The frustration I experienced in work was partially due to a belief that I had no control over anything. And so my ego decided that some control was in order. A good part of my life I struggled with overweight and yoyo dieting. But by this time I believed all that was behind me. I began to be obsessed with exercising and eating very little. I got thinner and thinner as the situation at work deteriorated. My personal life and spiritual life got little attention. There was little serious reading, study or anything else as there was not much energy beyond work and exercise. Also, during this time my daughter moved to Los Angeles to start a new chapter in her life (something else beyond my control) which was the correct decision for her.
My doctor, personal trainer and family all expressed concern over my weight loss and kept telling me I was leaving myself with no reserves to support my body. But I blocked that out in the euphoria of wearing such small sizes and feeling so light. It felt wonderful to feel so light in my body and I fooled myself into thinking and believing that feeling that good could not be bad.
Somewhere in the midst of all this I lost two friends. One dear friend with whom I had a soul connection died from cancer after a long battle. The other friend shared my office. She was a talented, creative woman so consumed with anger that it finally killed her in the form of a heart attack. It was such a sad time and just confirmed how little control I had over life.
Finally all the emotions and feelings boiled over and I resigned from my job. I fell back to the old habit of over thinking what I needed to do and impulsively making a decision without a real plan. So there was no job, bills to pay and a general state of depression. But I was “happily” thin.
Has there been an experience in your life that has left you believing you had no control? How did you react? How do you view the experience now? What impulsive decisions have you made? Where did they take you?
After retiring I began work for the state government social services office as a part time employee on a child welfare automation project. I worked with a very diverse team that was fascinating. Not only did I learn about other cultures but I got to use my expertise with facilitation skills as well. Meeting with groups of social workers to design a system that supported their work was a joy. Crazy management decisions were made and there were many ups and downs but the team was committed to doing its best and we all supported each other.
I began to understand some of my frustration with management when I read Meg Wheatley’s book Leadership and the New Science. Another fire was lit as I read with awe about a science I always avoided like the plague. Suddenly concepts of chaos and order and self-organizing systems began to make sense and expanded the learning from Structural Family Therapy training. My gosh – to think that work teams can function without management interference but only with management encouragement and willingness to provide what is needed. Why did it take me so long to recognize and remember LIFE IS! It will on its own navigate the flow and we can participate in the process with joy and fun.
But back in the world of work no attention was paid to this. I could not understand why all organizations were not embracing the information in this book. I am sure there were teams functioning this way but not around me. Instead I worked in an atmosphere that became increasingly more difficult. Decisions were made without much knowledge or thought. Those who did the work were not asked for input or no value was put on feedback given. With each management decision I became more frustrated and sad. Somehow the team continued to function but ultimately a decision was made to divide us up between two divisions. Clearly this was a way to maintain control.
Reading Meg Wheatley’s book continued the process of a shift in my world view. It was a catalyst that not only touched my mind but the very heart of me. There was a sense of relief in knowing that this is truth. As a counterpoint I began experiencing the opposite functioning in my work place. Fear and anger began to guide my life again sending me into deep feelings of imbalance.
Have you ever experienced a profound shift that changed your world? How did you handle it? What else was going on in your life at the time? Was there balance or imbalance?
Close to the time Eric Butterworth came into my life another Unity minister, Sallye Taylor showed up. Listening to her tapes was a joy. With a wonderful sense of humor and connection she helped me laugh at myself while supporting the belief that we spiritual humans are capable of accomplishing anything!
Humor became important in this time in my life as growing unhappiness returned again with my job and probably with life in general. My daughter was a bright spot in my life and early on became my teacher in facing conflict. However, my feelings of being unsettled grew and although I could not pinpoint the problem then I knew something had to change. I became more and more unhappy and made the decision to take early retirement from my job. There is no regret about that decision as some of my greatest lessons were learned after that. However, I do regret that in my need to “escape” I was so self absorbed that I did not let my coworkers celebrate my retirement as they desired.
I finally began to understand more what was going on when Caroline Myss landed in my life. Through her I began to better understand the concept of archetypes and chakras. The idea that I came here for a purpose and that many people in my life agreed to be in my life to help me resonated within (although I certainly feel some of them have gone way beyond the call of duty). Beginning to understand the role of the shadow and the experience of “the dark night of the soul” helped me normalize many of my feelings – not necessarily approve of them all. But there was relief in recognizing I was not alone in feeling lost and separated from myself. Caroline Myss is an extraordinary woman who like many wonderful teachers is willing to share herself and her growth over time as a service to many.
At this point I was still responding mostly intellectually to all the knowledge and information coming my way. But my heart continued to hold what was needed like a caterpillar taking in nourishment in preparation for the big show! I stayed way too serious but both Sallye Taylor and Caroline Myss shined light into the dark.
How has humor played a role in your growth? Have you experienced a “dark night of the soul”? Reflect on what helped you get through it.
Those of you who have been following this blog may remember that reading is a large part of my life and has been since childhood. After the divorce teachers began to come into my life through books. First Wayne Dyer showed up (oh we were both so young)! I can remember my ego rearing up in reaction to the very idea that I was responsible for my reactions and even my life. But I devoured each new book as something within me began to respond and on an intellectual level I began to accept that much of what he said made sense. Over the years Wayne Dyer has been willing to share his own spiritual human journey with us. It is a joy to see peace and light radiate from him with a stronger presence over the passage of time. What a gift he gave me with such a clear picture of how we have within us what is needed to transform.
The other teacher that came along about this time was Eric Butterworth an extraordinary Unity minister. With grace, humor and practicality he guided me to a deeper level of exploring who I am. First it was listening to tapes of talks he gave at different times. Then his book Discover the Power Within You was given to me. This book is truly a gift to the world that clearly helps us understand the teachings of Jesus. It is a book filled with love. I began to see my spirituality differently and somewhere inside me excitement began to bubble up. My ego jumped right in with “Oh no – you don’t have any power. The world out there causes your fear and heartbreak and you are powerless.” But whatever it was – Eric’s voice, his humor his down to earth style – I moved forward exploring and learning.
At this point on my path I processed most of the information I received through my intellect. However, as I look back I can feel the stirrings of calm and hope that sat with the ever present fear of not being enough.
Are there writers or speakers that influenced your life? What impact have they had on your path? Do recognize exploring patterns in your own life?
During my college years I always spent time with my family during the summer. One summer evening my mother asked me to accompany her to a tent revival with Oral Roberts. My initial reaction was that the world had gone mad! My mother was a Presbyterian (I later understood she was not a Presbyterian but attended a Presbyterian church) for heaven’s sake and was going to see this healer who the media portrayed as a con man preying on others. But because I knew my mother was truly interested in learning more I agreed to go with her. This was a time in her life when her views were shifting also.
As often happens with drama there is also comedy. As we walked to the tent over a grass field I stepped in a hole and slightly twisted my ankle. I jokingly said something about at least I was in a place where I could be healed and we both laughed.
I do not remember a lot of the details of that night. But I remember the brilliant light and energy in that place and in that man. I was awed by the strangeness of lots of praising and what I saw as excessive jumping up and down. However, here was a clear picture of God, Creator, the Divine using a human to channel healing energy. It does not matter to me what has been said about Oral Roberts over the years. I know one of his gifts was the ability to heal. That night I was clearly shown what Jesus meant when he told us we could do all he did and more. This may be one of the first times the divine in me responded to itself.
This experience settled in the back of my mind and heart, but it was a part of something pushing me to begin an inquiry into who and what I am, and that push still exists today. Have you had experiences that brought quiet or loud “AHA!” moments in understanding what and who you are? Were they bizarre or ordinary? Did they arise from a situation initially filled with doubt or skepticism? How did the experience influence you?