Ha! A couple years ago I wrote a blog called ‘Freedom Rocks’
In this moment I’m struggling to find gravity and grounding
in all the freedom I have so effectively created for myself.
I don’t work a regular 8-5 job anymore
I’m not married (except to myself ;)
I don’t have any kids (except my inner child)
I do not own a home or any property
I don’t have a dog, a cat or a fish
Heck, I don’t even own a plant.
We all know the beautiful blessings these experiences can bring - a sense of safety, security, belonging, love, value and purpose.
And, some part of me (my soul) knew that this time around I had to create a life free from identifications and attachments. For as much as these things can bring reward, stability and foster growth, they can also become our greatest burdens, restrictions, and potential breeding grounds for the ego’s fears, insecurities, greed and entrapment games… if we are not careful.
In many ways, I have created an unfettered life - out of the system and ‘off the grid’ as some folks say. It is a life that I quite enjoy. A heartfelt, 'high-involvement, low-attachment' life.
I nanny part time. Coach a few clients. Volunteer for some stuff. Take classes. Write and share supportive resources and messages. Facilitate workshops. Hold monthly events and put on an epic Teen Self-Discovery event once a year… so far.
My social life consists of 1-2 weekly coffee dates with various friends; Walks to Greenlake, the local yoga studio or a grocery store; And a trip to church or something spiritual about once a week. Occasionally, I watch a movie. It’s pretty simple.
I stay up late. I’ve always been a night owl. I wake up without an alarm and usually don't require much sleep. I set my work hours, which are excessively long and include weekends. I get few breaks, rare vacations, no benefits, and very little pay. Financially, I am in survival mode much of the time. This part kind of sucks… okay, it really sucks… for now.
That said, I have no doubt that I am on the right path.
Surely there is something to be said about having the safe and secure parameters of home, family, career, and steady paycheck. And, sometimes I am sad about what I have sacrificed for “the vision.” I am not saying this for a pity party, I know it was my choice… on some level.
And, I also know I didn't REALLY have another choice. I have been fueled by a vision 'to leave the world a better place than I found it' for much of my life. This vision relates to children and teens, families and systems, connection and communication, love and belonging, a sense of safety and security, and a feeling of HOME. Ironically, much of what I could not have for myself this lifetime is what I help create for others. There is a bitter-sweetness to this. And, I know it's what my Soul signed up for this time around.
I am armed with a heart full of grace, endless ideas and SOULutions, inspirational tips, tales and tools galore… and very little to show for it in the material realm.
Most of the time I am happy. And, always... I am true.
I am highly enthusiastic, responsible and committed. And, right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed with too many ideas and choices related to the vision.
Much is happening fast with more on the way. I can feel it. And, truth be told, I am a bit (maybe a lot) scared. I'm not sure how things will unfold, what I can let go of and how… and how to get to any of the next steps. This makes me feel quite uncomfortable. It's sometimes much easier when someone tells you what to do and how to do it.
Thankfully, with this ever-expanding freedom, my Soul is right here with me expanding too.
The only prayer that seems to be left now is "Make Me Ready"and I say it everyday :)
Dear Self: I love you! All of you – exactly as you have been, are now, and are becoming. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get to this re-membering, but I finally get it. Everything stems from the foundational Truth (or unfortunate forgetting) that we are pure love in motion. My feelings about you shape how I treat myself and others; they color the lens through which I see and experience the world. On many occasions, I left you in search of something ‘else’ outside. The lessons in this leaving have been painful and purposeful. The suffering cut deep and taught me well. I am grateful. And, I am glad to be home.
Dear Self: It is natural to love. Our true nature is to give and receive love to and through all life forms. It is painful to suppress, withhold, hide or hoard love and creative expression. Everything is alive here. Everything has vibration. If we pay close attention, everything speaks to us, calling our hearts forward into the loving. Listen to the rocks and sand, flowers and trees, rivers and seas - they have stories to tell you. They won’t twist things into clever tales that make one seem better than another. All of creation lives to serve and expand in loving.
Dear Self: The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. Your emotions, intuition, instincts and body are also powerful guidance systems. Pay attention. Heed their warnings and follow their inherent wisdom. Life is much simpler than the conditioned mind likes to believe.
Dear Self: It takes tremendous discipline to be a free Spirit. Contrary to current trendy 'spiritual' jargon, the path of the peaceful warrior is simple, but not easy. Have high aims. Keep your word. Be accountable in your actions. And, stay true to what is pure and right.
Dear Self: While you are infinite in intelligence, creativity and loving, you are finite in your physical energy field. Choose how and where you spend your time and energy wisely. Use everything for your learning, upliftment and advancement.
Dear Self: Much of what you have been taught you will have to unlearn. That is okay. In fact, it makes the journey interesting and gives you more depth and ability to understand what your brothers and sisters are growing through too. Participate fully. Ask questions. Challenge ‘authority’ if something does not sit right inside of you. Observe and Listen attentively. Act consciously. It is not just about you and your output, but very much about input too. Everything is alive and connected, including You. Re-member.
Dear Self: Mass media creates mass hysteria. Capitalism is often driven by shadows of the insecure, fearful and faithless. Avoid drama and distractions that keep you numb, busy or buying. Turn off the external noise and calm internal static. Sit still and be quiet. Presence always reveals what is needed.
Dear Self: Every choice has consequences and/or benefits here. This includes not choosing. Choose wisely with the greater good in mind.
Dear Self: Some people will not remember these truths (yet). That doesn’t mean what you see, feel and understand is not real or relevant. Have compassion for all. Stay aligned in body, mind, heart and soul. Stick with pure sources of natural intelligence and wonder. To thine own self be True.
Dear Self: No one is coming to save you. You have everything you need inside and Grace is available in any moment you call upon it. There is infinite intelligence, support, and abundance backing you every step of the way. Knock. Seek. Ask. And, it shall be given unto you. You are not alone, but you alone are the choice-maker here. Choose wisely with the greater good in mind.
Dear Self: You are pure Love. Live this Truth.
Dear Self: You are Alive! To be alive is a rare and precious gift. Stay Awake & Aware. And, in the words of Jalaluddin Rumi, remember
“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”
Note: I did a form of this writing for years and now have conversations out loud daily in what I call Trinity Trios (my higher Self, present 'adult' self and child self). This particular “Dear Self” format was inspired by this gorgeous Letter to My Younger Self from the book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Sacred Activism) by Charles Eisenstein
I am saddened by the disregard we still have for children in our world. They are essence, the pure beginning of life itself, and sometimes we still do not see, value or understand them or their (our) nature clearly.
While children are not perfect, I can say with certainty that our true inherent nature is loving. I witnessed confirmation of this year after year in the classroom, and also see it with kids in my family coaching work.
Can kids be little stinkers? Yes! Do they need boundaries and rules? Absolutely! Can they be demanding entitled little brats? Sometimes. Do they think of themselves more than others? Well, this depends on the age and the child. But, I have to say that I've seen far more adults be little stinkers, need rules and boundaries, act demanding and entitled, and think of themselves more than others.
Which leads me to the understanding that often it is us adults who actually project our own unresolved wounds (aka shadows) onto kids. And in doing this, kids become who we affirm them to be - lazy, selfish, disconnected, irresponsible, mean, ungrateful. Or fun, smart, intuitive, creative, helpful, kind... you get it.
Kids want and need our guidance. We have to often reel them in, set clear boundaries and give consequences for unhealthy actions. I am not saying be a pushover and let them run the show. That is dangerous.
So many who believe in the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality only see these two extremes, but there are infinite ways to raise a child. In my experience, the best ways involve presence, awareness, respect and loving, while still holding intentionally and firmly to boundaries, expectations and consequences. They are counting on this.
I believe the trouble with kids today most directly relates to how we are being (or not being) with them and what we are modeling. Admitting this does not have to be an act of self-criticism and self-blame. Each moment is a chance to start fresh. Life is a series of fresh starts and learning opportunities - so let's grow for it! While it can be difficult (and exhausting at first) to keep bringing the responsibility back to ourselves and how we show up, it ultimately yields closer relationships, better results, and expands our own understanding and growth. When we are willing to be accountable, admit our faults (humanness), listen, offer mutual respect, and live in ways we want our children to emulate, they will often feel our sincerity and follow suit. Not always overnight, but in due time.
I think we are all worth it :)
IN DEFENSE OF TEENAGERS
Dear Ones -
I was recently speaking at a public event, when a lovely 17-year-old girl stood up in the audience to ask me a question.
She said, "What advice do you have for my generation? And where do you think we are going wrong?"
I looked at her sternly and said, "You know what's wrong with your generation?"
She braced herself bravely and said, "Tell me."
I replied, "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I love your generation. You guys are wonderful. And don't listen to anybody who says otherwise."
The relief on her face was instant and immeasurable. It was clear she had never yet heard a good thing said about her generation.
But I meant it.
Today's American teenagers are the most sensitive, least violent, least bullying, least racist, least homophobic, most globally-minded, most compassionate, most environmentally-conscious, least dogmatic, and overall kindest group of young people this country has ever known.
They were raised to be nice to each other. They have always been encouraged to be tolerant with each other. They weren't allowed to hit each other in the sandbox while adults looked the other way and let them "work it out on their own". They don't smoke as much as my generation did, they don't drink (or drink and drive) as much as my generation did, they don't beat each other up as much as my generation did, and they aren't as mean to each other as my generation was. They don't even have as much sex as my generation did.
Are they a little bit coddled, a little bit "soft"?
You bet. And I love them for that. This world could use more a bit more softness, and a lot less toughness.
They're gentler than we were at their age, truly.
So let's be gentle with them, in return.
Let's give them a break, and stop complaining about them.
Are they perfect? Of course not — they're teenagers. Do they live on their cellphones, and say "like" too much? Do they have short attention spans? Sure, but was there ever a teenager who had a long attention span? Do they listen to music that offends and even scares you? Whatever. (In fact: whatevs. When I was a teenager, adults were terrified that Satanic music was going to destroy the souls of our entire generation, and that Madonna's midriff would make us all grow up to be strippers —and is anybody worried now about the threat of Satanic music or Madonna's midriff ? Trust me, Miley's sexual provocations will someday seem just as quaint and harmless, in retrospect.)
Are some kids today jerks? Sure, but show me a generation without jerks. I submit, in fact, that this is the least jerky generation yet.
Do today's teenagers seem somewhat less motivated and ambitious than generations in the past? Could that possibly be because they have watched their elders drive themselves into a frenzy of debt and depression through constant consumer striving? Could it be that maybe they are questioning the whole rat race?
And are there perhaps better virtues to cultivate than mere ambition?
I think so.
Like consider this, for instance: I know a 17 year-old straight boy who recently took his gay 17 year-old neighbor (his childhood best friend) to the prom. The straight boy wanted his gay friend to enjoy the experience of prom, and the gay boy didn't have a date, so the straight boy gallantly invited him. They rented tuxedos, a limo, took photos, danced, and had a ball. Nobody in their school batted an eye. And the real miracle is — the straight kid couldn't even understand why i thought this was such a big deal. To his mind, it was simple: He loved his buddy, and saw no reason why they couldn't go to the prom together as friends. Nothing about the situation made him feel threatened in the least. Nor did their classmates see it as strange.
Such a scenario would have been unthinkable in my high school back in 1987, where kids who even seemed gay were routinely bullied — not only by their fellow students, but sometimes even by their teachers. And I went to school in the liberal Northeast. We considered ourselves PROGRESSIVE!
Do we still have farther to go? Of course, but my hopes are that this generation will keep showing us the way to greater kindness.
If you have a teenager in your life, then, do try to appreciate him or her. I know they can be maddening, but they are also something quite special. (And as my 102 year-old grandmother once said to a room full of her descendants, who were complaining about KIDS THESE DAYS, "Hey! I knew ALL of you when you were 14, and you were all difficult. But you all turned out pretty good. These kids will turn out good, too.")
In fact, I think they will turn out great.
And if you ARE a teenager (which I know is unlikely, because this is Facebook, not Instagram, or Snapchat) just know that I think you're terrific. I admire your generation immensely. Don't let anyone try to tell you that we were better than you were, back when we were your age. Trust me: we were not better. I was there. I remember.
I can't wait to see what this generation is going to make of the world, with such decency and such compassion bred into their bones.
It's an exciting time in history, and a good time. Believe me.