Movie Mentors

My First Lesson in Sufficiency

Recently I have developed a bit of a throw pillow problem. When I moved into my current one-room casa (size: 400 sq. feet) I was oh-so eager to downsize. Or at least I was until I confronted my large and beloved stuffed animal collection. Hours, days and weeks of painful self-deliberation later, more than half of my collection was finally delivered to Goodwill, where hopefully they will continue delight to their new shorter and more age-appropriate owners. With that difficult task finally accomplished, I started to settle in. As of today, I will have been living in my new space-starved digs for nearly 5 months. Overall, I am very happy with the size of the space, and I like living with less. That is, until it comes to throw pillows. Even at this moment, I can count 13 throw pillows occupying increasingly close quarters on my one couch and one chair. I almost bought another one today, but caught myself just in time (whew). Since I didn't have this issue until the stuffed animals departed, I can only assume the two share a connection....or perhaps it is just the ongoing rebellion of a small contingent of brain cells who insist that "less" equals less, period, the end. Perhaps there is just some part of me who wants - needs - to accumulate, amass, collect, and she isn't ready to trust her need can be met in any other way. 
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Movie Mentors

Where You Plug In Matters

In my last post, I shared thoughts on a documentary film called "Afterlife." I'm still thinking about it. But, oddly, the reason has nothing to do with the film's primary topic. Rather, I'm thinking about an offhand comment one of the stars made about where we plug in. He said something to the effect that, too often, we attempt to plug in to things or people when we should be plugging in to our source. (I have to assume by "source" he meant whatever it is that connects everything together - God, spirit, energy, light, the ultimate mentor, whatever each person prefers to call it.) Names aside, this REALLY hit home to me. My brain has a tendency to wander off into less productive areas, where (for some incomprehensible reason) it enjoys thinking about topics like financial scarcity, loneliness, the aging process and, well, death. Now, when I catch it sneaking away again, I stop it and say, "NO. You won't find what you are looking for there. Go plug in to the source." In the same way, when I catch it eyeing my bank balance, boyfriend, pets, possessions or the contents of my frig in search of the meaning of life (after 46 years, it still does this on nearly a daily basis!) I say firmly, "Not there. Go plug in to the source." Oddly, this seems to be working. 
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Movie Mentors

What Happens When We Die

I don't know (just in case you were wondering). In fact, I have no idea what happens. However, intriguingly, I am not in as large of a majority here as I once thought. As this is my 46th year of life, certainly it crosses my mind from time to time...like nearly every day. But it has always been like this for me. Give me 99 things I could know for sure and 1 thing I never will, and that will be all I can think about. Last year a sweet Facebook friend sent me a book recommendation. It was the true story of a sister who became the posthumous biographer for her brother. I found it to be a soothing read - so much so that I've read it at least 6 times now (oh, and I blogged about it here). It also made me want to learn more about what other people think about what happens after we die. Recently I came across a documentary with an eye-catching title, "Afterlife." It features short interviews with "real people" (aka people like me) as well as "afterlife experts" (aka people not like me). In all fairness, the experts have each had their own powerful near-death experiences, as have some of the real people they interviewed. I have not had a near-death experience, although I did nearly die as a young girl. It happened when I over-estimated my swimming prowess and a lifeguard had to jump in and fish me out. But all I remember was feeling heavy and cold. No glowing tunnels, no celestial beings, no unearthly blue-gold light or feelings of unconditional love for me. And no hovering over my own body to watch the whole thing go down....sigh. Many of the interviewees (experts and regular folks) in "Afterlife" have had these exact kinds of experiences. They also say that afterwards, they lost all fear of death. To which I respond: must. be. nice. 
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Emotions

“Ow!” My New Favorite All-Purpose Word

Last month I attended a festive family holiday gathering. While there, I spent some time hanging out with the younger set, who were keen to explain critical elements of their culture to me (this mostly included watching them play video games while trying to shield my elderly brain cells from information overload). I noticed one particularly rambunctious youngster who ricocheted from toy to toy, activity to activity, bouncing around and around the room as he did so. Periodically, he would yell, "Ow!" Sometimes he was smiling as he did this. When questioned, his parents explained that "Ow!" is their son's word for emotional overload. Period. When life gets too big, too booming, to up close and personal, this little boy yells, "Ow!" I totally got it. 
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Good News

It is Time for Sufficiency

All my life I have felt the pinch of scarcity. Scarcity - the sensation of not having "enough," has long served as a sort of theme song that would begin playing again automatically anytime I permitted my efforts to flag in any area of my life. Not making enough money? (cue theme song)  Don't have anyone to hang with this Friday night? (cue theme song)  No boyfriend? (cue theme song) Feeling depressed/anxious/sad/lonely/"fat" again? (cue....you get the idea). A few years ago, one of my mentors recommended a book to me called "The Soul of Money." I will never forget my first thought. "Money has a SOUL?!?" Up until that point, I had been pretty sure money was the evil spawn of whatever had clearly been out to get me from the day I popped out into this world. I was also not that prepared to be convinced otherwise. Yet, dutifully, I acquired the slim volume and began reading. The first section was all about scarcity, which the author called "the great lie." Ha. So already we had a problem, because to me scarcity was clearly visible practically everywhere I looked. Reluctantly, I moved on to the next section, which bore the unfortunate header, "Sufficiency: The Surprising Truth." "Surprising, indeed," I cackled to myself. "As in, surprising if you can find it." 
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Faith

The Year of Having Faith in Review

As many of you know, right around this time last year I set (and shared) my usual New Year's Intention. If you've been following along, you also know by now that from the get-go, I found pursuing my new intention challenging. This, of course, is because that intention was "The Year of Having Faith." And while I might have many things in abundance (anxiety, creativity, too many colorful throw pillows, etc.) faith has definitely never been one of them. But I dug in, and over the past year, I have (um) faithfully examined faith from every angle I could think of. From finding a definition for faith that seemed workable to realizing it may be possible to "train" for faith in the way a monk trains to meditate on cue, and from rewinding to my curiosity about faith (which inevitably ended up where it always seems to end up, with "May the Force be With You") to ruminating on whether faith may be less a "thing" and more a relationship.... Suffice it to say it's been quite a year. But in review, I honestly do believe I have more faith today than I did a year ago. Although I'm still not precisely sure what faith is, or even how to reliably recognize it. 
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Emotions

I Want To Be Happy (Happy Birthday to Me)

Today I am turning 46. Wow. It's not every year a person turns 46, and it won't happen twice. All of which means I'm pretty excited about it (oh, and also about the large and delicious chocolate birthday cake that is rumored to be putting in an appearance later today). But what excites me more than turning 46 itself is how every year when I reliably get older once again, life also gets increasingly better. What I mean by this is that I feel more able to access peace, equipoise, humor, acceptance and happiness with each passing year. I also don't think this has anything to do with aging, per se. I think it has to do with lots of years-gone-by packed chock-full of hard, hard work. For so many years I was working so hard and feeling like I was getting nowhere. I mean - No.Where. Like, will ANYthing EVER change? In those years, the only thing scarier than doing the work was not doing the work, because then I knew for sure nothing would ever change. But now, I am starting to see results. At last, a defining motto or theme has emerged that guides each decision, sorts out every dilemma, cuts through confusion and re-centers my focus. That motto is: I want to be happy. In other words, I could get upset that (insert favorite jacket, cherished old jeans, cute platform clogs, etc, here) no longer fits. I could even attempt to do what it would take to re-fit into the item in question, knowing at a level of great detail what that would require and how far backwards away from happiness I would have to go to get there. But....I want to be happy. Choices, choices. I could go look for a "regular" job that pays more green paper than the freelance writing work I currently do so I could buy a new car or a tiny house or (fill in the blanks with desired financially out-of-reach item here). But....I want to be happy. I could attempt to change my (boyfriend, best friend, relative, pet, et al) to behave or speak or dress more to my liking, or swap these out for others who are more likely to conform to my ideal-whomever or to the exacting standards of those who just "want the best" for me and are not pleased with my current choices. But....I want to be happy. Starting this past year, during my 45th year of life, this all became so crystal clear. 
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Emotions

How I Made Friends with Inner Progress

I suspect I was born impatient. While I have no idea if infants have the ability to form memories at birth, to this day I would swear my first-ever post-birth thought was, "Oh no - not this again!" (this being uttered at the very same moment I was pulled out of my mom's tummy, naked, grumpy and oh-so-resentful of that initial breath-producing whack on the rear). I also suspect I'd been viewing a spoiler right before I emerged - an unwelcome and way-too-late-to-go-back-now glimpse of the bullying, the depression, the anxiety and the eating disorder that would begin to unfold sooner rather than later in my young life. As it turned out, the spoiler was incredibly accurate. It also didn't mention that this uncomfortable setup was necessary for all kinds of reasons that wouldn't make sense until the "spoiler years" were far behind me. In the meantime, I tried to hide from my fate, tried to fit in, tried to appear "normal," but I didn't have it in me. Everything in my life seemed designed to ensure I stuck out. As an example - I was a full head taller than every other kid in my class (including the boys) all the way through the end of fifth grade. I also tried to climb into my locker and pull the door shut from inside on my first day of kindergarten. Things didn't improve much from there. 
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Book Mentors

Don’t Make Assumptions (About Yourself)

A few posts ago, I once again found myself writing about Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements. If you haven't yet read the Four Agreements book, I am not sure how to say in strong enough words how much I recommend it. In other words, out of all the zillions of supposedly life-changing books in the world, to me it is the real deal. I also follow Don Miguel Ruiz on Instagram so I can get Insta-reminders about the Agreements during my day. When someone irritates me, I am now training myself to automatically think to myself, "Don't take anything personally" before I just launch. And when things don't go my way (such as when I want silence but get noise instead), I am training myself to remember, "Don't make assumptions" instead of assuming the noise-maker is making noise just to annoy me. Recently I was chatting with a dear friend about the Agreements (one of my favorite kinds of conversations to have) and she shared that she was also having great success with using the Agreement "don't make assumptions" on herself! This was such a revelation to me - I loved the idea, so I decided to try it out immediately. 
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