The Surrender

As told to me by my Uncle Bill, a supremely quiet and gentle man.

“It must have been mid-June the day my brother Tommy and I and Paddlefoot went swimming in the irrigation canal behind our barn. It was so early in the year, that the water was still too high and cold for swimming. But, we went anyway. We thought we were pretty much grown up enough to make our own decisions. Tommy was twelve. I was ten. Paddlefoot went wherever we went because as our dog, that was kind of his job. He was probably the smartest of the three of us. He did a lot of whining and pacing his giant feet around when we got to the ditch bank road. If he was trying to talk us out of it, it didn’t work, because after a bit of pushing and shoving each other, we were both in that cold, fast water.

We’d do cannon balls off the bank and the water would carry us down stream a pretty good ways until we could get to the side and pull ourselves out. I remember how good the sun felt. How  we’d lay down on the sandy ditch bank to warm up before jumping in again.

And then it happened.

I jumped in and the water was carrying me just like it had ten times before. I was trying to swim to the edge to get out, but it seemed like the water was going faster now, pulling me toward a head gate where the water was going out of the ditch into a culvert under the road.  It sucked me into the culvert and the gate slammed down behind me. Cold darkness surrounded me. Panic filled me. I was under the road with both head gates closed. The water was still in there. Quiet. All I could hear was my heart pounding in my head.

I grabbed the bars of the gate and shook them as hard as I could. They didn’t budge. I kicked. I pried. I braced myself against the wall of the culvert and pushed as hard as a ten-year-old boy could push. But nothing I did was making any difference at all. I was trapped. My lungs were on fire. I was so cold I couldn’t feel my body anymore. I thought about Tommy. Paddlefoot. And my mom and dad. I was terrified that I would never see any of them again, so I used every ounce of strength I had left to shake that iron gate. But there wasn’t even a hint of movement.

I realized there was nothing left for me to try. I had no strength left to try anyway. My time was almost up. I was going to have to take a breath. I knew I was at the end, and I relaxed. I let go of the gate that had imprisoned me and the most amazing thing happened. It opened. And with a whoosh of water, I was back out in the canal, coughing and gagging, swimming for my life. It was like the minute I relaxed, the gate opened.”

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Uncle Bill told me this story when I was in my thirties. It was memorable because he was such a quiet man. I was visiting them for an afternoon when Aunt Bert excused herself to the kitchen leaving us in awkward silence. And then out came this story of the power of surrender. I used to wonder if I had hallucinated the whole thing. It was so out of character and seemed so random.

I mentioned this story to my cousins over a decade later on the day of Uncle Bill’s funeral. None of them had heard it before.

I’ve always been so grateful for this strange moment, this extraordinary gift. Whenever I’m faced with something that I’m fighting against with all my strength, I remember…

“The minute I relaxed, the gate opened.”  (William Thomas)

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Unlikely Doors To Awakening

When I was seven, my whole life changed. It sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s true. Not because we moved to a different place, though we did. Not because my mom got clean. She did. And not because my dad lost his mind, which he most certainly seemed to. Any of these things is life changing for sure. All of them together still would have been manageable but for one thing. The thing that really changed my life…

I forgot God.

It happens. It happens by design, allowing us the process of remembering God. This is the way we “succeed” here. We find our way back to God, the Universe, Divine Love, Source, our Higher Power… whatever we call it. We find our way back to Who we really Are. We find that God is actually in us. That we are part of Him and She is part of us. See what I did there? Don’t let it blow your mind. What? God is transgender?  God is definitely male. And God is most definitely female. God is definitely All genders. All ethnicities. All ages, all, all, ALL…

Divine Love is All. And yet…

There’s this existential angst. There’s the searching and the constant feeling of failure and coming up short. Good Gawd, it’s exhausting!

Remembering is simple. But it’s not easy. It wouldn’t be a grand design if it were easy. But believe me when I say how utterly simple it is.

Remember being a kid? (Before it got messy) When being a kid meant that you did things because they made you happy. And unhappiness seemed to only last a few moments. And then bam! Happy again. That’s pure magic. It’s letting the emotions be. Just be. Happy, sad, angry, bored, scared. And “happy” didn’t have a bunch of shit attached to it. It didn’t mean “successful” or “debt free” or any of the multitude of things “happy” means to us now. Happy was just our natural state of Being. When we were kids, we weren’t anybody. We weren’t trying to be somebody. We didn’t have impostor syndrome and we weren’t seeking our purpose. We didn’t sulk around trying to find ourselves. We already were. Well guess what? You still Are.

And if you’re in the state of searching and seeking for what else is out there besides all this angst, good for you! Not everyone is ready for the notion that there’s more to this life than birth, work, and death. The fact that you are curious about true meaning is a nudge from the universe that you’re here to wake up.

Now, slow down. Take a deep breath and hear this… It is not as complicated as your big, beautiful brain is trying to make it seem. By the way, your brain lies. It makes shit up, so it has something to solve because that’s what it’s designed to do; solve things. It is not always your best resource. Keep that in mind next time you’re awake at three a.m. with your mind going all Armageddon on you.

There are many roads to remembering. Doors leading to our Divinity are always being opened for us. I went around trying different doors for a long time because I could just feel a truth begging to be known. One of the things that really opened me up to my true nature was the suffering of my childhood. I believed there had to be purpose in that much screwed up-ness. My childhood always felt like some kind of puzzle to be solved. As if the answer to the question “Why am I here?” was hidden in the life I had been born into. And it was. Not quite in the way I imagined. It was actually much simpler than what my imagination came up with.

We all come out of childhood with wounds to heal. The mistake that we can make is thinking that someone else can heal our wounded parts. The truth of it is, we have to do it ourselves. Which is really okay because when we were kids we all said at some point “When I have kids, I’m going to tell them they’re smart and beautiful and can do anything they choose to do…” Well, now you have a kid. The kid that needs you the most. The kid that didn’t feel loved or encouraged. The kid that wasn’t allowed to be thoroughly pissed off… The dreaded inner child. Joke if you must, but she’s the real deal. I cringed at the thought too. Turns out she was the gateway to freedom. So maybe just leave this particular door cracked open in case I’m right.

If you can operate in a state of suspended disbelief and accept the suggestion that you too, have an inner kid, then you get to be the parent to yourself that you never had.
Believe me when I tell you she’s in there. She’s waiting. Maybe patiently. Maybe not so patiently. You’ll recognize her by the emotions that are the most familiar to you; the places where you feel stuck. The places you feel the least lovable. Start looking there. And when she shows herself, don’t assume anything. Ask her what she needs from you. And then… listen. And trust the answers you get. Be as honest as you can with her. Tell her you’re going to learn how to take care of her.

I know my inner kid is alive and well because I wasn’t going to write about this today. I was going with a title closer to “Compassionate Discipline”. What happened was that while waiting for inspiration to strike, one of my inner kids reminded me that the reason it’s a topic of interest to me, is because she’s trying to figure out the difference between discipline and punishment and where compassion enters into it at all.

So, if you were to ask me how to begin parenting that inner kid, I’d say this; listen. Be still. Pay attention to, and really feel what you’re feeling. Because it might just be what your inner kid is feeling. And then, as weird as it sounds, you have to start a dialogue with that kid. Expect it to go well because you’re an optimist. When it doesn’t go well, don’t worry. Inner kids can feel pretty unappreciated at first. It could take some time and effort to really get to know them.
Persist. Persist because when your inner kids feel heard and loved, the whole world opens up. When you parent yourself, you are awakening the God energy within you. You open a portal to Divine Love that is everything that you forgot all those years ago.
I was a seeker once. I was looking for my purpose. I knew there was more. I never imagined finding it would start with a conversation with seven-year-old me. Now, I don’t really seek anymore. Not outside of myself, anyway. I listen more. I pay attention and watch for the moments where I feel that familiar twinge of abandonment, oppression, unworthiness. Then I grab that kid up in my arms and I love her, and love her, and Love Her.

Post Script… If you want some great insight on awakening to your inner Divinity, working with the inner kid, and learning how to live your life Outrageously Open, visit Tosha Silver’s website I am a student in her school of Living Outrageous Openness. Inner kid work is only a part of the curriculum. She offers many, many more tools to support you while you learn to live your life with a greater sense of peace, joy and purpose.

The Life of Offering…

She was thirteen when she realized she was pretty.

She was fifty-three the day she was overcome with a sadness she recognized but couldn’t name.

She wept. Right there in her living room while brilliant, warm sunlight poured through the giant picture window.

She was unafraid of drowning.

This is how a life of offering is unfolding for me.

It seems to come with a presence of soul. An ability to allow whatever comes up to just “Be” as fully as it is intended to be. So, when sadness bubbles up, I’m unafraid of drowning. And when Michael Franti sings “Hey, Now, Now” ~ I dance. With all the joy, no matter where I am. That, to me is the best of a life of offering. All the feels. Without fear of drowning in any of them.

As I’ve been making my way to and through the ending of a marriage, I’ve offered the situation to Divine Love every day. Sometimes in every moment of every day.  It might not be the ritual that one would expect of offering. I’m not so much begging for help, although that does happen, but I’m offering mySelf to the Divine. My Whole Self.

While I have been all stages of desperate for answers about how this will unfold, I’ve also yearned in a very real way for the Highest Good to come from this experience. I don’t just say “Divine Beloved, I offer this whole sticky mess to you to deal with. Free me from this situation. Thank you very much.”

My prayers have been more.

“Divine Beloved, please change me into One who can trust Your timing in this. Let me rest in this sea of not knowing what is to come. Let me be kind, truly kind to myself and to others. Change me into One who remembers to breathe and stay present so I can see the path when the time is right.”  And all kinds of shorter, prayers like “Let the Highest begin to occur in this life…”

I knew without question this relationship had something to show me. It has always been one of my greatest teachers, but I could feel change coming like a locomotive. I knew it would be big change, but I wasn’t so bold to believe I knew what it would be. You can never turn your back on change thinking you know how she’ll present herself.

When things in our house would get so tense that I would beg God for relief, beg for the next step to be shown, I was always given the “caution”, “wait”, “slow” sign. It was so frustrating at times. But the signs were always so clear. I couldn’t ignore them. Once when I said “Okay God, this is unbearable. I’m taking this to mean that I should go. I’m leaving this house. I’ve made a decision. If I’m about to do something stupid, please stop me.” Thirty minutes later, I’m shopping and every aisle I turn down is blocked. No joke. Blocked. By people who don’t even seem to notice me, let alone make room for me to pass. After a solid ten minutes of this, I just laughed. “Okay. Point taken.”

The way things finally unfolded between us was so much more than the beginning of the end of a marriage. It was like a bright light was being shone on my entire life. It was an instant “knowing” of all the ways I’d orchestrated this very moment long before we had ever met.

The things I decided about myself when I was thirteen were visiting me today. So were all the ways over the last twenty-three years of our relationship that I put space between us without meaning to. Or, maybe I did mean to.  There’s also an incident of immediate karma that I’ll share when it stings a little less. When I can more readily see the humor. Because it is actually funny ~ in the most humiliating way. This immediate karma is, I believe, one of the big reasons it was important to wait.

I am resting in the unknown right now. Waiting ~ mostly patiently for a clear path to appear. My cat and me in an upstairs room in a chateau in magical McDonald Forest. All I know for sure right now is that I feel a deep and abiding faith that even in this sad ending, scary unknown, all really is well.

Finding God at the Laundromat

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July 9, 2018

In the flow of Divine Love, inspiration is all around. As if I’m swimming in an ocean of possibility and Is-ness ~ a feeling or knowing that everything is already in motion, being created, is already created. Everything just is. In the most reassuring way, even to the point of making faith unnecessary. It feels like Heaven on Earth…

I’m writing this as my clothes are on the spin cycle at my local laundromat. A thing that I intermittently see as a burden and a joy.

I put off coming here because of dread~until I have nothing left to wear. This week I even bought a new pair of jeans because I avoided the laundromat so long. And some days, it’s a zoo in here and I can’t wait to get out. But a lot of days it’s actually great. There are  “Regulars” whose company I enjoy, even if we don’t interact beyond greetings and see you next times.

There’s an older, Hispanic gentleman who I swear is Divine Love Herself. In the brief moments we share our thoughts about the current weather, I feel seen in the most loving and gentle way. The smile that crosses is face when he looks up from his word-find to greet me, holds pure delight. And something that feels like deep recognition. If he looked up one day and said “I know you”, I would have to respond “And I know you”. And nothing more would need to be said.

As I sit with my legs extended on this bench, watching my sheets wad up in the huge dryer, I have never felt more alive, at peace and on fire in my entire life. The deeper I go into offering, the more I understand that often, the situations I offer are transmuted.

When I was first learning about offering and it was more of an intellectual understanding, I felt like if I offered something I was struggling with, that thing would change. For example; the fact that I have no indoor plumbing and have to use a porta potty and the local laundromat. My intellectual understanding told me that if I offered it, Divine Love would orchestrate a plumbing miracle and I would much sooner have indoor plumbing.

I still believe that could happen, if that was the Highest outcome. But what has happened already is that I’ve been changed in such a way that I am able to ~ I even want to stay present in these moments of “in between”. I don’t want to miss a single thing. Even the stuff I dread. Maybe this is one of the joys of a life of offering during a retrograde summer. Maybe I am more patient with what’s happening (and not happening).

I will tell you that before I learned about living in a state of Outrageous Openness           I would have gritted my teeth and “gotten through” this summer, instead of feeling absolutely held in Divine Love even sitting at the laundromat. And really, what could possibly be better than that?

What is Divine Offering?

Offering Front Page

of·fer·ing
ˈôf(ə)riNG,ˈäf(ə)riNG/
noun: a thing offered, especially as a gift or contribution
As I pondered how to begin this journey of offering, I wondered what the word meant according to Merriam Webster. I smiled at the definition because I hadn’t thought of it as simply a gift. I had considered it to be more of a burden… offering all my issues, angst, unsolvable problems to a power greater than my human-ness.
But, I’m falling in love with the idea of it being a gift. In fact, I’m thinking I could have been wrong about it ever having been about burdens at all.
I learned about offering from Tosha Silver ~ and if you’re here, reading this and you’re intrigued in the slightest, you have to see what she’s all about.
After I read Outrageous Openness , I was hooked. After reading Change Me Prayers, The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, I became one of her students.
As her student, I have learned how to be Outrageously Open to my own Inner Divine. To feel so incredibly Loved. To have faith that everything that’s meant for me will find me. I’ve learned that in offering all of myself to Divine Love, things unfold in miraculous ways. Ways I couldn’t have predicted or manifested if I’d tried. There is a peace that I can’t explain. There is child-like wonder for this crazy, beautiful world. A sense of wonder I haven’t had in far too long. There is also a deep sense of purpose to my life now that I was beginning to think I would never find.
This experiment in radical offering was inspired by Tosha’s teachings. It is meant to chronicle what happens in my life when I embrace my own Divine Beloved fully, behaving as if I knew every moment, every day, that I am taken care of, Loved beyond measure, and am absolutely enough.
Here. We. Go….