The wonderfully irritating way the Universe helps you change.

One way the Universe helps me change is wonderful, and it’s also very irritating! Sure enough, when you want to stop drinking caffeine, or stay clear away from carbs and you swear them off, the coffee and bagels of the world will follow you everywhere and it won’t stop until you are immune.

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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.

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When Things Get Tough: What’s Your Self Care Plan?

In previous posts I have talked about creating good habits, modifying your life as you go, and getting a good self-care plan going. Well now I have one to share. The past six weeks have been difficult but not impossible. I was handling everything okay until one thing sent me over the top. Only then did I realized I needed to take a good, serious look at my self-care routine. Remember no one is bulletproof. Realizing you have to slow your roll actually leads to growth (thanks Al!). If you find this happens more frequently for you than for others, don’t sweat it. You are learning what you need to do to be a Spiritual Being living in the waking world. Constantly modifying your life or your routine is good for you and good for everyone around you. 

The items in this blog post are the things I need to do when I feel super stressed and ready to pop. For me these items are key areas to be given attention. I hope this works for you as well. 

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Note to self: Begging is not co-creating

Funny how a simple statement like the headline above has to be learned. Last week Friday I discovered all three dogs had cattle ticks deep in their ears. In the past they have had to go under anesthesia to remove ticks from the ear drum. Expensive time consuming, hard on the animal, and disruptive. Situations like these can bring on a mild panic. My regular vet was out of town so I had to make some calls. Finally I found a place that would take all three dogs. Small miracle! As a friend put it, I did a great job of co-creating to make that happen, through a passionate heart. (I love feedback like that.) So far so good.

As the day unfolded, what would normally be a stressful situation was somehow okay. I noticed a small tug when I felt panic rising about what could be an expensive, time consuming aftercare nightmare. This tug I felt made me feel more grounded. More calm. I gave credit to this new feeling to meditating regularly using Headspace. (Thanks Judy!) Meditating is relatively new for me and without the Headspace app, it would not be possible. As a result I am making progress in handling what life throws me. I am continually finding places to improve that will help me feel more grounded in all situations. Life takes practice. Often one small step at a time.

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Do you really want to sweep that under the rug?

So you’ve had a blowout with someone in your life. This someone is very important to you, they may be your spouse, your live-in mate, a really good friend, or someone at work. You have been dealt a blow, and you feel very strongly about it. Perhaps trust has been violated. This is a basic foundation for any relationship. Maybe someone does not believe what you did or did not do. I’ve seen these two things happen to people close to me. They both handled it very differently, in their own way.

Some handle it with great emotions and a lot of drama because they feel slighted. Then they moved on feeling differently toward the person that slighted them. Some handle it by sweeping it under the rug, waiting for just the right moment to say something. “Oh, can’t do it today we are having dinner with friends. I can’t do it tomorrow, my spouse has a job interview and they have to be on their best behavior. Best to not rock the boat. The day after that is Saturday and I have worked hard this week, another argument is not what I want. Better put it off till next week. That feels better.”

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That damned coconut tree

Over the years I learned to handle drama and chaos as best I can. I teach classes on handling it, because I lived through so much of it and found a way to deal with it. In the years during The Big Change, I was able to piece together a road map for my survival. So far, so good. Life is as good as it can be and I’m a happy camper. But, I didn’t get this way overnight. It took work. It was fun at times, but still took some shifting and tweaking each time I encountered a bit of drama or chaos here and there.

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Compassionate or doormat?

Being compassionate and being ‘the wounded healer’ and wanting to help others is a good thing to do. But be careful you don’t overdo it in terms of being a doormat. You should never come away from an experience in compassion feeling used, spent, foolish, tired, or drained. And certainly you should never feel you have been taken advantage of.

Several years back, a local I knew and liked came knocking on my door in a rainstorm. Let’s call him The Farrier. I knew, as did everyone in town, he was recently on the outs with his boss/landlord. He had been kicked out of the place he had been staying, and lost his job. He was at rock bottom. I could not turn him away in the rain. Looking back, he had it timed just right, how could a person turn someone away in a downpour? Once I realized he needed more than shelter from this storm, I made it clear, this was to be temporary. I offered him three months stay, as long as he helped himself to get ahead in the world, not just lay around sleeping. He needed to earn his keep in working toward his future. I stressed it was more important that he work toward his future, than do chores around my home.

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Coping patterns

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” —Don Miguel Ruiz

For many years after traumatic, chaotic, emotionally and mentally abusive events occur, your body goes through the motions of post-traumatic effects. Your body and you create what I call coping patterns. My brain tells me the daily abuse is over and I am healed, but my body doesn’t care where the attacks come from. All it know is it is time to ride out the storm for a few days if something happens that is not part of a normal day. Even one person, or a group of people in a meeting talking over me loudly ignoring what I have to say, will set off an episode of what I call hunkering down. These are big triggers for me. Your body has a way of remembering how you got through the abuse. It gets tired, slowing you down, making you sleep a lot. Maybe you eat your way to comfort, or drink yourself to sleep. You cocoon. You repair. You sleep.

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The long exhale

The two years of unwinding on all levels after my divorce was a period I refer to as The Long Exhale. Being in a poisonous, dramatic, very chaotic environment for 18 years did some major damage. I recall the first day after my husband was kicked off the property by the police and the divorce was proceeding. I knew there was a huge shit storm coming my way, because he was a supreme manipulator and a huge drama queen. He hated being challenged or bested and he was the ‘never give up’ kind of guy. I was in for the ride of my life, but I knew divorce was at hand. My life depended on it. The first day back at the property after I had just arrived home from work, I got out of the car, was greeted by my animals and heard myself say out loud “I’m going to be just fine!” I don’t even know what part of me said that! But it was nice to hear. I was a very happy camper to finally be out of that nightmare. I was now the captain of my own ship!

During the time of The Big Change, I dropped so much of my old life by the wayside. Dropped bad habits, old outdated ideas. I got my self confidence back bit by bit. The support came from many places: friends, Buddhist lectures, work and co-workers, taking up a life with horses, etc. Help manifested itself in so many ways. I had much to dump, much to relearn and so much to explore. It was like shedding an old skin that no longer suited me and being totally reborn, from head to toe. But it took a long time for this to happen. This sort of deep change comes slowly. But is well worth it.

The single life suits me very well and I never in my life thought I would be totally content and happy being single. My new life is very different than my old life, and all of it is by my own design. Things I want in my life are there, or coming into being. Things I don’t want have been tossed out, abandoned or given the heave-ho. In order to get to this new life, it took a lot of work, exploring, research and guts that I didn’t know I had. I would never trade this new life for anything else on the planet. But it took a lot of work to get to this point, this new level of living co-creatively.

If you have been through a rough patch, regardless of the length of time you were in it, please give yourself time to heal, adjust, renew, replenish, explore, test, and invent your new life. You have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. This will be a great time of growth. Give yourself and your body a huge break from being perfect or meeting anyone else’s expectations, especially your own. You may need a long exhale too.

Personal power and those ruby slippers

Looking back on my very difficult, abusive marriage, I realize I always had a choice. I could have left the instant my instincts said this was a bad pairing, a bad marriage, a very bad experience. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz story, she found out about the magical powers of her shoes late into her journey. Many people would have been angry at finding out so late, that they had the power to fix things all along. But Dorothy had no regret in the difficult, mysterious, scary path she had taken that seemed out of her control. 

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She had a fantastic journey and met many friends along the way. Had she chosen to use the power of her magical ruby slippers sooner, she would never have found her voice and her own personal power. Without this difficult journey, she would not be the same person she was by the end of the movie.

I felt the same was true with my situation. Even though my marriage and split was hard and seemed out of my control, was full of pitfalls, daily emotional and mental drama, and frustration at every turn, it made me stronger and is still giving me insights. Through this baptism by fire, I found my voice and my personal power, and no one can take that from me, ever again. (Cue the happy ending music!)

The most life-changing insight of all was that I always had a choice. As hard and painful as the path had been to get to this insight, I was happy to be where I was at once I was on the other side of all the drama and chaos. I have no regrets about the past, nor do I feel I ‘wasted’ my time, as some people say about a failed marriage. It was the path leading to my own personal freedom and power, that taught me to be a compassionate person toward others. I would not give it up for anything! It was hard won and now I own it. I am fully in charge of my life, co-creating my future, compassionately, lovingly. Our paths have many joys and many pitfalls. All experiences are for our highest good, even though at the time, we may not think so.