Good news… My soul and I are reunited and back in business. According to my soul, we never split up or stopped doing business even if it seemed that way to me. She tells me this: When your life seemed to freeze up like a rusted old motor, that’s when the most important work began. Rusted old motor is right! It felt like a piece broke off and jammed itself inside that motor and nothing moved! Life got stuck and became very confusing. My soul assures me: Major work was happening just under the surface.
When I left PA for FL a few weeks ago, I brought only two books with me. Three weeks into my trip, I finally grabbed one and read it cover to cover within three days. I’ve had it for several years, but you know how it goes with books. They’ll sit quietly until the day comes when their message find its way to you. The book, Broken Open (by Elizabeth Lesser) came on this trip to give my recent suffering meaning. It revealed the purpose behind that suffering and removed the confusion, guilt, and self-hatred that almost destroyed me. It helped me to dispel judgements that came at me from the man I counted on the most, and to shed my own judgments towards him for abandoning me while I was flailing around in the dark. There was a greater story going on behind the scenes that I’m slowly beginning to appreciate.
This new understanding isn’t an instant cure, I still have crying jags over many losses, but like rain showers in South Florida, they are short in duration. Hope was something I feared I’d never have again. Now I feel a renewed faith and excitement about the future.
In Broken Open, Elizabeth calls this transformational journey the Phoenix Process in honor of the mythic bird with golden plumage. Famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, calls it the Hero’s Journey. Lissa Rankin, MD calls it the Space Between Stories. Some refer to it as a Personal Crucifixion or a Personal Sweat Lodge. I called it the Great Unraveling or most recently The Void Whatever you call it, you’ll be required to go through it at some point in your life, even if its during your last days on earth. And while it ain’t pretty, don’t push it off, because in going through the dark, you’ll find the light, the forgotten dreams, the unseen miracles.
For the sake of this blog, I’ll refer to it as the Great Transformation.
The Great Transformation is the Soul’s calling for our internal change (or breaking open). Change is hard. Letting go is hard. Leaving the familiar is hard. And these are all reasons most will resist the process. Some will feel the Soul’s push to change an outdated internal pattern to create a positive change in their intimate relationships. If they resist the call, they’ll miss out on the greatest gift; a miraculous metamorphosis of everyone around them, including future generations. They resist due to fear. They search for an escape route, often with a new partner. And down the road, they’ll sense the same uneasiness they experienced in the past, usually more daunting this time around, because the Soul will stop at nothing to bring them into alignment with their highest purpose. You may be able to postpone the Great Transformation, but your life will suffer grave consequences in one way or another.
The Great Transformation can come through divorce, separation, addiction, tragedy, watching a loved one suffer or die, the loss of a job, or any number of human atrocities. But keep this in mind. Not all losses trigger The Great Transformation. Because the transformation was never about the external conditions of your life. It’s about the internal you. Your beliefs, fears, patterns, etc. The Soul merely uses the external circumstances to get your attention, then it’s up to you to go inside and make the internal changes.
So even if you’ve suffered a major loss or devastating set back, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gone through The Great Transformation. Years ago, a disastrous divorce left me without a home or a sense of community. It threatened my security, wiped me out financially and cost me many valuable relationships. Although it rattled my world for years, and positively changed me on some levels, it was not the Great Transformation that my Soul was looking to trigger. I was too focused on the external changes and adapting to them. While I did make some internal changes, I didn’t hit the mark, according to my Soul, who “kindly” gave me another chance 2+ years ago (an earlier blog describes some of the external changes, and even as I wrote that a week or so ago, I didn’t understand what was really required – the deep internal changes that create new life).
As I said, most people resist the Soul’s calling for the Great Transformation, because change and letting go is hard. But there is something that causes much more resistance. It is the fear of death and it is something that almost all of us struggle with to some degree. Death is a strange and daunting cloud that hangs over our heads from birth. When we are called by the Soul to transform, we resist with every bit of strength we can muster, because deep down inside, we are fully aware that this process demands the death of our former self in order for us to live the life we truly want – to be the authentic person we had in mind when we entered this earth stage. I think Elizabeth’s book title sums it up perfectly – Broken Open.
If you’ve been through it, you are nodding your head right now. You have the battle scars and have reaped the rewards that come with going fully into the dark. And you’ll agree that OH MY GOD is it ever painful, emotional, tragic, lonely, and frightening as shit! When my Soul began tapping on my shoulder 2+ years ago, my son had just finished college, my house had good energy, my training business was growing and I was in love. Why mess up a relatively good thing? I ignored the calling. And as I’ve described in previous posts, one thing after another was taken away from me. I assumed with every external change, my life would start “working” again. But it didn’t work again. I just spun my wheels and wondered if I was invisible. And then I plummeted into despair. I intuitively knew that this was an epic transformation that I had to face head on, otherwise I’d have to face it again in my future, yet I kept latching on to the things that were being taken away to gain some sense of control.
The Turning Point
A stroke of luck…a client postponed their April training until May which allowed me to drop everything and go to Florida for a month. I knew I had to finish this process and face the death of the old me. I didn’t realize how incredibly frightening such a process could be! Someday I will write about it in much more detail, but for now, I’ll just tell you that on the worst days I could feel the angel of death walking with me. No lie. I came to the conclusion one night that I must have agreed to be a human sacrifice (like the women who dove into volcanos). That was the moment I fully accepted the idea of death. In other words, I faced the concept of losing myself completely and stopped searching out some quick fix to feel better. I embraced the possibility that I was losing my mind and would no longer identify with this world or other humans. I had no choice, I had to embrace that thought. So I let go of fighting to survive or improving my emotional state and I allowed my whole being to be brought into the shadow. In doing so, I surrendered to the most terrifying thoughts, visions, and judgments.
Miraculously, the broken piece that had jammed up the motor came loose and I actually felt movement for the first time in over 2 years. By movement, I mean I felt the momentum change directions. There was hope! Within 48 hours, I felt my life kick back on in an entirely new way. I sensed the flow of life…the connection to my source. But this was not the “flow” of life as I used to think of it. It’s the one I always dreamed was possible but could never figure out how to get there. As I sat on the beach yesterday, I wanted to record the miraculous change in mindset. I let my Soul explain it to me as I wrote the words:
The False Flow You Accepted as Real
The former flow of life you thought was real was actually a false construct of this world. A manufactured flow that was anything but real. It was structured and rigid and had rules and restrictions. It enslaved and consumed and constricted creativity. It was fear based and controlling and judgmental. It required long hours of arduous work and little time to enjoy soul connections with others. It distracted your attention from the very earth you chose to inhabit!
This false flow caused you to trade in nature for cubicles and assembly lines. You traded whole foods for pharmaceuticals. You traded soul-filling messages that come from creeks, mountains, oceans and trees, for energy draining directives of television and computers, where you sit endlessly escaping the hell you’ve grown accustom to.
And you accepted all that as real? Yes, you (and almost everyone else you know) considered these things the flow of life! The natural order. But it is far from that! You stepped out of the true flow a long, long time ago and blindly accepted a false reality! This isn’t science fiction or some airy-fairy philosophy. This is the absolute truth!
The True Flow Awaits Everyone
It beckons you and everyone else to return to it. Like a lactating mother with no children, she’s suffered her own pain and she’s pulling her babies back to her breast now. One at a time. They resist. They’re afraid! How can they possibly leave this enslaved life behind? They don’t trust that they will make ends meet. They don’t trust they’ll have food! They’re handcuffed to a daily commute through traffic, endless hours in an environment that is mainly set up for the sake of profit, and micromanages it’s people’s time off. Yet they resist it even still and give more and more of their freedom away. They’ll forfeit their true nature for the peace of mind that the mortgage will be paid, that the kids will go to college, that the car will run efficiently. But it’s a false peace of mind!
When they feel the beckoning of the mother, the true flow of life, it’s like a stir inside their heart. Somewhere deep inside, they know she’s right. They know there is a better way! They know there has to be more than this! And they’re pretty sure she’ll have their back if they take the plunge… but the “What If’s and How Will’s” scream so loud it drowns out the sound of her call.
“What if I leave my high pressure job for something that feeds my soul? Who will pay the bills?”
“What if I quit grad school? Who will hire me?”
“What if I take a hiatus from my family to find myself? What will they think of me?”
“What if I get rid of my possessions and my “suburbia” lifestyle? Will I still respect myself?”
“What if I say no to everyone who expects something that I’d rather not give them? Will I let them down? Will I lose their love?”
“What if I leave a relationship that seems to make both parties miserable? Will I live to regret it? Will I be alone forever? Will God judge me?”
“What if I break free from a life that feels like a noose around my neck and instead put my needs first? Will I seem selfish? Will I be the laughing stock? Will I be shunned by society?”
“How will I possibly survive if I heed the call?”
Let me assure you of something…because you were willing to die to your old self and your old understanding of the “flow” of life, you have now been reintroduced to the true flow of life. The one you used to believe in before you became jaded and fearful. Before you lost faith. Just look around you! THIS is the true flow!
I had chills when I looked back and read what I’d just wrote. Nothing every seemed more true. I thought about it long and hard…
When I made the split decision to come to FL – I was on the auto train within 24 hours at a rock-bottom price. The timing was perfect, the price was perfect, the conditions were all perfect. I found a cycling place within minutes of the house where I’m staying. Everything is convenient and easy. In other words, everything flows without a lot of effort. While spending time in a climate I love and focusing solely on me and my needs, a few unexpected jobs came in – easy, decent paying jobs I could do sitting in the sun, and the income was deposited directly into my bank account without the need for me to even get out of my beach chair.
I’ve been so used to griping through the pain of the Great Transformation, that I barely noticed all the good that had already begun to reveal itself. It took days for me to realize that the past is gone and this is my new reality. It has nothing to do with the external. I can live anywhere I want, be with anyone I want, do any kind of work I want. I simply had to let go of the belief that the “flow” of life I had adopted all my life was the only option! I have been reintroduced to the true flow of life.
Sometime my mind drifts back to the past and I find myself repeating old thinking, “What if I’m making this up in my head? What if I can’t trust this and everything comes crashing down again? What if I can’t get enough work to survive?” I immediately feel stuck and anxiety returns. But I’m learning how to rewrite the program. By facing my greatest fears and embracing death, I am assured that the past is the past and no longer part of this true reality where there is nothing to fear. So I simply surrender and breathe and just do what feels good in the moment. Like swim, or walk on the beach, or sit and stare at the blue sky, and immediately things start to flow again. The words come to me so I can resume writing projects, or a new training lead comes through email. Things fall into place easily, gently, with very little effort. I’m getting use to the new way and less likely to fall back to old thinking.
Going fully into the dark helped me to see the light.
All my life I dreamed about doing work that not only filled my spirit, but gave me the freedom to travel the world while I was still young enough to see it, and to have a fun travel partner that was eager to join me. In order to fulfill that dream, I needed to get right with myself and let go of things that held that dream back. Over two years ago, my Soul tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Wake up, baby girl, it’s time!” In order to experience the true flow of life where my dream resides, my Soul helped me to let go of the following:
Trying to please everyone. Constantly seeking approval. Forming unhealthy attachments to people or things. Constant worrying that I’ll offend others by honoring my own needs. Fearing rejection. Over apologizing for other people’s BS. Lowering my standards just to be in a relationship or have a man in my life. Sticking with relationships that are incapable of change or growth. Taking inappropriate responsibility for others. Forcing others to take inappropriate responsibility for me. Judging, criticizing, gossiping, labeling. The need to say yes, when I should have said no. Holding onto material possessions that weigh me down or no longer have purpose for me. Living in a house that no longer suits my needs. Backing down on important issues instead of standing my ground. Denying my own principles to keep peace with others. Absorbing other’s skewed opinions of me or my journey in life. Squeezing into a mold that doesn’t fit me. Maintaining a lifestyle that was stagnant, difficult and completely opposite of my dream. Worrying about rocking society’s boat by letting this free spirit loose on the world. Believing that the former flow of life was the only option!
As you can see, there was a lot of letting go to do in my case. That’s exactly why the process took over 2 years. And holy shit – letting go is excruciating! Yet we are forced to let go long before we understand why we need to let go! That’s were faith comes in. Faith helps us to let go without seeing the future. It minimizes the time and pain involved in the process. (Don’t allow yours to take as long as mine!) I resisted letting go of life as it was, with every cell in my body, no matter how unhappy I was. Thankfully, my soul wouldn’t let up. And because of that, I am beginning to experience the dream of a life time. After an upcoming month-and-a-half filled with writing and training, I’ve decided I may head back to Whidbey Island or Mount Shasta; both are truly magical places. And after that… (I welcome your destination ideas! I’ve got a lot of world to see!)
Final note: A few years ago I was invited to Key West to speak to a hospitality association. I brought my significant other. The speaking engagement was short and sweet and was over the first day of our trip which left us with several wonderful days to relax and see the sights. LIke any vacation, we were completely carefree.
At one point, we were in a very cool toy store. There was a small room in the back where people were seated in a circle watching a magician do some tricks. We quickly realized that the small audience of people were mentally challenged. The magician had a wonderful disposition and catered his tricks for that particular audience who watched in amazement with “oohs” and “ahhs” and giggles. We stood off to the side and were awed by the man with the magic wand, not for his magic tricks, but for his compassion and tenderness for this particular audience. To my surprise, my significant other’s eyes welled up as he watched. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said to me with utter confidence,
“I want to do that some day! I want to give my time to lift people’s spirits, just like he’s doing. I want to make a difference in the world. I’ve had enough sitting behind a desk every day just to make ends meet and make someone else rich! God as my witness, I’ll make it happen!”
(His conviction was partially due to the fact that his boss had cut his pay right before we left for the Keys as punishment for him taking time off – because taking time off was something he rarely did.)
For as long as I live, I will never forget that moment of clarity I saw in him. I heard his soul speak loud and clear and it made my heart melt. The man who had driven through the same heavy traffic day after day and been tied to the exact same desk for over 30 years had just been given a glimpse of the true flow of life. Unfortunately, the vacation ended and “life” got in the way and that inspiration he experienced back in the Keys withered away. Our subsequent arguments centered around limited time and too many chores and making money and paying bills and tight schedules that left little to no room to develop dreams. We drifted apart. I can only hope the day will come when he too will be broken open so that he can experience the true flow of life.
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