I recently participated in another podcast which was fun. It’s all about alignment with inner truth, something we’ve talked about here. The summit is entitled the Magnetically Aligned Woman because like a magnet, we seek to align with our inner truth while living, loving and learning in our lives. We’ve all grown up with neon lights around the idea of failure. Failure is not part of inner truth. Failure is a human concept fueled by fear.
We learn through decisions we make that may or may not meet our expectations. We adjust and adapt and accumulate knowledge as we go forward. I believe the judgment and strict father model is part of the old paradigm. Let’s talk about the new paradigm and all that is available to us for new choices, new learning and new living.
I reparent myself everyday by choosing gentleness no matter the consequence at hand. I practice gentleness and sometimes I struggle with it. It’s not easy because my brain is trained to judge, blame and punish. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen. I can retrain my brain to be curious, sort out the facts and ease into new behaviors by consistent positive support and commitment. I reparent. I am teachable. My peace of mind is worth the effort.
I tend to learn from extreme circumstances. I am a survivor of my daughter’s transition. I am a survivor of my spouse’s transition. Even as I write this, I feel inner anxiety. Death is like the bottom line of everything. My upbringing, society pressures and every other facet of my learning has taught me to avoid the subject and instead, practice denial.
My spouse left suddenly after a fatal accident. Here one minute and gone the next. My daughter left after 32 years of suffering with liver disease, a condition she was born with.
I could still be kicking and screaming in defiance of them leaving, holding anger and grief in my body, but where does that get me? Instead, I make the choice to accept death as part of my world. I live in the minority for now because we live in a death-phobic society.
I believe there are other dimensions around us that exist alongside our present dimension. I believe learning continues beyond this life. I believe my daughter is alive somewhere else after shedding her sick body, and is still connected with me through memory and through energy, all invisible facets of this life. I believe she chose her exit point and I believe my spouse chose her exit point.
No one on this earth can take away my belief system. I define it. I own it and I control it. Day after day, I build my inner world to fit my emotional needs, my physical needs and my inner desires. My belief system supports the life I want to live, all born from gentling my heart.
The essence of life includes death. I hold the essence of my spouse and my daughter. This is the secret that compels me to love more, be kind and gentle, and notice nature’s incredible gifts. We each have an essence that burns brightly within, and by finding our alignment, we connect with our essence. It lights our journey.
“The word saint comes from the Sanskrit word sant, which means “truth seeker.” Each of us in our own way is a truth seeker, looking for an authentic path that will let the saint in each of us show itself in the world. Along the way, if blessed, we come upon an opening that feels eternal, and suddenly there’s nowhere to go. So we build a fire and stare into life, surprised at the tenderness our endurance and presence has led us to.” Mark Nepo - The Book of Awakening
As usual, a line jumped out at me. “I own my belief system; it supports the life I want to live.” That meant a lot to me today. I’ve spent a lot of my life pleasing others, in my family, in my job, pleasing everyone. In churches. At this time in my life, retired, there is a freedom going on for me, a new beginning of listening within, checking within, of realizing what gives me an in-tune vibe and what gives me an off-key vibe. I’m living in that these days. I lower my high-expectations bar of pleasing others and it makes my life more gentle. Thank you.
Your reading today made me aware of something. I’ve had a lot of practice in my life living in alignment with principles and my own integrity, especially in the racial justice work I’ve done. But what does it mean for me, now, to live in alignment with gentleness with the same rigor that I’ve done externally? What does it mean to live with tenderness and gentleness with that kind of rigor every day?
I thought about what you said. It’s been a lifelong struggle for me. I’m still struggling with it, to be gentle with myself. I love how you say ‘have a gentle day.’ I’ve been listening to a TED talk, the woman spoke about how difficult it is for older Americans to earn a living and the factors that have contributed to that. It’s been so easy for me to blame myself for everything. Why can’t I do this or that? If I step outside of that and look at someone else, I’d ask them why they are blaming themselves for that. Look at all you are doing and look at all these factors. I’m trying to practice that more, to remember to be gentle with myself. It’s an ongoing crusade.
Thank you. I love the idea that a saint is a truth seeker. And that we are looking for an authentic path to let the saint in each of us show up in the world. I love that we are here exploring our authentic selves and sharing that with each other. It’s very powerful. Thank you.
There are so many things in your reading I could speak to. The idea of death, the impermanence of life. Also trying to be an authentic self. I am struggling with authenticity. What I am finding, which is causing a lot of conflict, is that I am often gracious in ways to other people that has not been authentic. Lately, I find myself backing off and not doing and saying things that I might have done to just make that person feel happy, to my detriment. It’s been challenging to not say what I think is the right thing to say. To protect myself and honor myself. That’s been a big deal lately. Sometimes I’m okay with it, sometimes I’m not. But I’m being gentle with myself. And last week, a beautiful thing happened in my life. This couple, who were like second parents and had been married 75 years, passed away. He was at home with Alzheimer’s and he died on Wednesday. She was in a rehab center. They were able to see each other in the hospital as he died. Afterward, she said, ‘if he’s not here, I’m not going to be here anymore.’ She died two days later just before his funeral. They were an extraordinary ordinary couple. It was so poignant and heart-warming to experience that this week. You all have helped me to be more of a listener, because I am a fixer. Their grandchildren were crying not knowing what to do without their grandparents. I was going to say something about their essence, but instead, I just listened. I didn’t need to fix anything or try to make them feel better about anything. I appreciate this group for helping me become more of a listener. It was a profound witnessing of what life is all about.
So many thoughts about your reading today. I loved the way you started with the magnetically-alive woman. For me, I was always looking for a magnet outside myself because it was sinful to look within. That type of morality stayed with me for so many years, looking outside myself and trying to please. The magnet is really within and it is our essence. Our essence is love. That’s our connection and that’s why I think we magnetize each other, because we are drawn to that essence of love and that stuff we hope to be remembered for. Not what we wear or look like or even what we say, but our essence. To me, that is the structure of that magnet. I think all of our stories are so meaningful. The essence of that couple’s lives was love for each other. They were at peace to die together because that love was so magnetic. I like the word essence.
I think it’s important to point out, in terms of changing behavior, we become aware of behaviors that aren’t working to our highest good so we try out new behaviors. In Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she has a pendulum diagram. When we practice our normal behavior, the pendulum is in the middle. When we introduce new behavior, the pendulum can swing backwards because of the awkward, unfamiliar practice or forward because we overdo trying to find our center. Eventually, that new behavior becomes ingrained in us and we align with it. I always remember the pendulum when I am practicing new behaviors including gentleness. The pendulum grants me room to learn instead of judgment to shut down. It’s a great tool.
Thank you for coming today. Essence is a great way to end. Our essence is what we see/feel when we are out in nature and feel something so deep, that it just gives us the chills or makes our hearts swell or feel aligned with truth. It’s the essence of something. It’s the essence when an athlete is in the zone. It’s the essence of love. It’s the essence of innocence. Moving through this day, I hold the gentleness of the essence of myself. I want to remember in all my interactions today that there is the flame of essence in everyone no matter their actions. I wish you all a gentle day.