Sunday, August 15, 2010

Room 520

Part One

Life is not as attached and grounded as we would like to make out to believe. It is so scary sometimes, and in the mist of that fear, the fragments of wonder and mystification lie. At times, there is an uncertainty, an uncomfortable uncertainty. Things can be chaotic and confusing at best when you are in search of that in which you cannot name.

The weekend before last I made a fourteen hour roundtrip drive that had taken me to a place that I had known so fondly when I was a child; a place where I would spend summers escaping the grips of a painful childhood and find refuge in the peace and tranquility of the outdoors. On the brink of my twenties, I felt trapped and overwhelmed by the pressures of life, more so facing the demands of whom I wanted to become as an “adult”. Once again, I escaped to the place that gave me sanctuary as a child – it was there I shut down from the outside world, and began looking inward to what I wanted out of life and held tight to that feeling. Somehow though, ten years later, now on the brink of my thirties, I find myself in the same vulnerable lost frame of mind – searching for answers on what to do next … Only this time, I feel more driven than I ever have before, yet I keep hitting my life’s compass with no indication being revealed on which direction I should take next.

On the Friday before I left, I sent this message to one of my best friends before departing: “I have a really, really heavy heart. I am angry and sad - at myself, at life, at what’s next, at lacking answers, at holding back. This weekend trip to see some family was much more needed than I dared to realize and I pray that the drive there, drive back, and the down time will give me the reflection I need to point me in the direction I am desperately searching for.”

Fascinates me what a day can bring – what endless possibilities it can hold. So many moments of unexpected whirlwinds, so many things we know nothing about – the magic, the mystery, the unseen. Throughout the formality of time, there is a consistent structure – the appearance of miraculous logistics that can and will swiftly change your life. And within that logistics, there is an energetic feeling that engulfs you when you literally can feel a smile coming from your soul after a moment of clarity has taken a hold on your quintessence …

On that Sunday when I returned, I felt like I had been set free into the woman I was meant to be – into a direction filled with unknown promise that was exciting and exhilarating. I was spellbound with a charismatic energy that had truly awakened my core. I became acutely reminded that with life, it’s what we make of it and I have done a poor job lately in not embracing all of the magic. I have forgotten to clinch the explorer side of my persona –developing and cultivating through discovery that inner light inside.

On the drive home, I remembered a piece of history …

Dudley and Room 520
Stop and imagine London in the month of January. It’s cold, dark, and depressing at best. Yet one of my most spontaneous of girlfriends found herself there for work right after the holiday season was over. She was at a similar place in her life that I am now – searching for answers on what the next move should be …

She was only in town for five days, three full of business, the other two free to fill with her own agenda. The first night to herself she made her way straight to a corner pub. She had a deep love affair for music and the band that was playing was intoxicating with their sound of raw emotion and the power to heal. Here, at the counter of the bar where she was ordering another glass of wine with a tequila chaser, she met Dudley. He was charming, intelligent, and made her laugh … She told me later she felt like she had known him for years, as comfortable and open with him she immediately was. Literally, after striking up their conversation, the rest of the world became a distant fixture. Before they knew it, the pub was empty, besides the bar manager, and their tabs were quite minimal despite the fact that they had indulged in a game of “That bottle is not empty yet, keep pouring”.

Dudley was in town on business from Sydney, Australia, but he was born and raised in the UK before moving down under some ten years prior. He told her how one day he decided to sell everything – quit his successful job – and landed in Australia where he spent a year traveling. One door lead to another and another until this year he is becoming a citizen of the country, buying a home, and is once again in a successful profession that he enjoys. They discussed his adventures, philosophy, and determination. He was opening her eyes to life’s endless possibilities – and how standing behind reluctance and fear will not deliver fulfillment.

My friend ended up spending her two days soaking up the company of Dudley. They explored the countryside, the taste of European wine, and music from different realms that would drift through her ears and reach the depths of her soul. Those two days were both engaging and enlightening. They held a power with an aware aftermath of change. In the magic, there was a fondness between them and a veil of inspiration and clarity. They shared an intense love affair that was almost Shakespearean in beauty. Yet, within that beauty, stood firm in the room a Capulet of insolence – the distance reality had between them; she is from the states, he lives down under. Yet for a brief time they shared Room 520.

I share her story with you because if you ask her what that weekend meant to her, she gets this twinkle in her eye, a smile that instantly reflects on her face, takes a deep breath and when she exhales you hear a passionate reflection … “I felt like I was in a foreign land, and I had shut out the rest of the world for awhile.”

That weekend forced my friend to think. She was filled with all of this inspiration and muse, hope and determination – she was closer to sealing the deal with risk. She felt compelled to race to the starting line in life – and shout “I am ready!! Finally – I am ready!” No more holding back. No more seclusion. No more fear. She had spent a majority of her life wrestling with rational, text book options that existed in her life – and neglected that lioness inside that was screaming to awake her soul. She wanted risk. Chance. A clinched need in the area of truly living this existence and not merely existing … She left not expecting Dudley to contact her, and she did not ask him for a way to reach him – or if he even wanted her to. When she arrived back home, her new found wisdom on life told her what she needed to do - She called the hotel and left a message for Room 520 … “I wish I would have told you before I left … I hope you stay in touch. Life has a funny way of presenting itself and if I didn’t tell you I would have regretted it. With every piece of inspiration you have given me this weekend, I more than know I will no longer live with regret of what I should have done. The days of me standing on the sidelines are over”

Reflecting on that time in her life, she still gets that twinkle in her eye, “I took away so much from that time with Dudley. Literally felt like I was on a coaster of powerful emotions, which has not slowed down since that weekend. I felt like before I was hiding from the sunshine in life, making excuses why logically it was not the “right time” in life to do x, y, or z … on the flight home, from deep within my soul I felt this smile that was so surreal. I laughed until I cried. I had done something I had never done before – experienced living on the unexpected, following my wants and desires instead of making excuses for why I shouldn’t.”

Highway 39 out of Wisconsin …
I know - I felt the same way driving home that weekend. I traveled back to a place that had always brought such serenity and promise, and once again it did not fail me on providing a whirlwind of sustenance and rejuvenation. It was not about the trip there, nor was it about her brief love affair – in both of our cases it was about being awakened inside to a new found inspiration that you’re dying to use before it dissipates. It’s about facilitating the application of the belt of truth of divine activity. Combining faith with passion. And allowing it to awaken your soul.

Part Two

My “London after the holiday’s friend” beyond a doubt knows that many die with the muse still left in them, unused for the purpose it holds – and she is determined not to let her reverie go to waste. If you ask her what next’s next on her agenda, she says with grace and humor, “Let’s face it – the odds of me running into an Australian sunset with Dudley are slim at best ... but what he opened my eyes to over the course of two days will truly stay with me for the rest of my life if I act now on this inspiration ...” And act she has. Since her trip she has been angry, cried, laughed and continues to have waves of acuity and inspiration – she has been set free. Although it’s a process, and each day she wrestles with what move is next, she no longer holds back with reluctance – instead she goes for it – listens to her inner voice of intuition– in her career, in her relationships, in her way of life, and in her adventures.

Thinking of her story, I questioned my own hesitation in life on my drive home. I have a tendency to replace my dreams with more practical steps to take … exchanging my passport of adventure for a life of routine and structure. I hide from the application of my gifts and passions in the essence of fear. Fear that manifests into avoidance and delay. However, after this weekend of process, I find myself nonstop with thoughts racing like rice being tossed up in the air at a wedding. I am running around with sticky notes stuck to my forehead as I am a fountain of thoughts and clarity. I know that it’s more than the right time to start making some gutsy decisions. With the size and magnitude of this life, we must be faced daily with the notion that we only have one go at this. Stop running from your dreams and start chasing them. Being afraid is being generous to settling. Don’t be anxious to risk – the only thing you have to lose is the effort that you at least tried.

The verdict is still out on what our future holds – for any of us. The evidence is presented that today is the first day to the rest of your life. Each day as the sunrises and sets, endless possibilities are playing out. The time is now for us to move forward. Trust your heart - follow it with guidance from your mind, but at the end of the day never let your thoughts win over your feelings - it’s those feelings that shake our core and forever last in our soul.

The best is not yet to come. The best is here, it is now, it is this moment. Don’t let it slip by. Let it change you. Let it touch your soul. Let it awakened you inside and deliver inspiration that you too can use before it dissipates. Life is half risk and half chance – when the chances come, take a gamble. You never know when “Bold Standard” is going to pull through for the win … or when your dream is going to come true.

Part one tells you a story; gives the background that has hopefully made you take notice that today has your name all over it if you are willing to be drunk on inspiration, landing in the craziness of life right now to accomplish some of those dreams you have been chasing – literally, in the now, now!
Part two asks you to no longer hide behind your fear and chase your desires no matter what foreign land it leads you to... Pick up the phone and leave a message for room 520 … “Hello wishes of mine … I’m ready to make you come true, for I would have regretted it if I never would have chased after you.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Soul's Balance

This piece of Plan B has been brought to you by my humility.
Having a discussion with a friend recently, I had an infiltrate of truth. In terms of my obsession compulsiveness, on a scale of one to ten, I hover around an eleven on a bad day. It’s not a part of my personality I would change by any means, but it can be crippling at times. When I step back and exam my life I see a person who is precise and thrives on accomplishments. My to do list lies in front of me ready to have items checked off and great satisfaction is had once the little check has been drawn. My home is neat and tidy, pristine almost in how I maintain its appearance – everything has its place. My friendships live in my life with an absorbance of love and support, encouragement and concern – in both the give and take fashion. I have a career that will not be my final resting place in the workforce, but it provides a lifestyle for my family that is comfortable and respite. I have a great deal of passions that fuel me; reading, painting, music, charity work, writing, and planning of all regards – they are outlets that give back to my soul and provide comfort and clarity. In almost every valve of my life I am put together; this neat tidy package wrapped in a bow and ready to unveil a glow of radiance on any turn of dime …

Then you look in my suv …
Its chaotic and crazy! And that is putting it gently. Let’s exam what I saw today: The front seats have my son’s school papers starting on the seat and working their way to the floor in a fanned out manner (it’s quite the thing of beauty I must say…). The cup holders are accommodating zero cups, but instead are the perfect spot apparently to keep CDs, some trash, a couple of quarters, and a left over hot sauce packet. There are golf balls (keepsakes of my driving range days), ink pens in the front console and three different pairs of sunglasses up by the speed control window pane. In the back seat you will find bottles of water, of both the full and empty kind, animal crackers (not in the package), twelve temporary tattoos (say that three times fast), a blanket, a tote bag, and finally some guitar picks, crayons, and a broken umbrella. In the back, back … well, one word: overwhelming. You name it, and it exists back there I promise you that. Throw all of that together, add some sand from our weekends at the beach, the dust that has not been cleaned since I splurged on that Christmas gift to myself and had it professionally done, and floors that literally haven the leaves from last fall and … ta da … you have a complete and utter mess.

And the epiphany was …
To the untrained eye, my life is pretty grand. A beautiful home, an amazing son, terrific friends, great job … it’s balanced, energetic, and engulfs me with love and laughter … but such in the case of my car, there are aspects of my life that are an utter disaster. A percentage of the time I can deal with the chaos – it provides an outlet when the rest of my life I struggle with keeping things together in their “orderly fashion”. But every once in a while, I get a wild hair, and I clean out the car – Windex the windows, vacuum the floors, and put in new air fresheners. When I am done it looks like the other areas of my life … and I work to maintain its beauty and refinement. But give it a week and its right back to the mess it was before.

The fact of the matter is that I have to have this one place in my world where there are no exceptions – it counter acts the other areas where I battle my inner demon to always be the “yes” girl, to always be the “soccer” mom (without the van), to always be the “homemaker”, to always be the “it” lass, to always be the counselor, the confidant, the pleaser, the cleaner, the organizer, the planner, the bank, the chef, and the other ninety nine interchangeable hats I sport. Don’t let that list fool you – I adore, and that is an understatement, I adore my role in my life and others – and would not change a thing about who I am as a person, what I commit to those I love, and how I enjoy being each and every one of those roles. Still, it feels great to get into my place of driving residence, buckle up, feel the need for speed, and chuck empty tea cups onto the floorboard of the passenger seat while jamming out at the top of my lungs not caring what the person at the stoplight thinks of my version of “so you think you can dance – car style”.

Your breaking point is?
Look around in your lives. Do you have a place in your life that allows you to break free from the mold – a mold that you indeed love to be, but none the less it feels good to be out of those shoes for 15 minutes? Being a parent, an employee, a friend, a homemaker, a part time little bit of everything can be challenging … almost debilitating, and when you add to the mix our little quirks (like OCD in my case) then there are trying days beyond belief of the expectations we place on ourselves.

And let me repeat that because it’s very important … on the expectations we place on ourselves.

On any given day you sport the same ninety nine hats, just in a different array of fashions that are particular to your life – from bringing home the bacon to reading bedtime stories, picking up the dry cleaning to volunteering at the soup kitchen, coaching a little league team to guest relations in aisle five of the supermarket – our lives are a nonstop cycle of to do / to be / to have / to make / to live. In that entire splendor though of what we love and are blessed with, it can still be taxing.

Find your “break from the mold” terrain and stake your name on it. You don’t have to have a messy car in order to balance, but you need to find something that has no expectations, resolutions, or commitments to just, well frankly, have the I don’t care mentality. Further appreciate the blessings in your life, by embracing one that otherwise might have fallen through the cracks … your own creative “break even” point if you will. Have your own epiphany and carve out a place to be free as wind – reckless and wild – light and intoxicating with zero expectations. It truly can be good for the soul as it comes full circle in the day to day balance of your world.