self-actualization

Life Beyond the Minivan

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When I was about ten my mom got me a book called What’s Happening to Me by Peter Mayle and Arthur Robins. It was pretty much the hippy parent’s guide book to puberty, complete with cartoon sketches of sperm and girls in training bras. I remember my friends and I would flip to the pages of girls and boys in their varying states of puberty and marvel at what we would become in a few short years.

The thought has crossed my mind that it wouldn’t have been cool over the past couple years if the guys who wrote that book had made a version for us forty year olds, you know: “So You Want to Buy a Motorcycle: Revelations of the Midlife”, with cartoon drawings of 40 year old women getting their kids out of the minivan, or men test driving convertables.

For me, and I think a lot of women, the metamorphosis in our 40s is less about changes in our bodies (though that is happening as well!), but more it’s a transition from our mundane existence into finding our true selves.

My life is good. It always has been. I have a wonderful husband who listens to me and provides for the family as much as we need. My kids are smart and clever and (relatively) well-behaved. We have always enjoyed family dinners, vacations together, evening bike rides in our quaint little beach town, but a few years back something inside me started tugging. Actually it did a lot more than tug, it shook me to my core. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and the room would feel cold, my heart beating deep in my chest, in what felt like an out of body experience. It was as if some external source was telling me “You needed something more”. I had no idea what was going on.

During my days I’d look at my husband, my kids and feel riddled with guilt. How could I even entertain the idea of being anything but a mom and wife to these good people? Yet as the months passed I kept feeling it, this calling, a yearning for a life beyond carpool lanes and grocery stores.

Pretty soon my thoughts began to wander and I started planning imaginary escapes to far away places, scheming more and more on ways to get away. These were all fantasy of course, but their presence in my mind became so prevalent that it took on a sense of realness.

Meanwhile my life outside the house was getting more and more exciting. I had made lots of new friends and my writing career was budding. I was more socially engaged than I ever had been before, but as I did this I became more detached from my family. It was clear that I was happier when I was out and about, then when I was home.

One day, in the midst of this change, I visited a friend who is a hypnotist. During hypnosis she did a basic healing exercise where I was asked to visualize the blood in my veins going to and from my heart. As I followed her words something remarkable happened—it felt as if my heart had burst open with joy, like a warm white light was glowing from my center and I was filed with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing.

For days afterwards, I swear I felt like I was a teenager who had just found herself a new boy friend, totally in love, but not with a single person, with everything! The people I met, the songs on the radio, the play of waves on the shore were all divine.

Unfortunately after a few days the sensation wore off, and I returned to my sense of isolation. So, with guilt as my constant companion, I went into therapy hoping to bring myself emotionally back to my family. Talking to someone worked in the short term but inevitably I always returned to a state of yearning.

Around this time I bought myself a motorcycle and taught myself to ride. This was a wonderful, empowering outlet for me. So, I continued with my writing career, took regular walks on the beach, and kept tapping into things that brought me to a place of wholeness. Peace became my prerogative.

Around this time I took up mediation and fairly quickly I was able to tap into that heart center that I found in hypnosis. On command I was now able to awaken that inner joy. My daily practice became an exercise in simply being love.

As I read spiritual books and quotes from the masters I realized that the thing that had been calling me had always been my own heart. It was a call for joy. A call for divine love. I awoke to the possibility that maybe conditional love had driven my life thus far….an unhealthy play of give and take, neediness and want. I was seeing how flawed these sort of relationships were and was learning that unconditional love, even in small bursts, was completely possible.

Of course, knowing a truth does not make releasing old habits easy, so one day, still steeped in the muck of guilt and desire, I told my husband I wanted to get away alone. One night. I reserved a room in a bed and breakfast about an hour out of town, packed my bags and rode my motorcycle away from home.

While I was there, I spent time alone journaling, writing letters to the people I love, listening to music and crying, purging myself of the twisted pain I left back at home. In the morning my host, (who I’m pretty sure was an angel), fed me and shared her stories of travel and motherhood. She was both a spiritual being, deeply connected to that same love I was uncovering, yet also wonderfully present and grounded as a mother.

As I watched her cook breakfast for her guests while pausing to wipe dirt from her two-year-old’s face, I had an ah-ha moment.

I had compartmentalized my spiritual awakening, separating the divine sense of yearning and adventure from my plain, seemingly mundane sense of family. All this time I resisted my role as a wife and mother, opting for something outside myself.

As I rode my motorcycle home that day I felt a change. I got it. Life is not always about outward adventure, it’s not always about attaining the next big goal, sometimes it can be (and more often is) beautiful and subtle.

What I had been searching for was actually with me all along. Love is within, it is in the details of a leaf, the creases of your lovers eyes. There is nothing wrong with looking outward, there’s nothing wrong with yearning, in fact desire is what pulls us forward, but it’s when that yearning, that sense of seeking takes possession of you that the problems occur. When illusion and desire become your master, the path home is obscured.

What I have learned on this journey is that Love is alive in EVERYTHING…it’s not out there waiting for you on top of some big mountain, or hiding in some deep cave or in some sacred book or some magical mantra. It is right there, in the mess of cracker crumbs that your child left on their chair, in the completed art project hanging on the wall, in the playful teasing of a friend, in the greeting of a stranger, or the dance of clouds across in sky.

The call I heard those nights a few years back was not of some external being telling me to run away, but instead it was my own heart asking me to find my source.

As I walk this daily path away from fear and towards my heart center I am reminded that guilt, worry, jealousy, anger are all just spoiled children vying for attention in my mind. They need not be given power. In fact the less we give them, the quieter they become.

Love is calling. Listen to its song and you will be free.

Peace is in your palm.

In Love,

Becky

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The Best Book Ever Written

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I was sitting on the beach this morning, watching the sunrise, drinking my tea when a pesky question arose in my mind:

What do you want?

Oh great, I thought, not this one again. Sometimes I’m too existential for my own good.

What’s funny about this is just a few days ago, as I was working on my new book  I asked this question regarding my main character:

What does she want?

This notion  is the core of my book—all my books. What is the single driving factor for each of my protaganists? Everything in my story that happens from beginning, middle and end points to the central desire of the leading role. This driving force is what keeps the reader engaged. It’s why we read… to see if the characters get what they want in the end.

Isn’t that all we’re looking for in life as well? To follow our desires and ultimately leave this planet finding what we came for?  That’s why this element is key to good story telling.  Desire seeking is a key component to the human condition.

In the case of my novella (working title:Oz Sucks) Jane, a cynical, spitfire has been blown to Oz in a hurricane and wants nothing more than to get home. Thus I am creating a story dedicated to Jane’s quest. Every scene in the book in some way points towards her desire, either bringing her closer or farther from her goal.

My secondary character, the cocky, romantic interest, Kansas transplant Nick wants one thing and one thing only—to have Jane. So, my story is a dance of sorts between these two characters, based on a basic premise: Jane wants to go home and Nick wants Jane.

Think about the “characters” in your life. Are you not also doing a dance with them as them as well? A push-pull of I want, you want… we want?

A great example of this comes from Lord of the Rings. The premise is so simple. Frodo, wants to get rid of the ring without being sucked in by its power…and of course Sméagol wants the ring. Such a modest premise for such a rich, complicated story.

We are no different than the characters in the books we read. We are all driven by our desires, thus our lives unfold according to the path we choose. If you want to be a wealthy person, your life story will show you acting in ways either to make money.or in some people’s case spending money haphazardly in order create the illusion of wealth. If your reason to live is to make your children happy, all of your core actions will be to give them what they need for a happy existence.

Of course our desires change over time since life is full of many sub-stories…not quite as clean and crisp as a book. However if you step back, pretend you are the reader instead of the leading role, you can see what drives you, why you do what you do.

It’s a weird exercise, seeing yourself as the reader (or the writer) instead of the actor, but I find it fun and fascinating.

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Sunrise near my home in Flagler Beach, Florida

I’ve probably sat in this spot on the beach five hundred times in the last five years and each time my surface desires have morphed and changed, but this morning I felt something different. Beneath my multitude of wants, something stayed the same.

What do I want? I asked myself. I knew the answer. Like a character in one of my books, the core of my desire has been calling me all these years.

I want to bring love to this world…and so, for me, as I write this life story I know it’s about becoming whole, so I can help others in their journey.

So if I’m to stay true to my writer’s code, every action I do from here on out should reflect this desire to not just give love, but be love.

That’s one lofty book, but I think I’m up to it.

Remember you’re the author of your own book….your own personal masterpiece.  Make it a good one.

In love,

Becky

PS. Here’s a great talk by Andrew Stanton the creator of Finding Nemo who talks about the key components of story telling and the power of asking ‘what do you want?’

 

 

 

2015: The Year I Found my Heart

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I reclined back in a big, lazy boy chair in the office of Sue David, an 85 year old hypnotist who I had met a few weeks before. I didn’t even know why I was there really…curiosity I suppose.

Sue’s voice was even and calm and my mind easily followed it as she led me through a healing exercise. Guided by her words I envisioned my blood pumping through my body bringing nourishment and health throughout it.

I was listening, feeling calm and to my surprise completely in control…in fact I remember wondering what all this business was on focusing on healthy blood and such, when something she said, I don’t remember what exactly, triggered something deep within me.

It felts as if my heart burst open…flooded with love, like liquid gold pouring out in a perpetual ecstatic flow. Warmth covered my body and in that moment I knew all was good. All of it. Even in the suffering, I was loved.

I don’t think Sue’s intent was to send me into a euphoric journey, but for whatever reason it worked. I spent the next few days feeling a gentle, blissful high that no drug, no medication could equate with.

The thing is it kept going. I started doing self-hypnosis daily and because I’m not good at listening to what anyone tells me, I crafted my own version that somehow melds hypnosis with mediation, shamanistic journeying and prayer. Really, I’m just sitting alone in my bedroom, breathing deep and letting myself be, dropping the pretenses of all my fears, simply speaking to the darkness and the wisdom within. Maybe I’m talking to God, maybe I’ve connected to my soul, or maybe it’s simply mild psychosis….I don’t know…frankly what you call it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever it is, I go back to it whenever I can and let life flow through me, reminding me of who I truly am.

I could end the story there and you’d think “Well then, this chick has it all figured out” but quite the contrary. Life is life and the pendulum always swings, and I will tell you, glowing heart or not, this has been one f%*@ing hard year.

Probably too existential for my own good this golden outpouring of my heart opened me so far, so wide, that I was left no longer knowing which way to go.  I questioned everything…my purpose, my destiny…but instead of rewriting my book entirely, abandoning the solid path, of all things, I bought a motorcycle. So now rather than giving up on everyone I love, I not only have my devoted husband, my kids, and the strongest, most fantastic friendships I’ve ever had, but I also have a cute little Honda Rebel 250 that reminds me I can do whatever I set my mind to (plus gets me to 70mph on the open road!)

I have learned through my dear friend Marybeth (aka Marydreds!!) the phrase “let go, and let god”. I use it almost daily. And I tell you, when I let go of my need to control, my need to micromanage all the little outcomes in my life, miracles happen. These aren’t big miracles, like the parting of the red sea or anything, but instead they are little messages, signs, as if the Universe is saying “ yes….yes…you’re doing everything as you should.” It is in these moments I feel an out pouring of love towards myself, my friends, strangers, “enemies”!! I see their struggles, their fear, the pain, and love them unconditionally.

I’m just a baby on this road. I’m making it up as I go. Like all of us, my karmic path is thick with crap I’ve accumulated over a lifetime (or more!). Most the time it feels like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m saying the wrong things, getting upset over silly stuff, feeling jealousy, greed, rage…but something has changed, just a little. I’m not taking it all too seriously. I’m standing a few feet back from my problems looking in and smiling, because for the first time I see the whole of it…like seeing the yin and yang, not for it’s separate pieces, but for its whole.

A few months back my wonderful friend Tim was teasing me incessantly for my overuse of the word amazing. Life is amazing…and it’s beautiful…but it’s also horrible and hard. The trick is as I’m learning from him is to walk the line, not get so swept up in the extremes. Bliss is fantastic.  Joy and euphoria are the things that make life sweet, but the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

The Buddhists, as I understand it, try to remove themselves from the wheel of life, the incessant spinning, the ups and downs. And so, following this logic, I go into this new year, standing back…ever so slightly, fully participating, yet also aware there is beauty and joy in letting go and not holding too tight onto the “should be’s” and the illusions of “ever afters.”

As I rode my motorcycle the other day over the huge bridge that crosses into Flagler Beach, looking at the expansive Atlantic Ocean I once again felt that ecstatic outpouring of joy.  As the blissful sensation filled my being I smiled knowing everything is perfect, just as it is.

Life is hard, but it is also magnificent.

I don’t have all the answers—not in the least, but I know right now, in this golden moment, life is good.

Peace.

May the wisdom of your soul whisper sweet words in your ear…and may you always be ready to hear it.

Happy holidays!!!

Love,

Becky

Have You Hugged Your Soul Mate Today?

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So, I was talking with a new friend of mine, Victoria. She’s a wise lady with wild, wavy blond hair in her fifties with a great deal of knowledge on a favorite subject of mine—sex. Victoria is a sex therapist, and a good one at that.

What makes Victoria so interesting is that she gets relationships implicitly. I’m sure sitting across from troubled couples for years helped in this matter.

And so the other day I asked her about a topic that has plagued me for decades: Soul mates. Yes, we’ve all seen the memes, read the books, believed the lore and I bet most of us at one point or another yearned to find our own, but I’m going to confess something to you. I don’t buy it.

Way back in the nineties I was deeply in love with a man, so much so that I was sure he was my soul mate. I devoted myself to this long haired musician who walked around campus barefoot and told jokes that made my heart sing. We were meant to be—that is until we weren’t.

My long-gone hippie soul mate now resides in New York City somewhere teaching college with perhaps his new and improved soul mate and kids of his own. This makes me happy to know.

I still wonder though. What about these lost loves? What about these soul mates who ended up just being soul-burdens? In our lifetime are we allotted only one of cupid’s arrows?

I’m married now and although I never reached that insane intensity I felt with my college beau, I connect with my husband on a very deep, soulful level.

So, here’s my question: Who in all this crazy life is my soul mate supposed to be? My wonderful grounded husband or is it that long lost college hippie dude… or maybe it’s one of the other sweethearts I have known along the way?

I posed this question to Victoria and she explained, “We have many soul mates.”

Upon hearing this I smiled, relieved. Now that made sense.

Throughout our lives, if we’re lucky, we fall in love numerous times, take new lovers, and romantically immerse ourselves in other people’s worlds.

Maybe the love we find in this life is not binary, but cumulative, each soul mate giving us something treasured that we can carry with us as we move on. Could life be a series of soul mates, each one showing us new things about ourselves? How wonderful to think we might pass through this existence intimately sharing a piece of who we are with many people.

And so I say, to hell with the old concept of a soul mate. Love finds its way into all the cracks of our existence. No need to limit your fate to one perfect person, because I promise you that perfect person will never exist. In fact, under Victoria’s paradigm, your soul mate can show up anywhere.

Your soul mate could be a current lover, but maybe it could also be a sister, your best friend, a beloved pet, or someone you loved years before. Wherever there is love, there is the potential for a soulful bond.

So, here’s my assignment for you, look around and think about the people you love. Look for those who get you implicitly, who smile when you shine.  Look for the people who can challenge you in ways no one else does and aren’t afraid of getting in close and revealing who they are. My guess is, without looking too hard, you will find that person (or people!) loving you deeply back.

I’m curious, do you feel you have found your one true soul mate? Do you have many? Or do you not believe in the concept at all. Comments are welcome below!

Peace,

Becky

www.OpenSoulsBook.com

Never Doubt the Power of your Own Advice

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My higher self has a lot to say these days…and it seems to do it in Wizard of Oz metaphors.  In fact, while writing in my journal tonight this thought landed on the page:

“The yellow brick road is right in front of you, Becky. It’s time to take that next step towards home.”

These days it’s not just my subconscious talking to me.  Those who love me are practically screaming: “Becky, you have the power. Listen to it. It’s calling you to greater things.There’s nothing to fear.”

Never in my life have I been surrounded by such positivity. I’m watching the people I love dance the dance of life with confidence and joy, unafraid. They are breathing in all that is good around them, taking the negative and harnessing it into something powerful and strong.

I plan on taking my own advice…and the advice of people around me and move forward, no longer shielded by fear.

So here I go guys, I’m doing it, taking that next step down the golden road headed straight in the direction of my heart.

1,000 thank yous to Daniela Behler of Engaging Social Media and Tim Baker of Blindogg Books who hear my heart and never doubt me.

Peace to you all.

P.S. Tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m wishing myself a happy day. 43 years on the planet and each one is better than the next.  I am so very grateful!!!!!!

Oh, and if you like what I have to say check out my books

www.beckypourchot.com

Thank you!

When Life Gives You Flying Monkeys

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I’m sitting in bed with my favorite blanket on my lap listening to this silly Native American flute music hoping it will elicit something deep and meaningful for my blog post… maybe some spirit guide will pop in for a visit, I dunno. So far I’ve got nada.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “Being Who You Are”. This isn’t just “Ta da! I’m the cute girl in the spandex pants.” This is the core You on the path you’ve been on since the day you were born (or before!)

Imagine you’re lost in a foreign place and all you want is to go home. You’ve got this yellow brick road in front of you and you have been told (by some adorable munchkins) if you follow it good things will come.

On this road you meet some interesting characters and they decide to join you on your journey (as all good friends do!).

Staying true to You, you persist even though there are some nasty things along the way: flying monkeys, poison poppies and giant trees that throw apples at you, to name a few.

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So,here you are with apple size bruises all over your body. You just want to turn in those slippers that nice lady gave you and call it a day, but you keep going because this is your role as a traveler, to be there in that moment, even when it sucks. You don’t know exactly what waits for you up ahead, but that doesn’t matter, because you have a single goal: to find your way home.

The irony of this story comes at the end from the lady in the puffy dress: “You’ve had the power all along.”

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That’s right… YOU were always there. All that strength you wished for was always there. Every moment of that journey you were right where you needed to be.

I am realizing now, we all have ruby red slippers and every day we walk a yellow brick road. Even in the crappy moments we are living out our story, just as we are meant to.

Yeah, Dorothy had the power to go home…but maybe home was an illusion. Maybe she was already there.

Peace,

Becky

Credit to author Tim Baker of Blindogg Books, whose reminded me of Glenda’s words many, many times.

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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.

The Upside of Weakness

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I’m going to start this blog with a question…

What is your greatest strength?

Sit with your answer for a minute.

Now think about this…

What is the downside to that strength? Does that strength ever turn against you?

Sit with that a minute too.

For me, my greatest strength is my openness. I’m open with everyone I meet, open to the workings of nature, to the workings of life! I fall in love easily. To me life is luscious. I approach it with open arms I mean, holy crap this life thing is fun!

Openness is a pretty good trait to have, but ask my husband and he might tell you otherwise.

According to him I take on too many projects, let people in closer than I should, reveal too much about myself, plus I need lots of refuel time. Being open all the time is exhausting. I’m sitting here writing this from my cozy, dark bedroom, with my toes tucked deep beneath the blankets, because being “out there” in the craziness was too much for me. I’ve spent all day taking in life and I’m so, very exhausted. I know we all go through this, but I have to say if I don’t refuel, my anxiety becomes unmanageable.

I think this is why the people around me call me bipolar. I open up to the world with intense passion, then exhausted and spent I recoil and hide, recharge, then do it all again. For my poor, blessed husband this must be exhausting to watch (Although I secretly think it’s why he likes me!).

My mom has this story she tells about me when I was just about two. I was in the kitchen and had just figured out how to climb a chair all by myself. When I final made it up to the top, I stood, but only for a moment; off balance I feel to the floor. I cried like it was the end of the world, then climbed that chair again and yes, proceeded to fall again. I apparently did this over and over.

Me and my mom before my chair climbing days, circa 1972

My climbing and falling routine is no different than what I do every day of my life. Although it looks fruitless, it’s not. I do it because the joy of climbing and the joy of standing up high are more powerful than the feeling of falling. To this day I choose to keep climbing higher and higher, knowing full well I will occasionally take a plunge. The only difference between then and now is now when I’m down I know it’s not the end of the world. I will eventually get up again, open my arms and swallow the world whole with the same passion and joy I did before, because to me this is the only thing I know. This is who I am!

We are our positives and our negatives. My husband loves boundaries and limits and he is amazing at them. He can watch the world at work from the sidelines and not be swayed by the chaos (can you see what brought us together?) He is a thinker, and controller.  He’s got a great head for business and a keen understand for patterns and numbers, but who do you think gets us out of the house? Yep. Me. His greatest strength causes him to protect himself, if you ask me, a little too much.

Now, returning to your greatest strength. Is it also your greatest weakness? Do you have such great control over your life that you find it hard to open up to people? Or do you care so much for others that you forget to care for yourself? Are you such a good “fixer” in your life that you forget that sometimes things are okay left alone. Or are you like me? Does your openness leave you so raw and exposed that you make yourself vulnerable?

Whatever way you live, I think ultimately we’re all just two-year-olds climbing chairs. We’re striving to be better people, demonstrating for the world our amazing skills, but sometimes all that performing gets the better of us and we land on the floor.

Floor-landing is okay. It’s part of the game. We all do it. Never be afraid to love your strengths, but equally so, never be afraid to love your weaknesses. They’re part of what makes you amazing!

Peace,

Becky

Find out  about my upcoming book at www.opensoulsbook.com