The opposite of survival

I used to live for survival. To scrape by. To make it.

Heart-Diamond-LI never realized what I was doing until a friend pointed it out. Good friends do that for you, they point out the thing you don’t want to see the most, in a gentle way, when it’s the right time.

I had gotten a Christmas bonus, not a large bonus, but an unexpected one.
I was telling my friend how excited I was and how I had not expected a bonus. My friend says “What are you going to do for yourself with it?”
“Pay some bills!” I say. I love getting things accomplished, paying things off, even though that might mean I have to charge them right back up.
She turned her head away from me, pausing. “What is it? Out with it.” I said

She says “I asked what you are going to do for yourself and you didn’t think about yourself first, you thought about money.”

Boom. Head-exploding advice right in the moment.

Have I been doing this? Surviving? Not taking care of myself first? Thinking of money instead of what’s right for me? Some might say the opposite of SURVIVAL is DEATH. It isn’t. In my case, it’s abundance. Survival is one step away from death in my book, not at the opposite end of the world. Survival is a hard habit to break, but an easy pattern to keep recreating in my life. Over and over.

She then said “I want you to leave here and head to Twist (one of my favorite jewelry stores) and buy yourself something. Right now.” Good friends do that too, they gently nudge or SHOVE you in the right direction when the time is right.

Could I? Should I? Shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I?

I walked into Twist and headed directly to a jewelry case that I know has the work of Jeanine Payer in it.  Classic, simple jewelry with poetry inscribed on it in the tiniest letters, so small that they are sometimes hard to read, but you always know it’s there.

The first necklace I ask to see, has a slim curved silver pendant, about a half-an-inch long and a red jewel stone hanging next to it. It’s delicate. I hold it up in the light to read it. On one side it says, “I call for your abundance” on the other “like an armor of ships.” ~ Leonore Wilson.

Boom. Again. A message from the universe.

Be on the lookout. The words always come, right when you need them, but you have to be listening.

*disclaimer – the photo of the necklace here is similar to mine, but the one in the photo has a diamond, not a red jewel.

today is the future

7664654346_335f7e8e19_bAt one of the last places I worked, the creative founder, many times used Ezra Pound’s line – Make it New. One year it was turned around into Make it New. Make it Now.

For me, that changed to The Future is Now.

The Future is Now reminds me of – The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. The power and things falling apart are both about living now and feeling now rather than thinking about the future. This doesn’t mean the thought of the future should not be bright, but the brightest point in our future might just be now. In most moments there is an energy, a spark, a something that says – everything is okay – everything if felt right now is good. Even if it’s terrible.

I remember being in the middle of a panic attack – and I find those two words strung together so interesting – PANIC ATTACK. The panic is coming after me, but in truth, I’m creating it. So what would that look like in words? MY PANIC? I’m slowly killing my own self through worry?

Anxiety was attacking me and I thought about the Power of Now and to Pema Chodron. In this moment – I am – I thought to myself, I am what? I am terrified and I cannot control what is going on. That’s one thing, but what else? In this moment, I am still alive. There, that is better. It’s all I could cling to – the moment of being alive – standing at the edge of a cliff with a wall of anxiety behind me, in front of me, beside me and below me, but still ALIVE. HERE. NOW. Not being able to calm that shit down is the worst.  Learning how to reframe it is a gift.

I love Pema Chodron because this is how she reframes it: “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

I’m no professional when it comes to curing anxiety, but I am an expert at having anxiety and now – at taking care of myself through it. I’ve learned that much of MY anxiety and anxiety in general came from not living in this moment, but thinking the future would be better, instead of focusing on making now good – I’d focus on the tomorrow, the what if or the past. Those things were killing me.

I needed a set of tools to help with anxiety to look at my shitty-feeling self through a new lens. Tools that could change my mind, change my outlook, change my life. All very scary, because when I started to find those tools, to learn how to deal with anxiety – I also learned I had to deal with all the issues in my life that were helping create anxiety. Miserable job, bad relationships, bad ideas, drama, my attitude and my behavior. I realized that living a life that is not about living now – was not about living at all, but existing. I want to do more than exist. Taking good care of myself first, rather than taking care of my job, the people around me or anyone else was the key to actually being able to have a future.

Here is a list of few tools that I learned help me: (the audio versions helped me tremendously)

First find a therapist, an adviser, a friend, someone who knows about the kinds of things you are going through. It’s not always easy to find the right one, but it’s worth it.

David Whyte: Midlife and the Great Unknown 

Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now

Pemo Chodron: When Things Fall Apart

The West Wing – I’ve no idea why this made the list, other than I watched it obsessively for two or three years.

Journal Writing and the Wish Jar – I’d write in my journal and anytime I came to a point where I was writing about something I wanted to happen in the future, I’d write it on a small slip of paper and put it in a jar, then I didn’t need to dwell on it. It was safe for the future. (I might have stolen this from the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – yet another tool – or I might have made it up, I can’t remember)

When I say journal writing, I think – ick – I hate the sound of it and the thought of it, but I sit down and do it anyway.

The future is not next week, next month, next year – it is NOW. Changes may take you well into the future, but there is no place to start but NOW. There is something in every moment, even if it’s just asking the question, what am I right now, what can I learn right now?

The future is NOW. And Now.

What are your tools? Post them here, I’m always looking for new tools.


My favorite color is gray.
Why gray?
Gray is the in between of black and white and in a world where so many things have to be this way or that, I prefer the middle road. The gray.

It’s a reminder to myself that most of the good stuff in life happens in the gray, thinking and not acting, believing and not doubting, faith and hope instead of despair, understanding and empathy instead of judgment.
When things are gray they don’t have to be firm, they don’t have to be focused, they can be in between.

Gray is good in my book.

When in the gray, you don’t have to say yes and you don’t have to say no. You can say yes to both the white and the black.

The black and white world belongs in the early 1970s when everything was black and white on TV. I didn’t have color TV until 1981, so I lived in the black and white world a bit longer than most and got stuck there until I was round about 33, but now I can see the difference between living in black and white and living in gray.

There is a saying  – Barn’s burnt down…Now I can see the moon, it’s a quote from Mizuta Masahide, a seventeenth century Japanese poet and samurai. When I lived more in the black and white world this kind of thing occurred many times in my life. All or nothing. Black or white. Now, I don’t have to burn the whole barn down to see the moon, might have to knock down an old wall or two, but not the whole barn.

Gray is good. What’s your favorite color and why?


To move your life forward you sometimes need a push, or a shove, or to finally realize the choices you’ve been making don’t serve you anymore.

Four weeks ago, at work, I drew a line in the sand and said what I thought and what I believe to be true, not what someone wanted to hear, but exactly what I thought.  I felt in my gut that if I did this I might be fired. I did it anyway, because it was the right thing.  Anyone I asked said,

“Oh no, you’ll never be fired for that!”

Somewhere deeper than I can explain though, I felt it, I knew this choice might just tip the scales.

The GIFT was knowing it was the right thing and could cause a problem and still doing it.  To speak up after all these years of not really speaking up, not just at work, but in life in general. The consequence of not speaking up this time was too great.  I was losing myself and my voice.  Feeling lost is not enough for me anymore.

I WAS fired just shy of one week ago today.  I feel fortunate that even in the moment when I was being fired I understood that it too was GIFT and a choice.   A push, a challenge – to be true to myself, to say what I mean from the most authentic place inside myself.

I never, ever imagined that there would come a day when I would say that I was fired.  I’ve worked since I was 7 years old and I’ve never once been fired. But, now that I have been, it’s one more thing I don’t have to fear.  I thought this was the worst thing that could ever happen and now I realize it’s not, I’m sure there is something worse.  I get the opportunity to reinvent myself, become a little better than before and to be more authentically me.

I do wish the conversation would have gone a bit differently, more genuine, but that was their choice. Now it’s my choice how I deal with it.  I’m a little angry and bitter and am letting those feelings run their course instead of stuffing them back like I would have years ago.  I know I’ll be fine, everything ALWAYS works out as it should, even if it’s a tough road to get there, or the end is not as you expected.

Here’s to what’s next in the world, what’s now. We can have whatever we want in life, we just need to ask for it, to choose it.

I’m not quite sure what the future holds, but I’m asking that whatever it is, it allows me the time to finish my book – oh and it has to be amazing.  Definitely.

Because of my new found freedom, I’ll have the chance to write more and I’ll be posting here two or three times a week, I promise to keep them shorter than this one and hopefully, they’ll be interesting to you.

What do you want to ask for that you think you can’t have?

What PUSH do you need to move forward?