“Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second” Lewis Carroll
Life seems like that sometimes. I remember years ago that we were driving north on I-5 in Oregon and we had just crested the top of a hill around Roseberg. You could see quite a ways in front of you as the road sloped down into a valley. Ahead of us was a semi tractor trailer and he ran over something like shiny metal in the road. Immediately his tires blew and he started swerving and then the whole rig tipped onto it’s side. For a moment it was like slow motion, I could see so many small details as the whole scene played out like a movie. Then whoosh, time sped back up and my husband was pulling off the road and running back to make sure the driver was ok. He was just shocked by what had happened. But for me, it was the weirdest experience of time I have ever had. It was like the rabbit said, forever came in just one second.
Alice’s courage with the unknown in Wonderland, came from a great deal of curiosity. She fell into an unknown world of adventure, and nothing was as it should be. Sometimes in our life, we feel like that. The world around us seems out of control. We might think like Alice “I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then”.
In order to embrace change, we need a great deal of courage. Change in our lives today is speeding up, faster and faster. This speed of change is impacting every facet of our lives. It changes the education system, the business world, and our personal lives. I saw a cute video the other day where the family was in a hotel room and the dad handed the telephone receiver to his young daughter to hang it up and she didn’t know what to do. All she had experience with was a cell phone.
Technology changes our world moment by moment. Political upheaval can change borders in a moment. Our belief systems can swing from one absolute truth, to a new absolute truth. It takes a lot of courage to stay in that place of curiosity and not become mired into taking rigid stands against someone whose belief is different from us. It takes a lot of courage to change beliefs that we have had for a long time, and have to finally acknowledge that we have outgrown them.
It takes a lot of courage to have a love affair with the unknown – it means that we are constantly learning something new and each new thing means we let go of an old belief. You may think like Alice “this is impossible” but as the Mad Hatter replied, “Only if you think it is.” My favorite line is “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Enjoy the journey, do the impossible, and be a just a tiny bit Mad like the Mad Hatter.
I love this quote with this photo. When you are climbing, you have to have singular focus on what you are doing. Where is the next hand grip? The next place to wedge in your foot? Constantly looking up the wall of rock to find the easiest way up.
It is very easy to find reasons why we can’t do something. Can’t however is usually masking “I don’t want to”, “It’s too hard”, “too much effort”, “it won’t work”. These are all rungs up a ladder that goes nowhere.
At work I hear things, like I am stuck at this job because no one is hiring people over 50 yrs old. Or no one is hiring anyone without a college degree, or you need more experience than I have. No one in the past five years has been promoted or received a raise, so you have to go outside the company to get ahead. Whatever the complaint, the “reason” will be something that they can’t control or change.
All of these reasons why something won’t work will stand in our way as long as we have a belief in them. I love the work of Byron Katie because her four questions show us the fallacy of believing these “reasons”.
1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Then she does what she calls the turnaround question – the turn around question puts the thought to the opposite end of the statement. The purpose of this is to welcome all your thoughts and experiences with open arms, so that you lose the resistance to what is actually true.
The 2nd question is my favorite, because in reality we can never know that our “reason” is absolutely true. This is because no matter what the rule is, there is always an exception to the rule. Most of the things that we believe about ourselves and others are just stories our minds have made up. None of them can pass question #2.
The follow up with question #4 – who would you be without that thought? You would be the person who uses focus to accomplish the dreams and/or goals that are set before them. In this photo, you would be the woman who climbs up the wall to the top successfully.
In our other examples, you would be the person who finds their dream job, because they focused on what they wanted instead of what they didn’t want. You would be happy for having accomplished what you set out to do, and didn’t allow negative thoughts to cloud your judgment or stop you in your tracks.
Pooh Bear once said “when you see someone putting on his big boots, you can be pretty sure an adventure is about to happen”. Adventures are sure to happen when we look at our life and realize that some changes need to be made.
We all have these dreams and aspirations that get buried under “to do” lists. We check off daily house cleaning chores, grocery shopping, taking kids to sport or music programs, taking care of elderly parents and the list of duties and obligations go on and on.
What sometimes happens is that we start perpetuating and growing the list of responsibilities because we start hiding behind the reasons and excuses of not having enough time to work on dusting off the dream and working to bring it into reality.
For years I told myself that I didn’t have the time to write. I had a fulltime job that entailed lots of overtime, four kids to raise and a husband to take care of. Where in all of that was time to find a quiet space to write? So I told myself, when the kids grow up, then I would write. Well the kids grew up and still there was a large list of reasons why I didn’t have the time.
What was really happening is that I was terrified that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. That you would read what I wrote and laugh your head off, or even worse stop reading after the first paragraph and I would just hear the sound of silence or boredom.
I think that Facebook was the thing that started me dipping my toes in the water. I would find a quote I liked and do a paragraph or two about the quote on my personal page, and it stayed small because Facebook limited me to the number of words. I would spend more time cutting out words than it took me to write it. Anyway friends and family liked the post (which I thought meant they were just being nice) and then something interesting happened. They started complaining when I wasn’t posting anything.
Then Facebook took away the word limit and they grew a little larger. Then I started this LemonadeMaker page. I started creating my quotes on a photo and expanding the writing a little more. And before I realized what was happening you showed up and not only liked my post, you commented on it and liked the page. I started believing in myself, because you gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
That is what I believe is true of all of us. We are all BRAVER than we believe we are. I put my thoughts out and what I found is I can have a conversation about them and you may or may not agree with me, and that is ok. I discovered that I could survive differences of opinion. We are all STRONGER than we think we are. We are all SMARTER than we think we are.
I have a different way of looking at the world. I love to find multiple meanings in words. I think that words are like colors and have these shades of color waiting to be explored. It gives each word depth and height and width. As people we have these hidden sides to us. When you look at the stories of those who go through fiery experiences in their lives you see what they learn about themselves and others. It gives new meaning to what humanity is all about.
I am so glad that I take the chance each day to express my thoughts, as those thoughts are creating a community of souls that I believe are filled with simply amazing people – and yes that means you! You encourage me each day to express my thoughts and I hope in turn that I can encourage just one person each day that life is not only worth living – but that we are all brave enough and strong enough to climb to the tops of mountains, and explore the depths of valleys and swim in the oceans.
What does the term, “the sky’s the limit” mean to you? For me, it is where the comfort zone meets “what else is possible?”
What is stopping you is the unwillingness to live beyond this reality.
It is an extension of “what is possible”, that is beyond what “normal” is for me. It is where all of the magic is, approaching life from that attitude. All our of limitations are self installed. We choose them either by accepting them from someone else, or our own inner critic forming them after a failure. The sky is not the limitation, we are. We see these limitations in our professional life, our personal life and our spiritual life. Some of these limitations come from our culture, through the “roles” we play with our friends and family.
Being on a spiritual path does not prevent you from facing times of darkness. But it teaches you how to use the darkness as a tool to grow.
When we go on a hero’s journey, the walls that we have built around us, to limit us, get torn down. When you take any really great story, you find within it what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. My two favorite stories are “Star Wars” (the first three with Luke) and “Lord of The Rings”.
The main character (Luke or Frodo) is going through a “normal” or boring life. Nothing much is happening. Then there is a call to adventure (Luke has R2D2 show up and Frodo has Gandalf), something new is introduced into the characters life. This alters the hero’s destiny. At first the hero refuses the call to adventure – this isn’t for me. I can’t get involved. This can sometimes be because the hero knows that the role that you play within your family, or tribe will be forever changed once you cross the threshold.
Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.
– Jerry Bridges
Then the hero encounters the mentor – someone who gives advice and gets him ready. It could be someone supernatural, mystical or angelic. The hero crosses the threshold – leaves home and enters into the adventure. There are tests, allies and enemies are encountered in the journey which teach the hero a lot about him or herself. Plan A and possibly Plans B and C fail, as the hero experiences setbacks and has to rethink how to proceed.
Because you are alive, everything is possible.
– Nhat Hanh
The hero has faith which leads them to access higher levels of knowledge and abilities to meet the tests with. The hero sees their limitations and ultimately has to defy and defeat them in order to pull through. The setbacks all lead to the ultimate crisis of life or death, where the hero struggles to complete their destiny (Luke battling the evil emperor and Frodo himself and the ring). Now the hero gets the reward – they have won out over the enemies. Many times the loses are mourned even as the victory is celebrated. The hero begins the journey back home, forever changed by the journey. The old limitations of what the hero thought they were capable of have changed. They have been forever transformed.
The reason people awaken, is because they have finally stopped agreeing to things that insult their soul.
I believe that we all take numerous hero’s journeys. We take them in our personal lives, our professional lives and our spiritual lives. We take small journeys and we take “dark night of the soul” journeys. Each time we need to transform our lives, we take a hero’s journey. We reinvent ourselves, we improvise, adapt and overcome our self made limitations. We get creative, we become flexible and adjust as we experience paradigm shifts.
There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
– Bruce Lee
So don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon. Use your imagination and creativity, to discover that the possibilities of your world are limitless.
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“Love is the bridge between you and everything that you desire.” Rumi. We all came into this world to learn, to experience what life is about, and leave a legacy.
Tonight I saw the new Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies. I found it very interesting how he was able to stick to what he knew to be right, even when it endangered his life and that of his family. He didn’t take anyone’s word for “you did what you could, cut your losses and accept what is left”.
Because he was a man of high integrity and morals, he was able to do what no one else could do. While he couldn’t prevent the guilty verdict for his client (he was guilty), he was able to maneuver the judge into a prison sentence instead of the death penalty. Then when his prediction came true about needing him for a future hostage negotiation, he was able to negotiate the return of an American pilot. And when destiny threw in a twist, he negotiated a second hostage return – a two for one, thereby freeing the innocent college student who got caught behind the Berlin Wall.
Because he was so driven to make the negotiations work, and stuck with it to force what he felt was the right thing to do, he ended up becoming a hostage negotiator with President Kennedy. He was able to free over 1,900 hostages from Cuba, during the Cuban missile crisis and Bay of Pigs.
We are all here for a purpose, some small purposes and others world changing. HIs, was a world changing purpose, as he was able to impact hundreds of lives. Our purpose may or may not impact so many lives, but I believe that each one of us has that possibility. The possibility to ask the divine why we are here. To listen to the whispers of our heart, and the calling of our soul. To hear in our dreams the secrets that tell us why we are here.
That is what the light in our heart is. It is the seed that is waiting for us to plant it. To water and nurture it as it grows into our reason for being here. To dig down into the roots of what we are growing and see the unfolding truth of our own myth,
Each morning is an opportunity to become that which you have been looking for. Stop looking and start becoming. Allow your legacy to shine out, no matter the cost. Shine the light of your heart, on the pathway of love. That is the true bridge to help both ourselves and those around us find our way home.
For years I have had this recurring nightmare that I was a fraud, and not as smart as I think I am. That everyone will see it and point fingers at me and say “you are not that smart”. I was living my life inside of my perceived limitations.
I didn’t go to college and I left school my senior year to get married. I took a few community college courses and loved it, just never had the time and money to get a college degree.
Despite the lack of formal education I have risen to a Senior Vice President position with one of the worlds largest banks. You would think that as hard as I have worked to achieve this, I would not have this fear of being found a fraud. Yet, I have looked at what I can do, and think to myself, “If I can do this, it can’t be that hard” and so I discount and belittle the talents I do have. If I do it first, then it won’t hurt so much if you also do it.
Have you ever said any of these things to yourself? Expressed the fear of being “found out” about who you really are? In what ways could you be limiting yourself?
“I don’t deserve this”
“I’m only here because I was lucky”
“Someone must have made a mistake”
“I feel like a fraud”
“It’s only a matter of time before I’m found out”
“I’m not up to this”
I was watching a new show called “Code Black” and it reminded me of these fears that we all have – of being a fraud for something in our lives. These self doubts that we have, if not addressed can ruin our lives as they will act as an agent of sabotage. What if instead of using this fear as a reason to hold back and second guess ourselves, we instead used it as a measuring stick for our own personal growth?
What if the fear of being a fraud was instead a positive sign, about the goals we have set for ourselves in our personal, work, and spiritual growth. The positive question being, “in what areas do I not feel like a fraud, and how can I stretch myself and reach farther to create that feeling?” The measuring stick being if I don’t feel like a fraud, then I am giving myself limitations in this area.
One of the characters on the TV show “Code Black” who is an intern in the ER didn’t trust his intuition about a probable diagnosis for an emergency room patient. So he went with what the other intern wanted to do with tests, and they almost lost the patient. In talking it over later with one the main doctors running the ER, he was told that the intuitive feeling he was getting was critical to being a good doctor and he had to learn to trust it. Later in the same show he confessed to another intern, that he wasn’t confident in his knowledge and felt like a fraud. The other intern told him, “we all are afraid of being found out that we are frauds”.
When I realized that everyone has the same fear of “not being enough of something” and that we all think that we are frauds from trying to be the perfect person, it released something inside of me. It was like when you twist the swing on the swing set around and around until it won’t twist anymore and then let it spin you around and around. I unwound all the twists I had made inside of me. I realized that I don’t have to be perfect to share something that will help someone else.
It released the frustration of having everything be perfect. I stopped being so exhausted and drained from trying to hide the imperfections I have. I started instead to let people see who I really am. I am perfectly imperfect. I have scars of victory and I can be proud of them. You can be better than I am, and I can celebrate your perfect imperfections too. Your beauty does not diminish mine. I can be free to to know that “I have no limits”.