Sometime I look for a sign from the Universe, from God, or from my Angels. Yes, I believe in Angels. I’m surrounded by them every day. They’re the people in my life who make my world better on the daily. I saw this sign recently, “Everything Is Going To Be Alright,” and I had to take a picture of it. It came at the exact moment I needed it. Ever notice that? You get a sign, or a person shows up, or you read something on a bathroom wall – no, not that cell number for a good time – I’m talking about a sign that life is going along just fine. You’re okay. Life is not as difficult or bad as you thought it was, and the challenge or situation isn’t ever really as big or little as I think it is. Again, get your mind out of the gutter, I’m putting out existential chat here, not ass.
I find things do have a way of working themselves out, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. And isn’t that a part of what makes this ride called life fun? I mean if I knew all the results, outcomes, and finales how boring would that be?!?! A little bit of mystery and intrigue keeps me going. Oh, yeah, I have my moments when I curse my process, wanting to know the answer now. Take my car lease for example. I was supposed to turn it in next month, but I couldn’t find the new car I wanted to replace it, and man did I look for months. Other pieces to the lease turn in weren’t working out either. I needed some body work done but didn’t have the cash on hand to do it right away, along with some other maintenance, and I just couldn’t see how everything was going to get done by my turn in date. Then, one day while car shopping on-line, Google’s algorithm popped me up a photo of a new car, and it was love at first sight. Do I have to pay Google a finder’s fee? I had discovered my new car, but with a catch – it’s not available in the U.S until later this summer. I then called my car company and asked if I could extend my lease, and low and behold I could, and I did for six months which holds me until the new model arrives on the car lot of my local dealer later this year.
But let’s be honest, I never could have worked all that out with my own mind. I had to surf the unknown waves of my universe until I reached the shoreline and a solution. And the result was way better than I’d ever have imagined. And that’s usually my experience. I believe the Universe, God, our Guides, work with us and have a far greater ability to vision for us than we do. Not to take anything away from our visions, they’re an essential part of our existence. We need vision to grow and to move forward, to work towards something and to be excited. And I’ve found it best to not lose sight of the fact that this whole process is a co-creative one. We’re doing this along with some very important partners, many of whom are unseen.
Some of you might think I’m crazy, or a little too spiritual for your taste. That’s okay. Just do yourself a favor, and the next time you’re in a situation that’s not going the way you’d like it to go, take a breath, ask for some assistance from the Universe, and see if there’s any response via a resolution, a next step, or a person or situation showing up “out of the blue” that leads you to what or where you’re working to get to. You’ve heard the popular phrase, “Things have a way of working themselves out,” because they do. As a matter of fact, things already are, just the way they are. And remember, nothing stays the same for long. Change is the one thing we can be sure of. It’s inevitable, so ride the wave, set a course for adventure, and trust. And if you can’t muster up any trust at this precise moment, fake it till you make it because everything is going to be alright, eventually. I swear.
Where do we find our life’s purpose? Can we order it on-line? “Get your Life Purpose now, for just $9.99, on Amazon. Free shipping included.” We’re all traveling along this road of life trying to figure it out, the “it” being our lives. I know trying is a word that gets a bad rap sometimes, but upon closer examination I see action and an attempt to do something, anything, and more than inaction. How many times have we all gotten what seemed like or felt like a stroke of genius only to set it down and leave it to wither? Why not give it a try?
For me, these flashes, these little sparks of light are sent to us from heaven. Yes, I’m inferring that these ideas are divine inspirations. Now if one or two or ten go by at some point we have to wake up and start to notice, or they seemingly stop happening until one hits us so hard it knocks us down or takes our breath away. Most likely, at this point, we’ll wake up a little bit and start to notice the idea, the seed. Then, if we have any hope of birthing this new inspiration we have to nurture it by giving it some measure of our attention and our action. Growing the concept will require our energy, like the energy of the sun grows a plant. And eventually we give rise to our idea in the physical world. It’s a process, like tending a garden, with the soil being our lives and the ideas seeds we plant and tend to with our loving intention and action.
Searching for ourselves and our purpose is lifelong. Oh, we get it at times and live it – our purpose – and then it changes. Yes, throughout the different chapters of our lives we have different jobs, friends, lovers, and places we live. In my teenage years I worked as a paper boy, then waiter in college, and performer. I got into casting and eventually television production and then life coaching. Did I have one purpose for my life? It seems there were several. The numbers are not important, but rather the examples I’m sharing here represent different paths I chose with purpose. Each path had a service to my growth and learning, and hopefully served others in the process. If there is a theme of purpose in my life it would be service. Helping others, whether serving them food, entertaining them, or coaching. And it’s different for every person on this planet. I think finding our purpose is really what life is all about. It’s a journey of discovery, of adventure, and taking the opportunities as they come doing our best to enjoy them.
I’ve worked with thousands of individuals over the last twelve years on their individual journeys of identifying their purpose. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt with each person holding the key to their own treasure chest with its seemingly secret map. We all have our purpose woven into our very being – our entelechy. The entelechy of the acorn is to become the oak tree. We all have our own metaphorical oak tree inside us. Wait, that sounds a bit scary. I don’t mean we’re going to sprout branches one day, but rather we’re all programmed at the soul level to unfold each moment into the person we were always meant to be.
For many people, it’s this very awareness that shifts everything for them. Suddenly, with a sense that they actually might have a clue as to who they’re meant to be, life begins to look a little different. I guess in some ways, many of us are Doubting Thomas’s or Susan’s as it may be. I like to be as gender neutral as possible. We doubt our inner knowing, our intuition, and our sense of things. That’s where we usually trip ourselves up.
What I’ve found over the years in working with individuals exploring their purpose is that not too long into our coaching conversation it all comes out. It’s a colorful confession of rainbows, moonbeams, and daffodils. I love this part. It doesn’t take much and usually my client starts talking about their dreams, and sure enough, the cat leaps out of the proverbial bag. The great secrets of their lives come tumbling out. They want to be a painter, a scientist, or start a family. The list is limitless, as are the possibilities within each individual.
Somehow our Creator, plug in your title or namesake here, has built us all in such a way as to make sure our awareness of who we are and what we’re meant to do comes clearly into our consciousness at just the right time. That’s why for me, being a Life Coach is so rewarding – I get to be there at the birth, or rebirth if you will, of each person as they re-discover themselves and their raison d’etre. In English, Barry! Okay, okay, it’s their reason for being.
We will all find our purpose, one way or another. Some people will be conscious of it, others will not. Many of us simply stumble upon it. Other’s will search long and hard, fighting many battles to learn whatever it is they need in order to fully and successfully express their true calling. We’ll most likely have to learn a boat load of life lessons to be all that we can be, and everything will unfold in God’s perfect time and way. Trust it. And if you can’t trust, follow the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler’s great adage – pretend as if. Eventually, you’ll be living your life in just the way you always knew you would.
Life really is a grand experiment. Have fun, and smell the flowers along the way. Say hello to children, and other passersby, and remember, you will be you. Come hell or high water, one way or another, who you’re meant to be will emerge. Keep on keeping, and remember, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And we can. We will. And we are all ultimately and as only we can be – ourselves.
For me, freedom is a state of mind. It’s a place in our consciousness that’s as natural as our breath. But for most of us, our internal freedom is boxed in to some extent, giving us ample opportunity for pain, suffering, and ultimately for learning should we choose that orientation to life.
Freedom is a lot like a garden. Not only must we tend to it, planting seeds, watering, and pulling out the weeds, we also have to work with the various elements that affect a crop such as rain, sun, animals, and sometimes frost. The external elements can damage a crop, but really, growth never stops. It may be affected by slowing down the growth, or by yielding less, but the life of each seed, and the entelechy of each human being pushes both to their fullest expression, accounting of course for all those external variables both plants and humans will encounter.
Those of us working in the social sciences – clinical psychology, social work, therapy, and coaching, have one major common goal which is to assist clients in becoming their most fully expressed selves. Those of us working integratively know we cannot leave out the spiritual part of ourselves. And it is exactly the spiritual part that assists in opening up the consciousness of freedom, and the fuller expression of that deepest part of who we truly are.
How, though, can we create more freedom for ourselves? Where we are in our consciousness and where we are physically on this planet has a lot to do with our internal state of freedom. Based on our belief system, the way we were raised and programmed by our parents, culture, religion, and country, all play a large part in our personal definition of freedom or lack thereof.
I have lived in so many boxes. The good kid box, the heterosexual box, the good employee box, and here’s the kicker, while these boxes come pre-made in our culture, I am the one that ultimately chooses which box I’m gonna stick myself in. I know, this part sucks, because I have to admit to myself it really is a choice, past the pre-programming, and then I have to take 100% responsibility and completely rewrite my own personal narrative. Cue the Betty Ford Clinic. Shit. Seriously, it takes work and commitment. I‘ve had to keep my eye on the prize. The world we all live in has a negative polarity. But really, if we can begin to work at changing our thoughts and the actions that follow we begin to create an authentic space we actually want to live in and in which we actually feel free, not boxed in.
The best example of this I can think of is from Victor Frankl. Almost everyone I’ve read or trained with uses Frankl’s story because it’s deep. While imprisoned by the Nazi’s in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl realized he had a choice as to how he thought about where he was. Were the conditions atrocious? Absolutely. Were the crimes being committed among the most horrible in human history? Without a doubt. And still, Frankl chose to hold a loving, positive focus despite the abhorrent and inhumane circumstances. He was in the worst imaginable box and yet was able to create a sense of freedom for himself which eventually manifest in his being freed in the physical.
This example for me teaches something so important, we have to believe, even when it looks like all odds are against us. For me, that’s the best way to work with negativity. You have to be stronger than it is, and more persistence. Persistence is one hell of great quality to nurture in your consciousness. It’s one of my favorite. But be prepared, the minute you call it up you will be tested, continually. I recommend making a nice cool beverage. I like to mix cranberry juice and San Pellegrino over rocks in my adult sippy cup. Okay, sometimes I use vodka. Whatever your mixer, enjoy the ride. And like Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, you’re in for a bumpy ride!”
And isn’t the ride why we’re all here to begin with? Life’s a journey for all of us, and finding freedom, or creating it is a huge part of the process of living. I believe our need for freedom is hardwired into our consciousness, a part of our entelechy for who we are in this lifetime. And the degree to which we experience the sense or feeling of freedom is the degree to which we’re aligned and on point with our life purpose. Feeling stuck in your current work, relationship, or physical state? This lack of alignment and feeling of freedom is your indicator that more work and exploration are in order to create a greater level of feeling and more experiences of freedom in your life. Lucky for us we have to have it, so that need usually pushes us forward in the direction of where we want to head and what we want to experience.
For years I wrote – scripts, journals, essays, lyrics, poems, and reports – much of my writings were work and academic requirements – and always I felt a very clear internal push to write more. The writing I did for work and academia felt stilted at times, and I felt boxed into a form of writing that was required of me. It did teach me a great deal about structure, content, organization, and producing for deadlines – all great training and experience for a writer. It supported my life as well with paychecks and degrees, but always there was this underlying need for a more creative expression with my writing. And it was the discomfort that pushed me forward, often times in a painful way, to really define my expression creatively. Thankfully, I honored this ongoing inner push, often times against great odds, and continually sought my own creative expression, and bit by bit, or “bird by bird” as well-known author and writing guru Anne Lamott says, I was able to find more and more freedom, a clearer path to travel, and a fuller expression of my life purpose. I listened. I followed. I found freedom. You can, too. Take action. Free yourself. And enjoy.
Technology is like an unruly child. Who will take a stand to discipline this wild horse? Somehow it seems to me that the ever expanding realm of technology is the pink elephant in the room. I love technology. It fascinates me, and at the same time can cripple me. Isn’t that like being in an abusive relationship? Isn’t there something alarming about anything that “cripples” us or takes us over? Alright, I’m being a little dramatic here, but technology and how we use it really has taken over. I’m not a big fan of right or wrong scenarios, but rather a different paradigm in thinking which is more about a learning opportunity. Okay, so technology cripples me at times. The question then becomes what do I do with this paralysis?
Technology has, for the most part, made every part of our lives better. Electric cars help preserve our fossil fuels, cell phones and Skype allow us to connect with our loved ones around the world, and medical advances both improve and often extend our lifespans.
But, and this is a big but Becky, now technology allows us to carry our work computers home via our laptops. We always have one cell phone on us so we can receive work or personal calls everywhere we go, including bed and the bathroom. You know you’ve heard this scenario. You’re in a bathroom stall and the person next to you is on the phone. First, I don’t want to hear anything that’s happening in the stall next to me, up to and including someone’s phone conversation. Shut up/Get a room! We have texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any number of new technologies that will birth themselves in our lifetime still to come.
But of everything we receive, emails are the worst. Whether at home or work, emails are rampant. There are literally like a virus, they keep spreading and there’s no antibiotic that will stop them.
I’m old enough to have lived in a time without emails. There was a lot of paper used, but not nearly as much back and forth. It was a more clear and concise time for communicating, and something I strive to practice in my Facebook and email ecology. Less is more. I was a casting assistant at that time, and people actually talked to one another. It was the call that was key, not the email.
So here’s what I find happening with emails – they’re like one live conversation broken down over an extended time frame. If I wanted to handle something in a timely fashion I call. Communications of a business nature usually require a bit of exploration or questioning for clarification. One phone call can handle it. Emails have a tendency to go back and forth, and both parties usually get tired of typing. Oh, you know yourself, this happens all the time. Just when you think you’ve typed the last word another question. The big difference as I see it is there’s an extra step in email communication. You have to press send, and then you wait. If the office hottie walks by the person you’re emailing, games off. You could be waiting a long time before the attention is directed back at you. The same thing with a child, a spill, the UPS man. All will trump the email. Not on a phone call. The live conversation trumps email.
Also, emails require Japanese like gardening maintenance skills. You have to stay on top of them, or they grow like weeds. Eventually you’ll need a machete to cut through the overgrowth. You know how it goes, suddenly you have 4,000 emails in your Inbox and you have to call the National Guard for assistance. Yes, it’s a national emergency, but no one seems to be answering the call.
And every time a company asks me for my email I have to be damn sure I want to have an intimate relationship with them. The Gap, Starbucks, and Harry & David, know more about me than my internist. And they’re on my laptop, cell phone, and in my consciousness on a daily basis, until I break down staring at my computer screen trying to find the unsubscribe bottom which is camouflaged to keep me from ending this unsatisfying, one way relationship.
Think about it. It’s completely one sided. Harry & David are not two hot guys fighting over my love, no, they want my daily attention and whatever’s in my wallet. Oh, sure, they have delicious chocolate covered nuts, but they’re expensive. A fifty dollar bill at the minimum, and they tell me it’s for a good cause – my mother needs a basket of fresh fruit and candy, she is, after all, my mother. Starbucks tells me I can earn a star with each blended beverage of my choice this week between the hours of 2-5 PM. I’m just going to leave work, I need the stars.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I love my Starbucks, and my Harry and David. Starbucks even rewards me with free lattes and Harry and David are so generous with their $10 off my next purchase. But wouldn’t I shop at both places regardless? That’s a part of my question here about technology. I’ve got to advocate for less is more. I still use the same paper towels I was raised with. I haven’t seen a Bounty ad in years, but I still buy them. Yes, they are the quicker picker upper, and I learned that via a great advertising campaign years ago, but I don’t get emails.
My experience with technology is that when it happens, we jump for it, overuse it, level out, and eventually it finds its rightful place in our lives, usually. And we have to keep our eyes open at all times, because like a child, technology requires tending and loving discipline, otherwise it becomes unruly. Personally, I’ve found my rhythm with emails and my mainframe computer cell phone, but just as soon as that happens another piece of technology is birthed. For now, I’ll simply turn my ringer on silence, choose an out-of-office reply for emails, and pretend, for a moment, I’m Amish.
Is my cell phone the new love of my life? All right, I can’t take credit for this question. I heard it on the radio.
But I can definitely say it’s worth asking, and finding out my own answers. When I asked myself this question I immediately came up with another question that I have a hunch is connected to the cell phone and that’s, “Why all the rushing around?” And, does my cell phone have anything to do with said rushing? Or am I just crazy for coco puffs? Maybe I’ve got some mental illness not yet defined in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I say this half-jokingly, and half not.
If rushing is a disease, then what’s the cure, the Rx, or treatment? Maybe exercise for the calming endorphins, a good night’s sleep, or perhaps a few therapy sessions to explore the early childhood experiences that programmed in me a need for speed. Maybe there’s some kind of neck brace I can wear that would slow me down. My mother used to put me in a harness when I was a toddler. She walked me like a dog. She said it was because if she let go of my hand for one second I would vanish. Albeit to inside the nearest dress rack, but that’s another story. I could hire a dog walker, or lion tamer, but frankly this is all starting to sound a little bit more S&M than I’m comfortable with. I’ve never moved beyond feathers.
Now as fun as all these potential treatments sound, I have the feeling I may need an inner-vention. That’s right, an inside intervention. I need to Feng Shui my mind. My prescription involves letting go, easier said than done, releasing attachment, also hard to do when I have glue like emotional connections, and forgoing perfectionism, a land I hope none of you have the misfortune to visit at any point in your lifetime, all of this in exchange for sanity, sex, and slowing down. Trust me, you can’t have sex if you don’t slow it down. As my favorite real life character Paula Pantalayo used to say to me, “Slow down, Gunsmoke!” I’m trying.
It’s the thoughts that keep everything flowing so fast, I think. Are all these thoughts of mine real? Or are they just a figment of my imagination? I’ve been listening to them for years, and sometimes they’ve gotten me into real trouble. There was the one time in 7th grade Woodshop, or was it electric, when I took a wood plane, you know the thing that takes a slice of wood off like a cheese cutter? And proceeded to plane several of the worktable stations. What a little dick I was in that moment. Luckily I got caught, and sent to the Principles office where I pleaded guilty, with the intent to redecorate the electric shop. I believe I was sentenced to banging dirty erasers on the blacktop for an afternoon. Needless to say, any shred of a handyman I had in my ballet body was put to rest. I would grow up to pay for these handyman services in perpetuity.
So back to questioning my thoughts. Are they real? Are they right? Or should I listen to them, sort them out like a sock drawer, or completely ignore them? Sometimes my own thinking overwhelms me to the point of a full on anxiety attack. It seems like my thoughts have so much to say they keep on talking. But what’s really important? How do I weed out the thoughts in such a way as to mine the gold I imagine is buried somewhere in that ocean of words gushing through my brain at any given time of day or night.
Do the laundry, clean the bathroom, workout, go through the mail, pay bills, call your mother, finish the edit, prep the show, go on a date, buy new shoes, get blood work – these and a myriad of other thoughts stream through my mind constantly. But wait, I need to write. Then begins a process of negotiation between two parts of myself, the do it and get it done part that loves crossing off the To Do List, and the creative part that needs space to operate effectively. Add to this all the external voices from parents, friends, lovers, co-workers, and there’s a lot to sift through in order to prioritize my most aligned next action step.
These days I have a daily talking to my thoughts. More words, I know, but it seems to help me. It’s as if my brain has two distinctly different parts with their own unique function. One function is, I believe, to drive me crazy, while the other is to safely guide me along my way. After years of battling these two parts I’ve learned to co-exist peacefully, for the most part, often resembling a three ring circus where I now charge an admissions fee. I think, opportune word here, I made it work for me.
I let these thoughts flow, identify which part is working, the get it done part or the creative part, and then make choices based on what is most important needs wise at that moment. Sometimes it is to do the laundry, while other times it’s to sit down and meditate. Figuring this out has taken me a great deal of practice over many years. I’m getting the hang of it, and I’m still a work in progress. One thing I know for sure with this whole process is that if I’m not paying attention to both parts of myself I will begin to burn my energy out. I will feel off, out of balance, and I become resentful. It’s a sure fire way for me to know when I have to course correct, and then I do. Sometimes the course correction is me getting sick with a cold. That usually shuts the whole operation down and I get to regroup. I’m working on refining that methodology; and it’s not my cell phone’s fault. In the meantime I’m gonna send one more text, wish two happy birthdays on Facebook, and then place my cell phone in the off position inside my gym locker and go for a swim. I don’t think Apples made a waterproof iPhone yet, have they?