21 Days, Day 1

August 13th, 4:30pm

“It takes 21 days to break a habit”. I’m making another decision. I just wrote about this in my journal which I can already tell is the beginning of my show and my book. But here, I just want to have a daily document of the beginning of my true transformation. All the reasons why I have made this first thing, this initial 21 days, to be solely focused on my body; what I put into it and what I don’t, and what I require of it physically. I will tell you about why it’s #1 in detail later, in the coming posts.

But right now, I must complete today’s first task. Well, second. The first one is done. I meditated for an hour. Now I go outside to move my body. Today it’s not a class or two like it will be almost every other day, today is hiking the hill, among the trees, by walking out my front door and going. I am setting myself free. And you are coming with me.

 

 

Infinity Me and Little Me, sittin’ in a tree

Last night I got up on a stage, in front of a sold out crowd of 650 people, to tell my five minute story. Holy crap. It wasn’t awful, and it wasn’t great, perfect! That’s all I wanted to accomplish, as the only way I was able to have the nerves to do that in the first place was to keep reminding myself that failing is part of the path. And what would have been failing anyway? Panic attack and giving up? Maybe. But even that, at least I leapt! And that’s not a failure. Just doing it is the point, the only point that I decided would matter.

That, and that I just want to learn; thus, to grow. That’s all experience is really for.  Then the clincher, allow that growing to make us know that all we have to do is just Be anyway. We forget in all the doing and learning and growing that we already had it, we already are the answer to all of our questions. One question going into this was to simply find out more about myself. From that new knowledge, I continue to expand. So Being becomes simply allowing myself to continue with the next right step, instead of resisting that step with fear. And knowing what the right step is can only come from allowing myself to Be. What a paradox it all is! “And I love that” (-Kyle Cease).

So back to specifics, what I learned from last night. I learned that while waiting to see if my name would be called (contestants put their name in a hat, only ten get picked), I wasn’t as horribly nervous with the usual symptoms as I thought I’d be. In these situations, my heartbeat often betrays me. It feels like a gorilla in a cage, beating on my chest to get out. It makes my breath shallow and my voice loses it’s resonance. I feel like asking the person next to me, “do you see this thing?!” It’s so heavy and strong that I’m sure the protrusions must be visible on the outside.

But this time, not so much. Until of course, my name was actually called – #4 out of 10 storytellers. As I jumped out of my seat to walk to the stage, at least I had the relief of “thank god I didn’t have to suffer through to 10!”. But once I got to the microphone stand, whoo lord, there came the gorilla. I said “Hi” into the mic, and was acutely aware that I already felt breathless. So I took as much air in as I could, and turned my head to the left to exhale. I didn’t want to blanket that scared-shitless-breath onto the audience, they didn’t deserve that. Let the stupid air take it. “Screw you, air!”

I began. And like in similar past situations, I was not in my body. I was not calm, or in the moment. Little Me was slightly to the right of my body going “don’t forget that line! oh shit you forgot that line! omg now you have to make something up! this is sucking! they’re not laughing! this story is too intense, you’re making everyone uncomfortable!”. Meanwhile, Infinity Me was chuckling.

Infinity Me, my good buddy, has been talking to Little Me more lately. “You’re doing just fine, you always are, you’re so cute and funny when you freak out, I’m laughing, see?”. Little Me noticed but tried to ignore Infinity Me. “Whatever dude, they’re not, I’m dying up here!”. And lo and behold, I go completely blank. I am now somewhere between Little Me and Infinity Me. The next line has escaped me. I pause, and manage to play it off for a second, thinking “stay with me people, this is part of the brilliant drama of the piece!” Infinity Me then whispers, “just make something up, they won’t know the difference”. So, I obey. I keep going, while also aware I’ve skipped a whole paragraph somewhere. And now, the all important last line has escaped me. But Little Me is quiet. I don’t panic. Now I’m just noticing the fear instead of becoming it, and a variation of the line pops out that’s not half bad. Done!

As I walk off the stage, Little Me wakes up, “oh god that was awkward!”. I proceed to step down onto what looks like the steps, but it’s actually the speakers, just barely keeping myself from falling. “Omg how embarrasing!” A kind, elderly gentleman in the front row gets out of his seat to extend his hand. I recover graciously and walk a few rows back to sink into my own lonely seat, pretending to enjoy the next storyteller, “haha! see everyone, I’m so relaxed and don’t care that I’m so disappointed, haha!” When the story ended (“got a better score than me, of course!”), the nice man who helped me gets out of his seat and walks over to where I’m sitting. He reaches for my hand again and leans down to look me in the eye. “I really liked your story. It was genuine and sincere.” Well then. Of all the compliments I could have gotten, I’ll gladly take that one. His name is Ralph and I run into him later as I’m leaving. Tomorrow he’s going to Shakespeare in the Park. “It’s going to be so fun. Hope to see you at the next Slam!” Ok Ralph, if you say so.

When the final scores came in, I landed pretty square in the middle. The middle, between Little Me and Infinity Me, was where I was on stage. I played matchmaker. I don’t need to dump Little Me for Infinity Me after all. I want them to fall in love. Little Me deserves it, so does Ralph. Infinity Me just can’t help it.

 

 

What If

What If? Those two words alone hold within them all the power of the Universe. Oh hell, Infinity, Intuition, Source, God, Science or whatever blah blah blah. Again, I notice, I just added that quip because that was me being self conscious that you’d make an assumption about me because I used the word Universe. Yes, those types can be extremely annoying, and I’m certainly one of them some of the time. Amy Schumer did a brilliant and hilarious spoof  on that subject on her tv show. I’m also the opposite of that at other times, irritated as all get out at people who call themselves “conscious” and “spiritual” and have no sense of humor. I’d rather shoot the shit with the guy who bags my groceries at TJs. But my point being, I was already feeling the need to censor what I was saying in just the second sentence.

Act as If is the eager sister to What If. It also holds the power to create worlds, but What If is the Big Bang. What if…I truly write this thing like a journal and really didn’t give a crap about what “people” think? And Universe help me, who are these people again? Why does it matter and what’s the worst that could happen? Some of them would not like me. Great! I’m that much closer to my people then. Good riddance.

Why Not is the tipsy uncle to What If. Today, there is no answer to the tipsy uncle, it’s not a question anymore. Why Not has just become a statement. It is done. There is no reason to not. To not what? Tell the whole damn truth up in here. I simply remain with the question of What If? What if next week when I go up on that stage (if my name gets picked) and I fall flat on my face? Meaning, nobody laughs or utters a sound, I stutter, I blank out, I forget the most important parts, my heart does it’s usual beating out of my chest but this time everyone can actually see it. It’s so loud and so overpowering that it halts my voice and I can’t even speak properly, it causes me to be short of breath and I look like I might faint. Ah, that reminds me of what happened to Kyle Cease when he started having stage fright for the first time as a comedian, after fifteen or so years of doing it. It got so bad that he created this new fear about fainting on stage. “What if I could make myself faint on stage? What if I faint while taping my big Comedy Central special?”(paraphrasing). Sometimes, the worst fear leads to the deepest suffering, which in turn can lead to an awakening into a whole new way of living, a whole new identity.

I get that fear now, it just occurred to me, but it occurred to me in the best way. Because right now I’m actually trying to think of what’s the worst that could happen, taking it all the way to the the end, not freaking out and trying to figure out how to prevent that end. Because if I surrender to possibly failing the first time, the first many times, ok, so what? Failing, or even doing a meh job, would actually be just fine. The thing is, if I am great the first time, and the next time and just continue to be, the day will come eventually when I do fail in some way, and I’d have to deal with it then anyway. But it would probably be a much harsher pill to swallow.

I know this from experience. I was great at dancing and got all the lead roles easily when I was young. Then one day, I got fat, or fat by ballet’s standards. So to me, I’d failed. And it’s taken me years to come to terms with the self-doubt that created. All the attention was too soon, I wasn’t really ready for it.

What if I accepted that I likely will suck at this new thing at first, and that is A-Ok? Yay, I went through that and I’m still here and as God is my witness I’ll never go hungry again! I mean, as God is my witness I’ll never let failing stop me again! Scarlett O’Hara Redux. Because after that, if I do fall flat on my face, I now vow, in the words of Steely Dan, to go back, Jack and to DO IT AGAIN. That’s what I know is different. This time, I’ve decided beforehand that if the worst happens, it’s just fine and good and I’ll be learning something. The failing itself (I now know, not just speculate) will make me get better. So now I can relax. I can maybe even have fun. It is childhood, giving adulthood a hug and a kick in the ass. It is nature’s way. It is part of getting good at something, anything, but especially something important that holds a lot of meaning and purpose and fear. On the flip side, the actual purpose of the fear itself is to let us know we’re on the right track. The fear shows us our purpose. If I’m really scared of this thing, dammit, that means I know I have to do it.

So if I continue with this line of thinking, this also means that if I’m afraid of what people think, that means I have to say it. Ah yes, thanks Self. That may seem obvious to you, reader, but sometimes things just click at the right moment. And since I’m trying this whole “I really don’t care what you think” thing out, though I love you and want what’s best for you, please move on if this is turning you off. You’re actually just an aspect of myself that I don’t need anymore. So thanks for your disapproval, it’s made me who I am up to this moment, it’s your actual (imagined in my mind) disapproval that has helped me surpass needing it in the first place. “The circle of liiife!”

I got what I needed to know by putting fingers to keyboard, letting my real voice talk and wander, and it gave me the answer it needed, however simple. Sometimes you hear the same thing your whole life, but you’re hearing it only from a certain narrow perspective, then you hear it once from a new, wider and heightened perspective and it takes on total significance. I feel fear of being more honest, which simply means that’s what I’m supposed to say. Hmm, yes that feels true. But also there is a caveat, that isn’t actually always the case. Of course there’s plenty of things that if I said them, it actually wouldn’t be the best thing; for me. Maybe for someone else, but me is all I got. So, here’s where wisdom comes in, where all these years of practice listening to my heart gallups in to save the day.

All I can do is continue to listen for the truth, trust if something feels off, and either say it or don’t say it. The reason this time though, the deciding factor, shall be wisdom and knowing, not fear.

 

 

Alien babies

I’m noticing there is a dread of this moment. On second thought, of course, it is all the moments before this, before I start. All day there were things that popped into my head, and then the inner judge, who is interestingly getting kinder, says “that’s an idea, yes you want to talk about that, good”. But then, if I make a note of that idea, and I have to leave the balm of expressing it to go do the stuff of the day, like work and errands, and I don’t immediately go with it by writing more than just one sentence, there is a feeling of anxiety that I’m trying to put a name to right now.

One part is that it will leave, which is a very common occurrence. The more time that goes by before I can sit and throw it in the mixer, jumble it around in my mind on the page and sweep it into actual words, with each passing hour that I haven’t gotten it out, I feel more nervous, irritable and tired. I then want to escape from that feeling, so then will turn to a distraction. Then I notice that all that time that’s gone by being aware that I’m not getting whatever it is out,  I could have actually sat down to do it.

But there were things I had to do! There are only so many hours in the day and I gotta pay the bills. And so, I’m going to punish myself for doing what I have to do because I’m not doing what I want to do, and even though that’s crazy, that’s actually where the downward spiral of resistance to doing it begins. I’m realizing I’m mad at myself, something I wasn’t even conscious of until now that’s actually saying to me I’m wrong or bad for not getting it out and expressing it, so I must not be worthy of it. Oh and the other ingredient in the self-beratement canon, it’s my fault. But it’s not a voice even, more like a net enshrouding me in shame; I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m not even aware of this at the time. I’m just feeling off about myself in some way. I’m in doubt. That doubt is what prevents the antidote, just sitting and writing. Because now it’s turned into another thing I have to do, something difficult, something I don’t want to do anymore.

But this right here, talking it out to myself in the moment, this flow of Source is my friend. And I’d been thinking of it more like the movie ‘Alien’, this terrorizing monster that’s been in me and the process of getting it out, so I can be ok again, is going to be torture. I’ve turned the idea of this, right here, into my enemy. But look, there is an energy that’s causing my mind and fingers to move in harmony along the keyboard. Yet it’s not even linked to my body or my mind. It’s the something else I can’t exactly define.

It has transmuted from this alien baby gnarling to be born and destroy it’s host in the process, into this gentle breeze that’s whispering “you’re doing it, look at you, I’m here anytime you’re ready, no pressure, no big deal”. Then when I listen to it, like just now, it turns into a waterfall. Now it’s the river below, and will continue on downstream, pushed along by the breeze, until it becomes a waterfall again. No alien babies anywhere in sight.

To be or not to be in “the zone”

I recently started an Experiment. Fits and starts is actually more like it. I even made sure to capitalize the E. That would make me do it! I decided to:

  1. Go on a cleanse. Meaning, for me, a self-designed “program”. Again, I used that particular word in the hopes it would strengthen my Great Intention. For however long I can, it was simply, I’m gonna just eat veggies (raw, juice, salads, soups) and fruits and a vegan protein shake with almond milk and chia seeds. I also decided to allow myself some sweet fixes like a few ginger chewies and one or two pieces of dark chocolate. The thought of not having even a tiny sweet fix is just a little too much to take right now.  I didn’t have a deadline or end date. This time, I wanted to keep going past a day or two, which I’d never done before. I wanted to see, how healthy I could really get? What if I just keep going? What kind of miracles await me?
  2.  And meditate for an hour every day. I’ve already been meditating on and off since I was 27, but in the last year or so had made a better effort to do it almost every morning for, well, at least five minutes, sometimes twenty, twenty being the goal, but sometimes, mostly ten or fifteen.

The first few days, wow, I did it! I was pretty amazed about the cleanse part. I actually only ate veggies and fruit and shakes the first two, and felt incredible (more on that later), but then a little slip here and there but pretty good. The point was though, I didn’t exactly stick to it wholeheartedly. So, after a week, I started again. Every morning in fact, I decided, I would just keep starting again, until. Like when you first start riding a bike. You gotta fall off a few times, before you can just ride.

So now I’m on New Day 12. On Day 10, I fell off the wagon. To most people it wouldn’t seem like overeating. I already eat really healthy, have been mostly vegan for the last four years or so. Oh lord, plant-based if the V word turns you off. Believe me, I understand (more later). But I do go off it. The point is, I fell off the wagon of keeping my word to myself. But I also decided from that, ok, every 10 days I’ll have a cheat day!

Normally, in all my life, the way I would respond to letting myself down would be the usual default pattern of most humans – berate myself, both consciously and subconsciously, and sabotage my progress and my improving self-esteem with all sorts of destructive thoughts and behaviors. I won’t get into my past here, that’s for another time. Yes, you’ll have to just get on with your life until then. But this time, and this had almost everything to do with the increase in meditation, I decided I would not beat myself up. I would really catch (was getting better at this now) when I would find myself feeling in a weird/shitty mood. I was becoming more able to pin-point the first thoughts that led to it, that very slow and painful process of going from feeling great to, just a few moments later, being in a fog of confusion about why I’d suddenly succumb to doubt and fear.

I started saying “I forgive myself”. What a concept. How obvious yet so very hard for most of us.  I decided that would be my new mantra, all day long. When noticing falling into my old patterns of saying any variation to myself of “I can’t believe I just said that/acted like that/did that”, “I can’t believe I’m still (fill in the blank), “I’m so (fill in the blank)”, “I might never (fill in the blank).”, “what if I’m always going to (fill in the blank)” etc, I’d stop and say, “I forgive myself”. It seems so trite, maybe, but only if you’re just hearing those words and you’re not actually doing it. What would it take to actually, truly, forgive yourself for every self-defeating thought? Go sit on a park bench like Eckhart and ponder that for a few years, you won’t be disappointed.

Of course I know, these seemingly demonic habits are universal. The suffering we inflict on ourselves on a daily basis, which most of us aren’t even aware of most of the time, is beyond any we can inflict on others. And even just that, realizing everyone does it; “it’s not just me, I’m not crazy” is the beginning of climbing back up.

So today, I started out with an idea of what I wanted to get done on my day off. Actually, it was the intention I set yesterday. But, inevitably, on the actual day, today, I didn’t feel the same way I felt when I made my precious list. Shocking! I was low energy and uninspired. In fact, this post is still reflecting that feeling. It’s kind of forced and awkward and not flowing. Yet, I soldier on!

I did get my workout in, but I ended up just doing grocery shopping and cooking and prepping my food for dinner and for all day tomorrow and some of the next. Now, getting my workout in (more on that later too), didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment because it’s just part of my routine now. Before you think…oh, who cares what you think, right? Just saying, it’s taken me years to get to that point where “working out”, blech, is actually something I want to do. You have no idea (just one more, more on that later!). But this was the mindset I was in today – that I need to “accomplish, make it happen!”. When I started noticing my resistance to doing the one thing I really want to do, the one thing I told myself I should do, the creeping fog of self doubt started to emerge. So that’s the habit, if I don’t do the thing I told myself I’d do, I can’t even give myself credit for doing something that to some people would be a major accomplishment, working out. “Eh, but there’s so mch more I’m supposed to be doing” *whine, sulk…The slippery slope began.

And yet. It ended there. I decided, if I’m not going to do the thing I really want to do, actually had convinced myself I should do, I can at least meditate again. I decided, I’m going to go for a full hour. This is something I’d only ever done once before, and that was a few days ago. I’d already meditated 20 minutes this morning. Again, hey, something I can now give myself credit for! So I thought, ok, if nothing else, get this done. Just do it.

I did. And something was lifted, something always is. (More on that later, especially). But my point is, I hoped it would put me back in the flow, in the zone of letting my thoughts pour out of me into inspired revelations of power and creativity! But, like those first few attempts at a bike, fits and starts. I do feel so much better. What is that? What exactly feels better? How I’m thinking about myself. I got a glimpse of who I really am. Everything. So how can All That Is judge and criticize this silly little personality? It, I, can’t. But my silly little personality is stil very much fighting for breath.

So that’s where I am right now. Better after I meditated for an hour, much more calm and allowing of myself just as I am, but also not quite feeling that high that I know I can feel. That’s the striving though, and there is no way to that feeling. It either is or it isn’t. Trying to feel it is just another addiction, and the beginning of another, and another. But this time, learning to allow myself to be and feel everything that’s in me, is also exactly right, the greatest lesson, and as it should be. To live by the words of my all time favorite song, Let It Be.

And hey, at least I stuck to my cleanse. Ok I didn’t do the one thing I told myself I’d do. Oh wait, I kinda did. But I didn’t do it the way I wanted to, I wasn’t in the flow of joy and ease when I did it! Oh jesus, listen to myself. It really is ridiculous, what we put ourselves through.

And what was the thing I told myself I’d do today, that I didn’t do? I didn’t do it the way I wanted to, but screw it all to hell, I DID DO IT?

Write.