Thursday, June 26, 2008

Are you ready for a Christmas tree in your life?

A subject that comes up a lot lately among my single friends is love. “Why haven’t I found it?” They ask over and over again. Then, “I’m a great catch. I’m ready for a committed relationship. I don’t understand why I haven’t met that person yet.” There’s a huge level of frustration that I completely understand. I was there just a little over a year ago. And everyone who knows me marvels at what happened to me. I met the love of my life. Yes me. I hadn’t had a long-term relationship in the 12 years since my divorce. I’m the one who insisted that I couldn’t see myself with a non-Jewish partner. Being the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I just couldn’t imagine having a Christmas tree in my living room. I don’t know how many times I must have said that over the years when friends tried to set me up.

So what changed? After ending yet another short-term relationship with a very nice man who was so ill-suited for me it’s hard to believe we were ever together, I decided I’d had enough. It wasn’t premeditated in any way but here’s what evolved for me.

  • The first thing I did was to revisit my love life. I identified the types of relationships I was attracting and the underlying reasons as to why I was attracting them.
  • I mentally and verbally decided and stated that this was no longer acceptable. I began to feel and believe deeply that I deserved a wonderful, giving, loving man.
  • I let go of the need to find a Jewish man.
  • I began to surround myself with small things that represented lovebooks and DVDs, etc.
  • I began to pray for love in my life.
  • And here’s the thing that made it all come together. I wrote a love letter to the person that I knew was out there. In it, I reminisced about how we met, how it felt, and how we behaved around each other. I asked him to come home to me.
    To read a copy of the letter, click here.

Looking back, I now have a greater understanding of what blocked me from receiving love. And I hear the same assumptions I once made from my frustrated single friends. Here’s why I don’t believe they’re true anymore.

If the person I like would only…see what a great catch I am, be a better communicator, understand me better, be a better lover… When you meet the right person, he or she will appreciate you for who you really are. You won’t have to struggle with trying to prove yourself or trying to change major aspects of his or her personality. True love is about letting go of expectations. At the same time, if you end a relationship with someone who wasn’t a good fit for you, be grateful for the experience. You just had the opportunity to find out what you don’t want so you can clear the way for the right person to walk into your life.

I’m ready for a relationship. If you’re struggling to find someone, presume that you’re not ready. Ask yourself what’s holding you back. Do you feel you truly deserve love in your life? Really delve into your history and clear old issues through energy, body and/or talk therapy.

It’s a numbers game and there’s such a small pool of good single people out there. Finding the right person is like winning the lottery. Ok, if this were really true, very few people would ever find love. This mindset sets you up to expect failure. "How will I find love with these odds?" Ask the people you know who are truly in love how they met and you may find that it had nothing to do with how many people they dated. Many times, it’s a completely unexpected singular occurrence that brings people togethersome may have even been taking a break from dating and met at a party or coffee shop. And at the risk of sounding like someone’s grandmother…even if there’s a small pool, even if the odds are great, it only takes one.

This is the one area of my life I have no control over. This is the most frustrating concept for successful people. I now dispute this. I believe we do have control, but it’s on a spiritual level. Love is a spiritual journey. And by spiritual I mean learning to love and honor yourself first, believing you are able and deserving to realize your desires, being honest and able to communicate your truth to others. If you ready yourself on a spiritual level, the love of your life will come.

Why do I attract all of the crazies? By stating this, you’re making this your reality. The reality is that there are a lot of people with issues in the worldpeople who have not reached the levels of growth you may have reached. So there’s a good chance that you may meet a lot of them when you date frequently. It’s important NOT to make it about you.

I made a list of everything I want in the person. Give up the list! It’s important to know what you really want but not the detailed characteristics of the person. If you want true passionate love, state it. But please don’t ask for the guy with black hair, blue eyes, a great sense of humor and a big wallet. Ask for the cake, not the icing.

Last year, a month after I wrote the love letter, the world shifted for me. More love and happiness beyond my wildest imagination came strolling into my life with a man named Jim. On Christmas, I sent my friends a photo of me sitting in front of a Christmas tree. I had the hugest smile on my face. The seasons change but the smile is still there. And I’ve learned that a Christmas tree is just a Christmas tree. The deepest truest love is what really matters. And my friends, who are still laughing about the picture, will attest that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. You just have to be ready for it.

View picture of me and the tree
View picture of me, love of my life and the tree

Monday, June 23, 2008

It’s taken 41 years and a little hyperventilating to hear the angels sing.

Ah money. The one little word that can make me hyperventilate. If only I could get a handle on this one fear once and for all…I see the angels showing up to perform a concert in my honor. “She’s finally gotten it!” they’d sing.

I’m one of those people who truly believes that if you follow your passion, then the money will follow. It’s always been the case for me. But as I watch my financial debt increase these days, waves of anxiety and doubt creep into my head. The fear of running out of money, the fear of becoming a burden, the fear of becoming destitute. The fears throw a big party all over my brain. Until my saner, sweeter self comes in and kicks them out, drinks and all.

Then I remember. This isn’t my first transition. Over the last few years, I’ve moved away from my reliable revenue-generating career to try new ventures. And I’ve learned that transition has little to do with money. But it does have everything to do with our own perceptions on living.

Sometimes we prevent ourselves from doing the things we want to try, think we’ll love, or have dreamt of our entire lives, because we think we don’t have the money. Or at least we tell ourselves that’s the reason. “I can’t afford to do that.” I’ve heard that from so many people including myself. Can you afford not to do it? What’s the cost of living an unfulfilled life?

There’s definitely a financial cost to changing our lives but it helps to keep it in perspective. “Your life is like a business and you have to expect to operate at a loss for a certain period of time until your transition is complete,” my friend and business colleague told me at the beginning of the year. When we start a business, we expect to invest money and then give the venture time to generate a profit. Our transitions are the most important business ventures we’re going to invest in and yet we worry about putting in the time and money. The worrying really doesn’t help.

Here are some things I've learned along the way that do help me:

  • Life requires living, whether you have the money or not. It also requires a plan. If you have a plan for your new life, then you can start really living by doing what you love.

  • You have more money than you think you have. Even with a budget in place, it’s hard to know how much money you actually have until you have to spend it without bringing in any income. I had no idea until I started a business a couple of years ago and lived off of my savings. That savings lasted a lot longer than I ever thought it would. And I found pockets of money that I had forgotten about, lasting me nearly two years.

  • You can easily learn to live on less. Having less money taught me how to do more for myself and become more resourceful. I used to shop retail. Now I don’t.

  • Not having money helps you overcome your fear of not having money. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? For me, the worst that can happen is going back to a career that I once loved and still enjoy.

  • There are resources for living with no money. As long as you have good credit, you can take out loans or lines of credit. You can also research grants and other available money.

  • Having no money is a choice and is temporary. It’s a time of investing in your future to rebuild. Transitioning to a life you love at every level brings abundance. Whenever I’ve needed money, it’s come—through opportunities that land on my doorstep.

  • You always have something to fall back on. We have so many skills. If you’re transitioning out of a career, you can always go back if really necessary. Or you can turn that knitting hobby into a money-making endeavor.

  • Listen to yourself and commit to your passion. Friends, family and strangers may tell you you’re crazy when you decide to make a change. “You can’t make any money doing that,” they may say. Just remember that they’re expressing their own fears, and you can in fact make money from anything you love and commit to do.

It’s taken me 41 years to muster the courage to pursue a career that everyone insists will leave me homeless. So I know it’s normal to have days of doubt, even panic. I’m training my practical, business mind to quiet. And learning to listen to my gentler spirit—the one that tells me it’s ok to pursue the things I love, with or without money on hand. Deep in my soul, I know the money will come. I can almost hear those angels singing in the distance.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I admit it. I’ve been napping to the sounds of…

Have you ever spent time around a pregnant lady? My family once had a housekeeper named Tiki. She was young and fun and I loved her. When she got pregnant, she confessed to me that as she made our beds in the morning, all she wanted to do was crawl in there and sleep the rest of the day away. And with seven nephews and a niece, I heard this exhaustion complaint many times over the years as each one of my siblings went through pregnancy. Gestation, I learned early on, is an exhausting process.

So I don’t know why I’m surprised. As I recreate my life from scratch, I literally want to crawl into the cushions of my couch, curl around the various pillows, become the couch itself. And I do. Around 5 pm every day, I turn on the tv, lay down and fall asleep. This is my new routine.

I’m in the middle of developing some really cool creativity workshops and a new website and various other projects. I guess that explains it. My yoga teacher says I’m pregnant. And I feel that way too. Strangely irritable and anxious at times, exhausted at others. Just writing about it makes me want to go home and take a long nap.

I’ve realized that I need to give my body what it needs. If it’s rest or sleep, or a whole day off, then that’s what I need to give it. We’re not creative machines, just gentle creative spirits. So I admit it. I’ve been napping. I fall asleep to the opening music of Beverly Hills 90210 on TV and wake up a couple of hours later to the sounds of the gang resolving some major life issue like what new boy to kiss. There’s a reason why this is so soothing for me. But you’ll have to read one of my books one day to find out why that is.

  • Become aware of your body and what it needs
  • Rest, sleep or take a whole day off when your body tells you to
  • Give yourself permission to do things that aren’t routine for the rest of society
  • Release any guilt around doing what your body tells you to

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fluttering and flying

Today, someone asked me to talk about the picture on my blog. I feel that it symbolizes my transition so perfectly. The original picture was taken at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens by Jim Sichinolfi, who created this beautiful montage.

I took a step into the air and fluttered.
I landed on the ledge.
One floor below.
My wings were so small then.
But day after day, I tried.
Taking a step, fluttering,
finding my footing on the concrete behind me.
Then one day, I stepped off as usual.
I didn’t flutter. I didn’t fall.
New wings had grown,
So big they swallowed the sky.
I saw their shadow on that familiar ledge
And laughed.
I looked below
And saw
that I was

Monday, June 2, 2008

With a cookie by its side, the ego dies a hard death.

Lately, I find myself searching for compliments. I baked cookies for my boyfriend this weekend and I knew they weren’t that great. And he agreed. Yet I felt a little disappointed. I wanted to give him something he really loved of course. But I also wanted my baking talent to be admired, raved about.

This is unlike me. I laugh about these things in general. I’ve actually only baked cookies three times in my life and all three times occurred during this year. For my boyfriend who loves cookies. And if you knew me, you’d know how unusual it is for me to be baking cookies for a man. Goes to show how madly in love I am. But that’s beside the point.

During my transition, I have lost the validation I used to get periodically when I turned in projects for pay. Not only is no one paying me for my creative projects—which are still in development—but no one’s telling me what a phenomenally great job I’ve done on anything. In fact, in the course of this year, I’ve received pages of beautifully crafted critique from my writing coaches and some nice verbal critique from other writers. Which are all very necessary and much appreciated. But they only highlight how much I’ve needed to look inward during this time.

Transition requires us to let go of the ego and connect with the higher part of ourselves, the part that’s always full of love—for ourselves, our creative projects and everything around us. It’s remarkable how we become accustomed to external validation to give us a sense of our own self-worth. And when we don’t get it anymore, our egos look for it in bad cookies and bad arguments. Recently, I’ve caught myself arguing harder to prove a point during discussions—the point I’m trying to make is that I can still be right, that I still have something to contribute.

With no money, compliments or projects yet completed, I’ve actually asked myself from time to time, what am I really contributing? My higher self knows the answer. You contribute by just being. Times of transition give us this gift: the time to stop and learn how to love ourselves for just being.

I’m ready to let my ego die. So every morning, I do yoga and meditate to connect to that part of me that’s eternally happy, loving, confident and full of patience. And every day, my ego breathes a little less. I have visions of it marching off into the sunset with a bag of bad cookies in its hand. To find its final resting place. So I can bake carefree once again.

Here are some suggestions that help us quiet the ego and love ourselves more:

  • Meditate – Sanaya Roman’s meditations in Spiritual Growth are particularly helpful
  • Try Svaroopa yoga which is designed to release mental patterns stored in the body
  • Write down three things you’re grateful for each day
  • Pay attention to what your body needs and do it – even if it means taking a nap in the middle of the day
  • Splurge on yourself at least once a week – even if it’s buying one flower or a piece of expensive chocolate