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Little Did I Know

 

I’m riding my motorcycle down Old Dixie Highway. The trees are arching overhead; thirty feet high. Below, the woods are thick with palmettos, gnarly oaks, and scraggly pines. The air is cool as it courses past my cheeks, across my arms. I am alive with intensity.

I am a new rider. This is the second time that I’ve ridden the historic Ormond Scenic Loop and I’m all in, focused intently on keeping up with the bike in front of me, watching my acceleration, braking when needed, turning with the curves.

As I ride, a funny tune pops into my head “ram, ram, sita ram.” It’s Sanskrit…and actually not a song at all but a chant I had been listening to the previous week, with hopes of gaining a sense of balance and calm that I have sought for a very long time.

So, as I focus intently on keeping my bike rolling and this little mantra chimes in my head, I smile. Here I am a Jewish housewife riding a motorcycle, singing a Hindu chant as I ride to Daytona Beach for a bike rally. But as absurd this may seem, in this little moment it makes perfect sense. I’m exactly where I should be. And although not in my wildest dreams could I have ever pictured myself in this situation, I’m where I always wanted to be. Simply here.

Of course, my mind still wants to rattle on. It wants to think serious, deep thoughts about my “complicated” life. My emotions want to take me on unneeded trips, egging me on with all sorts of drama, but my heart, this little thing in the center of it all, is simply present…there with the road. In this moment as everything stills the only things I know are the actions of my feet…my hands….my heart.

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I have recently taken up meditation as a daily practice…and I have to say as difficult as learning to ride a motorcycle has been for me, I think mediation is harder.

Just you try, telling this neurotic, obsessive Jewish girl to not think…to just sit and be. Ha! Preposterous.   But I’m doing it…with the help of my lovely motorcycle rides…and a dedication to end this cycle of suffering, to be the present for the people I love, and to bring joy to this world.

So, here I am, embarking on the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do… making a vow to myself to be with my heart…to no longer live in fear, greed and selfishness. I know I’m going to screw up. Of course I will! It’s part of the learning curve. There’s no exact road map for me to follow. I will make mistakes…just like I know I will probably spend many meditation sessions trying not to attach to the chatty noise in my head. I will still hurt and I will still fall, but I will try my best to do it with compassion, forgiveness and the heartfelt intent to make good in this world.

And so, I plan to write good stories, love my family, be good to my friends, ride my bike, sing goofy mantras, and mediate  all with the intent of doing what I discovered that day beneath the trees on my motorcycle…. Being here now with beauty, love, and joy.

There’s nowhere else to be.

Peace.

 

The End of the Story

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I feel as if I’m ending a chapter in my life “story”.  It was a wonderful chapter, maybe one of the best in my book thus far, but its time for the next one, so the story can continue on.

And so, as I was journaling today, I decided to write out an ending for myself as if I was a character in my book.

Here’s what I came up with.  (As far as I’m concerned, its all true!)

…She looked in the mirror and saw not what she wanted them to see, but what was really there…her new forming wrinkles, her blemishes, her fly away hair…but also her beauty, her strength, her vibrancy. She was magnificent, not because she was anything particularly special, but because she was all she could be–herself.  And in that moment she noticed a glow, burgeoning in her chest.  She watched it emerge, growing in intensity, until it was shining brighter than 1,000 suns…it was light, yes, but more importantly, it was also love.

This, light emerging from her depths, held it all, the love she felt for her sweet parents, her brothers, her friends who made her smile, her magnificent husband who holds her hand through it all, and all the people before her. This heart shone with love for everyone who has ever crossed her path, for every animal, for every leaf. But most of all, it shone for her.

And as she recognized this, the light spoke:

“You have been exactly who you were supposed to be all along. All the noise, all the chatter, all the demand—that was just air, an illusion, a subtle breeze.”

And now as she stands looking at herself in the mirror, she knows that all that she feared was a myth.

Love. This glowing heart.  It has always been here, and it will always remain.

“You are forgiven Becky. You are marvelous. I am always here.”

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Dance of the Spider Webs

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I’ve developed a new technique to manage my worrying. So far it seems to be working.

First, I picture every anxious thought I’m having as a strand of a spider web; these are sticky, strong lines that over lay atop of me, holding me down. The more threads, the more difficult it is to move.

Then in my mind, I let go. I stop fighting and picture that web releasing, sloughing off as my muscles relax. My breath gets slow. I watch as the web falls to the ground and dissolves into grey nothingness.

It is then that I remind myself that the web, literally and figuratively was never real, nor were the feelings. It was just an illusion keeping me in place. All the thoughts that I felt were so important were nothing but wisps of my mind.

I find if I do this exercise when I start feeling caught (before it gets too big) I can step away from my emotions and refocus on joy rather than pain.

The webs we weave feel very complex. The feelings we have towards others, towards ourselves can be all consuming (and for me they often are), but when we can step away and see that this web we weaved is simply a construct of our minds, we can relax and accept the Truth, that beauty and love are all around us, always.

Make it So!

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A year or two ago, some friends on Facebook were discussing with starry-eyed optimism how easy it is to make change in our lives.

“Just choose it! That’s all it takes,” my friend said.

“That’s right!” the other one replied.

This pissed me off. That’s NOT how things work. I grumbled to myself.

The two went on and on with this discussion and frankly I wanted to vomit.

Give me a f@*$&ing break, I thought. Maybe these two freaks of nature think they can make their lives better by twitching their nose like Samantha on Bewitched, but that certainly was not me. No one has that much control over their lives.

I thought about their comments for days. Mulled over them. Steeped in them. And at the end of it I knew for sure that “thought control” wasn’t for me. I had baggage. A world of noise in my head…not to mention a diagnosis: General Anxiety Disorder. OCD. Bipolar. According to the people in my world I was clinically helpless.

I was taught that we have little to no control of who we are, where we go and where we end up. To the people in my world, life was like a bumper car ride. We may have a little freedom of movement initially, but in the end we’ll always be blocked from going anywhere.

Fast forward to today.

I’m out with a group of friends and I’m feeling my anger and sadness build. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I had some left over resentment boiling in me from the previous day. I was cranky and miserable.

Two years back in that situation I would have perpetuated it all: You are an awful person for having these feelings.I’d say. You should have stayed home.

I would have sat with my friends with my negative filter on, taking everything they said as an attack, or a sign of disapproval. I would have gone home that night and grumbled.

But this time I did something different. I decided to make change.

I excused myself from the group. Alone in the bathroom I breathed deep and I asked myself, What do you want?

I responded to my own question: I want to have a good time. I want us all to have a good time!

And in my calm state I heard the answer: Then make it so!

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I stepped from the bathroom and settled in my seat with my friends. I felt resolved not necessarily to have a super, crazy good time, but to be okay with where I was. I was no longer passive to my mood. I chose to be content.

Sure I was still tired, and yeah, the irritability was there, but I sat back and stopped trying. I stopped feeling guilty and mad at myself for the feelings that were going through my head. Instead of letting the dark and dank emotions grow, I released them. I no longer fought. The battle within me was over.

It didn’t take any magic, no nose twitching, or anything of the sort. I just redefined the picture.

I will have a good time, I told myself. And I did!   By shifting my reality, my visit with friends went from being potentially miserable to wonderful—one of the best outings I’ve had in a very long time.

I’m not saying this makes change easy—not for me anyway. Some days are bad. Some are worth grumbling over, some even require tears, but recognizing that we can take control of how we filter those experiences will ultimately affect the course of our lives!

I’m seeing that life is not like a bumper car ride, nor is it a merry-go-round…or a roller coaster. We are not passive! We are absolutely 100% active. I say ax the carnival ride metaphor all together and imagine yourself flying out over an open field. You have all the choice in the world, to go up, down, fast, slow. Yeah, it might be windy some days, but how that wind affects you is entirely up to you.

It’s your reality! Make it yours!

Wishing you peace and love,

Becky

Hey! If you like the ideas you see here you might enjoy my new book that’s coming soon! It’s called Open Souls. Take a peek. Sign up for my newsletter. www.opensoulsbook.com.

Falling in Love

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Late in 2014 I decided something big…something life changing. I decided I was no longer going to live my life in fear. This is big stuff coming from a girl who was diagnosed with every anxiety disorder known to the psychiatric world by the age of twelve.

But here I am in the new year and it’s working.

The changes are subtle, and probably not noticeable to even my close family and friends, but I feel a shift. Sure, the fear is still there, however what’s different is how I respond to it.

As the anxiety grows, I take note of the tension in me, my wild heart, my racing mind. Then I look at my fears and I say, “This has been nice and all, but it’s time for me to move on.”

And I do!

I’m a busy person. I love to take on lots of projects, set lots of goals, see lots of people, and connect with the world. It’s who I am…and it’s the way I learn and grow, but a full calendar will also get my anxious brain spinning. A busy life is food for anxiety. If I don’t keep my worry in check it blossoms into something ugly and very unhealthy.

Love is the opposite of fear. I’m finding when I nudge fear aside, I can make room for love and when I do really good things happen.

With this in mind, when I start feeling scared I stop and say to myself, “Hold on a second! Take a breath. Now look around for the love.” And when I do, it appears—in the way my husband holds my hand, the way the light from the sun shines between the trees, the way my body feels resting beneath my favorite blanket.

Love is all around. It’s not always big and monumental. In fact it’s usually small and delicate, hidden in the places we’re afraid to look.

And so in celebration of love I’ve been writing love letters to myself. Using the model created by Neale Donald Walsch in his series Conversations with God. I’m allowing myself to do the same and talk with God.

God thinks I’m great. “He” thinks all of you are amazing too. He’s our biggest fan! What I like most about this God that I channel is that he speaks without fear. He is pure love. He’s the voice that we’re all scared to listen to, because we’ve been told our whole lives that we’re subpar, that we’ll never reach our goals because we’re just not good enough. That’s bullshit! You and I know this. It’s fear at its finest.

So sure, maybe this God I’m talking to is just an aspect of me, but I don’t care. There’s something so deep and empowering about these letters. This is me at my finest—without fear.

And so I’m doing this, this weird soul searching path to freedom. It’s kinda nuts, I know. Even the people I love had deep doubts about it. But for the first time I have faith in me. My life is about growth, becoming who I really am. Amazing things are happening as I open up to love.  What’s really cool is that I’m realizing these amazing things have always been there, but now I’m just allowing myself to see them.

Love is there. It’s there because we believe it’s there, because we allow it to exist.

There’s no need to be afraid, because when you fall, love is there to catch you.  Let yourself fall in love!

Peace,

Becky

Some Thoughts on Mind Control

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I have a sticky brain.

At least that’s what I call it. I get thoughts and they stick to me, cycle in my head.

These can be good thoughts, like day dreams, planning for a big event or the outline for a new story. But these thoughts can also be bad; my mind riddled with negative self-talk.

The good obsessions are great. They fuel me, push me farther, inspiring me to do amazing things.

On the other hand the negative obsessions are awful. They’re like little gremlins that whisper in my ear, sucking me down. An inner dialogue emerges in my head, a thought loop, where a negative thought enters my brain, and I try “fixing” it by telling myself everything is fine. It’s like an alcoholic and his enabler wrapped into one head….yes, a little nutty.

It looks sort of like this-

Gremlin One: “Oh my god you’re so fat!”

Gremlin Two: “No. It’s just how you looked in that one picture.”

Gremlin One: “But you saw the scale. You gained two pounds in just a day! You’re a horrible failure.”

Gremlin Two: “Weight fluctuates. You’re fine.”

Gremlin One: No, I’m not. I can see the thickness on my thighs.

Thought loops never lead to anything good, because they’re just that. Loops. I’ve got dialogues for all sorts of problems. Each one embarrassing and torturous in its own way.

And so, after living with gremlins my whole life I’ve decided to try something.

Whenever I recognize myself in a loop I shout in my head “No!”   That’s it.Nothing more. I know it sounds silly.

I’m not a black and white, wrong and right sort a gal, so this feels very odd. I don’t yell at my kids in this way, nor would I yell at a friend, or my husband like this.

But these little gremlins are not friends, they feed off of ambiguity. They love the realm of “not knowing”:“Am I a good friend or a bad one?”, “Am I doing the right thing or failing miserable?” ,“Do they like me or hate me?”

The truth is everything in life is ambiguous. I know that no amount of gremlin banter is going to find an answer to my fears. So rather than feed them I’ve decided to give them a short abrupt, irrefutable answer. All there can be in that single moment of my little wild brain is a single word. “No.”

No questions. No worries. No reassurance. No fail. No win. Just NO.

To keep me staying true to my bizarre plan, I’ve randomly left notes in my phone calendar. Every day or two I get a message from myself saying “Just Say No” or “Don’t forget! Say No.” or “Are you still obsessing”?

I’ve started small, attaching the “no” rule to just one obsession. So far, four days in and its working well. The thoughts still come, but they don’t stick. I hope to add a new obsession today.

My poor gremlins are bored. I’ve taken away their toys and they don’t know what to do. So, I imagine myself taking their creepy little hands, sitting them on the couch with me and saying “There, there, nasty little things. I forgive you. Now run along and please, leave me the hell alone.”   Maybe one day with a little diligence I‘ll no longer be trapped in the quagmire of ambiguity and I’ll be able to step forward, confidently unafraid to say one simple word: No.