CARING FOR OURSELVES AND THE EARTH…

The earth is under our stewardship. We are Her heartbeat and keeper.  In whatever capacity it is possible for you, in every breath you take you must consider your actions and choices and the LARGER consequences and implications. We no longer have all choices we had in the past.  The frivolous choices – with destructive consequences.   In many areas we are truly at a breaking point and things are changing fast. So, in whatever way people find it, they are waking up to their interconnectedness with the earth and with each other.  The more we see our similarities, the more we diffuse old behaviour like international dominance.  I heard one philosopher say that now is the time to consider that if the white house has a “War Room”, it should give equal space to a “Peace Room”. Our international focus is all wrong.

There is evidence of change in our thinking reflected in our popular media. The “steam” behind the war machines who have traditionally taken the front page headlines is waning.  Environmental and sometimes even spiritual issues are taking a closer front page space, and this represents change.  Movies are addressing a more connected relationship between people and the planet.  New music is supporting this change.

My husband says that there is a whole world of people out there who don’t care.  He drives home from work and sees the new modern buildings going up, thousands of cars on the roads, and miles and miles of city that has not one tree or flower.  I on the other hand don’t see this as something particularly bad – nor is it permanent.  It takes DISCOMFORT for us to know what we need and what we are missing.  People living and working in these imbalanced environments will be called within themselves to reach out to the natural world to regain balance.

It was brought to my attention recently that the way one can proceed forward once you become aware of our natural connection is in  one of two ways; you can either ignore it or you can allow it to create a change within you.  Allowing means becoming conscious and awake to how you are feeling. Either way, once you have that moment where you understand the connection between you and another person, or a tree or a dog – you have experienced the highest level of human awareness and you are changed.  It feels wonderful and so it is natural for you to seek it out and create more connection for yourself.  It is a love that goes beyond love.

I don’t just mean romantic or family love, I mean L.O.V.E. in the sense of universal energy.  Once you sense it, or become aware of it, you can find ways to redirect it and work with it.  getting back to nature, being around animals, working with old people – these are all ways one can find some time to feed the connection. Help a neighbour, do something nice for someone and don’t let anyone know – any kind of service you do nourishes that connected feeling helps your life have meaning and direction.  Romantic love is beautiful – don’t get me wrong. But it is only one element of a much bigger whole. LOVE is the energy of the universe. What some people call God or Goddess.  It is all-encompassing and not specific to one person or situation. Love of specific people only reflects back to us what we can love about ourselves at that time.  It is fickle, because it changes, just like we each change every day.  But, extending that love out into the dark places in your life where things have sat for a while unattended to, can bring about a complete transformation in the way you approach every day living situations.

Take small steps at first, but then have the courage to leap every once in a while

What I experienced within myself was like an awakening – a remembering. not like I was being taught something new, but that I was being guided to re-join something I was and have always been a part of.  This human connection we have, in its simple miraculous state, is something we have forgotten to honour. If we only honoured our own humanity, I mean individually, then towards each other, we would eradicate 99% of the atrocities which occur on this planet. This is in large part the reason behind exploring your past.  You need to know who you are to find your highest creative talent.

The change has to start within you.

It begins with self searching. You have to understand why you think  like you do. What you have chosen for yourself as a belief, and what your parents and community have chosen for you.  This is basic information, and although it can be painful to revisit your past, rest assured that if you are not aware of its implications, it will turn around and make choices for you, based on something you are not even aware of.  It’s like being possessed really – guided by some unperceived force.

Once you become more aware of what it is you believe and know about yourself, you are more able to make decisions for yourself that are positive and forward moving, as the universe intends for us all.  Primarily you will become aware of your creative instincts in this search. You may find yourself in emotional turmoil, which incidentally is a fabulous time for self-expression. Let it all hang out! Grab a paint brush, dust off your old guitar or just sit down with a pen and paper ~ but USE the emotional turmoil to at least find out something useful about yourself.

I recently went to a retreat with a group of 11 other people from all over Canada who were meeting to discuss spiritual matters over the course of four days.  Now, you would think that this would be an immediately pleasant convention of folks, all nice happy nature loving people, looking to reconnect to nature and find a little peace.  And for the most part, it was exactly this, except for me; the wild card. I was told later that in every balanced group there is a rebel so apparently I was glad to oblige.

For the first day and a half of what should have been a blissful time, I felt like an outcast.  My solar plexus was tight and I felt on the verge of tears every ten minutes.  I kept running back to my tent after every session we sat through with the one leading the retreat.  I was clearly out of sorts, and simply couldn’t shake myself out of it. As I mentioned, this was a particularly sane and balanced group of people, so instead of fussing over me, (which is what I discovered I was  looking for subconsciously), they just let me figure it out myself, and when I was ready to sit still and stop fretting over everything, they accepted me as if I were family. It felt very empowering to be with a group of people who had total; faith in you even having only just met you.  This is what I call acting on the understanding of that connection, and more and more people are finding a means to do that.

That first night, I took the time to head into my tent and try to write, but sometimes, when you spend enough time being guided into your heart, your head doesn;t work so well, so I wasn’t really able to write anything. I was forced to sit with my discomfort and try to unpeel where it came from.

I looked far back, even to as young as kindergarten, which I remember my terrible fear the first day. This may seem like a small thing, but something that I remember so vividly after 41 years, is clearly something which had a significant impact on my life.  I was afraid of fitting into new groups since I was young.  This feeling gave me an opportunity to shine a bright light on a fear that must have affected many of the choices I have made over the years.  I believe the old adage that says “once you become aware of something you can’t be a victim of it”.

I am so grateful to be where I am at today and looking forward to the rest of the trip.

Peace

CAN DEPRESSION BE CURED?

The thing about being diagnosed with depression or bi-polar or any of the other items on the current mental illness menu is that it’s hard sometimes to discern between having a “bad day” and being in “a depression”.  Once handed the label or diagnosis of “clincally depressed” many of us chalk up bad feelings to “the depression” rather than looking at where these feelings are coming from.  Often we  ignore the viability of a feeling and throw it off to uncontrollable bio-chemical phenomenon.

Everyone has difficult times. The last few days for me have been tough. I have a challenging relationship with my youngest 15-year-old daughter and it wears on me like sandpaper on my soul.  I also have had challenges with my husband adjusting to my lack of neediness. It’s almost as though he incites things to put me back into a state of mind where he is my caretaker rather than my partner. It is a feeling of power for him to care for me when I am sick.  It’s a whole different ball game to have a relationship with someone who is not emotionally needy.

A couple of days ago I was talking with a friend and as the conversation unrolled, I found myself saying;

“…and I don’t have depression anymore”…

Wait a minute! What? You don’t get “cured” of depression – you “manage it”. Right?

But the more I think about these unconsidered words, the more I find the evidence of the recent past to support this possibility.  Cured of depression? I never would have imagined.

I haven’t had a debilitating depression since 2010 when after about 7 weeks in bed I experienced a major spiritual shift in my life.   It’s hard for me to believe since I have lived with an underlying feeling of sadness every day for so many years.  It’s very new for me to recognize that what I have experienced recently wasn’t depression – it was just a bad day!

What’s the difference?  Well, in my case it’s a huge difference.  It means I am not taking the events of my life PERSONALLY. It’s not always ALL about me. Even last night when my husband was uncharacteristically nasty with me, which would normally have thrown me into a downward spiral, almost like an unconscious desire to make him “pay” for his nastiness by making him see he “broke me”.  The strange thing was, when he said it, although it hurt my heart I didn’t feel like giving everything up and walking away. I didn’t cry. I didn’t blame myself.  I didn’t make it all about me.  What a relief!

One of the things I have come to understand which has disempowered the influence of the reactions of people and my emotional ties, is that I really see how absolutely nothing people do “towards me” is personal. None of it. Not even compliments. Everyone has bad days. Days when nothing is turning out right, everyone is bringing you their shit on a plate and they expect you to eat it with them. You know those days when the phone calls are bad, the knock at the door is bad, the news you get at the grocery store is bad, the bills are piling up, the work isn’t coming in, the kids are nuts, your spouse is bitchy, your work mates are pricks. WE all have these days.  But they don’t have the power to bury me anymore it seems.

So, now what? What happens when you decide not to be sick anymore? because really, that’s all that has happened. I have made a choice.  I have decided that everything isn’t about me all the time, that people express based on their own experiences, and even when it’s like poison throw at me, I can still maintain some sense inside of me that tells me that I need to have compassion for the person throwing it.  I can see that THEY are hurting.

I have  CHOICE.

My choice is to either be a victim of life’s circumstances or be an observer.  I can see it all through my ego or through my heart.  Consciousness or conscious living means that when something happens that triggers a feeling in me, or when I am tired, overwhelmed and having a day when I feel bombarded by life’s twists and turns, I have a choice as to whether or not to react or not. Not having depression gives me that choice. Not associating every bad feeling with depression reminds me of that choice.

But if you have depression your reaction to these normal shitty days might be different from a non-depressed person.

What I am finding in retrospect is that, when life became unmanageable to me, my brain would shift into “make it all about me” mode and this is the EPITOME of depression.  It’s the mindset that says, if I can’t change the events and situations around me to suit the way I want them, I will make it ALL about me and take the focus off the issues that need to be dealt with.  Depression makes it so that those events, which are not personal, become all about you, all about your feelings and the focus shifts so that you are no longer needing to look at those things that cannot be changed outside of you, so you focus inwards and the problems stay unmanaged.

I totally understand that if you are feeling depressed, the last thing you want to hear or do is “just walk it off”or “get over it”.  I understand that there are events in life that will throw us all for a loop and there are times in EVERYONE’S life when they feel like life is about to wash over them like a big giant wave of sad. I understand the feelings of self-hatred, of ego, of guilt, of inability. But these are illusions.  The reality is that if you have depression you can believe with every molecule of your body that you don’t have choices; that you are stuck in whatever place you are and life is dark and nasty and never going to get better.

But it is.  You know it is.  Although there is a part of your mind which is busy hammering at you, telling you are inadequate, “not enough”, incapable, ugly, stupid – whatever.  This is an illusion. It’s the ego mind trying to keep down the creative process of your soul!  How is someone supposed to live their best life if they can’t get out of bed?  How is someone supposed to make the most of it when they don’t care?

Decide. Make a choice. Small choices at first.

If you are in a really bad state, start with the small choices. Do the next right thing.

When I was in my last really bad episode I had to follow some very basic and important instructions for how to keep on keeping on. Get out of bed, wash my face and teeth and brush my hair as about al li could manage after day 1, but I did it.  It felt better to make a choice on my own behalf.  Even something as minor as getting up and brushing your teeth can feel empowering after 7 weeks of debilitating body pain and suicidal ideations.

Everything we do is “one day at a time” as they say in 12 step programs.  I can’t tell you what it will be like for me tomorrow – and frankly I don’t really care anymore.  I have stopped my incessant worrying about tomorrow and now make a daily assumption that if I do the next right thing, turn my life and thoughts over the a power greater than myself, and just try to do my best, I won’t be disabled by depression anymore.

I am grateful for my depression. All those years of struggle and turmoil have shown me who I am and who I am not, and I like who I am even when I’m not perfect.  each incident has brought me closer to becoming aware – conscious. AWAKE.

I met a woman once who told me that “you can’t be a victim of something once you are aware of it”.  I am very aware of my mind when it wants to hide in depression now. And I even have times where I can be grateful for it.  My depression has forced me to be more aware of myself than someone who has not suffered in the same way I think.  Today may not be perfect and I don’t live a problem free life…but that’s ok. What would be the point of a problem free life?  Everything exists in my life as a tool to show me who I really am, where I fit into this life and what it is I have to contribute.  As long as I remember that it’s not all about me, I am going to be just fine…for today.

~namaste~

ON SURRENDER

Is there something you are overthinking? A problem you feel is insurmountable? Do you have situations facing you that you have no clue how to rectify and they are taking up space and time in your head and life in a way that is making the rest of your life unaccessible- miserable? Are you exhsuated from trying to fix everything only to find that the answers you need aren’t showing up how, when and where you want them?

I have a solution for you only because I have been there, done that, and got the crazy person tee-shirt.You may think my answer to all your enormous problems is abit flakey and underactive, but I guarantee you it can’t be worse than your own self-will run riot.

SURRENDER.

Syurrender to your problems, your pain, your fear.  Allow it to BE like it is, without tryign to think it away, fix it, change it or otherwise alter.  Accept what it is for what it is, an dtry not to judge it.  Just accept it.

Easy to do for some problems, and not so easy for others.

Surrender is the action you take once you fully accept that something is unmanageable. Screwed up. Out of control. Something about yourself or your life that is making it so you are not happy, fulfilled and inspired.  Surrednering is not a passive thing; it is very active and takes strength and willingness because usually you don’y just do it once. You must continuously remind yourself of this promise not to interefer in your own life so much.  In surrender yake a conscious decision to get out-of-the-way and let the universe develop a strategy to deal with whatever the issue is.  It is an act of faith – and what brings you to surreder is not usually a day in disney land. It is heart break, hunger, sadness, fear.

You struggle with surrender because it requires that you relinquish control of your life to an unseen force. Depending on which religion you were raised in, you may or may not have a good relationship with that force.  Often, those raised in religious cultures have been told of a judging God and one who will punish if they haven’t followed the rules.  So, why then would anyone want to surrender to an unknown potentially angry God? who’s hands exactly are you putting your life into?

Surrender requires that you identify what it is exactly you have control over, and what you don’t.  Then, consciously hand over the “uncontrollable” to this unknown force and WAIT.  You wait for signs, for synchronicities, for interference from the universe.  Have no doubt that it will come – but maybe not always the way you want it to.

That’s the other part – you have to identify how you THINK something will turn out, then completely let go of that expectation.  Expectations are the reason why you take it back and try to manage it on your own again.  When you find yourself making decisions, over thinking, trying to solve everything according to your schedule (which by the way God does not have a copy of) then it’s time to become conscious and give it up again.

You can surrender anything:  pain, problems, unmanageable situations, addictions, health problems, mental health issues, relationships – you can surrender anything you want. Usually, you are driven to surrender only when you have exhausted your last effort at trying to control the uncontrollable.

I’ll give you an example. Many years ago, during the break up of my first marriage, I experienced a tremendous turmoil. Where would I live? I had three small children and had been busy raising them, so who would hire me?  I had no furniture, no beds for me or the kids – where would we sleep?  There were too may questions and far fewer answers.  My head became embroiled in constant thinking thinking thinking of the next problem the next issue, the next unsolvable situation.  I wold go says without eating. I suffered from debilitating anxiety and more often than not lost my fight with depression. I was finally one day driven to leave it alone because there was really nothing left to do.

Someone told me to create a “God Box”, which at the time seemed like a pretty weak solution to some very serious problems, but I had become willing to do just about anything to stop the constant turmoil.  I made the God box, and as instructed put every one of my worries, separately on a piece of paper. Once in the box, I was no longer allowed to DO anything about that problem. I was only allowed to observe and wait until answers came to me in whatever form they could.

The first day after the God box I was walking through the shopping mall, reminding myself to “let it go” every few minutes when my mind would return to its constant ruminations.  Suddenly I looked up and there was an old friend walking down the mall in the opposite direction. I hadn’t seen him in many years, so we sat down for a coffee to catch up on 15 years of time.  During the conversation he told me that they were looking for someone at his work with exactly the kind of qualifications I had.  It was just the break I had been looking for.  I got the job and the slowly, all of the answers I was looking for came to fruition.  The funny thing was, most of the “issues” I had put into the box, I quickly forgot about because life seemed to open up and one thing at a time my life fell into place.  Sure the way it fell into place was completely different from what I would have orchestrated myself, but every single solution that came my way was WAY better than what I could have created.

What is it you are surrendering to when the circumstances of your life push you to  a point where you realize there is nothing you can control but your self. Surrender is the conscious act of accepting fully and totally the circumstances of your life today, right now – at this moment.  Surrender is a verb – an act of faith. But what is it exactly you are needing to have faith in? You are putting your faith in the balance of everything.  You are part of a bigger picture, a grander whole. By surrendering, you are consciously aligning yourself with the forward creative flow of everything.  You are floating with the tides rather than against them.  Surrender has nothing to do with religion – and neither does God for that matter.  There is a balance that exists and is maintained. By surrendering you are contributing and flowing with the balance.  Surrender is not “giving up”. It doesn;t mean you are accepting the unacceptible – it means you are accessing a much GREATER force than your sheer will is alone.

Surrender is not always easy.  I have a friend who has an awful debilitating neurological disorder. She has become a real example to me of how to surrender even your very life.  I have another who has advanced cancer, and she too has taught me that surrender conserves your energy and increases the energy you have to give to the present moment. On surrender, we stop living in the future and the past and can exist more in the reality of the present moment.

I heard this poem a while back and thought I would share it with you.

ON SURRENDER – Geneen Roth (from: Women, Food and God)

Of this I am certain

Something happens every time

I stop fighting with the way things are.

Something happens t every one of my students

When they stop running their programs

about fear and deficiency and emptiness.

I don’t know what to call this turn of events

Or the freshness that follows it,

But I know what it feels like;

It feels like relief

It feels like infinite goodness

Like a distillation of every sweet fragrance

Every Heart stopping beauty

Every haunting melody you’ve ever heard.

It feels like the essence of tenderness and compassion

Joy

Peace

Like Love itself.

And the moment you feel it

You realize you ARE it.

That’s you’ve been here all along

Waiting for your return.

When you forget,

Which you always do,

you suddenyl understand that kindness to anyone

a plant, an animal, a stranger, a partner –

brings you closer to this.

That taking care of your body

is taking care of this.

That taking care of the earth

Is taking care of this.

And that you’d turn away from anyone or anything

That would ask you to leave this

Because this is what you have wanted

This is what you have longed for

This is what you have loved for eons.

You know

without knowing how you know

That every step you have ever taken

Every person you have ever loved

Every task you have ever accomplished

Has been meeting this.

You – returning to yourself.

And that hell is nothing more than leaving this.

heaven is already here on earth.

~Namaste~

GROW WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED

GROW WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED

When I was trying to work out this chapter entitled “Grow Where You’re Planted”, it was on a day when I was suffering from an abject lack of patience. It’s almost funny because I had decided to write an article on the topic of going with the flow of your life, not trying to organize and dictate all the influences, and not sticking to a rigid plan, and instead found myself growing increasingly annoyed at the incessant interruptions that were barraging my plans! Some of these “interruptions” were admittedly voluntary, like choosing the mow my 8 acre lawn with a push mower at 8am. Some of them were involuntary, like someone calling just as I’m sitting to write and decides to be particularly verbose this day.  Meanwhile my brain is screeching secretly;

How can I write about going with the flow if I keep getting interrupted!”

I stopped and smiled. The universe always gives us what we need.

Of course, the good advice I might give you but apparently cannot always take myself is that in order to live a very contented life, you have to learn to grow where you’re planted, meaning, accept life’s circumstances as they are in this moment because without acknowledging and accepting where you are, right now, you are in no position to move forward or change anything.

KNOW WHERE YOU ARE

The Balinese people place a great emphasis on knowing “where they are” both geographically, universally and spiritually.  How can you know where you are going if you don’t know where you are? Knowing where you are allows you a moment to stand still and exist with your two feet in your current circumstances.  Even if you discover that where you are standing is not where you are going to choose to stay, it still makes sense that you don’t want to move blindly from one bad decision to the next.

I use this excercise especially when I have planned out a day and from the get go, it begins to unravel through whatever life circumstances throw at us.

First I place my two feet on the floor, whether I am standing or sitting, home, car, grocery store, or on a horse this excercise works for me.  I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I picture my feet on the floor ( a little trickier on a horse but doable), in this field, in this room, in this house, in this town in this place.  I allow my geography to expand outward, until I see myself from outside the planet, looking down. Now I know where I am.I suppose you could go further out into space if you want, but for me, I feel grounded once this thought is completed.

TAKE STOCK OF WHAT’S AROUND YOU

Now that you have stopped with your two feet wherever you are, take a look around you.  The room, the field, the house, the office, the classroom. Think about what you have there. Your books, your clothing, your furniture, garden, trees. Now think of the people you have in your life.  These people reflect you.  Very often I speak with people who express a feeling of being a victim of a relationship. Relationships are not meant to be easy.  They are meant to teach you about yourself. Each relationship in your life is there for a purpose, and the characteristics of the people reflect something that will help you know yourself better.

For example, think of your most intimate relationship. The person you are emotionally closest to.  A parent, a spouse, a sibling or a friend or even a workmate.  Now, try and identify one or two things about that person that really bugs you.  Causes you to grit your teeth. Makes you want to scream. Idiosyncrocies or habits that perhaps that person has which cause you to need to access your patience.  You will find that upon further investgation these irksome qualitites can actually teach you allot more about  the behaviours that you have in your own personality than any number of psychologists could.

For example, it used to make me cross-eyed angry when my  husband would be distracted. He would look for something, but it would be there right under his nose. 200 geese could fly by in the sky honking and screeching and he wouldn’t have noticed it unless one of them pooped on his head.  I realized that this distractedness made me crazy.  I wanted him sharp and on the ball and unreasonably attentive all the time.  It made no sense, but until I identified the character trait, I had no idea I had this expectation of him.

Even worse was that as the days went by, it started to come to my attention how terribly distracted I was! I noticed I do this “thing” with people, when I want to say something but I don’t want to hear their side of the issue…I “drive by talk”.  Like to my daughter sitting in the living who for the sixth month in a row hasn’t cleaned her disastrous room I say:

“You know that room really has to get done and I am seriously disappointed that you haven’t done anything about it…” My voice trails off as I disappear stealthily into the next room..  I am of course avoiding her objection to cleaning her room on a sunny day. I have said my piece.

No wonder nothing has been done. We never actually had a conversation.  She just witnessed mom doing another “drive by talk”.

The habits we have picked up over the years can become so conditioned within us that we are very often not even aware of them. Examining our close relationships also gives us the dual opportunity of examining potential character challenges within ourselves that we would not have become conscious of otherwise, and to bring positive traits into our consciousness.  For example I notice that everyone I am close to is very compassionate and generous. Without exception people in my life genuinely care for one another and often go out of their way to help complete strangers with  not a second thought.  I can see how I would attract caring people because I spend allot of time and energy the same way.

Growing where you’re planted involves knowing exactly what it is you are plated in.

Become aware of your relationships, your choices and your decisions.  Find out the reason why you made the choices you have. Look at what is working for you, and what is not.  Find out why not.

In order to become contented happy people, we have to become more involved in creating a life of happiness for ourselves. You are never going to get from another person or another situation what you can’t get from yourself.

In your self investigation, you may discover you have made choices that are no longer in your best interest but were originally done in order to please someone else.  Like the business degree I got to please my father when the thing I care the least about on the entire planet is business.    When I realized I had done this for my father, I wasn’t resentful but it made me think of other decisions I had made just to have the positive opinion of other people. One thought or undersranding very often leads to another.

Growing where you’re planted means accepting everything for what it is right now. It doesn;t mean you have to like it, or want to stay in it. A woman who is being abused for example, needs to stand still only long enough to realize that abuse is always unacceptable, then make choices to be safe.  But a person who like me has every potential to make life work, needs to stand still and see what it is that needs working on.

~peace~

FIGHTING THE OCEAN WITH A TEASPOON

Trying to control the circumstances of another person’s life is like fighting the waves of the ocean with a teaspoon.  Learning to let go of the idea that you can “make” another person happy is probably one of life’s greatest challenges.  Where do you stop…and someone else begins. When to take action and when to observe. This is the trick in letting go.

Letting go is easier when you are not attached to the outcome of a situation. Trying to control what you believe you or another person deserves, or how a situation should be in your opinion, being attached to what believe we want,  and not having the trust that you will always get what we need is exhausting.  But, sometimes letting go when you are afraid that the outcome could result in an unfavourable circumstance for you is not so easy.  I once heard a woman give a talk about her addiction issues who said she had never let go of anything in her life “without leaving deep claw marks in it”.  I can relate.

It takes allot for me to recognize sometimes when something is completely outside of my ability to change.  I cannot change people, places or situations EVER. I’ve tried.  I have begged cajoled and stomped my feet at God. Inevitably what ends up resulting is always what is best for everyone, and usually very different from how I would have orchestrated things, so why do I always forget?

The trick is in knowing what it feels like to “let it go. Some situations are in my life in which I have absolutely no choice but to let go. For example, the issue of  happiness.  We can never maker another person happy. It took me a very long time to figure this out, and it was a lesson that was quickly and repeatedly forgotten when my husband was working at a job that he hated.  He came home every night in a horrible mood. Unsettled and unwilling to admit that it was rough, I could feel the unhappiness emanating from his pores, and yet nothing I did could turn it around for him.  My motives for “making him happy” were selfish I must admit; who likes being around misery all the time?  He wasn’t making any choices differently and his unhappiness was getting worse.  The only thing I concluded that I could do was take care of my own business, work on keeping my emotional balance and my own happiness level where I wanted it, and be there for him however I could.

The problem with trying to make someone happy, or believing we have more control over a situation that we do, is that eventually we become resentful of the very person we are trying to help.  Subconsciously, we become frustrated and resentful because inevitably our efforts will be futile; you can never make another person happy – EVER.  That is something that can only come from inside them and within the context of the choices they make for themselves.

While my partners unhappiness threatened to pervade our lives, I made a conscious choice to do two things; first, to acknowledge that I couldn’t change it.  He had to make his own choices. The second I had to acknowledge that somewhere in my head, if I was trying to fix someone’s life, it was because I was arrogant enough to believe I knew ,more or better than what they did about their own life.  It meant that I thought I knew better than God, because obviously I wasn;t willing to wait for answers or inspiration – I was just ready to take action based on my will, and if the best predictor of the future is the past, then I can tell you that when i take my will back, trying to control the uncontrollabe and I don’t trust that my partner or whomever can make the right decisions for their own life, I am showing an abject lack of respect for their ability to manage their life. I can;t even manage all the circumstances of MY OWN life half the time – what makes me think I can manage someoe else’s??

Relationships are the key to understanding letting go and our issues with control and trust.  Control and trust sit easily on the opposite side of the same coin.  Lretting go means you trust the the universe will give everyone what they need – not necessarily what they want.  Often our motives for trying to chage someone’s issues are unconsciously selfish.  You cannot control another person’s circumstances just so that your life feels better.  That is selfish and things that are motivated in self only don’t usually work out so well.   But most of the time that is exactly what we are doing, especially if the thing we are trying to control is another person’s emotional state.   Your most intimate relationships, with spouse, partner, children, brothers and sisters and parents are the most effective tools you have in discovering where your control issues lie.

It’s easy to say “let go” of things you cannot control in a relationship, but it’s a completely other thing to do it when the knock of change or uncertainty comes to your own door.  However, the more you choose to be conscious of the things in relationships and daily circumstance that you do and do not have control over, the better you will get at knowing when to take action, and when to just listen and observe.  For example, after three weeks of unemployed bliss my has husband returned to work this week. I was sad to see him go.  We had a great time over these weeks and I do realize that three weeks of nothing but being together is like a giant holiday, but it was nice to remember that I like spending that much time with him, even after so many years.  It was also nice not having someone who hates what they do all day coming home to you at night.  Doing a job you hate is just not worth it. It’s hell on you and everyone around you.  For me, the exercise of detaching from his unhappiness and having confidence that he would make a decision to make his life happier when he was ready, was very effective and took daily conscious thought and discipline.

When the news came of his losing the job I immediately was able to remind myself that this was a shift and change was happening and change is natural. it happens in every way every day. Resistance to change is what causes me most of my problems, and so choosing just to feel confident that God had  a plan, that i was perhaps not privy to it, but that we had never been let down in the past made me see the whole experience as very positive and even fun. Like another chapter in a great adventure that is our life.

What causes me to grab back control and become fearful and focused in the past and future is when my ego starts begins doubt that I will get the result I want and I will be left devastated.  I take back control when I become attached to the outcome of something. \when I think I know better what should be.

Some of the fears that went through my mind when my husband lost his job included – what if we lose the farm, i’m going to lose the horses and my life here, I wont be able to sing anymore. what if we end up in an apartment in the suburbs, he will start drinking every day, we wont play music anymore…and so on. It was all about fear of losing what I thought i needed. Note to self: You have never been let down – why would God start now? My mind is fresh ground for fearful imaginings.

Letting go feels like relief.  It means acknowledging that I have these thoughts, like any other normal person would. The difference is that I choose not to react to them. I won’t take an action based on a fearful thought. Running out, selling the horses, getting a day job, stopping my book, cancelling my gigs – any number of hair-trigger fear reactions would have caused the situation to turn out very badly very quickly and with much more stress and turmoil than necessary.  Conversely, just sitting back, observing watching and being there as support, an ear to listen but not to suggest, insist or fix, actually added to the depth and sweetness of my marriage, rather than placing an additional burden where it wasn’t necessary.

It’s a humbling thing to discover that if I do NOTHING, usually things turn out better.  I guess that’s part of the wisdom of the Tao te Ching, written in 500 by Lao Tzu.  One of the underlying principles of Taoism, which has been so helpful in teaching me practical thinking regarding “letting go”, is the principle of “do less to achieve more”. This repeating concept of the analogy of water as the way to envision how to handle the constantly changing circumstances of our lives, has worked incredibly well for me.  When circumstances hit, times change, things come up, I envision myself “being like water”. Water resists nothing, is incredibly lazy and powerful all at once. Water is stronger than stone – it erodes stone. If I try and control the uncontrollable, I am being like a stone, standing still, trying to make the river as I would have it. But the river will just keep working on me until eventually I am just a pebble on the shore.

When I tried to fix everyone in my life, I was exhausted. I was tired and angry and resentful that if I was trying so hard to make everyone’s life perfect, why wasn’t it working, why wasn’t I feeling happier. It is a much more serene and realistic life to reserve my energy for the things I can manage, like my own thinking, my own actions, my boudnaries, how I communicate for myself and how much presence I bring into my relationships.

The best thing you can do for someone going through something terrible is to be there, completely and entirely, 100% in mind, body and soul.  Give someone your complete energy and attention. When they are talking, don’t be thinking about all the ways you would have done their life differently; you have no clue what you would have done! You only have the experiences of your life to reference; they have a whole other library to reference from and presuming that you know more about how someone should ru their affairs is insanely egotisital. This goes for kids too.  I have 7 kids, five teenagers living at hime.  There are days when I would do just about anythng to “make them happy”. Let’s face it…teenagers are rarely happy, not for any considerable length of time.  This would really be like fighting the ocean with a teaspoon – eventually I would drown in the frustration of my own futile efforts. It’s not our job to make our kids happy! That’s their job.  It is our job to teach them how to handle life’s circumstances on life’s terms. The best thing I can do for them is learn to listen without judgement or conclusion; just to be present for them and don’t DO anything.  Just BE.

Letting go will become a habit and over time I have found that my reaction to let go comes quicker. As a result, my life is sweeter, calmer. The more trust I show God, the more easily it becomes to work with God and the energies of the universe rather than wasting my time following the un-humble ego that thinks it knows way more than it really does.

But what about the potential that the universe will give you answers you don’t want?   Trust takes practice too. Everything in our world is suspended in such a perfect balance of circumstance, that I cannot possibly hope to understrand the profound and rippling effect each one of my decisions has.  Therefore it is complete insanity to think I could have any notion of how things should work out, for anyone else’s life either.

I am only grateful for the lack of fear and stress I feel today and the miracles I see happen in the lives of people I love keep me humbled and in awe at the potential of our world. For now, I will stand on the edge of the ocean on the shore, keep my teaspoon neatly tucked away and simply watch as the tides turn and change.

~peace~