Saturday, January 30, 2016

4 Realizations & Recap of "The Power of Letting Go" #BetheChange

So I've reached the end of my first month. So far so good. My 2016 Power Project seems to be off to a great start and I'm excited to leap into next month's challenge: The Power of Listening

But right now, I want to take a moment to reflect on The Power of Letting Go and what I've learned this month.

Realization #1: The Power of Letting Go, while seemingly passive, is actually a very active and powerful approach.

It takes a lot of self-restraint not to reach across the table and snatch someone's eyeballs out of their sockets. Talking myself down from a rage takes a lot of control. It's a challenge to not go to war over nothing and instead put down my weapons. Sustained, active attempts must be made in the process of letting go, so if anyone tells you it's a cake walk, they're horribly ignorant of the Power of Letting Go. The idea is simple, but the practice is far from easy. 

Realization #2: The Power of Letting Go is an important first step to any task. It goes something like this: When living powerful, step 1: Let goAny time I encounter negative emotions or conflict, the VERY FIRST thing I must do is let go. Let go of my ego. Let go of my attachment to an outcome. Let go of my belief that whatever happened was a personal attack. Let go of my assumptions and indignation. Everything. When I fail to let go, I'm tying my hands and thwarting my access to my power. And in the face of challenge is the moment I need my power most. So to get those generators going at full blast, I have to first flip the "Let Go" switch, and get all the resistance out of the lines.

Realization #3: In addition to being a first line of defense, letting go is a continuous practice, with awareness at the core of its effectiveness.

Letting go is not one of those things that you learn to do once and then never have to think about again (bicycles, texting, etc). It's a continuous practice that requires a great deal of awareness. You have to get really good at noticing when you ARE NOT letting go and then implement your "letting go"action plan immediately. So patience and dedication to the approach is essential in making it work. So even when letting go becomes especially hard in the heat of a moment, it's absolutely essential to remember how valuable and absolutely worth it is to let go.

Realization #4: We all struggle to let go in our own unique way.
We are each different people, with our own personalities. Due to circumstances and life events, we each have a variety of triggers. Identifying what you commonly attach to and struggle to let go of can be a really beneficial first step in harnessing The Power of Letting Go. For example, I have a few specific areas where I can also always catch myself attaching. I struggle to let go of:

*Negative self-talk and instead practice self-acceptance
*The need to be right
*A desired outcome (I want it to happen like this and NOW)
*The need for approval or external validation

...and so on. By knowing that I'm prone to attach in any situation where these triggers are activated, it helps me to be more aware of my behavior and to engage my "let it go" sequence. But just because these are my triggers, doesn't mean they are the same triggers for other people.

So overall, I've definitely seen the power in letting go and how it can transform my outlook and relationships with other people. I hope to continue to work on letting go as I move into next month's challenge.

Friday, January 29, 2016

#amreading a #poem; #poetry #Friday

Whatever slid into my mother's room that 
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling. 
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
cradling me? it was the moon 
but nobody knew it then.

the moon understands dark places.
the moon has secrets of her own.
she holds what light she can.

we girls were ten years old and giggling 
in our hand-me-downs. we wanted breasts,
pretended that we had them, tissued
our undershirts. jay johnson is teaching 
me to french kiss, ella bragged, who
is teaching you? how do you say; my father?

the moon is queen of everything.
she rules the oceans, rivers, rain.
when I am asked whose tears these are
I always blame the moon. 

Lucille Clifton

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Happy is Hard #TheBestofMe #BetheChange

I have a friend who kind of like the human version of Eeyore. 

Everything out of his mouth is incredibly negative. Not only does he talk bad about the crappy people in his life (jerk coworkers, a woman that betrayed him/left him) etc, he also talks really poorly about himself as well. He will call himself stupid or say things like “maybe I should just give up on everyone and everything” and so on. The exception of course is that he never says anything negative about me; he’s always been very positive and kind in that regard.

This negativity makes it really difficult to interact with him, which is sad. But no amount of sympathy or “what can I do to help you?” seems to alleviate the situation.

So today, after another round of negativity I asked myself how I might I apply the concept of “letting go” to this situation.
At first, I was like “He needs to let go! He needs to take responsibility!”

I wanted to shake him and remind him that he is blessed, his life is good. So many people out there in the world have it so much worse than he does! He might not like his job, but he has a job! He can pay his bills. He might not like certain people in his life, but he is free to go find new people. And so on. I wanted to remind him about women being sex trafficked against their will, abused children, or wrongly imprisoned captives. “You have no right to wallow! Unlike a lot of people you can change your life and you should! If you’re miserable, you’ve no one to blame but yourself.”

I didn’t say any of this of course. My first act of letting go was in letting go of my intense desire to tell him to have a little accountability for himself. No matter how badly I wanted to say, “stop blaming everyone else for your misery. You create your misery”, instead I asked “Can I help?”

He said “No, not really…I think I will just get plastered.”

Me: “You’re an adult. You can drink if you want.”

“I don’t drink.”
Me: “Smart!”

“No I’m stupid!!!”

“You are very negative in the way you talk about yourself. I don’t like it.”

“I have always been that way I am just a good actor”

“Not that good as it seems you do it a lot. How would you feel if you had to listen to me talk about how stupid, or fat, or ugly I am?” (this is where I start to attach again and then struggle to let go)

Him: You are none of those things.

….and so on and so forth. So from this I can tell it isn’t that he is incapable of positivity, but he is horribly negative to himself? So how did I let go:

--I let go of my desire to change his mind. (I’m not going to convince him he is the captain of his destiny, if he doesn’t want to hear it.)

--I let go of my desire for a certain outcome. (to make him realize his tendency to blame rather than accept responsibility for his own happiness)

--I let go of my idea of what he “should” be. My friend has as much right to move through the world as a taciturn whiny creature as I do as a happy, positive one. When I decide his morose nature is “wrong”, I’m judging him. I’m holding onto certain beliefs or notions that may or may not be accurate. So it is better for both of us if I let go of these notions and the expectations that accompany them.

--I let go of the belief that have control over anyone but myself. I may not be able to control his outlook, speech or behavior. But I can control my reaction to it.

--Acknowledge that while I’m willing to practice “letting go” not everyone is capable or willing to do so at this moment. I may want my friend to wake up and realize that he doesn’t appreciate his life and all his opportunities. I may want him to take responsibility for his happiness and to work harder at making himself happy. But happy is hard work and not everyone is in a place where they can accommodate that kind of commitment. And I have no right to ask them to do so.

--Be the change I want to see in the world. I want to interact with happy and positive people because whiny/depressive people just suck all the energy right out of me. This means that when I am whiny and depressive I’m probably also quite the soul-sucker. So instead of complaining about my friend, I should consciously work harder to be the positive happy person I want to be around—not only for myself—but so that positivity can benefits others' lives

Note: What I’m describing is hard to do if someone you love is clinically depressed however. But I’m not talking about clinical depression which requires professionals and perhaps medical intervention. I’m just talking about people with negative personalities.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mo' #Money, Mo' #Problems #thebestofme

Through money or power you cannot solve all problems. The problem in the human heart must be solved first-- The Dalai Lama

A lot of people have said it in a lot of different ways, but it comes down to this: there comes a point when you no longer own possessions, but your possessions own you.

Like most people, I am not insanely wealthy. Not even a little bit wealthy when you hold my student loan debt up to the light, but it seems, nonetheless that I acquire more and more things as the years go on. At 32, I have a house, a car, a dog, a soon-to-be wife-- and all the furniture and accessories that accompany each.

Now, if you are materialistic as I tend to be, you might think--oh but you could have a nicer house, a nicer car, a nicer soon-to-be-wife (you'd be wrong on this account, however, since she is the loveliest creature on the planet) and a better dog (wrong). I could also get a boat, a motorcycle, more clothes or shoes, a riding lawnmover, more, and more and more...

But here is the thing about wealth: it makes us rather lazy and worthless. We no longer learn how to do things for ourselves, we pay others to do them for us. Instead of developing skills, we hand over the opportunity. We no longer spend our free time how we please--we spend it acquiring more things (which I guess that's fine if that's how you'd like to spend your time) or we spend our time taking care of all the things that we've acquired. 

We become a slave to our possessions.  We think I'll own a dog. It'll be great to own a dog. But anyone with a dog knows that the dog owns us. Especially if the dog is a puppy. We arrange our work schedules and our sleep schedules to accommodate potty breaks. We organize our furniture and possessions in a way to prevent chewing and before we know it the dog has impacted OUR behavior far more than we have impacted its behavior and the same is true for possessions. 

Let's consider my dining room table, for example. My dining room table is by far the most expensive possession in my home. It's a very nice table, and cost me thousands of dollars.

Now because it is a table and because we decided to use the nice table rather than preserve it with shrink wrap, it has scratches now. This happens. BECAUSE IT IS A TABLE. (insert any possession here...table, car, clothes, etc). We buy possessions so that we can use them, when they are used they become worn. (Let's leave the expensive Chinese vases out of this example, for now. The puppy is going to knock it over and break it later anyway).

So how much energy did I expend fretting over my table when I first got it? How much polishing? How much research on how to remove scratches? How much shopping for runners and place mats and vaccumming of my fancy cushy chairs--that got dog hair on them because, you know, I also "own" a dog.

Too much time is my conclusion.

Now this is where letting go comes in. Buy the nice things. Sure. If they make you happy. But then it's important to LET GO of my desire to keep them perfect. LET GO of the illusion that somehow they make me "better" as a person--more powerful, more affluent (anything but more ridiculous) when the reality is they weaken me. They distract me, they blur the priorities of my mind--the soon to be wife is my most important love in the world--yet I would yell at her for scratching the table--it's ludicrous and evidence of the power possessions have over me rather than vice versa me.

And maybe you'd say, well Kory you just need to be RICHER. Then you can truly have all the things and not care about them. Okay, let's go all the way to the top. Kory is the first zillionaire. She can buy what she wants and if a table is scratched, no problem! Throw it out! Burn it! Buy  another. But here is the rub. That kind of throw-away consumerism goes against one of my core beliefs and desires for a sustainable planet. It feels the belief that it makes me lazy, wasteful, and not at all powerful.

So bottomline, I've concluded that money does not necessarily make you powerful. In fact, too much can be trouble--as is the case with too little. So, I think it is better to walk the middle way. Do my best to tread lightly on the earth, take as little as I need, and do not for a second believe that more money means more power. 

It is one of the greatest delusions of our time.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#Mondayblogs: The Universe Provides! #lettinggo #selfwork

So as you may know from reading the blog this month, it's all about Letting Go. Cue Elsa: "Let it go...let it go!"

Well, the funny thing about life is that the universe tends to provide you with lessons as you go along. For example, I thought I had made such awesome progress this month! I'd singled out several things that snagged me and was learning to let them go, I was breaking old agreements, I was winning at life!

Then something happens.

At aikido last Monday night, I sprained my ankle. I went to attack someone (with their permission of course), I heard a loud popping sound, and BAM. I hit the mat like a brick. At first I was just shocked. Then the pain came. Then the anger. And then the fear...which lead me to several realizations:

1. I have a fear of mortality.I think anyone who has ever read the Jesse Sullivan books will know that I'm constantly trying to make death funny, probably to lighten my own terror of it. But actually, what this experience taught me was that it isn't death itself that scares me most. It's weakness, immobility, getting old and no being able to get around on my own. I know this makes me sound like an ungrateful twat to elderly people, but it's scary! And having a sprained ankle awakened all that. My mobility is limited, I'm worried about healing poorly and having problems later. What happens if I can't walk when I'm 80, or 70, or...

2. I am still extremely hard on myself.
While it is true that I've become more patient, more kind, and more loving to the people around me, I can't seem to do that for myself yet. When I sprained my ankle, my interior dialogue was brutal: "God this is all my fault! I'm so stupid! Who hurts themself when attacking someone?! I'm the worst ninja in the world! Who am I kidding, I was never a ninja to begin with! My blackbelt days are behind me. I'm not half the fighter I used to be--and I probably wasn't even a good one to begin with!"

And on and on it went. It didn't matter that sprained ankles are extremely common or that it happens to almost everyone who does any kind of athletic stuff. I forgot all of that as I beat the hell out of myself.

3. I'm not okay with physical weakness.
This is obvious to me and kind of mixed up with 1 and 2. But it comes down to the fact that in my past I was taken advantage of for being small and weak (yes, abuse) and so now if I even register pain I'm horribly hard on myself. Partly because being in pain is too closely related with tolerating abuse. YES, YES, YES, I know this isn't true. But you can't make the irrational fears sensible even to the knows-better mind.

So bottom line, hurting my ankle showed me that I still have a long way to go with "letting go" and that work will probably extend far beyond the month of January.

Friday, January 22, 2016

#Read a #poem: If by Rudyard Kipling #poetry

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How to Let Go of Old Agreements #TheBestofMe

One of the important aspects of honoring the Toltec “Four Agreements” is to also break your old agreements so that you can have room for new, more beneficial agreements. If you don’t know what an agreement is, start here.

If you do, let’s talk about how to break them. The answer is little by little over time and the most important first step is to
identify those old faulty agreements that you’ve made in your past. You’ve got to open the junk drawer to know what’s in there!

It’s about freeing yourself and to do that you must
forget everything you learned.

Here is some of the nonsense I’ve learned:

Old Agreements worth breaking
New Agreements

I am ugly: buck teethed, thin lipped, bow legged, fat, with jowls.

I am beautiful and attractive to many people. But more importantly, I make people feel good

Physical appearance is really important
It isn’t what you look like, but how you make people feel that matters.

Only rich people are powerful.

Warriors are the most powerful.

Only physical power matters.

All bodies grow weak and die.

I waste too much time.

Curiosity and creativity is worth my time.

Being a writer isn’t a worthy occupation.

Words change the word.

Charm and people-pleasing are the keys to love.

Kindness and gentleness are key to love.

Failure makes you weak.

Giving up makes you weak.

It is important to make a lot of money.

It is important to spend my days exactly as I wish. It is important to find pleasure
in all things.

My home isn’t good enough.

My home is a loving, comfortable space

My car isn’t good enough.

I am so lucky to have private transportation

Recognition validates my talent.

Mastery and challenge validates my talent.

I need external validation.

I must believe in myself.

I need to be thin.

I enjoy feeling strong.
I must be amazing in order to impress and be worthy of admiration.
I must be exactly what I am* in order to impress and be worthy of admiration.

I was cheated out of a loving family.

My life is full of amazing people.

I was cheated out of a happy childhood.

I have been strong from an early age.

What are some of the silly things you’ve learned over time? What agreements do you need to break?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Fourth Agreement #TheBestofMe

The 4th agreement from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements is: “Always do your best”. He qualifies this immediately with the changeable nature of your best. “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

So what is “my best”?

My best is:

apologizing when I realize I am wrong.

Letting go of the need to be right.

Forgiving others when they slight 

Laughing more.

Being patient with myself and others

practicing gratitude every day, even in the toughest of situations

Appreciating my progress

Trying again when I fail

Being kind even when I am tired or angry and don’t want to be kind

And while this might be the baseline for my “best”, it will change. It will change as I grow and it will changed based on my mental/emotional/physical state. It is only important that my best be a challenge, something to aspire to that promotes my growth and well-being.

What is your best?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Third Agreement #Lettinggo #TheBestofMe

As I continue to make my way through The Four Agreements, we arrive at agreement #3: Make no assumptions. In the book, the advice is as follows: “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama.”
There are many ways that we make assumptions:
- We take insults personally
- We assume that everything is about us
- We assume people just know what we want
- We assume people know what we mean, when maybe our communication is unclear
- We assume we know what someone means when they speak.
- We assume that we can change people
- We assume certain events, people, actions are horrible or good
Of course, this makes me think of the age old adage—Assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME.

So how do we keep ourselves from making assumptions?
            -When someone is horrible to you, don’t take it personally. It might be because they had a bad day or because someone was horrible to them. It could be they are fighting with their own issues and you are just a mirror for that problem. Whatever the case, even if they call you fat and ugly, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

            -We assume everything is about us. If our partners don’t do the dishes, it’s a slap in the face, rather than the fact they might just be exhausted. If we are passed over for promotion, it’s because someone hates us rather than someone else was more qualified.

            -We assume people know what we want. It’s very romantic, the idea that someone can just look at me and know my deepest desires, fulfilling them without effort. If this magic was commonplace, novels about mindreading boyfriends wouldn’t be so popular. The fact is that people don’t know what we want. They are so wrapped up in their own dramas, that if we want something we are going to have to ask. Asking questions is the best way to clarify communication.
            - We assume people know what we mean, when maybe our communication is unclear. We assume we know what someone means when they speak. Half the time I don’t even know what I mean when I’m talking, so assuming that other people know what I mean is ridiculous. The reverse is also true. Just because someone says something, it doesn’t mean that’s what they meant. If that were always true, we would haven’t the saying “Don’t say things you don’t mean.”
       - We assume that we can change people. We cannot change people. They can only change themselves. Period. Yet that doesn’t stop us from trying though and the trying part is the exact opposite of “letting go”. So instead of working so hard to make people the way we want them to be (children, friends, spouses) we should focus on our own growth instead.

-We assume certain events, people, actions are horrible or good. This is another one of those ideas that I came across in Buddhism. And it relates to Shakespeare’s famous quote which I mentioned before: “Nothing is neither good nor bad, it is our thoughts that make it so.” I personally find it beneficial to apply positivity in all situations regardless of whether they are good or bad. (Buddhists: nothing is good or bad). If something terrible happens, I can cry about it or I can say "what an awesome opportunity to strengthen my "letting go" muscles. I can despair at my circumstances or I can be grateful for what I have. Of course, even applying positivity is unnecessary, if I manage to not assume something was "horrible" to begin with.

What assumptions do you often make?

Monday, January 18, 2016

#Mondayblogs: Don't Take This Personally #TheBestofMe #power project

As with the first agreement, the second agreement focuses on letting go of the habits and attitudes that keep us attached, upset, angry, and unenlightened.

The second agreement is "Don't take anything personally."

This is another one of those ideas that I feel I've come across in Buddhism. 

When someone says you're stupid, you take it personally. Maybe you retort with "no, you're the idiot!" Or maybe you cry. Or maybe you punch them in the face. All responses would be appropriate in these situations, by normal standards.

However, Ruiz encourages us to realize that everything out of everyone's mouth is about them not us. Because of the beliefs we hold or rather the falsehoods we believe, we perceive the world a certain way and interact with others accordingly.

Because we take someone's words or actions personally (that guy just cut me off and flipped me the bird, what an asshole!) then we become angry, upset, jealous, etc. Sure this all sounds simple on paper, Ruiz, but if you'd told my 20-year-old self not to take my ex-girlfriend's infidelty personally, I would have clawed someone's eyes out! 

But this isn't an idea that is limited to The Four Agreements, but reoccurs throughout the ages. Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” which is the same idea because we're thinking "hey look what happened to me!" 

And in Buddhism the same is emphasized--that our attachments to outcomes or our expectations for moments create the conflict. We make every minute of our lives "all about me". 

So what must I let go in order to honor the second agreement:

-My need for praise or positive affirmations (But like Rubin, I love those gold stars!)
-My belief that a person's poor behavior or attitudes have anything to do with me

-concern regarding what other's think of me (or my work by extension)
-the idea that I must do or say or believe anything to be loved
-taking myself or my life too seriously, as this is also taking it personally.
-inner self-criticism/negative internal dialogue, which is also making it all about me, when it's not.

Yeahhhh....wish me luck! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cover Reveal: Worth Dying For (A Jesse Sullivan Novel)

Behold! The cover of Worth Dying For, the fifth novel in the Jesse Sullivan series. Pretty right? I think it looks great beside the other four titles. Don't you?

Worth Dying For is due to be released May 2, 2016. If you're new to the Jesse Sullivan contemporary fantasy series, good news--Book 1, Dying for a Living is free! Learn why this book has over 175 5-star reviews here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

#Fridayreads: A #poem by Wislawa Szymborska

The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods? 
For a drink of written water from a spring 
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle? 
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something? 
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth, 
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips. 
Silence - this word also rustles across the page 
and parts the boughs 
that have sprouted from the word 'woods.'
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page, 
are letters up to no good, 
clutches of clauses so subordinate 
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply 
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights, 
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment, 
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life. 
Other laws, black on white, obtain. 
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say, 
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight. 
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so. 
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall, 
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs? 
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing. 
The power of preserving. 
Revenge of a mortal hand. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The First Agreement #TheBestofMe #Power #Inspiration

As part of my Power Project exploration, I’m doing lots of reading. One such book (which I am not finished with) is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is another one of those books, like The Happiness Project that was super hot for a minute and everyone read it—but me.

Anyhoo, I am struck by a concept in this book that Ruiz calls “making an agreement”. Here is a good example from page 35-36:

“There was a woman, for example, who was intelligent and had a very good heart. She had a daughter whom she adored and loved very much. One night she came home from a very bad day at work, tired, full of emotional tension, and with a terrible headache. She wanted peace and quiet, but her daughter was singing and jumping happily. The daughter was unaware of how her mother was feeling; she was in her own world, in her own dream. She felt so wonderful, and was she jumping and singing louder and louder, expressing her joy and her love. She was singing so loud that it made her mother’s headache even worse, and at a certain moment, the mother lost control. Angrily she looked at her beautiful little girl and said, ‘Shut up! You have an ugly voice. Can you just shut up!’  

The truth is that the mother’s tolerance for any noise was nonexistent; it was not that the little girl’s voice was ugly. But the daughter believed what her mother said, in that moment made an agreement with herself. After that she no longer sang, because she believed her voice was ugly and would bother anyone who heard it. She became shy at school, and if she was asked to sing, she refused. Even speaking to others became difficult for her. Everything changed in the little girl because of this new agreement: she believed she must repress her emotions in order to be accepted and loved.”

We receive information every day from friends, family, coworkers, loved ones, strangers, the news and media—they tell us things that may be true, but most likely is as untrue as the little girl having an ugly voice. We hear these things and believe them to be true. We uphold these “agreements” they are true and they change us entirely.

I can’t help but wonder: how much of my personal power is wrapped up in shoddy agreements that I’ve made? 15%? 45%? I have a terrible feeling the number is much much higher.

So one important step toward reclaiming my power would be to sniff out all of the little agreements I’ve made over the years, and break them one by one, setting myself free.

I made an agreement that I am too fat. And I should break that agreement and make a new one “I am beautiful”. Though I suspect it will take me a long time to work through the backlog of agreements I currently function with, it will be equally important to refrain from making any new agreements as I move forward. This doesn’t sound easy to do at all and I’m a little daunted by the task. But I can see truth in Ruiz’s advice. I am making an agreement that I must break all old unworthy agreements and focus on only one’s based on truth from now on.

What about you? What agreements have you made with yourself that are holding you back? Which ones should you let go of today?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why I Cried in the Shower #TheBestofMe

Lessons about letting go and power can come when you least expect it. This can be great, as it reminds me that opportunities for growth are present in every difficult moment. Also, that my optimism about growing as a person can make the difficult situation in question easier to bear.

One day I'll be like: something shitty happened. First thought: yay! A chance for growth and enlightenment!

This past weekend was my last weekend before the new semester started. Naturally, this looming "deadline" gave me a pressing urgency to get done some (a lot) house projects that I’d intended to finish over the holiday break. So I spent both days running around from project to project, hardly stopping to catch my breath.

Then on Sunday I had a tantrum (crying and all, I’m ashamed to admit), in my shower. Now…what happened? 

Was it that applying grout was especially challenging? No
Did a giant spider jump on my face? No.
Did I get injured or the house explode? Nope and nope.

Here’s what happened:

1.       I undervalued the importance of self-care.
I ate very little on Saturday or Sunday and yet I worked a lot. Ditto sleep. My body and mind (as that requires calories too) were hungry and tired. And when you’re hungry and tired it is harder to focus, complete projects, problem solve etc. I seem to forget this when I'm working. I neglect my physical needs in order to get the work done.

Sure, one day if I'm on the battlefields slaking my bloodlust, this tendency will come in handy.  But in my current "fat and contented house cat" life, I’m realizing a sandwich and a nap is just as important to Buddhahood as meditating. Sure, one day I may transcend beyond my blood sugar levels, but for now, I’ll just heap on the avocado. This is directly related to the fact that...

2.       I didn’t take enough breaks.
Kim loves to remind me of the time we hiked 12 miles in one day and I was a tyrant because I didn’t want to take any breaks. Well, this is a pretty good example of how I approach life. When I need to do something, I power through. I LOVE to power through and while it is important in some cases, it is equally, if not more important in other cases to break it into smaller bites. Part of it is about taking care of one’s self, but it’s also about being your best in a situation. You are not your most powerful in a moment, if you're worn down. Being fully present, resetting, so that you can go at it again with renewed vigor is a good way to be your strongest in a moment.

3.       My unnecessary standards created “war” where there was none.
No one MADE me do all the house projects this weekend. No one was going to show up at my house and make fun of me if I didn’t finish painting the kitchen. No one was going to take my house away because I “neglected” it. So why did I get so upset? Because I wanted to get it done! I’d put “paint the cabinet doors” on a list! Now it was mocking me every moment I didn’t scratch it off! This kind of false imperative is something I’m quite guilty of. And while it’s true it can be motivating at times, it’s a two-headed beast at best. It can turn on me and control my actions just as easily.  And applying these demands did nothing but stress me out and rob me of a nice quiet weekend before another hectic semester. No one did that to me but me. And this self-policing compulsion seems complex, so I will probably have to explore it more at a later time.

So you might be asking by now, “Kory, what the hell does this have to do with power and your 2016 Power Project?” To which I have an answer:

Sometimes being weak is simply a matter of giving away your power.

This weekend I weakened myself by imposing horrible standards and then not taking care of myself while I powered through tasks. I essentially tied both my hands, skipped meals and said “Now, through the hoops!”

In this case, I didn’t give it away to anyone in particular, but I gave it away nonetheless. And there are some things I could have done differently. I could have employed more positivity and enthusiasm. Instead of getting mad about the work, I could remind myself “working on your house is fun!” Realized that my desire to have it ALL done by 8pm on Sunday was unrealistic and too demanding. So cutting myself some slack was in order too, as well as the self-care and breaks I mentioned before.  Lastly, an appreciation for progress—sure, I didn’t get everything done, but the cabinets look good! The basement is tidy! The sink is fixed!  I could have practiced gratitude that I have a house at all (side-eye to the Syrian refugees. Hope to god they haven’t heard my drivel over here).

All of these actions: enthusiasm, positivity, gratitude and appreciation come from a place of strength. If I’d eaten some breakfast, maybe I would have remembered that.

I think this is also connected to the idea that "you are your own worst enemy". Most of us expect too much of ourselves, are the most critical of ourselves, and cut ourselves the least slack. So perhaps being powerful is about being gentle with myself first and foremost. But I think the intersection of gentleness and power is a contemplation for another day.

For now I'll simply close with what I learned: Letting go of my need to finish all the things--my all or nothing mentality--would have improved my fortitude in that moment. And that sometimes power isn't about acquiring MORE strength and dominance over a situation, but about recognizing the power you already have.