Friday, August 26, 2011

Thinking about this thing called Destiny, Fate... & aren't you Special?

Today I listened to a lecture about sourcing our power to realize our own destinies from the greater web of life – for the third time.  For something as weighty as the topic of realizing one’s destiny, you really can’t assume that you’ll get it all just by listening to a teleconference over the internet once. 

I mean, I guess one could say that for a topic as weighty as destiny, trying to figure it out or learn anything of value through a podcast, internet teleconference, twitter post, facebook update is either foolhardy or delusional.  But, I’ve been through all that before.  That’s the voice of my inner naysayer.

I adore the concept of destiny, even those times when I don’t believe in it.  Which is to say that when I’m in ritual space, or after a beautiful experience making love with someone, or under the influence of certain psychoactive plants, or simply on a day when the sun is shining and I feel stress-free and connected to our great mother’s pulse, I know that there is a deeper meaning to my life, your life, and the lives of all of us who were born during this time of great upheaval and great transformation.  When I’m stressed out over paying my car insurance or when my cell phone drops a seemingly important call, it’s sometimes easy to believe that those things are Real Life. 

While listening to Claire talk about destiny and “aligning with the agenda of the intelligence of the universe to activate the deepest parts of our selves,” and “bringing forth our gifts in ways that will be the greatest contribution to all life,” even though it was the third time I’d heard her say the exact same words, I suddenly found myself shaking with soundless tears as a rush of energy moved up and out and through me. It was as if the deep part of myself she was talking about had suddenly broken through a dam made of credit card statements and student loan promissory notes and grocery store receipts and report cards and a thousand other paper tigers, and like a river of living energy was flowing through me. 

“Our universe has an agenda: for us to create a world that truly reflects the beauty of consciousness itself – heaven on earth,” Claire was saying, when I came back to myself and could hear her again.  “We’re waking up with a desire to express our gifts in ways that give our lives meaning because they contribute to an evolutionary process of transformation.  This is us waking up to our destinies.”

There is a beautiful distinction in her definition of destiny as waking up to our highest potential as co-creators of the evolutionary processes of life, as compared to fate: destiny feels light, right, and open in my body and heart, whereas fate feels heavy and stuck, like something with its talons clawing into my back between my shoulders where I can’t reach back and dislodge it.   Fate is the inertia of the social and political systems of the past, the trauma of ancestral stories not yet healed, the limitations of our own minds that come from a culture that doesn’t support dreams and imagination, the way our lives will be if we don’t wake up from the sleep-walking trance of consumerism. 

When I was a little girl, my father used to joke with passersby that I was the messiah – an assertion based mostly on the fact that I’d managed to come into the world despite the good intentions of not just one but two forms of contraception.  He said that they’d look at me, confused, and say, “Isn’t the Messiah supposed to be a man?”  To which he’d reply, “Where in the Torah does it say that?”  No one, apparently, knew.

I knew he was joking, but beneath the joke was something deeper and more resonant – I knew that my father thought that I was very special, and because he felt that way, I did, too.  I’ve never had any illusions about being the Jewish Messiah, but in my heart I’ve always felt like there is something important that I’m supposed to do, something big and beautiful and meaningful that I’m meant to be a part of. 

Many times in my life, I’ve felt ashamed about those feelings, convinced they were a reflection of American egotism and our perpetual myths about the individual hero who rescues the world.  And yet, even when I’ve tried to disown the feeling or downplay it into something I considered to be more politically or spiritually correct, it’s never been truly gone.  And, what’s worse, is that the feeling that I’m somehow not living up to that potential of beauty and power is painful even when I’ve attempted to tell myself that I shouldn’t have those kinds of aspirations.  So I’ve been living with the pain of feeling like I’m too much and not enough at the same time – for a long time. 

The beautiful thing that I’m waking up to, though, first through Joanna Macy’s teachings about the Great Turning and now through the work of Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas, is that there are many of us – probably all of us – who feel like we were born to do something wonderful, important, beautiful, and powerful and that whatever that thing is, it is needed right at this precise, perilous moment of the history of our planet.  And the other thing that I’m seeing is that if I believe that about you, and the guy that is driving the Bart, and the people I meet in the grocery store line, and perhaps even my cat, there’s nothing egotistical or self-centered about it.  Believing, as my father did, that there is something uniquely special about me is not the same as saying there is something about me that’s so special that it makes me more valuable or important than anyone else. 

So I’m starting to breathe and release into a sense of wonder and curiosity and amazement, free from my own self-judgement, about this thing I’m calling destiny.  Not just my own destiny, but also Jason’s, destiny and the destinies of the people in my community and the people who live in countries that I will never visit and who’s faces I will never see.  We’re all in this together.  What could we do, if we were all actively pursuing those things that give our lives the most meaning, that will make the grandest, most potent contributions to the lineage of our human ancestors and descendents, to our wider family of earth-beings, to the development of that great intelligence which makes itself known through the dance of the stars and planets and time and space?  

I feel inspired and juiced up just thinking about it.  The next step is figuring out how the heck to do it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Awakening Authentic Power-From-Within

Right now I’m doing one of the most powerful, innovative things it feels like I’ve done in a long time, and I can sense a power and magic here that is radical, fresh, and invigorating. 

I know on the outside it doesn’t look like I’m doing much.  I’m sitting in a café in Southwest Berkeley on San Pablo Ave., an area patchworked with tire repair shops, dive bars, up-and-coming restaurants, and not a few empty, unmarked buildings.  I’m wearing jeans, skater shoes that hide socks with holes in the toes, a black shirt, and I have earbuds in my ears as I type this.  But what you can’t see from this surface glance is the revolution that is pouring through me, on digitized sound waves that come from far away, and that connect me to the collective wisdom, intelligence, hope, and passion of 1500 women from 53 different countries that share a desire to manifest a different way of being on this earth. 

Even if nothing else came of it, the money that I paid to be a part of Feminine Power: the Essential Course for the Awakening Woman would have been well spent to be part of this bright, wide-cast web of wise women who want more from the world than what we’ve been offered by corporations and institutionalized religions, and who understand that we must come together to break through our inner glass ceilings to contribute to Life in the ways that that we’ve felt Called to do for so long. 

It brings tears to my eyes to hear the voices of the women from Los Angeles, Ontario Canada, Australia, Japan, Haiti, Costa Rica, Bosnia, and Vietnam speak about a shared longing for bringing their dreams into full manifestation, to co-create the world that they know is possible in their hearts, to contribute to their cultures in ways that will create a long-lasting heritage of compassion and peace for their children to inherit, and to be part of the deep healing of the little garden planet we call home. 

I have long been an ardent skeptic – even a downright naysayer – of online education (it makes my cheesedar ding).  I most certainly had my doubts when I first went to the website for Feminine Power and noticed that the color scheme employed could have been taken straight from a Victoria’s Secret catalog.  And the constant email traffic before the course that told me creators Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit would help me “activate my magnetic field” and give me the “key to personal and planetary change” really turned me off.


Most of the time, even.  With every new email, I’d gleefully hit the tiny gray trashcan button on the corner of my screen without bothering to read most of them, resting back into the satisfaction of the completion (and, often times, simultaneous dismissal) of many other previous forays into spiritual practices and women’s empowerment courses that promised similar things without delivering the transformative experiences they advertised.  

But other times, the times that I was feeling more quiet and gentle inside, I found myself listening to a little voice that kept saying things like, “But – what if they can help me activate my magnetic field?  What if they can teach me how to access the power to transform my life and fulfill my destiny?  What if there is something different here – about this work, and about where I am in my life right now – that makes it possible to open the gate into a whole new way of being?  Isn’t that what I want?  Isn’t it worth trying for?”

That little voice’s hopeful, idealistic whispers would have fallen on deaf ears if it were not for my friend Ursula, who is the person who first mentioned the course to me.  We may not be the closest of intimate friends, but there is something about her kind, frank, authentic approach to life and the things we have in common – being massage therapists, birth workers, and priestesses of women’s mysteries – that always inspires and intrigues me.  Ursula is not hippie-dippy, nor new-age-y, nor does she appear to be someone who purchases countless things from fuchsia and silver websites promising to change your life and find you the perfect mate.  She told me that she had been doing the Feminine Power work for ten months with a study group, was still actively involved, and had gotten a lot out of it. 

“Beyond all else, what I appreciate about it is its intelligence,” she said to me.

That stuck with me, despite my inner naysayer.  In fact, it even helped the Inner Naysayer calm down a bit, because the Inner Naysayer values intelligence above all other things (it prides itself on being my most intelligent self, buying into the myth that being analytic and being intelligent are the same). 

The intelligence that Ursula was talking about was something that I could feel coming through the emails and in the free telecourse that I listened to late one night.  The thing is, the founders of the course don’t come at it “from the beginning” like so many others do, but from a place honors past experience and the work that we’ve already done to self-actualize and awaken into “our real lives” --  those lives that we feel just on the edges of our experience, hovering on the periphery of our vision but not yet fully manifested. 

“We know you’ve done spiritual work and had transformative experiences.  We know you’re the kind of people that are already creating change in the world.  But you’re still not where you want to be – yet,” Katherine and Claire were saying to me in those emails, again and again. “There are hurdles in the way that seem invisible, invincible, artifacts of a reality you didn’t consent to.  We have been there, and we have some tools that we can share to really break it open.  We have developed tools that can help us co-create the life and the world that we all want.” 

My Little Voice likes that kind of talk.  She gets all excited by it.

Eventually, I had to let Inner-Naysayer and Little Voice duke it out.  As usual, on the surface it seemed that they were arguing about the money and time commitment involved.

“What if it doesn’t do anything?” Inner Naysayer asked.  “What if its just like all of the other things, and ends up being a big waste of money and time?”

She was saying this in an effort to sway the Decision Maker onto her side, because she knows that Decision Maker is very touchy about the subject.  Both are resources that are scarce in my world, and Decision Maker rations them out with great care. 

“What if they’re just glossy faces making all kinds of promises without anything to back it up?” Inner Naysayer went on.  “We will feel so dumb.  We will feel ashamed about the money we wasted.  That will suck.  Stop being so naïve, Little Voice.”
Decision Maker nodded.  Those were pretty good points.
But Little Voice was not to be so easily dissuaded.  In fact, Little Voice wasn’t feeling as little anymore.  She rose up to her full size, looked Inner Naysayer right in the face, and said, “Fuck off, Inner Naysayer!  So what?  What if those things are true?  Even if it doesn’t do any good – well what good do you ever do?  Where have you gotten us?  Not far, I can tell you that.  Nowhere, in fact!  All you do is naysay, and that’s not only boring and lame but it’s not anywhere near as productive as you seem to think.  So shut up already!”
You’d think Inner Naysayer would have quickly retorted about how she keeps us safe from the danges of the world and all of that, but, surprisingly, she did not.  She bristled as if slapped in the face, turned around, and silently went off into her corner to sulk. 

And that was that.  The next thing you knew, I’d paid my dues and was very eagerly awaiting my course materials.  It was as if Little Voice had been emboldened by her victory over Naysayer and had brazenly taken over the reigns of the whole operation, infusing all of me with the excitement, freshness, innocence, and bubbling passion that is her hallmark.   
Listening to women all over the world talk about things like activation, catalyzing transformation, global movements, hope, fulfillment, and destiny, I know now not only that I made the right choice listening to that little voice, but also that by doing so I have stepped into a positive feedback loop that strengthens and empowers that part of me. 
What I’m learning is that there are many beliefs inside of us that influence our decision making, some of which we’re aware of and some which we are not.  These beliefs are the lens through which we experience the world, and they self-perpetuate themselves by providing evidence of their own validity.  So, when I’m living within the worldview of naysaying, belittling, and demeaning those things that my heart and spirit crave, I will experience the world in ways that confirm that pouring my heart and soul into what I want is not safe, will not be appreciated or successful, and will bring me pain and disappointment.  Which is to say that when I put on the lens of that belief and that worldview, I am co-creating that reality by doing so – even if its not what I want deep inside of me.  I act in ways that make it difficult for others to support what I am doing.  I pull back from projects that are gaining momentum because I don’t believe they will be successful and I’m afraid of getting swept up into a tidal force that will leave me bedraggled and beaten against a rocky shore.  I disengage from things that I love to do and want to develop proficiency in because I don’t feel like I’ll ever be good enough at those things to make the time and effort that I put into them worth it, and that becomes the self-fulfilling prophesy, because without that time and effort I don’t develop the skill and competency that I desire. 
But there’s a bright light at the end of that tunnel, because by stepping into the belief-lens that my most hopeful, connected, inspired self espouses, I’m stepping into co-creating a different life for myself where those beliefs can be validated every day by success and ever-more connection, hope, and inspiration.  There is a lot of self-responsibility in doing this, and that self-responsibility is more empowering than it is frightening.  So often, when I’ve thought of self-responsibility in the past, I’ve felt it as something that deadens my enthusiasm and represses my spirit.  But this is a different understanding of it.  It’s the understanding that by taking responsibility for co-creating my experience, I am empowered to shift and shape it into that which I most desire.
Simply listening on the phone to the voices of women across the world talking about what they want for themselves and their communities, deep in their hearts and through the wisdom of their bodies and intuition, I feel it happening.  I am connected to a web of bright light that feeds on itself to become brighter, an upwelling of wisdom that is gaining momentum.  I am also writing easily and freely for the first time in months, because life feels like its happening through me and not to me, and that's what I need in order to have my creativity flow through me and onto the page (or screen, as the case may be).  
This feels like the beginning of a wonderful adventure.  I hope that you folks out the blogosphere are excited to experience it with me.  I know that I am very excited to begin.