It Takes Discipline

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

“For those who have been trained by it/No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful … Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace …” Bobby McFerrin “Medicine Music”

I don’t know about you, but I was getting lazy before this crisis happened. Not so much lazy in doing things, but in my thought and emotional patterns. It seemed to me that the world was in such a big mess that I couldn’t do anything about it. I allowed myself to feel helpless, so I didn’t make much of an effort to effect change. I did personal work, but I wasn’t diligent about it. My life was pretty good. What more could I want? I was drifting, spiritually.

Then the big disruption hit and I took a big step back and said, “Whoa, I need to do some self-evaluation.”

You see, I believe what a friend of mine said long ago, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” We’re here now because we volunteered to live through these events. We’re experiencing, on a global level, what most of us have experienced on personal levels. Our lives fell apart and we were forced to do what I call “cosmic closet cleaning”. At those times we realized that we let life happen to us instead of choosing who we want to be and what we want to do. We listened to and followed other people’s ideas of who we should be and what we should do. At some point we hit a wall, we crashed and burned, and blessedly we got to reevaluate where we were going and who we wanted to be. If that hasn’t happened to you yet, maybe it’s happening now.

We’re taught to see the world from a negative point of view, that it’s futile to buck the system, that the world is a negative place full of traps, that life isn’t fair. But what happens to us is not negative or positive. Events become one or the other when WE put a value on them. So, what is happening now can be our downfall, if we choose that. Or it can be an opportunity to make the world a better place.

What I just wrote makes it sound like we can change fairly easy. “Oh, we just change our thinking and everything will be okay.” But I’ll tell you that when I first heard this idea, that our thoughts create reality, I did not believe it. I didn’t want to admit that I was to blame for this messed up world! I didn’t want to do the work necessary to change my thoughts and emotions.

Side note: Our thoughts creating our reality is not a woo woo, airy fairy, new age theory. It’s a scientifically proven fact by quantum physicists who were shocked to find that the outcome of their experiments were affected by their observations and expectations. They could never see how particles behaved in their natural state, because they couldn’t keep their expectations completely neutral. And eventually they concluded that all of us, with our thought patterns and emotional states, create the reality we’re living in.

Again, changing the way we think and feel is not easy. I know from experience. It’s difficult to take responsibility for the things that happen to us. When I did accept that fact, it meant that I had to take a good look at everything I believed. Taking responsibility was the first step in my evolution as a person.

The second step was to begin to pay attention to what I was thinking and feeling all the time. The two go hand-in-hand. It’s a process. I’ve been trying to turn away from negative reactions and thought patterns for more than forty years. It takes constant vigilance. Something will happen, most of the time it’s really trivial, and I’ll get all bent out of shape about it. And then Barry will say something, or I’ll catch myself and I say, “Wait a minute, I don’t have to see this as negative. It might be a good thing.” The barometer I always use for situations like that is something my Dad used to say, “Will this matter in a hundred years?” If it won’t matter, I let go of the negative feelings and let things play out.

But if what I’m facing will matter in a hundred years, then I know I’d better take a good hard look at what I’m thinking and feeling that prevents the situation from getting better.

This week I was listening to a spiritual teacher on YouTube, Amanda Ellis, and she suggested that we take a few moments every day to choose one troubled place in the world and re-envision it as peaceful, joy filled, with buildings and gardens rebuilt, and with people and businesses prospering. It will take discipline to do this, but if each person choses a different place each day and sees it as filled with whole and happy people, our collective efforts could change the world much faster than having disaster after disaster forcing us to make the changes we need to make.

I for one do not want to live with despair any longer. I want everyone to be happy, healthy, and honored for what they do no matter the size of that contribution. I’m willing to do this daily visualization. I’m willing to make a commitment to turn away from the negative and seek out acts of kindness and compassion. There are plenty of stories out there of people helping others if we look for them.

I don’t think our efforts have to be huge. I’m not one of those working in an essential field. But I can post encouraging things on my social media outlets, and on this blog. I can encourage my students, my family, and friends. I plan to push positivity like a drug, and that’s helpful even if only in little ways.

Sometimes the right message comes along at just the right time. I finished reading Marie Foleo’s book, Everything is Figureoutable last week and the three tenets of her book are: 1) No matter what the problem, we can figure out how to fix it, it’s figureoutable. 2) Start before you’re ready. You’ll figure out how to do it as you go along. And 3) refuse to be refused. There will always be naysayers when you comes up with innovative ideas. Don’t listen to them. If you’ve got a vision for how to be of service, go for it. Marie always finishes her MarieTV episodes by saying, “Remember, the world needs that special gift that only you have.”

If we accept that each one of us has a special gift that the world needs, that’s a much different perspective than to think we’re worthless and the world is against us. It also means that we need to support the people who can figure out how to cure this virus and not just them but everyone, because you never know how they will use their gifts to help us through this crisis and beyond.

I admit, I get discouraged and overwhelmed. There are so many people who need help. I want to give money, but which causes need it most? Sometimes my head feels like it’s spinning around like in some weird horror movie. But, I’m going to take Amanda’s advice and take just a few minutes every day to silence my mind and visualize a much more friendly world.

As we’re forced into isolation, it might be a good time for you to take stock of your life. I’m doing that. I’m asking what more work I need to do on myself. It’s not always a comfortable process. I’ve had to face dark places in myself that I’d much rather have ignored. But if I don’t face and accept them, they fester and that’s not good because my negative energy spills over onto those around me. The negativity acts like ripples in water. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of living in a scary world. I want to live in a friendly, compassionate, loving world.

What are you planning to do during this time of upheaval?

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you are safe and well.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

 

Fear of Success

Our Road
Our Road

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” ~ George S. Patton

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” ~ Billie Jean King

“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” ~ Tom Petty

My sister Celeste and I were talking the other day about pursuing our life’s dreams and some realizations we’ve had along the way. She is a certified life coach, but has had difficulty getting her career started. However, since moving to the Seattle area, it looks like her business will be taking off. That’s what started our conversation about success. As we were talking she said, “I think I’m afraid to succeed.” Boy could I relate to that because I’ve felt the same way about my writing.

As we talked we acknowledged that the same situation applies to both of us. We get used to our life circumstances and it’s hard to visualize living any other way. Does that ever happen to you? It takes a great deal of effort to create a new way of living. If you choose to create an unconventional life, you have to give up some things that are fun but not productive in your old life. And you face opposition, people will not hesitate to tell you that your dream is not worth the effort, or that you will never succeed so you may as well give up. It’s difficult to shut out the naysayers. You have to be willing to fail, perhaps many times before you succeed and that’s scary.

Celeste and I both want to live a new kind of life. We want to help people while we do what we love and make money doing it. We both long to travel, be open to new and unexpected experiences,  and we want to meet new and interesting people with a different perspective than our own. These are dreams we’ve talked about over the years, but for some reason it’s been difficult for us to break out and go for that new life. Both of us have suffered through some difficult times, especially financially. That’s one thing that is the hardest to overcome, our financial circumstances. We get so used to living with less that it becomes hard to see ourselves as being prosperous.

Celeste and I both think that visualizing what it feels like to have abundance and success while at the same time helping others is essential to making our dreams come true, which got me to thinking about the circumstances in which we were born. Our parents struggled with money until later in their marriage. I’m the oldest so life was more difficult for me than for Celeste who is the youngest. For example, I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes growing up. When mom and dad had more money, mom continued to act as if they didn’t have enough to buy my younger sisters the clothes they needed. She was stuck in her old thinking that they had to do without many of the nicer things in life. Dad on the other hand embraced their more prosperous situation and always made sure my sisters had the things they needed. Sometimes Celeste and I find ourselves stuck in our mom’s pattern of thinking instead of our dad’s. That’s one of the struggles we each face in making our dreams come true.

Most people continue on much as their parents did. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are people who long for a different kind of life. They have dreams that go in a different direction from their “tribe”, as Wayne Dyer called it. My sister Celeste and I, and our husbands are such people. Something inside drives us to seek out a new kind of life, one that doesn’t appear to be outwardly secure but is highly creative. We want to take the road less traveled and that’s the tension we feel each day as we struggle to support our families yet create something new.

Even though we’re taking the road less traveled, there are others who have forged the paths that we want to take, it’s just that not as many have chosen these paths and that makes our desire to follow them a little scary. There aren’t as many footprints to follow. Sometimes the footprints are lost all together and we have to guess how to reach our destination. Every day we have to reassess and move forward with our plans. We have to give ourselves a break if we take two steps forward and one step back. That’s all part of the game.

So, we’re both excited and a little frightened to think about how we’ll react when we succeed. Celeste and I feel that if we’re not a little frightened of the outcome, it’s not worth doing. The thing we look forward to is the fact that we’ll both be living very different lives than the ones we’re experiencing now and as far as we’re concerned, that will be wonderful.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015