Monday, June 13, 2011

I Fell in Love All Over Again

Last week, I was driving in the car headed somewhere.  I don't remember the destination, but I remember thinking and saying out loud - "Dear Lord, I am SO in love with.........nothing and everything."  The feeling I was experiencing had nothing to do with a person, place or thing. It simply was.  It was not an unfamiliar feeling, but one that I am acquainted with - an old and familiar friend.  I felt like I could fly.  It had just been so long since we had been together. 

For a long time I have had laser focus on very concrete things such as pursuing goals, school, work, strategizing on how to get the things I want, decorating the house, paying the bills, mentoring or volunteer commitments.  I'm sure some of you have similar tasks that require your attention.  I had been spending little time with myself.  I found it uncomfortable to sit still.  I was certain something was going undone, that I was missing an appointment or that I had forgotten some important detail.  I felt guilty while watching a DVD or just enjoying my own home.  Crazy!  If I had been asked about things I enjoy or what soothes my soul I would have rattled off the list that I've been rattling for the last few years - traveling, reading, plays, dining out, my sorority, concerts, church, blah, blah, blah........ Really!  I've been repeating these words for years.  When did I become this cookie-cutter person?  I do enjoy all those things, but my interests used to be truly eclectic.  I had come to feel as if I was  a replicate of all the other black middle-class inhabitants of Atlanta.  Now, don't misunderstand me.  There's nothing  wrong with the black-washed American Dream.  It's just a little boring and doesn't provide much opportunity for growth.  Zzzzzzzz........
   Recently, I've turned my focus toward renewing my friendship with myself.  A re-discovery of sorts regarding who I am without any association to some other person, clique, my membership in Delta Sigma Theta, Impact Church, being a PhD student, my status in Atlanta or any other thing outside myself that someone else might use to measure my acceptability or okay-ness.  I did this by forcing myself to sit still without the television, mobile device, lap-top, calendar or music.  Reading is my escape.  I didn't give myself the opportunity to disappear into the pages of a book.  However, I did read some inspirational books and check in with some spiritual health gurus.  It helps to find confirmation that you're on the right path or to peek in on someone else's journey to know you're not the only kid on the block who's looking for her happy place.  I journaled my thoughts and took myself on  dates.  I didn't tell anyone.  I was selfish with me.  I wanted all my time and attention.  It is in this space that I fell in love all over again.
   Last week, I mentioned the book Add More ~ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein.  It has been a great source of inspiration for me.  Also, it is confirmation that I'm on the right path.  As I have  continued reading, I have discovered that her book addresses many of the things I've already blogged about.  I wish I had been aware of it sooner.  My other sources of confirmation are other bloggers, life coaches and dreamers that I've met because I began writing this blog.  They have rekindled in me stuff I hadn't thought about in years.  I got so bogged down in all my other love affairs, that I neglected the one I had been having with myself.  No more.  This is a love affair I intend to continue and share with my future groom.

Monday, June 6, 2011

So, You've Got a Big Ego?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about ego lately.  Specifically, I've been thinking a lot about my own. During the last few weeks I've been observing my own reactions to my emotions, family, friends, encounters with people, perception of the world, experience of events and surroundings in general.  The ego, mine especially, can be a nasty little bugger. 

I've been reading "Add More ~ ing To Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness" by Gabrielle Bernstein.  Gabrielle writes that the ego is the nasty voice of fear.  She goes on to quote A Course in Miracles which refers to ego as "quite literally a fearful thought."  I got it, but needed to dig a little deeper. My background is in psychology and behavior modification strategies and thought both statements were accurate, but didn't quite tell the entire story.  Ego is all about "the other." "The other" can be our body, family members, romantic partners, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, magazines, sorority sisters, society  or  any other thing outside us. We can be vulnerable to what these people, places and things tell us about ourselves and as such the ego can become a reflection of that.  For example, if your significant other thinks you're great and treats you accordingly chances are you feel pretty great about yourself and soak up the positive attention.  Conversely, if your peer group suddenly turns against you and begins to make disparaging remarks you start to wonder what's wrong with me.  Let's take it a few steps further.  It's a recession and ego tells you there are no jobs to be had so you won't be hired and will lose your home.  You break a freshly manicured nail and ego pokes at you and says you don't deserve to be pretty. Maybe you've applied to the executive MBA program, but aren't accepted.  Ego says you're not smart enough.  You're not receiving any attention and ego is feeling neglected and encourages you to go get some attention without regard for it being positive or negative.  Uh, oh you got married, have the spouse, the kids, the car, the gated community and the image, but wake up and find it's not what you really wanted.  Ego laughs and says, but it's what I wanted. You're hired, but only if you move across country.  Ego laughs because you let fear keep you from your dream job. You think you're really smart and have all the answers, but ego leaves you with egg on your face.  Or your last two relationships have failed.  Ego whispers in your ear you're not good enough, you'll be single and alone....FOREVER.  Essentially, ego finds its strength in past hurts, disappointments and our continued reliance on "the other."  The good news is that the ego is fake.

The ego is not real.  It's not our true and authentic self.  So, how do we find the real center?  How do we change our thinking?  Well, it's hard work.  I didn't realize that I was moving away from ego until that ugly voice in my head didn't show up one day.  In the past things such as lost keys, broken nails, a flat tire, lunch forgotten at home, horrendous traffic, a bad hair day, not getting the guy, poochy stomach, multivariate statistics, lack of attention from friends, a heart felt message that goes unacknowledged or burnt toast could send me over the edge. It happened because I was invested in an identity that was rooted in "the other."  Eventually, I discovered that in order for me to REALLY be happy, I had to leave all that in the past. I had to move outside my comfort zone, leave some people behind and stop making the experiences of others my own.  It took some conscious effort and some time.  First, I had to address the grief and anger I had surrounding multiple deaths and being left behind by one of my most important others, my best friend. This meant pastoral counseling.  Yup, I had to go talk it out.  Second, I had to let go of the folks who were contributing to those nasty little voices in my head. One an old love and the other was someone that I've known since elementary school - another best friend. I haven't had a real conversation with this person in nearly two years.  Last, I had to cast out my mother's voice (sorry Mommy if you're reading this).  On more than one occasion she's said don't get married and don't have any kids.  I adopted that thinking as my own for some time. Who knows who I might have missed on the path by making her experiences my own?

What does this mean for 18 Months to the Altar?  Courtesy of loving affirmations, meditation, and right intention I've arrived at a place where "the other" isn't center stage as it once was. It's off to the left now. By relinquishing "the other" willingly and unwillingly, I have been able to work toward cultivating my own consciousness that is much more real and fulfilling than what was possible with ego.  It's freeing and has eliminated some of the limitations that were keeping me in a particular space and not allowing me to see other ways of being. This is what I'm now offering to the Universe. In keeping with the law of attraction, I  expect to connect with a partner who is of like mind. 
We will both want to build a relationship that has its foundation in a ccollective consciousness created by us and is based upon who we are authentically and has no reliance upon what "the other" might expect or dictate.