A catalyst for change, from the heart.

There’s a fun song by Ray Charles called Smack Dab in the Middle. Have a listen, it’s a fun song. My question to you is, are you smack dab in the middle of your world? If not, why not? I know it sounds selfish and self-centered to make you be first. But isn’t that the best way to be able to assist others? I think I have written about this before here. The message is, you can only truly be of service once your own house is in order. Caring for myself first, I knew on an intellectual/informative level. Think Head. But the idea had not quite come home to roost. Think Heart. This post explains how I made the change from head to heart.

If you are the caretaker for others, be they human or animal, you have to be and think and do for yourself first. You can’t keep giving and giving without you at the center. Otherwise your well will run dry and when you try and ‘fix’ what is wrong you’ll be out of energy. You might not even realize what is wrong. That’s where I have often found myself of late. But I have felt so very connected to Spirit these past years, how could this be? (Chuckling to myself.)

The almighty Universe has a way of sending lessons when you need them, in the most unlikely of forms. Usually one after the other in quick succession to get your attention. I call that the 2×4 over the head. You’d think by now I’d be wearing a cosmic helmet! The last lesson to me came by way of my horse, Silver.

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In the middle of a rare sleet storm at 10:32pm my horse Silver went sick. I was surprised when my vet returned my call about a minute after I left a voicemail message. Off we went arriving in town around midnight. We left Silver in good hands. Silver went for two visits over a 10 day period until we figured out what it was. At first we thought it was colic, which can kill a horse. Turned out he has ulcers. At least ulcers are treatable and not fatal. So relieved, but that 10 days was hard on my nerves. It felt like I was walking on pins and needles, the feeling in my core was panic. Yeah, that’s not good. What’s up with that? Where did my calm demeanor go. You know, the one that comes forward when I give other people advice? (Oh the irony!)

Worries that compounded my situation were many. My elderly dog, Google, is my soul dog. His attitude is stellar but he’s near the end of his time on the planet, that is clear. My elderly mother is on my mind. I live 1200 miles away from her and I miss her. A family member who is dear to me has been diagnosed with cancer. The family is still reeling from the news. At my job, I work with good folk, but I have to be there in mind and body. All these things plus Silver’s problem added up to feeling totally overwhelmed and a little wobbly. Pema Chödrön would say it is good to get used to that feeling of groundlessness. Oh that’s hard to do. It takes practice. I know I should not let things I have no control over worry me a la Byron Kaite. But it’s hard to drop all that other stuff, especially if those involved are close to your heart.

During this ten day ordeal before we got the diagnosis on Silver, my friend Ren and I were texting. I told her I felt overwhelmed, drained, and in a panic. This is not my usual ‘from love’ space. It was a ‘from fear’ space, and she and her son could see this. She asked me a question. A real life changing question. She said…

“Got a hard question for you: Is Patty or are Patty’s Animals #1 in your world?”

In the past the answer has always been, my animals come first. I would brag to people my animals are fed in the morning before I eat. I pop out of bed like toast, rush to get outside to feed. I am out in my chore boots, PJ’s, bathrobe and coat before the sun is up, complete with headlamp so I can see the hay bales in the dark. I look like a walking rummage sale.

Is it necessary to eclipse my own life to care for others? Is this level of care really necessary? Well knock me over with a feather! By answering the question, I could see past events of my life with deep clarity. On the spot I was able to rethink my core actions and act from that new center of self-love. Wow. Powerful stuff. I had been putting everyone else first, and that had been so hard wired in me. There is nothing wrong with caring for your critters or other folk, but to not put yourself first means you can drain yourself unnecessarily. Your world will seem off center, like seeing from the perspective of being picked up by the tornado. If you come from center, you can be the calm eye of the storm. I knew my friends’ words rang true and it was a great catalyst for change. It was a large pivot point for living the rest of my life from.

There is a better way to live and still care for everyone. As nurturers, women are taught to give and do and make and cook and bring and organize and tutor and orchestrate and comfort and direct and teach and you name it. I needed to unlearn a lot of old programming in how to approach this role.  Ren told me when she made this change to loving the self first, she didn’t love her kids any less. In fact she loved them more, because she loved herself more. Folks this is a golden nugget of information, founded in love. I could work with this! I could still work with Spirit, love and care for myself, and then tackle what the rest of the world brought to my door. Wise words indeed! I am much indebted to Ren for this awakening in me.

I instantly was able to re-arrange my day on the fly, taking care of what I needed, before caring for others. It was a small change, that made a big difference, and no one was left wanting as a result. In fact everything felt better, more right, and more natural. So simple, yet so powerful. Now this lesson had come home to roost in my heart.

Before you go out into the world assisting others, keep this in mind. What base are you operating from? A base of self-love first, caring for yourself first? Are you really truly coming from love, or are you coming from a sense of guilt or a sense of duty? It’s a hard question to ask. But for me, it changed my life in an instant. You can do this too.

Comments always welcomed and encouraged. 

 

 

Suffering is optional

When you hold your own mind hostage, It’s like being in prison. It’s a lot of self-imposed suffering. I am guilty of this bad habit. It’s a bit like jumping to conclusions but bigger. It takes a while to dump it and change behavior.

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Case in point: A friend of a friend said their friend went to a family gathering thinking the worst; that no one liked them, that they would be shunned, ignored, that they were disliked. Yet the opposite happened and the opposite was true. They were welcomed with open arms. They were able to catch up with a lot of people they had been estranged from and had totally the wrong information for many many years. The person who was responsible for spreading the dark information about them in the past was now out of the picture. How many years did our hero waste in shame and fear, thinking they were unloved by their own family? Way too many! It simply was not true. They were holding themselves hostage and suffering for it.

All the self deprecating thoughts and low self-esteem—it was all in this person’s head. Our hero was making assumptions that the information being sent around was true, and they were too afraid to reach out and find out what the real story was. The cloud has lifted and it took an in-person visit to see the truth. Years and years of bad energy followed this person around like a cloud for no good reason. The truth was easy to uncover. They were holding themselves hostage in their mind.

Following the advice of Byron Katie would help in this instance. I loved her book, Loving What Is. She asks the reader to ask themselves four questions, to free their mind:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Another case in point: I was on Facebook looking at my feed. Usually there are videos and those automatically start playing, or at least they used to. The person posting this video had good intentions. They wanted to find the culprit that tortured a dog which was shown on the video. I had to stop the video from playing after only a few seconds or I would throw up. For days I could not get this image out of my head. Once you see something, you can’t ‘unsee’ it. I kept obsessing over it, because I am an animal lover, and my pets are my family. I could not imagine why anyone would do this, and I also could not imagine why someone would post this for any reason. It shook me to my core.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
—Byron Katie

What I kept telling myself when I felt that nausea well up inside was, this event happened a long time ago, and any suffering for the animal was long over. It took days for me to become normal again and shove this awful thing out of my head. I sent love to all concerned. That’s the best I could do. Send love, send love, send love. Be in the moment. Follow the advice of Byron Katie. Follow the advice of Eckhart Tolle and be in the moment. Smell the air. Watch the birds fly overhead. Be grateful for the moment.

What I did wrong was hold myself hostage by having terrible thoughts about the act, and utter disgust for the perpetrator. These feelings did not help anyone. None of my feelings were for the greater good, nor were they positive energy in any way, shape, or form. In addition, I was angry that I had spent any time spinning in negativity. I had no excuse to dwell on something done long ago, that I was helpless to change. I spent my good energy chasing bad.

The lessons in both cases was not to dwell on things you have no control over, and that are in the past. If needed seek the truth. Send love. Move on. Live in the moment.