My most shameful permission

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You know you’re in trouble when you’re following Muammar Gaddafi’s lead! The documentary told how a young on-the-move Gaddafi broke cultural tradition by not going back home to contribute when his family could really have benefited. “Oh,” I remember saying to myself, “his independence from paradigm norms and rules freed him to create his own world.” And it’s kinda scary how easily a piece of random information can dig itself into your own story. Of course, these specific randoms are often being hunted for by a brain that wants to validate the story it’s already got simmering, but cart/horse, both models end up allowing some pretty surprising permissions.

I guess I should have thought twice before modeling my life choices on those of a psychopath. But whatever, like this (click here) abomination, it seemed like a good idea at the time. So I’ve got to do this alone, I figured, never realizing how far I’d take this particularly dangerous permission.

And I’m sorry. I am so so sorry!! I’ve ignored holidays, left emails dangling lost and lonely for months – and you can forget about my tradition of handmade cards. I’ve neglected my most basic social responsibilities, all in the name of some ambiguous quest to find a mental framework that would let me be me to the best of my abilities… and happy.

I’m not an idiot; I know our people are our happiness! But I am an introvert whose private world is delightfully intoxicating – in so many ways. And so I built my Gaddafi compound in a cave wallpapered with ideas. Like one way mirrors they let me see to infinity but only reflected outsiders back upon themselves. As an highly sensitive perfectionist, it’s that darned “happy” that’s been so elusive. And now that I’m nibbling on its edges, I have to admit that maybe I didn’t have to take my story to its all or nothing extreme. I was wrong. Big time. And I apologize to everyone that I love from the bottom of my heart.

When you dare to question your personal narrative, your most intimate story, dare to challenge it right down to its very core. With mindfulness brain training, you build an observer self right into your grey matter. And from this vantage point you can poke around safely without bringing your value or true identity into question. Withdrawing is my most shameful permission because shame is a social contract broken. When mindfulness is practiced with unrelenting compassion, in this case for self, shame and guilt are tools that inform us when we’ve deviated from clean energy flow – aka when we’ve f-ed up. With further meditation you can engage with your universal self and that’s one hell of a high.

So coming back to earth, how do you negotiate your permissions? One way is to go in hard and shake things loose by changing your behaviours brute force to see if a new story starts to take shape. Basically fake it till ya make it. I don’t have to fake loving my family and friends. I’m no Gaddafi – except for one day a month but he didn’t even have that excuse. But I do have to modify my priority scale now that I’ve got that framework I’d been dying, literally, to define. A group of wonderful gals need cards and two very special men are waiting for emails. And another man, my man, is waiting for the woman he loves to finally come back home.

Breaking up with celebrity gossip

imageCelebrity gossip is to women what sports are to men. We live the hunt vicariously, for love, for the revenge body, for the perfect shoe/bag combo… and just for the record I was on “Team Jen.” There’s no shame here; I delight in relational dramz as much as the next gal. It’s just how our brains are wired. Why do we let men belittle our passions? Especially when those idiots are out there literally losing sleep over whether some other dude gets a ball in a hole – way to go buddy, way to go.

But celebrity gossip is life and death! The problem of course is that it’s not our life…. and so basically becomes some other permutation of balls and holes (sorry). I’ve defended my distraction as resetting my alpha brainwaves, social reaction research for social media, and other “smart” rationalizations, but there’s no harm in admitting the simple truth: it’s fun. So why breakup?

They say when you fall back into addiction you hit right where you left off. After a dry January, noble if bleak, I pitched headlong back into the abyss. I lost all track of time, where I was, what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing. But I had a goal, imbued with the exquisite purity of purpose of any addictive brain. I wanted, needed satisfaction!!! And so at 6:04am on February 1st when I finally came to my senses I discovered I’d been watching old youtube radio show clips of post-divorce Kevin Federline while simultaneously wading around in the bilge waters of old Britney interviews (love her) trying to flush out the authenticity of her parents reactions in episode 5 of her reality show Chaotic …you know you want to click through…come on…everybody’s doing it. It’s not the furthest I’ve fallen, but for an overthinking autodidact like myself, it’s a pretty slippery slope.

Funny thing was, I didn’t miss it for all of my gossip free January. Note: except, of course, for a brief moment of panic at not being able to poke around ScarJo’s latest separation. Email me if you know anything extra juicy! I’ll be honest, I did allow myself quite a bit of Donald Trump methadone, because politics is a grey area and, like, seriously, no sane human could in good conscious pass up that level of DRAMZ. I didn’t miss the hollywood stuff because I’m not emotionally involved – they ain’t my people – and because once we make a decision that feels congruent on all levels of consciousness the brain is quick to adapt our motivations. When you’re ready to quit something, you quit. But that tiny Feb. 1st permission was enough to show me that I’ve carved those particular pathways in my neural network too deep to mess with. I am safe as long as I keep my decision solid. I know my brain.

Should you give it a rest? Should you breakup with celebrity gossip? Can you give up Kim and Kanye? Only if it’s dragging you away from your reality… but wait, isn’t that the whole point? Yes, but distraction is an accessory, a complement to whole. In the original Harpers Bazaar photo from the collage above, Kim has a garish purple bag. It may have been Dior, but I cut it out.

How to start taking action on your naked ideas

imageWhat is an idea? It’s a burst, a sparkle of new connectivity. It’s a delicious brain buzz humming with the unfettered thrill of happily ever after. A little Disney orgasm if you will – cue crescendo and bluebirds. But without action, let’s face it, any idea is purely a personal pleasure. When you take new micro neural connections and expand then into the social system as macro reflections in real-time… woah, then you’ve got an orgy on your hands!

But idea is safe, without all that dramz. And ideas can trick a person (especially us card carrying introverts) into the lie of self-sustaining satisfaction. Ever notice how drug addicts, geniuses, and so many creatives have similar isolationist behaviour, and (on occasion) rather questionable hygiene? Says the gal suddenly acutely aware of the questionable state of her hair. So ya, I’m the first to admit I get off on ideas. One big juicy one will keep me going for hours, if not days. They feel so purposeful all on their own. And I’ve been hiding in my own magical Cymbria land of abstraction and intellectual intrigue – screw it, more like using both to argue for a personal purpose rooted in sensation. Mmmm sensation. But I’ve run out of time. Action has become a matter of real survival! And I thought that would be enough, but it isn’t. Since when has death ever been a deterrent? Hello story of my twenties (er… and possibly this first chunk of my thirties… sigh).

I’ve come to the place all deeply creatives must reach if we want to be successful. We have to make our ideas real enough to bring other people into their possibility – not to show off peep-show style but reaching out in real earnest and honest engagement. Terrifying, I know. What if they don’t like… me? It’s scary out there in action land. Plus, I’m selfish and I want to keep having all the fun! Why can’t we be honest as introverts and admit we just really wanna keep playing. Because once an idea grows up and becomes a negotiation it’s always about other people. But let me stop whining and give you some solid basic tips to help you suck-it-up and turn your idea into something you can share – because sex is always more fun than solo (except maybe for… but that’s another blog’s post lol)

simon sinek1- Connect with your personal “why.” Watching Simon Senek’s Ted Talk about communicating through your purpose is incredibly inspirational. And has the added bonus of being liquid gold brain priming.

2- Use that brain priming to your best advantage. Example: find a video or article about someone succeeding at what you’re doing – not the same thing because obviously you’re brilliant and completely original and have the best ideas, really terrific ideas… oops how did we get here!?

3- Quantize your tasks so as not to over-stress your working memory. Really. Helps. Seriously.

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I could go on. But if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen all this shit before. It’s good shit, don’t get me wrong, but we’re still not getting at the heart of the matter. You need to do you. Take a darn hard look at that idea of yours. Can it help give you a life you want to wake up to? Can it connect you with other people… who might just find they like you after all. Will it still sparkle for you on someone else’s finger? If not – scrap it and move on.

If you can’t connect your idea to an irresistible abundance, then it will be a struggle all the way. I hold my Blank Canvas Living stories and ideas next to my heart because they make my world glow. But even I have to admit that I feel my true abundance when I’m trying my very best, with all the tools I have, to help make other worlds glow too – maybe even yours. But I need to do this for myself. And if I’m not feeding my Mitch-the-insatiable-human-itch, my limbic emotional brain, I disengage. So this has gotta be fun. Hard, no prob, we can do hard. I kept my January no-celebrity-gossip-pledge so a post a day February can’t be any harder – cue quiet scream. So let’s get this ball rolling, rolling… rolling…

ps: baring my BCL secrets in the title pic above ~wink

Challenging the glamour of our rituals

imageI discovered the dark glamour of drugs, death, and sex in an Ontario grade 5 classroom. The heroin addicted, HIV positive prostitute was only 7 years older than the little blonde girl white knuckling Reader’s Digest during afternoon reading time. Every sentence was a step deeper into a darkness I knew only through my nightmares. Suddenly this story gave names (albeit changed) and an unyielding plot to the shapeless archetypal fears haunting my developing, as yet innocent, brain.

One scene has stayed fixed in my mind, a moment of poignant, practical creativity that brought what still feels like a magical glamour to the story. It’s 2am on a miserable rainy night… our heroine, in between johns, is satisfying a voyeuristic interviewer in a Hopper-esque mid-America diner… she opens a condom wrapper and rips off the rolled rim, holding the makeshift elastic between her teeth as she pulls the damp straw strands of her hair into a messy ponytail…

In that moment her story became my story, and I was as fascinated as I was terrified. The impossible glamour of that bit of genius in the face of all hell, a ritual she’d performed a thousand times, glowed for me. Still does. Obviously, for her heroin was the infinitely more important ritual, but to me, that condom was the tip-toe of a ten year old into the path of thinking… “If I can just do this, then I can survive that.” And isn’t that one of the most dangerous concepts in the human experience! The endgame of this thinking is expressed as OCD and addiction, both treatable, but merciless agony for those going through either.

What glamours are trapping you in your own rituals? Are you writing your story from a place of cognitive security and strength or is your limbic brain scripting you a Scarface blaze-a-glory shitshow? Hmmm funny how the latter lights up my brain lol. Because what we see as glamour is simply one of your brain’s sneakier ways of negotiating your continued participation in – let’s be honest here – an often unbearable world. Go ahead and ask yourself which of your rituals are rooted in that nameless child fear. How have you storied (cough rationalized cough) your habits to give the little neurotransmitter thrill they give you purpose and meaning?

A new year is an opportunity for real change and as the way you story your world begins to shift, old rituals will inevitably lose their glamour as linkages fade. With prolonged meditative brain training ritual can (and does!) become a conscious act, a celebration of our humanity rather than an escape. But don’t forget that these old escapes (“good” and “bad”) saved you a thousand times. They kept the hair out of your eyes and gave you something to look forward to whenever the world tried to take everything else away. But what if we focus now on bringing in new rituals that better support our holistic system state and anchor us in hope and gratitude? Why not use brain priming to its best advantage?

But while these new habits are developing, there’s no shame in revelling in the last heady days of ritual. Mmmmm drunken pho paired with youtube historical farm docs – gawd I’m such a nerd. But be warned! Repeating old behaviours will unconsciously integrate them into your new story if you get sloppy about the following critical instruction… PAY ATTENTION to all parts of your holistic system state as you go through your old motions: your anticipation, body sensations, social feedback, emotional reactions, etc. Challenge the story at every stage and dare to strip away the glamour. The slow gift of this dedicated mindful observance is watching the hills you’ve been dying on begin to erode and lose their power as your overall story evolves. What once felt like the be-all-end-all becomes… mechanical. And it’s in that moment, you win.

Releasing your energy eddies

imageLifted and swept into the current, we offer ourselves up to 2017. The sun sparkles on the ripples like a thousand tiny fireworks as we ride the flow past familiar bends and banks into the thrill of uncharted waters. I float in perfect harmony with the pull of the river, enjoying the gentle play of light on my eyelids and a body’s confidence in direction that only happens when you let nature set the course.

But suddenly the churning sounds are all wrong. My toe catches on a rock and I’m spinning! Round and round no escape. Trapped in a spiral of turbulence so full of air I’m falling. Can’t keep my head up! Can’t breath!! Hands, faces, are everywhere – wide eyes and gasping arching necks.
“Damned eddies!!” splutters a man just before a beer bottle comes out of nowhere and clocks him on the nose.
A woman clutches at another man’s ankles. He kicks her off, but she grabs again – repeating her own spin cycle of abuse that sucks so many people down. No warning a soggy wad of paper plasters itself over my face! I tear at it and sink again… a Kardashian’s sharpened false fingernails dig into my leg for the final..

I’m standing in my living room. I can’t breathe. Months’ worth of mail is spread across the floor. 21st century real life – something I poke at every so often with an 11 foot pole – has become a balls-to-the-wall speed race to burnout. I’m assuming someone somewhere out there has their shit together but the rest of us need to focus on getting back into the stream by tackling and releasing our personal energy eddies. You already know what they are: patterns of procrastination, relationship drama, overindulging or under-indulging, etc. An energy eddy is any attention that drags you out of universal flow and spins your round and round, robbing you of forward momentum, purpose, and pulling your energy into obsession like a black hole stripping a star. Subtle, I know. But seriously, even while writing this I got sucked into two text convos and was compelled by some deep dark internal quilting circle to find out how a twenty-something Khloe Kardashian overcame her jealously over her sisters’ clear skin…dear gawd…I am so ashamed…but surprisingly (if only momentarily) satisfied lol.

How do we release these energy eddies? First, know them for what they are. Our brains cruelly, and falsely, tie these turbulences into our identities and so much of our spinning is fueled by the desperate struggle to balance our “shoulds” with our escapes. But such a balance will never sit static. Just as an obstacle (a rock or “is The Rock married?”) can create an eddy, so will two conflicting currents. Sure, we’ve all gotta aim for this balance thing – I’ve read the literature – but we exist with equal authenticity on both sides, so why sit spinning in the middle?

phelps-faceWhen you feel your stomach knotting or your shoulders hunching in a habit of defeat, remember the Michael Phelps face meme. That’s the mug you’ve gotta rock to break out of an energy eddy. No one ever fought a rip tide by watching cute cat videos (another eddy oh mercy!). You’ve gotta get tough. No one is paying you to be “nice.” True compassion starts in your gut. And being real will always melt more hearts that being “good” ever has.

This January, commit to releasing one of your eddies. Maybe it’s that vortex guest room packed full of inherited/bought debris? As you deepen your connection with your authentic self, knowing that stuff is just stuff becomes automatic. Maybe you need to set some definite accountable boundaries with a family member or friend? Maybe it’s having a dry January? I opened and filed all my mail but that’s only the beginning. I’m starting light. Ok dear readers – my palms are sweaty all of a sudden – I’m going to go cold turkey on celebrity gossip for the rest of the month. The first of many eddies to tackle. Because my arms are getting tired from treading water and after years of watching life I have no more time to waste. Do you?

Making a change? Finding your authentic self

imageIn the long low darkness of the void, while your brain chemistry adjusts to change, there is one last sacrifice to make. After setting aside your rituals, your be-all-end-all attentions and beliefs, you must now claim one final permission in order to connect with your authentic self: time.

And here’s where all the mindfulness meditation really pays off. The glory of the void is that without motivation or direction you are free to surrender to the purity of the present – as an observer rather than manager or negotiator. I believe that each breath is a life lived in and of itself. This meditative perception is experienced so much more acutely in the void because you can’t reach into the past (ritual) for comfort or into a future that has yet no map or meaning. Yes, exploring this concept – existing only as a description of time – is a decidedly separate and inhuman bliss, but one that can be savoured if you bring your system back to the surface of your skin and through mindfulness meditation learn to let go (if only temporarily) of so much of that blinding social/paradigm-dependent judgement bullshit. Sure, you’ve got other stuff to do – don’t we all! – but it’s in these carefully cultivated moments of emptiness that your authentic self suddenly finds it has space to come up for air.

I couldn’t take another step, couldn’t find a reason. And so I sat down right where I was, on a frozen cement stoop in front of a Calgary strip mall: pizza/ hot yoga/ flowers/ coffee – each shop a different desperate human reach. But I was done reaching. All my human handholds had become electrified (hence my need to make a change). And so I sat, huddled and directionless, in a despair of overwhelming physicality. This time I did not even try to fight it. The sun took pity and lay a warm and gentle hand on my back but I (no joke) sat there wishing I was cold so I’d at least have something real and tangible to push against. But I had to let that go.

The miracle of the void is that no one is watching over your shoulder. You’ve earned all your permissions and now you just have to relax into them. Let go, just watch, just be. Be time. You’ve done it a thousand times before – every orgasm, that third glass of wine, your next Netflix marathon (sweet sweet scourge of our age). Own the truth and cut out the middle man. Every submission beyond self is a glorious abandon to time. So dare to go manual. No risk because you’ve risked it all just by being brave enough to step into the void in the faint mad hope of connecting your survival to new sources of abundance (aka true change). You’ve built this space of cognitive freedom – so use it!

I let the sun heat my body and my eyes find a place to rest. But then I let that focus go too. I existed only as one breath after another, as time itself, each small pulse of life perfect in its completeness. Minutes passed, the world closed comfortably around my meditation and then, very slowly, I began to realize I had a partner in my surrender. As I brought my attention back to my senses I discovered I was literally watching ice melt. Just a little piece, jagged edges smoothing under the sun, tiny fingers drawing themselves across the stoop, quietly darkening the pavement. But every nuance of its journey became my own as I watched the crystals give up their rigid structures, born of atmospheric trauma, as the ice returned to its purest form.

Finally!! On that grey stoop, from out of the very depths of the void, I was hit with a motivation, a desire, a genuine new want!! Without conscious thought I picked up a bit of snow and molded a crude tool. I let my hand draw what it needed to – no, wanted to! A face appeared and with it tears in my own eyes (even writing this) because releasing myself into time had broken the spell. A new set of attentions had begun, in that moment, to assert themselves. What I had lost to human turbulence so many years ago was reawakened.

I am a scribe and I carry our stories in my bones. There are many languages and not all of them learned – I was born with more than most. I had lost myself by losing faith in what makes me special. My failings will always be monumental, but so what? I say screw fitting in! That ship has so sailed. Your authentic self already knows your purest path to abundance. You were designed for it! We spend so much time trying to moderate or sublimate what we coded to celebrate. Let go into time and trust the process. Take away fear and the void dissolves, melts into a pool around your ankles. Laugh, cry, and splash to the sky because this is victory, not over death, or even life, but the first guns blazing steps of a victory march onto the blank canvas of a storied life.

Did you miss…
Making a change? Welcome to the void!
Making a change? Why risk the void?
Making a change? The REAL reason to risk the void!
Making a change? The mindfulness key
Making a change? A warning from the void!
Making a change? Connecting with your universal self – Part 1
Making a change? Connecting with your universal self – Part 2
Making a change? Finding your authentic self

Making a change? Connecting with your universal self – Part 2

Click here to catch up on Part 1… So, after tasting universal love I had two options: retreat into bliss and keep surfing my supernova, or use this new platform as permission to seek out compatible abundances to honour my temporal self. This is a crazy world, and keeping our bodies, our little frictions in the flow, alert and alive can be a tedious business. But did I really want to sacrifice my humanity to white, black, or orange robes and hide in ritual? Because the power of this ultimate connection really does invite a full commitment. Robes seem to be the de facto uniform, and meditative ritual a psychological shortcut to sustaining the connection. I’ll stick with folding laundry, thank you very much. I get how, beyond simplicity and modesty, these robes echo the times of the founders of these stories, but we live in an individualist time and culture when even a good belt isn’t enough to go from robe to runway. Heaven forbid Kanye West finds nirvana and we all end up in nude body spanx – the horror!

And anyway, any uniformed, persistent bliss is essentially an escape from your humanity, paralleling drug addiction or workaholism – death through life in my opinion. So throw on some ass huggin’ jeans and claim the right to explore your own story of abundance! I suggest a moment to moment respect, honour, and yes, love of this brief sneeze, supported by your universal self.

How? By bringing personal authority back to your consciousness through simple mindfulness meditation (observing thoughts without judgement), then using this new position of observer to search for and support a new set of attentions and attitudes focused on freeing the flow of energy through your system. These attentions should be chosen to reflect your genetic coding and guide you towards healthier habits and deeper connections. Once you’ve selected a new set of attentions to try on for size, next step is to fake it till ya’ make it! Only repetition will imbed them into your neural wiring and, before long, your identity. Note: your observer self will evolve into your universal self when you can start projecting it beyond your own body. Not a good idea to try on a first date, but fun times once you get the hang of it. All terminology aside, the central concept here is to develop a safe place for your ego to sit while its underwear drawer is reorganized.

You might be thinking, “when’s she gonna whip out the chakras and eightfold path stuff?” Pleeease. If Buddha can sit under The Bodhi Tree and say, “screw it! I ain’t budging till I figure this shit out,” you can too! We all can. It’s the great privilege of human consciousness – use it or lose it baby. But who’s got that kind of time? Enlightenment can be a bitch to reach, even just to taste. Seriously. So, while you’re training your universal self, start questioning your current attentions and ask yourself: “does this support my system’s most biologically blissful energy flow?” Or just cut right to the chase, all nomenclature aside… “do I want to want this?”

I’m no guru. I want you to have the authority. This is a journey, ongoing, and I just want what you want: to wake up looking forward to the day. If my story, my translation of universal bliss resonates with you, excellent. If not, there are a thousand other paths to take, all leading to the same great love. Because we’re all reaching for it. My journey becomes real in the sharing of it – and isn’t that the very essence of our humanity?

Read the next post: Making a change? Finding your authentic self

Did you miss…
Making a change? Welcome to the void!
Making a change? Why risk the void?
Making a change? The REAL reason to risk the void!
Making a change? The mindfulness key
Making a change? A warning from the void!
Making a change? Connecting with your universal self – Part 1
Making a change? Connecting with your universal self – Part 2
Making a change? Finding your authentic self