Friday, November 8, 2013

Running Away

I wanted to run away this morning.  As I sat eating breakfast, suddenly I wanted to get in my car and drive.  "Drive where?"  I asked myself.  "Home," I thought, "I want to go home.  Home?  Yes.  Home.  Back to Pittsburgh.  I want to go home."  And I began to figure out how to make it work.

"If I leave now, it's only ten hours. I can be there by 6.  I can stay tomorrow and Sunday, and drive back Monday.  I can do this.  No big deal. My car almost knows the way itself.  I'm going home."

And then I heard, "But you are home. This is your home.  Where are you running to? Why are you running?  What are you running from?"  And as the questions formed in my mind, I felt my eyes tearing up, and then the tears were slipping down my cheeks.  "Homesick, I'm homesick.  I want to go home." 

Before I knew it, I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and heading for the closet, pulling out my suitcase, opening drawers, picking out clothes...and then I stopped, and sat on the edge of the bed, and asked myself, "What the hell are you doing?"

As I thought about it, I realized it wasn't really Pittsburgh and my home there that I was missing. It was the way things were before I knew Hayden was coming, before I decided to move to Nashville, before I closed my office and took the trip to Alaska.  I wanted things back the way they used to be, back when I knew what each day held, how each day was going to play out.  I wanted my old schedule back. I wanted my full calendar of clients and classes.  I wanted Wednesday night groups and Saturday workshops, and Sunday and Monday off.  I wanted my old routine, my old friends, my old way of being.   I wanted safety, security, stability.   I didn't want to be in this new place trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff in the boxes that were still unpacked and waiting for me in my office.  I didn't want to think about what's next with my work or where this new relationship is heading.  I wanted to run away and leave it all behind.

But the thing about running away, about resisting what I was feeling, is that when I came back, it would all be here waiting for me.  And pushing it away wasn't going to make it any easier to deal with.  As I thought that, I remembered that God had said something similar in a message that came through during one of the workshops I did when I was in Pittsburgh in October.  I dug it out and read it.  This is what God said, 

"So oftentimes, you resist the pain, and what you really need to do is embrace it.  “What you resist, persists.”  How many times have you heard that? So every time you resist the pain, it persists.  Embrace it!  Whatever the pain is - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual - embrace the pain!  Pull it towards you!  Wrap your arms around it!  Love it! Hold it close!  Offer your gratitude!  Tell it how grateful you are that it has come to serve you, and to teach you.
You might be amazed at what happens when you do that.  Suddenly the flood gates will open, and you will be sobbing tears.  But not tears of pain, simply tears of healing.  Sometimes even tears of joy, and you think to yourself, “This is so strange!  I was in so much pain!  And now I’m joyfully crying??  This makes no sense!”
Ah, but your pain was a symptom.  And when you pulled it in, when you held it close, when you hugged it and embraced it and owned it?  You broke it open and freed yourself!  And so you cry tears of joy because you realize that you are free.  That no longer do you have to carry that which you were carrying.
Pain is a very uncomfortable teacher.  But a very powerful one.  And whether that pain is spiritual or physical or emotional or mental, it doesn’t matter.  It’s come to teach you something.  It’s come to teach you what you asked it to teach you."
I'm not sure what this experience is teaching me.  Maybe it's just a reminder that change can be uncomfortable, but it's part of the process, and it's okay to be uncomfortable as long as I don't let it stop me from moving forward.  So I didn't run away today.  I stayed at home and forced myself to unpack the rest of the boxes.  I went to Staples and priced a desk and chair for my office, and I went to Kohl's and bought the towels and rugs for the bathroom that I've been putting off buying.  
That uncomfortable feeling is still there, but the desire to run away has abated.  And I noticed that once I recognized what the feeling of homesickness was all about, it was easier to understand why I was feeling the way that I was.  Everything is different.  It makes sense that I'd want to have it all back the way it was, because I know how to be that person, to do that job. I knew how to live my life as that Bonnie.  I'm still trying to figure out how to live my life as this Bonnie. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Amazing Gift!

I love the water!  As a child, I spent most of each summer in the community swimming pool, and as a teenager, old enough to work, my first job was as a lifeguard at that same pool, a job I kept each summer until my sophomore year in college.

As an adult, I'm not so much about being in the water as I am being near the water.  For some reason, just being close to a body of water, calms me and lifts my spirit.  When I lived in Pittsburgh, Erie was my go to place when I needed a water fix.  I could walk the beach for hours, sit at a picnic table overlooking the lake and journal, or just sit and listen to the waves hitting the shore.  Lake Erie was the place I went after I saw the Blessed Mother and she told me I needed to leave Holy Family because she had work for me to do.  The day after I drove to the lake, I turned in my resignation.
Somehow, whatever I got from being there was enough to confirm that I needed to take that step.  I knew when I decided to move to Nashville that I was going to miss my trips to the lake.

When I came to Nashville in January, 2012, for Hayden's birth, I had some time on my hands when I wasn't with my family, and decided to explore one of the New Age shops in the area,.  When I got there, I decided to get a reading done.  One of the things the reader said to me as she read the tarot cards I had chosen, was that when I moved to Nashville, I needed to live near water.  She said it was important for my spirit.  After she said that, I told her about my trips to Erie.  She smiled knowingly and nodded her head as I spoke.

When I began looking for a place to live in Nashville, I never gave a second thought to what that reader had said.  I wanted a place relatively close to my son's home, with no stairs, and something that I could afford.  When I looked at the condo that is now my home, and the realtor said it was on a lake, I never thought much about it, because I couldn't see the lake from my condo.  There is an Army Corp of Engineers' easement between the lake and the back of my condo, which is all woods, and unless you know there's a lake back there, you'd never know there's a lake there at all.  So I just never think about it.

But this morning, instead of taking my usual walk through the condo plan, I decided to head out of the plan and walk down a road just a short distance away that is blocked off with a gate.

Before the leaves started falling, I couldn't see anything past the stop sign but more of the road.  With the leaves falling and branches baring, I could now see a glimpse of the lake.  I decided to explore.

As I walked up to the gate, I was able to read the sign that was posted to its side.  It said this boat ramp was closed and listed several others that boaters could use instead.  "A boat ramp?" I thought.  "How close is the lake?"

                                                               The road past the gate.

The further I walked, the more excited I became!  The lake was so close...barely five minutes from my front door!  I've lived here over three months now.  How could I not have known it was this close?


But isn't that what happens sometimes?  We get so caught up in what is right in front of us that we don't bother to look any further, to dig any deeper.  We let the obvious stop our exploration, or we convince ourselves that it's a waste of time and effort.  I wonder how many other opportunities I've missed because I stopped at the obvious? 

I did my spiritual practice this morning sitting on a rock at the edge of the water, eyes closed, the breeze rustling the dry leaves on the tree branches above my head while the water slapped the shore at my feet.  I turned my face upward and felt the sun warming my cheeks, and even though my eyes were closed, I could see the sun's light through my lids.  I breathed in the chill fall air, aware of the smells of the water, the pine trees behind me, and the wet earth under my feet, and then I pulled back my shoulders, expanded my chest, and breathed in even deeper.  "Thank you, God." I whispered. "Thank you."

I don't have to drive ninety miles to Erie anymore.  I don't have to wait until I have the time to make the trip.  It doesn't have to be something I can only do when I have a full day free of other obligations and responsibilities.  Now, anytime I want to, I can take a five minute walk out my front door, and regain my calm and renew my spirit by being near the water.  What an amazing gift!  And to think I might never have known it, if I hadn't looked beyond the obvious!  

Monday, November 4, 2013

I have more words!

After my last post, I experienced God at work again in my life.

That Saturday night, October 26, I decided not to go to church the next morning.  I hadn't gotten all the things done that week that I had planned to do, and figured I'd just use all day Sunday to catch up.  God had other plans for me.

I woke up Sunday morning just in time to watch Joel Osteen's program.  At the end of it, Joel introduced a pastor from a church here in Nashville called Oasis Church.  He encouraged those of us who were watching from the Nashville area to try out Pastor Danny and his church.  He also mentioned that everyone who attended the church that morning would receive a free copy of Joel's new book, Breakout!  5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life.

Joel's been advertising this book on his program for the last several weeks, and although the title intrigued me, and I've felt a pull to buy the book and see what it had to offer, the frugal part of me hates to pay $26 for a book, regardless of what wisdom I might find within it!  Needless to say, I hadn't purchased it.  But here it was, being offered for free if I just went to the church.  "What the heck?" I thought, "Why not?"  So I quickly got dressed, mapquested the address and directions, and headed out the door.

The church was about eighteen miles away, tucked back in behind a plan of townhouses. It was an old elementary school that had been renovated for a new purpose.  The parking lot was filling rapidly as I pulled in, about ten minutes before the service was to begin.

I went inside and found the table where they had a display of the books, but found out I couldn't get one until I filled out the card that I would receive during the service.  Guess they wanted to make sure I heard their message before I got my hands on Joel's!

The service started with fifteen minutes of live loud music, with attendees standing and moving to the beat, clapping their hands, shouting amen and alleluia, as the singers onstage encouraged them on.  There were guitar players, a drummer, horns, and camera men videoing the performance so that it could be simulcast on the web.  Quite a show, and definitely not what I was used to, but I wasn't there for the service, just the book.  I just had to get through the service to get the book!

God has a way of letting me know if I'm really getting the messages I think I'm getting from her.  Most often it's through repetition, and often from a variety of messengers.  So why was I surprised when, in the first few minutes of Pastor Danny's sermon, he said, "If you want to go beyond where you currently are, you have to have a new perspective!" Huh?  Wasn't that just what I'd written in that last post?  I needed to change my perspective and call the emptiness I was  feeling, spaciousness.  And I even said that perhaps the spaciousness was to make room for something bigger, or different from what I'd known before!  Seemed like God just confirmed that I was on the right track. I love when that happens!

That wasn't the only 'nugget' that I gleaned from Pastor Danny's service that morning.  I noticed many of the people had notebooks with them, and were eagerly jotting down Pastor Danny's words.  I didn't have a notebook, but I did have my cell phone, which had a place for memos, so I began taking down a few notes of my own.  Here's just a sampling of the things that called to me, in case they might also have some meaning for you: 
      1.  You need a check up from the neck up! (Wow! How easy it
            is for me to get so caught up in my own egoic thoughts that
            I never give a second thought to the possibility that there is
            a better way to do something, even when my plans aren't
            working the way I thought they would!  Instead of opening
            myself to that possibility, and reevaluating my plan, I just
            keep blindly moving forward, often trying to make the
            circumstances fit the plan I already have.)
      2.  Write down your five year plan for your life: where do you
            see yourself in five years?  (I wrote a list of all the things I
            wanted in a partner, and look what happened when I did!
            But I never thought to write down a list of how I wanted
            my life to look in five years.  After that sermon, I went
            home, got out my journal, turned to the back pages, and
            wrote out my list for my life!  Can't wait to see what  God
            does with that one!)
      3.  Faith has to have a target. (Makes sense. That's what the list
           is for.)
      4.  You cannot out dream God!  (I put BIG dreams on my list.)
      5.  Your passion will lead you to your purpose!  (It's worked
            that way so far!)
      6.  God shows us the promise, not the process! (Isn't that the
            truth?  I want to know how God's going to get me there, and
            darn it, I'm not going until I do! How often have you
            thought that?  If I'd held on to the need to know the how, I'd
            never have left Holy Family, never have opened The Place
            for Reiki, and certainly never have taken that trip to
       7.  Adversity always precedes advancement.  (Hmmm, maybe
            if I can just keep this in mind as I take these new steps
            forward, I'll be able to keep a more positive attitude, which,
            in the long run, should serve me far better than all the
            negative thinking I can heap on myself when challenges
            arise, including the thought that I made the wrong choice to
            begin with!)

There were more bits of wisdom for me in that sermon, but since I started out talking about the book, and being called to take a look at it, I just want to let you know that God continued to repeat the messages about expansion and new ideas in the pages of Joel's book.   

And God's not the only one who uses repetition to get the messages across to me.  Joel's book is filled with repetition, so much so that I almost quit reading it.  But I stuck with it, and on page forty-one I read something else that just seemed to go along with everything else that is currently happening in my life.  Joel wrote, "....[God] can give you one new idea that will catapult you to a new level." 

I had to laugh when I read it, because I read it the morning after I sent out the email with the new idea about the distant healing circle, actually saying in the email that perhaps this was the idea that was going to take me to a new level!  Coincidence?  I don't think so!

And later in the book, Joel also says,  "God meets us at the level of our faith.  If you ask small, you'll receive small."   Well, that seems to fit with that sense of spaciousness I wrote about in the last post, and my comment that perhaps I'm holding a space for something bigger than I'm accustomed to.   But if I am unaccustomed to it, how can I know what to ask for?  

I think if I leave it up to God to fill that space without any direction from me, She will most likely fill that space with what She thinks is best, based on who I've been in the past.  But if I'm feeling that I'm to do more, that I'm to reach out in bigger ways than I have before, then I think I need to let God know that I'm willing to do that.  So I'm going to start doing what Joel suggests, and ask God to do the unthinkable in my life.  I'm going to ask with a boldness I've never articulated before, taking away any restraints or any preconceived ideas of what my life can look like (based on what my logical, rational mind can imagine), and just allow God to work in ways that I can't even begin to conceive of.  I think I'm going to start repeating, over and over again, "Thank you, God, for taking me further faster than I can even imagine!" 

And then I'm going to hold onto my hat!