Life Has A Crush On You

Falling in love with Life one day at a time…

Month: February, 2012

Permission to Underachieve

What if I your teachers told  you to work at 90 %? What if you boss told you today you are to “underachieve”? What if everything you touched and did was enough, not perfect, but enough? What would life be like if we lived in the 90 percent range, instead of constantly striving for 100%?

I believe we each need a time, a space and a place to underachieve. While this seems contrary to American psychology, or successful mindsets, it may be the key that unlocks our success, our presence and our ability to enjoy Life here and now.

There are two practices that I work at 90% with, and I am adding more as time goes on. This practice of shooting low in these certain areas has allowed me to fail. It gives me permission to accept this moment and all I can do it in, instead of wanting more and scolding myself for not being better. In yoga, every time I get on the mat, I consciously give myself permission to underachieve. My standard for a good practice is to breathe. What happens then when I truly believe I am successful if I spend the hour and a half breathing? I am happy! I am in the present moment. Suddenly, too, I can hear my internal dialogue. This permission I have given myself shuts down the voice that pushes me for “more”. It shuts down the urge to compare myself to others and their standards. The space then in my mind and body is filled with discussion about what I feel like doing. This is freedom! My intention then is to listen internally to what I want, what my internal guide is saying, and not some standard that has been imposed (by me or society) that I must reach to then feel accomplished.

The second task I consciously allow myself to fail is cooking. Just like above, my goal is not to fail, but to accept a dish that doesn’t taste good. It is to welcome whatever the outcome may be! My purpose it is to joyfully seek my creativity in each dish, not to be a gourmet and perfect chef. There have been times when I cooked something that smelled so bad we had to leave the house (we never even got close enough to tasting it). That didn’t stop me the next night from trying something new. It only added a story and now some knowledge that fish sauce isn’t something I care to use.

What could be something in your life that you approach with permission to underachieve? Could it be art? Self study?  Writing? Talking on the phone? Ab work? Can you cultivate a space that you come to daily that asks you to leave behind your need to be perfect? Can you find a space where if it was graded getting a 90% is better than a 100%? Can we welcome this gentleness a little bit into our day. Can it be enough that you are simply showing up to do that task? Can that be your new standard? I find it when I come to this place of acceptance that then I naturally move into the flow of the task and my Divine self-expression effortlessly. I have released the need to produce perfection, and allow me to express me.

We are loved not because we are perfect. We are loved because of endearing imperfections. As much as he might complain or get frustrated, I know Drew really does think it is cute how I load the dishwater without any order or precision. That is part of who I am. It is not to say it won’t change, that I won’t get better, since we are all growing. But for now it’s my quirk and this is lovable.

This is a small example, but its good to start with this practice. Can we love these not perfect, not high standard aspects of our own lives? Can we create the space in our mind, heart and day for Life to come in and fill that 10% difference between our working at 90%  and the 100% that would make it perfect? Can we accept that where we are right now is good enough and exactly what is needed? Can we master underachievement and find peace in the moment?

(p.s.- So often our language reflects our society. Underachieve isn’t even a word in the dictionary in this program! What a revolutionary idea we have here!)

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A good story…

A few days ago I mentioned how much I love 40 day programs. I thought today, I would share briefly the best story of one that  I have.

One August I found myself incredibly heartbroken, having broken up with a man I loved and had dated for a year and a half. There was something though about the breakup that signaled to me it wasn’t “perfect”. I found that it was during our conversations about the break that we were more ourselves and more honest with each other than we had ever been before. This was relieving, yet at the same time, a sign that we did not bring out the best in each other.

I was caught, though, within with the boundary of mind. How do you conceptualize life without the other person there? I was faced with the tremendous unknown and it was painful, scary and hard.

One of the greatest things that happened a couple of weeks afterwards was that I called him. As I am sure you know, the hardest part of breaking up with someone  is often losing a friend, most likely a best friend. Then you find yourself sitting in your kitchen one night wanting to talk to the one person that you can’t anymore. So, I did. I crossed the line. I called. I wanted to hear his voice, to see how he was doing, to get some validation that I wasn’t crazy for still wanting to talk.

That’s when I received the greatest gift he ever gave me. He was rude. Short. Terse. Mean. Every single-word sentence, every monotone phrase struck my heart with pangs of the fact that he really didn’t want me. I got off the phone flabbergasted and shocked. I realized then that the door was truly closed and he had just nailed it shut.

Through the tears that streamed down my face, I had to face this reality. So, I did. That short conversation, where he talked to me like I was cold calling him, snipped every wire within me that tied me to him. While I still cared for him and loved him (I don’t know how to switch that one off so suddenly), I realized now all I could do was mourn us and move on.

I drew resources from everywhere to help me to move forward. There were diet changes and sleep changes. Work inspirations and friends instructed with particular things they needed to do if they saw me upset. I looked at myself physically, emotionally and spiritually and examined ways for all these different aspects to propel me forward. I had to get beyond the limit of my thinking that he was the only one, or that it was meant to be.

As part of this process I picked up my roommate’s A Purpose Driven Life for the sole reason that it offered me discipline and a focus on something larger than myself. There I committed to its 40 day plan, sure to journal every day, no matter what the circumstances.

In the next few weeks, large and small things happened. I went on a few dates. I hosted a band of friends. I threw myself into work. I kissed someone new (and cried). I affirmed love fervently in the shower. I wrote letters to him that I knew  never to send. I cried again. And above all, I wrote, journaling every day, prompted by this book.

On the fortieth day, a Friday, I woke up with Charleston breezes pushing my white curtains onto my bed and birds singing the morning in. Today I was going to Athens, GA to see old and best friends. To explore my new-found independence and to take my friends Drew and McCauley up on their offer for a road trip.

If I have ever felt freedom, I felt it that morning. Upon waking, I felt compelled to dance! I danced in front of the bathroom mirror as I hadn’t danced in years. I swayed and shook. I waltzed and laughed. I whipped my hair around and slapped the floor. I was everywhere. In the end, the peace and the smile that comes from dancing descended upon me.

While to anyone that walked in I looked like a crazy single girl, I realized very quickly that I was far from being alone. In fact, I was more in love that day than I ever had been before. Life had found its way back to me. Life had asked me to dance again.

This dance was a sign of a commitment on both of our parts to bring Joy to the other. I sat there in awe, wanting to coddle this feeling, this awareness of the grandeur of Life. I wanted to take this confidence and presence of Life and Love with me forever. Despite having been in a relationship, I hadn’t felt this way ever with him. So I sat down and smiled. “Thank you” was all I seemed to say. The voice that said this came from my true self, a person I hadn’t seen in a while.

Time passed and my ride arrived a few hours later. We headed to Athens and I carried with me my new love and sense of peace that I truly had enough.

That evening I arrived at what would in just a few months become my own future home. I stepped out of the car, relieved to be close to friends soon, and Drew walked out to greet to. He says his heart completely stopped the moment he saw me step into his sight. I was still smiling at Life so much I didn’t notice.

I did notice his captured nature later that night. Drew grabbed me and kissed me in the hallway, separated from the rest of the guests only by a thin closet door.  I never imagined a kiss could be that good. I didn’t know that my whole body could feel the love I had felt that morning with another person. I didn’t know that miracles like this could happen to me.

It may sound crazy, but the thought that ran through my head again and again, so much so that I even started to say it out loud during the kiss was “Nothing is too good to be true! Nothing is too good to be true!”

On that night of my fortieth day, I learned that Life knew there was more to love than what I had experienced. I learned there was more to love than any of us had ever experienced. It just needed me to get there. It needed me to have a habit and focus that would be long enough to bring me out of myself. That is exactly what it did and it landed me right on the doorstep of my future husband, miraculously.

An Apology

Dear Customer Service Man that I was just rude to,

I want to write to say I am sorry. I didn’t mean to be so rude. The truth from my perspective was that my boss was yelling at me on one side and you were on my other side. Instead of turning to him, I turned to you and said you were being condescending. While you might have had that tone, I should have communicated to you from a place of love, instead of from a place of frustration, anger and undue arrogance. Being the customer does not give me the right to be rude.

I imagine this has set off your day. I bet you reacted to my statements about your service quite harshly. I can hear the few names that you called me.

While there is no way to get back in touch with you, this is all I can offer. My genuine, sincere, and heartfelt apology for projecting my frustration on you, when you were simple the last straw on my back. I am sorry you there the one who got my violent outbreak. In all due seriousness, it is non-violence I prize greatly, and now having added just a drop to the bucket of violence that takes place today, I feel worse than I have in a while.

I hope you can accept this apology and that I can learn from this experience and not communicate as I did again.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

40 Days!

I love 40 day programs. They seem perfect to me, in a lot of ways. They give you enough time to establish a habit (apparently that takes 21 days) and then the “cementing” time, to let and allow that habit to really stick.

Today, after hopefully very indulgent days yesterday, Christians are embarking on their own type of fast for the forty days leading up to Easter. Having grown up Christian, I have always loved Lent. It comes at a time just when you start to doubt that spring will ever come. It comes with the memories of old Easters where you got a new dress and always a wonderful meal with family and friends. It also comes with a cultural acceptance of commitment to something new. Just when our New Year’s resolutions have started to wane from our thoughts, here comes this suggestion to recommit!

While many people abstain from things during Lent, I always loved adding something. Could I journal for forty days? Could I add more vegetables? Could I go out of my way to be kind to people for over a month? Could I commit to a chocolate and meditative break at 3 o’clock every day?

While traditionally Lenten commitments have been harsh, fasting type things, I find for me that this stringent nature is not necessary (or that fun). This is a spring cleaning, but also a commitment to Life. Can we commit to something that is Life-giving?  It is the hour of darkness before the dawn, so why not commit to something that keeps your spirits high and hopes warm?

The symbolism of Easter is that there is no death. Winter is this season of dying, decay and cold. But this day reminds us of the coming Life. Of the fact that no matter how dark, gloomy, or wintry we might get, the seasons always change. This is the brilliance of this season that Christianity has taken hold of. This is the time to band together to look to Life despite external appearances and celebrate It for all it is.

For me, committing to something, a healthy something that I choose, is a way to engage with Life. It is a way to help me remember the presence of Life and Its promises. It’s a way I can give back, since Life has given me so much already. Also, it’s a way to plant a seed of something good, something a bit challenging that makes me turn to Life for help and encouragement (if only to remember to do it). Its a way to start a project together and the  rewards of such teamwork have never disappointed.

The Constitution of the State of Love

As a creation of Love to Love, you are entitled to certain undeniable rights. These are given despite circumstances, societal positions, personal histories or present obstacles.

These rights are your birthrights.

 

1. You have the right to fail.

 

2. You have the right to live the greatest love story you have ever imagined.

 

3. You have the right to create representations of your essence.

 

4. You have the right to receive answers, support, advice and love from Life daily.

 

5. You have the right to let go completely every day.

 

6. You have the right to have all the means necessary to be your greatest self.

 

7. You have the right to live with your true Divine love.

 

8. You have the right to claim and accept that you are enough, right here, right now.

 

9.  You have the right to celebrate daily.

 

10. You have the right to live in beauty and peace.

 

Today I will be happier than a chicken with a French fry.

"Today I will be happier than a chicken with a French Fry."

Enough said.

Happy Friday.

Painting by Capman.

Developing Your Miracle Mind

When we live in the realm of the truth that “nothing is too good to be true” then we are opening ourselves up to the miracles that happen to us, around us and through us. However, very rarely are we able to hold onto one thought, nonetheless this one, for too long. It is only natural to have emotions, thoughts and experiences that direct us away from living in a state of awe at Life. Yet, luckily a mindset is very similar to a muscle. If we practice, use it, and focus on it, we gain strength and a heightened natural state.

I have developed a practice that has helped me see my life, this world and even daily things in new ways lending to see the miraculous Life that is all around us. It is a practice that can be done anywhere and produces tremendous results almost immediately. It is fun to simply try it for five minutes. It pairs well while you are doing any task, such as responding to emails, cleaning your home, watching television, planning for the future, etc.

This exercise is simply to take whatever enters any of your senses (i.e. anything you see, touch, hear, understand, think, smell, taste, digest ,etc) and call it a “miracle”.

By adamantly saying and claiming  whatever you are thinking or using as a miracle you are welcoming in a new perspective on the “same old thing”. Suddenly, you recognize that your day is filled with miracles!

Here is an example from this morning. 

At the sink,  I turned on the steel knob – miracle!  (The moment I said this, I thought of the decades that were spent trying to engineer the metal, the people working to get it,  and how many hands, minds and others were involved in this one handle?)

The water turns on – miracle! (Flowing water! In the grand scheme of history – truly miraculous!)

I fill a glass with the water, and take a sip – miracle! (How does my body just know what to do with the water? Where is this water going? What cells are going to share it? What healing properties is it bringing to me?)

I look out the window while I’m drinking and see our car – miracle! (We have a car! How many people, thoughts, trials and errors did it take for that to run so smoothly?)

The computer, the internet, a strawberry, your voice- these are not just common aspects that we have any sort of “right” to. These are all miracles. Miracles of other’s genius, miracles of our own Divinity and miracles offered by Life.

As you can see, this practice can be done any time, the more trivial or commonplace the activity, the better. You will be able to crack open the monotony of the day with the hidden truth of everything that surrounds you, is in you, and courses through you.

You will have a day dedicated to miracles.

Ode to Saturday Morning

Here’s To….

Staying an extra 20 minutes cuddled up.
Dancing in the kitchen while the coffee brews.
Your eagerness to bake cinnamon muffins for us.
The Norah Jones station on Pandora.
The moment all time and space melts away.
The dog jealous of our dancing.
Being fully present.
A load of laundry already in the machine.
Filling the house with sweet smells.
The day that follows such an ease into living.

Here’s to you.

 

Today Is A Day of Completion

Put the letter in the mail.
Drop off the winter clothes that you aren’t going to wear this season.
Sign off on the task that has been hanging over you all week.
Submit that which you have been working on, even if you don’t think its 100% perfect.
Call the friend you have been meaning to.
Finally organize under your bed.
Send that birthday/christmas/ wedding gift.

Today is a day of completion. The Universe is a highly organized place. Think of the cosmos, of each cell in your body, the perfection of a tree. Take part in this nature of yours and complete something. Let go of something. Tie the ribbons on your gifts. Dot your “i”s. Become free.

Infinite Spirit knows only completion. Allow this energy, this truth, to come through you and allow you to master this Friday.

Sometimes we hold onto things because of fear (will we ever have something like this again, even though I don’t really like it?) Or sometimes we don’t finish things because it seems the hardest step is the very last one. Other times we don’t finish something because we are perfectionists and hope we are better than what we have produced.

It is more inline with nature to do and let go, than to consistently work on something. Accept what you have, trust that it is enough and go forward. If it isn’t up to your standard, your bosses, friends’, etc. standard, then you get another chance! Nothing is alive or useful until we send it. Until we let go of it. Until we “complete” it.

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Take the time to finish what you need to do today. Tomorrow may you wake up free, light and open to the next things Life has to offer you.

Today is the Day of Completion!

A Prescription for Envy

I was incredibly glad to hear from an old friend today. This is a friend I have always deeply admired and idolized to some extent. When we met abroad I was struck by her peace, confidence and quiet nature. She was one of the first friends I had who was fully in tune with what she wanted and needed, then arranged her life to provide for it for her. I had followed her from a distance through social media, seeing that she was traveling the world with her true love, completing her masters in marine studies and then choosing to live in sunny, beautiful Southern California. I saw she was still one of those friends who is incredibly caring, wonderfully fun and someone you wish to have in your life. However, in the five years that passed since we met  we lost connection and communication. That is until today.

She so graciously reached out to me after I posted a picture that she had taken and we began a new conversation. While I looked forward to speaking to her over the phone, I learned a few things about what she has been doing recently, one of which made me pause and burn with envy.

My friend had just spent a month in Costa Rica studying to become a yoga instructor. Having had the privilege to have recently completed my own training here in Georgia, I lusted after more knowledge and the chance to study on the beach, in the tropics and get some surfing in during the down times. If there is one thing my soul longs for time and time again it is the ocean, and now yoga. Here she was having had the privilege and ability to pursue both. What joy! What freedom! What wealth!

The feeling of envy was quite strange to me. It was like a bubble growing in my chest, creating pressure and pushing against my equilibrium and happiness. Why was I feeling so strongly about her program? How was I capable of losing so much appreciation and happiness about my own life in one instant?

I paused and thought about it. I spoke to my parents who laughed, since yoga in Costa Rica is one of the furthest things they would ever envy. Their laughter helped break the tension I had built up within my own self. “Aren’t you happy for her?” My father asked. “Oh my goodness! I couldn’t be more ecstatic for her! I just wish I was there too, that I had the opportunity to do that, too.” He laughed again.

It was an hour later, though, that I remembered the spiritual tactic to combat this envy. It is simply a recognition and a repetition of the truth –

” What Life has given to others, It nows gives to me and more.”

The moment this thought seeped into my consciousness the pressure began to shrink in my chest and was replaced with expanding, exciting joy. I felt then like a sunrise began to dawn in my body and mind.

“What Life has given to others, It now gives to me and more.”

This thought, affirmation and reality directly shifted me away from a “wanting” envious state, to a state of excited expectancy and trust in Life. It turned envy into a telltale marker, identifying something that spoke to my soul, something that I wished to call into my own experiences. There was a reason this came across my consciousness and experience. I can acknowledge that this envy is a sign of the good to come to me, just as it has to others.

Sometimes we are taught to think ,”Oh, well there must be something wrong with their life. Everyone has at least some kind of issue.” But what a tragic thought. This perspective doesn’t serve me. This statement creates limits on the other person and therefore me, as well.

What I had to realize was that studying yoga in Costa Rica seemed “too good to be true” – where would the money, the time, the support come from? The answer is where it always comes from – Life.

My friend did it.  She spun a dream into reality and should be honored, not chastised, for breaking my boundaries and putting me in the uncomfortable position of demanding more from Life right now.

This envy is an opportunity to trust more. To expect more. To receive more. To celebrate more. It is an opportunity to define more greatly my needs from this relationship with Life and watch as they miraculously come when I believe with consistent and steady faith that “What Life has given to my friend, It now gives to me and more.”