Thursday, February 26, 2009

Peaceful Celebration

I completed the first draft of my memoir yesterday and sent it off for review. I had been sitting on it for a couple months, knowing that I had the opportunity to have it looked at once I completed it, yet couldn't quite manage to get it done. Jumping into it in fits and starts over those months, the task seemed too daunting, too hard, too taxing...all the things I tell myself for why I can't see a thing through to completion.

So I questioned it: why couldn't I get my manuscript done? Because the Saboteur told me I couldn't, that's why.

The Saboteur has been lording over me for more years than I can count, the fact that I never seem to finish anything. "Never" and "Always" being those exaggerations that the Saboteur is so particularly fond of to keep us paralyzed, under control, reigned in tight. Faced with the prospect of needing to finishing my manuscript, I was downright terrified.

Enter the Saboteur's partner-in-crime, Perfectionist. If the Saboteur gets edgy, if it thinks he needs reinforcements, he calls in his old pal for back-up. In my case, personally, this is particularly effective. Not only did I worry about whether I could "ever" get finished, I was convinced by the Perfectionist that whatever I did throw together would be crap. They give me the one-two sucker punch and sit in waiting, sure that my answer to all of this resistance will be "Why Bother?!?"

One of the things I vowed to do for myself this year is to question my assumptions. What is it that holds me down, holds me back, makes me careful and coming from fear? Listening to The Saboteur and Friends rather than my own wisdom.

Calling my hero, Courage, I found the guts to consider that as close as I was to finishing my manuscript, what if I just did it? Who cares if its crap? I mean, really. That's what first drafts are for; take a stab at it and see what comes next. Babies don't spring from the womb able to talk and walk; it takes time. And practice. And trying and mistakes and trial and error. Creative projects are just like children and deserve the time and the space to develop and grow and become, regardless of what others might expect of them.

The saying goes, we can do anything we put our mind to. I'd like to ammend that a bit: We can do anything we put our heart and mind to. The resistance we encounter through the mind isn't all bad -- it requires us to call upon the courage of the heart to continue on. We need both, in order to bring our best selves to our work. And to the world.

I have to admit, I expected some degree of fanfare when I clicked "send" and emailed my manuscript off to its reviewer. But there was none. Instead, there was a peaceful celebration, a content, satisfied quiet that let me know the Saboteur and his band of merry mischief makers were taking a break. If they're on vacation, it's all good. I'll take it.//

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Diving In

Last Friday evening, I had the unique opportunity to be a part of a Kirtan -- the ancient yogic art of mantra chanting -- through the local yoga center where I study. I have had some exposure to chanting in various yoga classes over the past couple months and I've been enthralled and intrigued. When I heard about this event, I knew without a doubt I needed to be a part of it.

Music and singing were formative for me, some core of who I was coming into this world. All the years of my childhood and into college, singing was my thing -- a part of choirs, singing solos, a memeber of acapella groups, dancing around the house belting out the soundtracks to Fame or Grease. Something in me settles to feel my own voice vibrating in my chest. And I haven't sung beyond the safe enclosure of my car in years.

As the hour of the Kirtan approached, as I did the dishes and then got ready to go, I was sick with apprehension. My mind bobbed and weaved through all the possible excuses I could come up with for not going. Not going?! I tuned into the stream of consciousness, the flurry of madness rampaging through my brain. At first, my intent was to shut it up, to reason with it, to turn it off. Then, in the spirit of the yogini I am becoming, my intent shifted to bearing witness, with interest, to what was attempting to hijack me, pleading with me to tuck tail and run, and why.

Snow was lightly beginning to fall as I pulled out of our drive. I was able to acknowledge that I wasn't nervous going to the yoga center; I practically live there these days. Still, my heart raced. I knew I wanted to go and knew that, for whatever reason, I needed to be there. So what was the problem? I sat momentarily in the car once I arrived, watching the snow drift and melt on the windshield before mustering the courage to go in.

As I settled myself onto my bolster and into my comfortable mediation position, as the music and chanting began, as my voice blended effortlessly into the chorus joined together that evening, my heart welled up with gratitude. With gratitude and relief. As we sang of Shanti (peace) and began to split into spontaneous rounds and harmonies, tears sprang from my eyes and the death-grip in my chest began to give way. It occured to me that this was what my soul longed for, and what my ego had simultaneously feared: Power born of my own voice, of my own willingness to take a risk and try something new. I showed up to myself, to the calling, and chose to participate fully in my life in that moment.

Isn't this all the Universe really asks of us? To participate in the divine creative partnership we were born into, manage to forget, and then spend the bulk of our lives trying to reconnect with?

This night was a homecoming that I can only believe my ego feared I could never find...or feared for its future ruling the roost when I did. Despite the fear, we owe it to ourselves to dive headlong into the water of our lives -- and trust that the rest will take care of itself.//

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Finding Our Own Way

One of my favorite things to do, regardless of season, is hike with my husband and our dog at a 400-acre park whose previous life was that of a local resident's farmstead. When he passed on, he left this oasis of woods and prairie, lake and pond, with miles and miles of trail to explore to the city with the stipulation that it only ever be available for public use. My family can't thank him enough for his generosity. The gift of Ritter Farm is never lost on me.

Last weekend, when the frigid temperatures broke for a couple of days, we were back to our old tricks -- waking early to get out to the park to start our day. Trooper couldn't have been happier, waggling her tail as she worked the trail before us, nose to the ground, stopping to scratch in the snow to uncover secret scents. There are few things as joyful to me as witnessing her grand adventures in freedom, exploring, exploring, exploring. If only we could take in our surroundings as thoroughly and with as much abandon...

We couldn't have been happier either. Feeling the early February sun beginning to regain strength is wrought with hope. Good ol' Punxsutawney Phil informed us we still have six weeks of winter to contend with (at least!), but each moment we can soak in the wonder of being out in the cold and feeling contendedly warm, we know it won't be long now until the trees begin to bud and the red-wingers return. All in its own time.

Spring might not be right around the corner, but she's close. Close enough to taste on the wind; close enough to feel on the skin. May we all find our own way to her, and with hope in our hearts, welcome her whenever she feels her time is ripe to arrive.//