In Your Head

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Oh to be fully in my heart and not so wrapped up in my head. This week has been full of reminders to get out of my head and into my body, to get in touch with my instincts and intuition. I don’t know why some people find it so easy to “lead from the hip”, while others of us struggle to let go of control and fear enough to make it through the day, not all tied up in knots.

This past year has been one of opening for me, of opening and trusting and realizing that the answers are all around me, that the world is not dependent on my brilliance to solve all problems and to make everyone happy. That is a lot of pressure lifted. However, my habit to clench at the solar plexus with the enormity of perfection, with the fear of failure and letting others down, is still very much engrained. It takes time to learn a new way, and honestly, I’m not there yet. I can now usually sense when the tension is coming in (and with it often paralysis) and sometimes I can breathe through it, sometimes I can move through it, sometimes I can even talk myself down, but other times I just have to ride the wave because I don’t know how to intervene.

My guess is that the answer I’m looking for is as much inside myself as outside myself and that it involves growing faith and trust. Trust that what and who I am is indeed enough and that even if I fail I, and the rest of the world, will be okay. Trust that the answers are within me and in front of me. Trust that all things are conspiring in my favour. Trust that I am not alone.

And the truth is … that I know this to be true! Looking back on all the evidence throughout my life is proof that I have been taken care of, that I have been enough and then some. I survived and even thrived after my parents’ divorce. I learned valuable lessons when I injured my leg and then again when I was then hit by a car in the same leg years later. I grew and was challenged by the acting opportunities I’ve been given, and I have been given opportunities. The proof is that I have been looked after all through my life.

Now all of this is not to say that there is anything wrong with intellect — there is not, it has its place and is very valuable. But I’ve used my intellect as a safety mechanism, a conduit for fear and ego, and this is what I’d like to let go of, this is what I’d like to surrender. So, we start with recognizing when it happens. And then? Mantras, meditation, breathing, yoga, mindfulness, music, gratitude, dance, forgiveness and prayer, there are so very many tools to help me along. And as I strengthen my faith and trust, it gets easier. One breath, one grateful moment to the next. I know deep down that I know the answers, that my intuition is strong. I just need to tune in and listen and let go of the need to control.

Need Want Desire Prefer

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Want (v) “have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.”

Desire (v) “strongly wish for or want (something).”

Need (v) “require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable.” or “expressing necessity or obligation.”

Prefer (v) “like (one thing or person) better than another or others; tend to choose.”

I remember sometime last year, my sister passed on a technique that she had heard from someone that encouraged the use of the word “desire” instead of “want” to encourage a more positive spin on wishing. We’ve both been trying to turn around our beliefs about money. And language is really powerful, the words you use can be connected to and reveal how you think. The definition for the word “want” includes the concepts of lack, deficiency and possession. Using the word “want” can unknowingly reinforce lack. “Need” is often used in the same way. Need should probably be reserved for those particular moments when you are talking about the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, your physiological and safety needs, not necessarily that ticket to that amazing concert or holiday abroad. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring those lovely things, but what are the words you are using, where are you putting the emphasis in your life? The emptiness or the abundance?

I’m an attacher so it is particularly wise for me to be aware of the words I use, because often there is deeper attachment or meaning that goes with what may appear to be a very innocent phrase. A book my husband was reading talked about using the word “prefer” instead of “want”. Prefer lets you share your opinion, your desire, but detaches you from the outcome. If it is just a preference it means that you know what will float your boat, but you are able to live with whatever happens. The word sounds a bit clinical because it simply isn’t as loaded as the other three and that is what makes it a more interesting bet. I love the passion of need, want, desire, yet, there is such a freedom, simplicity and peace in prefer. Again, there is nothing wrong with passion, but if there is passion in every decision, every little preference you have, then living can be truly exhausting and also disappointing. There is so much that I do have that gets pushed to the side when I focus on the lack. What we focus on gets bigger. So why not focus on respecting your preferences, your choices, your inclinations and growing the confidence in your ability to thrive no matter what.

Resistance My Old Friend

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Last week was spent in the face of resistance. A writer friend and I had been working on a short film adaptation of his short story/one-act play for the past three years. We wanted to film in Ireland and frankly we wanted it to be Oscar-worthy. It had to be beautiful and rich and full or there was no point doing it. We watched shorts in festivals. We wrote and re-wrote the script. And my friend occasionally asked, “Are we really going to do this?” He gave me plenty of outs and still, despite the part of me saying “NO, run away now!” I always said, “No, it will get done. Timing is everything.”

Well, the time finally came. After being inspired by shorts at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh and a panel set up by the lovely Eibh Collins, my partner-in-crime reached out to the the directors of a short that he loved visually. In turn I was talking to a couple of friends about possibilities. And eventually he found a match, but they were only available if we shot it before October 10th or sometime next year. This was late September! We had a call with the director and DP and they seemed sound, willing and dedicated. Could it be done? Could we whip the script into shape and gather the people and the resources we needed to film a short — in the space of one week? Could we actually make this work?

At some point in time you just have to commit and we gave ourselves a deadline to find the basic funds to cover costs – if we had it in line, we would do it. And due to wonderful producing partners such as the cell in New York and a number of other generous donors, we thought we had enough to get it off the ground. So I said “Okay, let’s do this.” I knew it would still require a number of miracles, but if worst came to worst, we had the lead cast members and the director and DP, we could get something in the can. In producing situations in the past, it has been very easy for me to get caught up in the obstacles and difficulties, but early on in this process I knew:

1. This was happening with or without us (the project has its own momentum).
2. Every obstacle is an opportunity (either for someone to save the day or to let go and move on).

I won’t go into all of the details here, but suffice it to say that there were obstacles aplenty … but there were more miracles than obstacles, more amazing people than I can even begin to mention, more strangers lending a hand than putting up a fight and in the end we shot it. I’m still in awe and so very grateful and humbled and just, wow. So glad that resistance didn’t stop this one, but I can feel it still. This project required my openness and vulnerability, I’m still feeling raw a week on. It is no wonder I tried to spare myself the cold, damp exposure, but I also wouldn’t have experienced the great heart-warming people of Mayo and the great pleasure of bringing people together to create.

TLWG Team
TLWG Team 2

Controlling Speed

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I’ve always been afraid of speed. I remember being thrilled with the new state of the art roller blades I bought with my high school graduation money, I was so excited. That excitement faded to fear very fast on my first time out. Somehow I had never learned how to stop properly. Anytime I gained what I felt was too much speed, i.e. I didn’t feel in control, I would veer off into the grass and usually fall down to stop. I nearly gave myself whiplash. I had the same experience when I was learning how to downhill ski as an adolescent – I ended up going down the hill on my bum with my ski tips dutifully pointed in towards each other to create a pie shape, the beginner’s breaks. Perhaps my only experiences going with the flow and “embracing speed” are the times I’ve ridden roller coasters, but one of the only ways I can get through that experience is by telling myself “this will be over soon.”

Where did this fear of being out of control come from? It doesn’t just affect my speed, it permeates all areas of my life, from drinks to acting. I did break my nose when I was around 9 years old, riding on an adult’s back who was on all fours goofing around and bucked me off smack dab on my nose. That 4th of July I watched the fireworks with an ice pack on my nose. Maybe that is how I learned that to be out of control leads to pain. Either which way, I’m now learning the difference, especially in my acting work, that letting go of control and lack of physical safety are not the same thing. My acting work thrives when I do the prep work (safety) and then abandon control and play in the moment. I may not be able to do it every time (that is where doing the prep work comes in handy) but I’m increasingly able to do it more often. I wonder if there are other areas where I may be limiting myself by my need for control. Fast success scares me too. There are so many dreams I have and would love to have them come true right this moment, but that would also terrify me – “What if I’m not ready, what if other people couldn’t handle it, what if I had to step up, what if it stops before I want it to, what if, what if, what if?” Instead I want to say, “I’m ready, bring it on. Fast or slow, I am open to success. I am open to being safely out of control.” More and more I believe that is exactly where the magic happens.

Whipping Wind

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As the wind whips around and the rain falls chaotically, I think about the times when on the inside I have felt a similar storm shaking me to the core. Sometimes it is so clear that the turmoil is created in our own minds, but sometimes it feels that it is all from outside circumstances and we feel helpless. Reflecting back though, I see more and more that the inner struggle stems from my desire to alter what is and the utter frustration that I can’t change circumstances or make things better for the people I love. What happens then when we accept what is, those horrendous, frightening, frustrating circumstances and say simply “it is so”? Does that mean then that we are giving permission for the “bad” things to reign? This is a tricky area I think, because accepting is not the same thing as permission. From the outside they can look identical. I think about a number of men that I know who are in custody struggles for their children – all of them lovely fathers. I see them trying to find the right balance between standing up for their children and their right to have their fathers present in their lives and laying down the fight so that the child can be left out of a battle and have peace. Neither seems like the “right and just” response. And sometimes when we are in the thick of it, we cannot even see the other possibilities, it feels like we are fighting for our own lives.

But here is the truth. This storm will pass. You can choose to shout and struggle and yell at the heavens or you can recognize the storm for what it is; put on a jacket, hat and rain boots and do your best to keep walking. To some that may seem really difficult, and it is and it isn’t. The only thing standing between you and the calm is yourself – your choices, your thoughts. And boy can that be a frustrating notion. I know that I hate getting out of the way myself, especially when I feel I am in the right and justified. Without even being aware I put down my feet and resist what is as it is not what I want it to be. Eventually, and on some issues it has taken me years, I can see my stroppy teenager holding court and when it is that clear it becomes easier to say, “okay, we can let go of this fight, it is what it is.” And with that comes such relief, and also usually tears, because I was so attached to the way I thought things should be, that unbeknownst to myself I was expending unconscious energy willing the world to be different. I’ve always wanted superpowers, but telekinesis is not yet a skill of mine. Surrendering one’s will and accepting what is can be a powerful step to reconciliation and a huge step towards accepting love. And if you’re feeling really brave you can even be thankful for the circumstances of the storm. Everything changes when you are no longer spending your energy on willing things to be different. Your whole life changes when you look at it from a place of gratitude.

If you are currently in a storm, know that even this storm will pass and gently give yourself a break from the struggle. Feel the rain whipping around you and the wind caressing you and release the fight.

Adele “Make You Feel My Love” https://youtu.be/0put0_a–Ng

Nearly Naked or Letting Go part II

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There is nothing like the process of letting go. Over a month into the KonMari clear-out, I am feeling lighter and frankly more naked. The more I purge those things that were falsely protecting me, the more vulnerable I feel. As you know from my last blog, I’m an attacher, so the detachment process has been uncomfortable for me. But as layers of paper are shredded and recycled, I begin to see the other attachments I’ve been holding onto, grasping at (love this visceral and visual word – thanks CREATE) that frankly have been limiting my possibilities. Basically, I’ve been saying to God, the Universe, the Divine, “Hey, yeah, I have lots of desires, um, so give them to me, but just so you know, I’m going to resist you at every turn and probably believe the worst and take it personally if it doesn’t go my way.” That is why it can sometimes take a girl 7 years to achieve her goal of being cast on Network TV. It is hard for me to believe, but looking back I can see that the Universe has been conspiring to support me and covertly I’ve been sabotaging, hiding, averting, distracting wherever I can. Part of that is that I am holding on for dear life to the familiar unworthiness in my heart, when all I need to do is choose to identify with the light. Natalie reminds us in CREATE that we are only one thought away – I see that, but sometimes that one thought, that one step seems like a huge leap. I am thankful for this time and will continue the process of clearing out, knowing that in this nakedness, I am found.

OneThoughtAway

Letting Go

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I’ve recently become reacquainted with my propensity toward attachment. In one way or another it is something that I’ve always known about myself – maybe from moving around so much, maybe not – I’ve always been able to feel affectionate regard for things quite quickly. In a new place I’ll find ways to feel at home, to make it my own. With new people, I will look for connections and ways we click. With things, I will associate them with the place, event, person and fond memories around the time they were acquired. I’m an attacher. In one definition of attachment, it equates responsiveness with attachment, and this is in no way a problem for me because even if it is an inanimate object I will endow it with life and meaning. Even if it is an idea or a hope, I will attach. In many ways this ability to attach has been a gift – it makes me fiercely loyal, protective and affectionate. It means that people trust me and feel safe in my presence.

The flip side is that it weighs me down. Think of those vacuum cleaners with multitudinous attachments, the ones where you cannot even find a place to put all of the attachments so you tie or velcro them on, wedge them in between each other. That is me. In a recent course on abundance we spent one of the weeks clearing space. My husband and I picked an area – clothing, I think – and started purging, using the “Does this give me joy?” barometer. And wow, it worked and that space felt so good. I reduced my hours at my job to make time for creative work and boom, I booked an acting gig. Making space can bring you joy!

Now as we prep to move out of the apartment we have been in for a decade, we are using the KonMari Method to help us purge, clear and start fresh. I love the results, but the process can be pretty painful for me. The first couple of days I could be found occasionally curled up in the fetal position. It exhausts me and I just want to cry. Why? I have accumulated a whole lot of stuff. And I am attached to my stuff. It makes me feel safe, secure, important and ready for anything. Letting go makes me feel like I am in crisis mode. However, as I shred these documents I’ve been attached to, including the police reports and claims from when I was hit by a car, I see the stories I’ve held onto and how they have helped me stay small. When you are buried in stuff, weighed down by your possessions and relationships that don’t feed you, you are not available to say yes – your wings just don’t have the space to spread out. This painful process of clearing out, detaching, separating and letting go is providing me with a beautiful chance to grow and heal. It is time to let go of old beliefs. It is time to grow into the woman who I want to be, who I was made to be. This process of becoming me requires a lot of trust and faith. I may not “arrive” in this lifetime, but I will continue on this path, surrounding myself with joy, stretching out my wings and, when the time is right, flying.

untilyouspreadyourwings