Week 9 – The Perfect Match (btw, does anyone have an energy bar?)

 

Match-Game

Even though Wayne’s analogy wasn’t quite right, I rather like the idea of “matching” with Intention as though it was a young Richard Dawson

So here I am, more than 9 weeks into The Power of Intention, and ummm… well…. I haven’t exactly been a standout spokesperson for the concept, considering that I’m only on Chapter 4. Theoretically (in my mind, that is), I should be well on my way and telling you all about the amazing results I’m seeing. I’d love to do that, but the one thing that I’ve gained through this haphazard and stumbling journey so far is a commitment, if not yet to Intention, to honesty. And so I sit here hoping that there are still folks out there listening, pulling for me to take the next step.

I shouldn’t have waited so long to begin this chapter, because it’s right up my alley. Wayne titled this one “The Obstacles to Connecting to Intention”. It’s a subject I can speak to – I know a thing or two about obstacles, having both overcome some and inadvertently creating others (no outsourcing needed!) for myself.

I’ll admit, I got a bit distracted from the start of it when, to show how we are disconnected from Intention, Wayne brought up a an old game show called “The Match Game”. He then then proceeded to describe not the classic Gene Rayburn show featuring luminaries like Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly, but rather a distorted version of what’s more like The Newlywed Game, even through that comparison wasn’t exactly accurate, either. But I got the point—Wayne was going to talk about what has become a mainstay of so many self-help tomes.

Acting as if. “Matching” what we want to how we think and what we do.

Surely we’ve all heard the philosophy by now. Think and behave as though what we desire has already been attained. We focus on our inner speech and say/do things from the perspective of the finish line. So rather than, “I am fat and lazy,” we are instructed to tell ourselves, “I am shaping my body and mind to achieve optimal health and energy.” That second statement is how we confront the negativity and “match up” (thus the show analogy) with Intention; and then, well, the world realigns to make it so.

My cynicism climbed a notch—I’ll admit it. If there’s one thing about getting older it’s that there are fewer things you haven’t tried. I’ve been aboard this boat before, and watched as we set set sail, excited about the river and where it might take me. I’ve even had it work – I once “intended” a job in writing, and 6 months later I was in my first gig at a newspaper. But overall the track record wasn’t so great. I’d spent more time struggling than achieving, and seemed to often find myself starting over from scratch. And yet, the fact that I still remember and even honor that one instance tells me it was important. Perhaps, in the timeline of my life, it was there to be a kind of beacon; no matter how rough the waters, there was that knowledge that I had successfully navigated them once and could again.

The Match Game continued, taking on what we tell ourselves about the circumstances of our lives, what has always been (“I’ve always been poor,” “I’ve always thought this way”), and even how we get waylaid by what others expect or want from us. I’ve gotten caught up in this last one, especially in my writing, telling myself that a certain memory can never be told, or that it could bring rejection. To counteract that, I remind myself of author Anne Lamott’s wise words to writers. “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Not quite Wayne Dyer’s style of egoless-ness, perhaps,  but worth remembering as I strive to be more true to myself and my story.

Most of the rest of the chapter talks about energy, otherwise known as my nemesis. I may be behind on my reading, but at this point, I’ve written enough posts that I don’t recall if I’ve brought up my … let’s just say my sometimes questionable level of get-up-and-go. More often than not, I can be found looking for a spot to sit and rest. Park benches, empty spots on the subway—they are like little oases in a world that too often seems to be holding a giant Standing Room Only sign. It suddenly occurs to me that this could be part of my ongoing problem. I’ve been trying to keep hold of the trolley strap while remaining seated.

Wayne says that all around me (in materials, sound, and light) are the waves of energy that make up our world, and that lower energy is converted when confronted by a higher one. Darkness, for example, disappears when a match is introduced, and becomes light. Moving up the scale are the energies of our thoughts—when running at higher and faster levels, our minds can move beyond what seems possible and into that next sphere where intention takes over. I assume this is what athletes experience as they train and get stronger. On the other end of the spectrum are the negative thoughts. My history with them is much deeper and I can easily recall having bad days that turned worse because I refused to let go to of feelings and fears that held me down. In fact, there have been times when I almost embraced them, if only because their familiarity kept me feeling safe.

“You project onto the world what you see inside and you fail to project into the world what you fail to see inside.” This explains those people that seem to radiate from someplace deep under their skin. The ones who, like the match, can brighten a room just by entering it. The thing I love about Wayne is his insistence that this capability is in ALL of us. That we can CHOOSE this way of being at any time. So I—Paula—who has failed to reach so many goals, who has given up time and again, I still have the spark, just waiting for the go ahead to ignite.

On a scale of one to 10, I’d say my life has faced challenges that are about a 6. I was born with a disability (I can hear my friend Sandy saying, “Who wasn’t?”) that made things that should have been fun stressful. Things like kickball and ballet, where my limitations seemed to me to be proclaimed by an invisible neon sign. I was never picked on, but the quiet anguish found a spot inside me and could be counted upon to reinforce my feelings of inadequacy. I’ve already talked about my mom in a previous post—I won’t go into it all again, suffice it to say that watching her fall and not be able to get back up confirmed to a younger me that the one truth in life was that happy endings are not guaranteed. The insecurity these experiences left me with led to some monstrously poor decisions. I will be forever grateful that despite everything I did and felt, no one has been permanently harmed in the making of this thing I call my life.

This Chapter 4 is a long, long one. In the next part, there are suggestions for removing barriers and syncing with Intention – everything from meditation and eating right to being conscious of the music, people, and activities that surround us. I’m not necessarily on board with Wayne’s choice to abstain completely from foods and drink that may lower energy. If I can’t look forward to a glass of wine or a scone every so often, it’s gonna be rough. There has to be a line in the sand somewhere—mine, I’m afraid, is dessert. The advice moves up a notch though—I can certainly place the recommended affirmations around the house and work on forgiveness in order to rid myself of the energies that don’t serve me.

Finally (or almost finally), there is advice for letting go of ego-driven ideas of self-importance. Being offended, needing to win (winning? What’s winning??), needing to be right and needing to have more are all there. My favorite is “Let go of your reputation”. Not THAT reputation, but the desire to control how others see you. It’s amazing, the censoring that goes on as I try to craft my image – don’t risk this, or say that goofy thing, what will they think? How much of our lives do we spend (waste) worrying about the reaction of others? Time to stop doing that.

We end, as always, with suggestions for putting the Chapter’s ideas into action. Monitor the inner dialogue, practice shifting it to match Intention. Bring light to moments of doubt and depression—be aware of low energy and work to replace it with a higher vibration. View obstacles as opportunities and be sure to tell the ego to get out of the way when it tries to take control.

At this moment, though I still feel weird about the lapse between posts, I choose gratitude for finding the page over disappointment in getting to it late. Intention has yet not taken deep enough hold to keep me on schedule, but it has become entrenched enough to not let me give up completely. I bid all readers adieu, with a promise to keep moving and reporting from along the path. May all of our journeys be fruitful and help us to fulfill our destinies.


Week 8 – Connecting to Intention: Workin’ the program

two-people-holding-hands-you-are-not-alone

This week, I’m working on seeing Intention as a hand always ready to hold mine

I’m back in the book, everyone! Wayne and I have reunited after several forays off the official Intention grid. I’ve read Chapter 3 (I can’t BELIEVE I’m only on Chapter 3, but okay) now and I’m thinking about how to live the suggestions he makes.

It’s not easy—a fact that might be obvious given the amount of time it’s taken to jump from Chapter 2 to this one. Nearly two months, if anyone’s counting. At this rate, I’ll reach the end when I’m 75. Then again, I’m a gal who took 16 years (you read that right) to finish a one-year diary given to me on my 9th birthday. That book took me from jump rope to sex, with just about everything in between. But I have people following this blog now, some who don’t know me and love me enough yet to stay with it if I’m not producing. I feel obligated to all of them, and to myself, and I am not going back on this journey, even if it takes me a decade.

With the belief that pure honesty is the only way to do something like this, I have another admission. There is a LOT of talk about God in this Chapter 3, and it is distracting. I’ve read Wayne before and I guess I never realized how much he talks about a Higher Power and Spirit (always with capitals). I have enough thoughts about religion and God to fill a whole other blog, and I won’t go into them all here. Suffice it to say that I have had to resist the doubts in order to move forward. So, I am thinking of “God” as of a metaphor for that thing we can’t see – spirit with a lowercase “S”, if you will. For I can feel wonder looking at trees and flowers and babies, but have no desire to ascribe it to a specific deity. With that in mind, I power on through the chapter and its lessons.

Wayne talks about how the inventors, the creators, did their work by contemplating what was possible. The Wright Brothers, Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, had to take the leap into what was previously inconceivable and imagine the opposite. He talks about those who create something out of nothing. These are my heroes, especially the artists. I can picture Da Vinci in front of a blank canvas, or Beethoven, his hands poised above the keys before the notes are written down. From what was blank and noiseless, by their Intention came portraits and breathtaking symphonies that still resonate hundreds of years later. Since I was little, that has always been my unspoken goal; to create something—anything—that will bring joy and perhaps even last beyond my existence.

The ego resurfaces in this chapter (as it did a bit into that last sentence, I think), and I am lovingly reminded that Intention is not borne from it. Rather, it is by re-connecting to imagination that we are able to manifest into reality what is meaningful. The ego may lead us to material wealth or tangible “rewards”, but peace comes from somewhere else all together. I think about the historical figures that I admire—most share the quality of being focused on something other than the physical. They are interested in the mind, the soul, the happiness and well being of the lives around them. They speak to me in a way that is inspirational, yet simple, and remind me of what holds true value.

In the next part of the chapter, Wayne revisits the seven faces of intention; he talks even more about God and originating Power. I just keep reminding myself to stay with the lesson, and not to get hung up on the word. He talks about manifesting creativity and kindness (to others and to ourselves, often the hardest ones to extend it to, don’t you think?).

I am advised to “be beauty”, which I think leads to recognizing it everywhere. Through anyone who knows me knows that I can be obsessed about things like a good (or very bad) hair day, one of the things I truly enjoy about getting older is the appreciation I’ve gained for uniqueness as beauty. That is, the beauty in a crooked nose or smile, the beauty of a well-worn sofa, the beauty of a shabby stuffed animal (or even a real one) that has been loved. Not to mention the understanding that what is not considered physically beautiful in one place might be the very definition of it another. Or the most important realization–that beauty goes far beyond what the eyes can see.

In order to be expansive and abundant, I know that I must give up the fear that I have relied upon to keep me “safe.” Even as I navigate around the religious-y language in this section, I relate to the idea of my own “unlimited abundance”, for I do believe that the boundaries we set, whether physical or psychological, are often too small and often don’t allow us to see the opportunities that may be just beyond them. That is perhaps my biggest goal—as a dear, dear friend and I once described it—to fuck fear. I’ve done that in small ways, like overcoming my  aversion to public speaking to lead resume seminars, which have been quite successful. The first few were painful. The next few, slightly less so, and I have even reached the point where I have a good time. Being at the head of the room is not my natural place, but I have begun to see how opening myself in one area serves me in many others.

Being receptive is the last face of Intention, and I believe that despite my meandering in this journey so far, I have made strides. I have learned to say “Yes” more often, to give myself the chance to learn, grow, and feel. One major piece of this is meditation, which has been on my To Do list for, I don’t know, 20 years? I’m making a mental note to actually open the book I bought on it almost that long ago. Perhaps along with Wayne, it can help me with this process to unearth the Intention that has been buried.

As always, the chapter ends with suggestions. The first is to match my inner speech to my desires. I can be super bad at this—like many others, I am far more likely to chastise myself than to focus on what I’ve done right. The fact that I’ve gotten this to the blog is something though, right? And I know from the past that positive self-talk can indeed yield results.

Next, “Think from the end.” See the desire, the goal being fulfilled and then it can be matched with Intention and overcome any obstacles. Visualization works—I am reminded of 1996 when, after reading and working “The Master Key to Riches” (in some ways the polar opposite of Wayne Dyer in terms of focus), I got my first job as an actual writer after declaring that to be my goal. I was amazed, not to mention a little freaked out, by how well it worked.

Along with this, I must “practice unbending intent” – this blog is the seed of that Intent, which is why I know how important it is that I keep going. I don’t remember when I first learned how many times Edison tried before he got the light bulb right, but the story stuck. I remind myself how impressive top athletes are, and that the reason is because they are committed to the practice and training it takes to get there. Their Intention is solid and certainly unbending. Mine has to be, too.

I have discovered that writing little notes and stuff doesn’t resonate with me. Around January 6, I excitedly created a 2014 Gratitude Jar that was going to fill up with the reminders of how fortunate I really am. It’s still empty. Not that it’s been a year full of misery, but because I just don’t feel moved to write out  little notes and stuff them into a jar. Well, Wayne wants me to write the seven faces of intention on index cards and place them around my house. I guess I can do that when I get home, but I may sigh every time I look at them. Perhaps if I include pictures of my heroes, it will resonate? Or tape a piece of chocolate to them as a reward for paying attention… I’ll let you know how it works out next week.

And finally, wouldn’t you know it? The last one tells me to keep the thought of God’s abundance in mind.  Rather than fret about the “G” word, I am simply replacing it with “Universe” and staying on track. See how much I’ve grown already?

Looking ahead to next week, it’s about the obstacles to Intention. Kinda feel like I’ve covered that one (it’s called My Life So Far), but I’ll check out what Wayne has to say about it.

To all those on the path of Intention, I wish you courage, imagination, and love—send some back my way, if you get a chance.


Intention – Meet Real Life

Philip-Seymour-Hoffman_l MomWeek 6 (and beyond)

Every time I think I’ve reached the next  level, or am at least close, something  seems to tug at me. One week it is  Christmas; another, my worries and  concerns succeed in derailing the progress  I’ve made on my journey, pushing me off  the train and then cackling as I struggle to  catch it again.

Last week, it was Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I actually started writing this post a few days after it happened, but the words wouldn’t come. I tried talking out my thoughts into a recorder, but I’ve never been good at that—I always wind up paying more attention to how I sound than what I’m saying. In my head, I knew where I was going with this. When I tried to put it down, it was jumbled and off track. But despite a week of days since PSH was found in his bathroom, a needle in his arm, I am still drawn to his story, and it’s untimely ending.

This blog is supposed to be about Intention. In the biggest sense, yes, but also on a very personal level, it is supposed to be about MY Intention to live a more conscious and thoughtful life. To be aware of the decisions I make, even when I’m not actively making any at all—especially, then, actually. To stop myself from drifting through days as if tethered to some invisible balloon that keeps me floating around, not making contact with anything meaningful. I am to read chapters and LIVE them, damn it! I’ve done the drifting thing for far too long already.

But the news kept coming about PSH. As I listened to him speak of his demons in an old interview, it occurred to me that perhaps my lesson on Intention for the week was not missing, it was just coming from a different place. Right in front of my eyes, in a story that resonated deeply, was the heart and soul of intention telling me to take notice. I looked at this man, who seemingly had “it all.” A real career doing what he loved, the respect of colleagues and admirers, a woman and kids who loved him. And yet… and yet… he still needed something else. His physical body, his mind, something in him needed the fix, the place to go to where he felt better. What was his Intention? Did he want to die? Had he reached a point somehow, where the love and external markings of success weren’t enough? Or was he simply looking for the temporary high, whatever euphoria or peace came from heroin running through his veins? Was the physical addiction so gripping that it wasn’t a matter of Intention at all anymore, just a response to a physiological need for the drug’s effects?

It’s difficult—maybe impossible— for me to understand, for I am not an addict, like Phil was. I have never felt the urge to “escape” in such a big way.  That’s not to say I haven’t had my moments. I was at college all of a week when I went to the hospital after a night of drinking tequila. And like many a dopey freshman before and after me, I had to repeat my mistake before learning the lesson. I remember sitting with the school counselor after the second incident and realizing that she was sure I had a problem (deeper than the one of severe misjudgment). But I knew, without a doubt that while I had issues, addiction wasn’t one of them. I knew this because I had seen addiction and its repercussions up close.

To this day I don’t know exactly when my mother started drinking, but I do know that she stopped for sure on August 27, 1982, 24 days after her 45th birthday, when she died.  She drank for 4 years or so, I believe. It could be longer. I was young when it began, and my first memories of knowing something was wrong were realizing that she sleep a lot, at odd times of the day. My memories are spotty about that whole time. I came to understand (or was told?) that she wasn’t just taking a nap, that in fact she was drunk. I became aware of the bottles, and even looked for the hidden ones. And I learned to recognize the vacancy in her eyes when she was awake but not sober, the speech that I couldn’t really understand.  She drank throughout those years, as the rest of our family continued on. Bizarre, when I think back, but what else was there to do? Many people tried to help, but in the end, the alcohol took her health and her life.

Or she gave it away. Since that day in 1982, I have probably thought more about my mother than any other single person or thing. I went through the stages of grief—more than once actually, not realizing that it was a timeline and not a circle to be repeated over and over. At various points of my life I hated her, pitied her, empathized with her, and blamed her for my own failings and problems. Last year, I visited her grave on the day when I reached my own 45 years and 24 days mark. Without calling it such, I wondered aloud about her Intention. Had she hoped to die, to put the demons to rest in the most permanent way? Had she been getting better at the end (I never really grasped where she was in her sobriety), as I think I’d been told, or, like Phil, never truly found a way to live without the aid of something to dull the pain? What would make more sense, make me feel better? To think that she was simply too unhappy to be in this world, so drank to escape it, and reached a point where she could not physically stop, or to believe that she chose to not take responsibility and gave into the fears that most of us cope with all our lives?

Free will or destiny?

These people who died—Phil, Mom—were “alone” by choice. They had people who loved them, who begged them to get help. Indeed, they tried to get it. My mother did, and PSH was in rehab at the end of 2013. They knew they were in trouble, and yet, they couldn’t help themselves, they couldn’t beat it. Was it simple weakness? Selfishness? I hear that last word used a lot, but it doesn’t resonate with me; both were well known for their caring, their sensitivity. SO HOW COULD THEY DO WHAT THEY DID? WHAT DID THEY INTEND TO HAPPEN?

Intention or fate?

I haven’t read far into The Power of Intention. But Wayne Dyer does talk about free will, and separates it definitively from Intention, the latter being something more natural while the idea of free will, as generally used, stems from the ego and is unattached to our imagination, from where we get our true ”power” and meaning. I can’t explain it nearly as well as Wayne does, but he uses the example of writing a book not by forcing himself to sit at a desk, but by “thinking from the end”, as if it is already there—it is then manifested, as opposed to being pushed into existence.

Does an addict then, need the ability to see from the other side, to understand a life without the crutch of potentially deadly substances that soften the harsher parts, the depression, the guilt, the anger? And does their physiological makeup—their susceptibility to addiction—make that potentially impossible? Did my Mom stand a chance? Did Phil? Maybe some people beat drug and alcohol abuse the same way that some people beat cancer. And others don’t because, well, they can’t. They just don’t have it in them.

The problem, of course, is that addicts don’t just ruin their own lives—they take prisoners, generally the people who love them most. They do their damage here on Earth and  leave scars that last long after they are gone from it. Do they care? Is it fair to say that they should “do it for us”? As much as we humans live in packs and form bonds, we are still born as one distinct being and die the same way. Even as we do for others, we are existing in our own worlds and responding as only we can. Do we owe it to others to find happiness? To stick around even if we cannot bear the effort it takes? In addition to her roles as Mom, wife, daughter, my mother was also Kathy, a woman leading a singular life. Maybe making others happy wasn’t enough. Maybe it wasn’t for Phil, either. Should they not have gotten attached to others, to spare the possible pain later on? If the addiction started later, when they already had families, then what? Sometimes, there’s no way to avoid the brick wall.

I haven’t really answered my Intention question, have I? That worries me a bit, as I’d like to believe that there is something valuable to be learned. Perhaps one lesson is that we are all, ultimately, responsible for our paths, and that seeking motivation and imagination from within is a good starting point for living an intentional life. One message that always comes through with Wayne is gratitude; and even with their painful ends, I am grateful for the two lives I’ve written about here. Grateful for a man who was inspired to create characters for a lifetime, who took his talent and soared with it, and who obviously touched the people around him. And eternally grateful for a woman who, despite her brief time in my life, gave me much, including a commitment to kindness, compassion, and love.

May we all learn to give those three things to all we encounter, and to ourselves, as much and as often as possible.

RIP, you two.


Week 5 – Where Has My Intention Gone?

 Three friends traveling. Girl looking through binoculars

So, the last time, I wrote, I was disappointed because I was a few days late  with the blog post and hadn’t kept up with my reading. So how do I  respond to that slight blip in the plan? With renewed energy and  commitment? With intense reading and contemplation on what Intention  means to my life in 2014? With a refusal to be sidetracked by meandering  thoughts and “priorities?”

Nope.

I responded with silent capitulation to the old habits, the doubt, the concern that too much time had passed to make the journey worthwhile. One after another, I dug up old excuses and created some new ones, all in the name of legitimate reasons. (In fact, it occurs to me that perhaps I should have begun with one of Wayne’s other books, Excuses Begone! It’s feeling much more appropriate at the moment).

I let Intention get away – and i almost didn’t go looking for it.

The thing is, I am not famous enough or interesting enough to have captured the attention of a big audience who will clamor for my return to the page. I know most of the people who will read this and am under no illusions that a stranger is out there wondering where I went. I am, however, fortunate enough to have a person I admire deeply call me on the lapse with a simple word.

“Blog????”

It’s so weird when “little” things take on big meaning, when you suddenly realize that what you’re doing is actually about much more than what you are actually doing. Sure, this is “just a blog”, to challenge myself a little, both on the writing and the self-awareness fronts. And yet, it’s something else too – it’s a pathway back to self-expression, back to discovering why I like to string words together in the first place. It’s renewing my faith in the fact that my talent does not exist only in my mind.

A few years ago, another friend (the one thing I am blessed with an abundance of) trying to get me to write more gave me a list of possible things to write about – one was Beauty. And from that word, I created a blog post that I still remember finishing with a sense of renewed commitment to my craft. Writing it was like tapping a well I had feared was dry, only to find myself soaked by the old feeling that I was fulfilling some kind of purpose and that my thoughts on paper (or screen) had honest-to-goodness power. My friend shared the post and I received the most wondrous responses from people who were touched by it—there was validation and support that I hadn’t even known was missing, and for a moment, I felt unstoppable.

I wasn’t, and I did stop. That’s what I do in this life – I start, I stop. I take a shortcut, or what looks like one, and find myself off the map, not knowing how to get back. Every time, I forget to throw down the breadcrumbs and so I walk around in circles until something—fate, luck—nudges me in the right direction, and I reappear. I’ve been lucky so far, that there are always people waiting to welcome me back.

There’s always that question, though, isn’t there? Can we just pick up where we left off? Or should we be starting over, retaking the early steps to prove we can do it all in one shot? Has too much momentum been lost? If one is blogging about intention and can’t even meet the intention to blog (let alone the larger intention to live a life of intention), then is this just a game of pretend? Am I a writer or an illusionist? An artist or a sham?

Who am I?

And there it is. That question that seems to be the whole point of it all, that feels like it should have been answered by now. I am ______________.

In the past few years, I’ve been reminded that I’m not this or that, and each time it happened, something in me pushed back. Not because I was any of those exact things, but because the labels were being used to define something that I was sure I had in me, whether I called myself by that name or not.  After getting angry, I was strengthened by the reminder that my identity is not restricted by what others see; I can choose to be whoever I want, just like I can choose to move out of the loop and back onto the path.

And back to Intention. Despite the 3 4-week lapse, I can return to a standing position and re-start the journey. Intention is not a one-time offering—like love, peace, or a good book, it is always waiting to be picked up again. And so I am getting back on the train, reaching for the trolley strap, and reinvesting in the journey, trusting that I can do it as many times as it takes to get it right.

To all of us looking to meet Intention head on, I offer eternal hope and fortitude.


Week 4 – Intention takes a Holiday (or does it?)

airplane_taking_off

So here it is, 3 days past when I should have put up the next post for the blog. The one about – what was it again?

Oh, yeah – Intention. Gotta love irony, right.

And so, I am left with choices:

  1. Pretend nothing happened. Create a lovely little story about how, despite the distractions of a dear friend’s visit and Christmas and New Year’s, I worked the chapter on “Connecting to Intention”, had some real insights into my thoughts, and am just a few days late getting it in. I missed a deadline, that’s all.
  2. Throw in the towel on the whole blog thing. No one will hate you, the little voice in my head says. People know you’re busy, under stress.They might not even notice! You tried, right? All anyone can ask is that you try.
  3. Keep going. The fact that today is the start of a new year can’t be a coincidence. I mean, who gives up on January 1??? Admit you fell off the self-help wagon, dust yourself off, and grab back hold of the trolley strap. Because the train is still moving, whether you’re on it or not.

I choose Door #3, Bob. And since I’m making admissions, may as well start with complete honesty.

I didn’t open the book last week. Not even once.

Instead I blew off Wayne and greeted best friends in from the West for their winter holiday, socialized more in 10 days than I had all year, and enjoyed the week and a half with people who put many smiles on my face. I did think about the blog once or twice, as I chatted, wrapped last-minute presents, and spent 10 hours on a resume writing blitz to catch up when I realized that a system error had screwed up my assignments and I was seriously behind—remind me to tell you about THAT one some day.

Despite the failure to meet intention head on, I did gain some things of value, other than the terrific sweaters and a few new books. As it always seems to do, life went ahead decided to teach me a thing or two.

“Connect” – 2013 was pretty lousy on a lot of levels, and one of the ways I coped was by unplugging and doing a pretty good impression of a balled-up armadillo. Every so often a knock came on my shell, but I became adept at ignoring it. I passed on most social outings and spent many evenings staring at the television. When the opportunity for a do-over appeared last week, for once I took it. Don’t get me wrong—there were moments that I had to overcome the urge to play dead, pick myself up, and get dressed for an evening out. But each time, to my great surprise, I found myself happier than expected and surrounded by some truly awesome people. Whether it was a group gathering or Starbucks for two, I was having – gulp – actual fun.

“Be grateful” – Life is strange. We are born alone and while we share our worlds with others, we are all creating individual paths and futures. I was reminded of both ends of the life spectrum this week, first with the death of a dear friend’s grandfather. At 92, Paul Johnson had lived a long and good life when it came his time to go. I looked at his wife of 71 years and tried to imagine how it would be to spend so much of one’s existence with the same person. I watched his children and grandchildren and thought about the losses in my life. I smiled as visitors came through offering condolences, including the ladies from the nursing home who all said that Mr. Johnson was a charmer. I was reminded of my own wonderful grandfather who loved jellybeans and Two Guys, and whose voice I can still hear clearly. I am old enough now that funerals bring me to reflection on my own mortality—am I halfway through? More than that? Am I living with gratitude and purpose?

Meanwhile, in another part of New Jersey, Jason Henry Fass decided that 9 months was just too long to wait for his debut and came into the world on December 9, 3 months before his due date. greeted by my friend Nancy and her husband, Jon. At 2 lbs.11 ozs. Jason is a little guy, but in great hands and certainly already surrounded by love from all sides. I was reminded of my own family’s miracle, Olivia, born even smaller, at just 1 pound 5 ozs. That was nearly nine years ago and today she is happy, healthy, and taking the world by storm. I have no doubt that Jason will do the same.

And finally, I spent New Year’s Eve in the home of a great family who has been through their own struggles. Last year, their house in Little Ferry was flooded in Sandy and they’ve spent much of their time getting things back in order. Listening to the story, I recalled watching the water of the East River whip up and wondering what was next. From the start we knew this was no regular storm. But here was this wonderful couple and their kids opening up their home to ring in 2014. As usual, I hesitated—I actually almost didn’t go inside. Thankfully I shook off the hesitation and opened myself up to a fun evening that I couldn’t have had anywhere else.

So despite the fact that my Intention meter was off, I choose to believe that Wayne would understand. He would be glad to know that after many months of lonely living, I rung out the year in the company of folks who understand and live lives of intention themselves. Maybe not in every moment, and perhaps not thinking about it quite that way, but doing it nonetheless.

I will be back on track next week with “Connecting to Intention” – but rather than feeling guilt for anything missed, there is only appreciation for all that was experienced, and excitement for what is to come.

Happy New Year!


Week 3: Seeing with new eyes

I wonder if the swan has always recognized itself as one...

I wonder if the swan has always recognized itself as one…

 

Ahhh, intention, you are a crafty fellow. You knew that I’d be challenged starting this trek around the holidays, and I suppose you are chuckling as you observe me now.

No, friends, I have not given up – not by a long shot, nor will I. What did happen was a week that became unexpectedly spent away from home and in what I like to consider my “retreat” – the apartment of one of my closest friends in Manhattan.  The distractions were many and I confess that I spent more time sampling tasty holiday treats than I did actively sitting in Intention. But as I now read over the suggestions from last week’s chapter on its Seven Faces (creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, unlimited abundance, and receptivity), I believe that however meandering my steps may sometimes be, the ideas and lessons are seeping in nonetheless.

I actually titled this post after completing it, and am adding this paragraph in to boot. Through I knew that this experience would provide new insights, I’m struck by how much that simple phrase, ”Seeing with new eyes”, resonates. At the very heart of nearly everything I’ve done in life have been seeds that were sown years and years before I even contemplated that they might grow into something completely different that what I needed them to be. With a restored ability to see beyond those old shoots, it’s no surprise that my garden needs to be replanted and nurtured anew.

To this past week’s lessons:

The first suggestion was to visualize the power of intention. Still so difficult—my mind jumps and turns at the mere idea of focusing (my next goal may well be to learn and practice meditation, as I think it would do me wonders). Despite that, I have begun to be more aware of my feelings and thought patterns. I recognize when old fears and attitudes threaten to block out new ones, and I am a bit better at gently moving them out of the way.

Next I was asked to be reflective, and resist the judging that so often accompanies daily life. I’ve actually seen some growth here. My normal response to so much over the course of my life has been “what does this say about me?” or “how can I deal with this (event, person, consequence)?”. Maybe it’s just age, but I find myself more accepting, even appreciative, of people and actions that would have driven a younger version of me insane. This is NOT to say that I don’t still get irked by what I consider idiocy or foolishness. I have yet to achieve the Wayne Dyer level of acceptance and gratitude for people and things that seem to embody the antithesis of what I value. No, I’ve definitely done some talking back to the TV and kvetching about the various “Dynasties” of the world—the difference seems to be in how quickly I can turn back to the more reflective state.

“Expect beauty” and “Meditate on appreciation”, Wayne advised next. I actually do the latter quite a bit. For every day of struggle, something or someone reminds me that I am quite lucky. I have an amazing group of friends, a supportive family, and the love and encouragement of some very special individuals. Some days are still a little harder than others. News this past week of another school shooting and a beautiful young woman gone, or a carjacking that left a young man dead and a young woman widowed—these events continue to stun and scare me.  My mind can’t reconcile them with the messages of love and peace I’m supposed to be learning, and I go through those moments where finding beauty seems impossible. I watch and listen and wonder about the usefulness of prayers, or the belief that there is a benevolent spirit keeping watch.

Ironically, or maybe not, the final thought for this week is to banish doubt. I am taking this on a personal level and acknowledging that without a sense of belief and certainty in my own ability to do so, creating this new life will be impossible. Wayne seemed to sense the disparity, for at the very end of the chapter he advised, “”You may choose to doubt what others say to you or what you experience with your senses, but… don’t doubt your creation from a field of energy that’s always available to you.” Once again, I’m gonna have to trust that the man knows of what he speaks.

The next chapter is titled, “Connecting to Intention” and starts with a quote by Thomas Troward that I like a lot:

“The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things, but by contemplating the floating of things which floated naturally, and then intelligently asking why they did so.

It appears to be a somewhat practical chapter, perhaps suited to my left-brained way of thinking. Wayne talks about will and imagination and provides ways to apply the seven faces and make them part of one’s life. He mentions Japa meditation—I may have to get out my other book after all and get that ball rolling as part of this grand experiment. There are also stories in this chapter of people living in Intention, the kind that usually make me tear up and scold myself for my cynicism.

I do see that the last suggestion talks about God’s abundance. Here we go again. Keep moving forward, Paula, don’t get caught up. Stay on point, recognize that “God” can be used as a symbol for Nature, for the goodness in the universe that you DO believe in. There will be time and space to study the many ideas and beliefs of the world. This path to Intention is not a religious one, nor must you subscribe to any one system to walk it. Trust in yourself.

“Okay, Self,” I hear myself say out loud (a perk of living alone) – “I’ll do that.”

The trolley image continues to be front and center in my mind, and I’ve found that the image is powerful for me. I am trying to visualize this vehicle that is at once me, but at the same time more than me, so that the energy needed to move forward comes from both of us.

I can get on board for that.


The Right Path?

 

 

Benefits-from-Hiking-in-the-MountainsWeek 2

 

It’s always so much easier planning the trek towards change than actually walking  it. Real life likes to butt its head into my attempts at growth and suddenly it’s the end of the week, and the universe hasn’t yet shifted. Despite my practical nature, I must admit that when I began this journey, I hoped that somehow Wayne Dyer’s spirit would recognize it and whisk me along the path.

Alas, that is not to be. I am stuck with me and my habits until I adjust them. I’m grateful, at least, that this first week’s “suggestions” were more about thoughts than actions. I did indeed copy the Hasidic prayer, through I am still not attached to it. It’s pretty and all, but I’m not sure it suits me; and then I panic; will this work without it? Can I use something else? Shouldn’t this book have an 800 number that I can call with this kind of question? What if I’m doomed because I can’t even connect with the first instruction??

Aside from the prayer, I have actually started to take this Intention thing seriously—more than once I’ve caught myself veering back into old thought patterns (“this will never work, I shouldn’t have even tried, I’m out of my league”) and reminded myself that I can resist the anxiety that so often threatens to derail me. But as I knew it would be, visualizing that what I desire is already here is not an easy thing. Left-brained Paula is only too happy to question it, and she can be an exhausting debate partner. She whispers about d how I’ve tried this before and it didn’t happen, and that sure, it’s nice to dream but come on….

I am, by nature, a reactor. The idea of making proactive choices is downright foreign. For my entire life, I’ve sort of just flown from one experience to the next, based on convenience or the most immediate needs. I look for the closest safe spot to land and stay there until something makes me move. And then I fly on until I’m out of gas, or ideas. I’m in awe of people who truly live with Intention, who are holding the reins of life and steering it. As it’s Christmas time, I’m actually envisioning Santa in his sleigh, itinerary in hand and ready to fulfill his yearly goal. If I was Santa, I’d be contemplating every weather report and stressing about lists and the health of the reindeer.

It’s a long haul, I tell myself. If nothing else, I will keep my promise to continue. I’ve now read into Chapter Two, which describes the “Seven Faces of Intention” – briefly they are creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, unlimited abundance, and receptivity. I feel my defenses rise up. Everything Wayne puts out seems to require belief in huge things not seeable or provable, and the agnostic in me is threatening to rebel.  For every example he gives of Intention in action, I can find at least three that would seem to disprove any such thing exists. What exactly is at work here? If everything is possible, why is there such misery, poverty, and cruelty in the world?

Before I lose anyone, all is not lost. I haven’t forgotten my one big success this week— the trolley strap. If you’ll recall, Wayne uses it as a symbol to remind us that we can reach up and allow ourselves to be carried by intention. I was actually in a subway and thought about it when grabbing hold of the bar. I’m still working on trusting the process, but I am a tiny bit closer.

If I can just make myself keep walking…


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