended. At the platform, I felt refreshed instead of exhausted, ready to really fly. What a difference!

10 ~ True goodness satisfies when I notice it. This lesson shows up in many ways for me and it all started here: I don’t eat sugar (or any other sweetener) any more, besides certain whole fruits. I can hear you thinking, “Gasp! What about chocolate?” I use unsweetened cocoa in unsweetened soy milk and absolutely love it. “You’re kidding! That sounds disgusting.” No, I’m not kidding. Somehow when sugar left my life, the strange, unnamable anxiety that was its companion left as well. Now I know “when sugar left my life” must sound strange. I have the profound impression that I was possessed by it and the demon has left me. Go figure. I’m not one to believe in devils. Convenience store shelves of candy don’t talk to me anymore. And the television no longer beckons me to hang out with it. Somehow that left with the sugar. Now I notice amazing things that have been there all along: flowers, funky bugs, sun, kids, air quality, eating good food slowly, and listening – really listening. The weirdest thing is that when I’m hungry, I don’t need to rush then either. A big delicious drink of water helps me have patience to find what I really want to take into my body.

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