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Diving for Gold

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Just four days ago, my husband and I drove south from our home in Flagler Beach, Florida, towards Key West. As we made our way along a thin stretch of highway that connects an archipelago of islands  I started seeing ads for scuba diving adventures.

I had always fantasized about diving, but the thought of it also terrified me. My slight fear of the ocean coupled by my experiences getting sea sick kept it from ever becoming a reality.

Yet somehow, out of my mouth I heard myself say to my husband: “Let’s go scuba diving.”

The terrified, wimpy-self in my head thought, Are you crazy? We don’t scuba dive.

But bold me pressed on, “Come on…Let’s do it!” I said out loud, convincing my husband .

After all, everything else in my life lately has been about letting go, facing my fears, why not do this one too? This trip to the Keys was a bold move in itself as we were leaving the kids longer than we ever had before and I knew my husband, celebrating twenty years together, had issues to resolve that would certainly come up during this trip.

When Shawn gave me the okay I called a Key West based scuba diving outfitters called Try Scuba Diving, Key West and scheduled our trip. The next day we met these three great guys, our guides: John, Stephan, and Peter.

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The boat was neatly organized with a row of vests, air tanks, flippers, and such. On the boat was a sweet German couple who were visiting the US, bounding from adventure to adventure on a Florida whirlwind trip. Our guides created a mellow, happy mood that instantly put me at ease.

However when the boat pulled into the bay, I panicked wondering if the motion sickness meds had time to take effect, but the skies were crisp and blue, the water calm and emerald green. The summer breeze blew against my face and within moments I had forgotten to worry about sea sickness. I was perfectly fine.

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We stopped in the shallow water…just four feet deep to try out the vests and tanks and learn the basics of diving. I settled myself down in the water and found myself at ease breathing through the tank.

We got back in the boat and headed to our official dive spot for the day. I was ready to go. We plunged down into the water and suddenly things didn’t feel so easy. There had been a storm the night before so things were a bit cloudy—maybe with 15 foot visibility. We could still see plenty, but it wasn’t the picture perfect, crystal clear Jacques Cousteau moment I imagined and I felt a little closed in.

I was in an alien world. I could not speak, ask questions, or even really communicate through facial expressions. Nothing was real. Nothing went by the rules of this world, not even the way I propelled myself through space. It was life with completely new guidelines. And although it was exciting on some levels, my scared, control-freak self constantly wanted to take the reins and swim back up to the surface.

At one point during my initial panic I noticed my diligent guide was pantomiming to me, his hands going slowly up and down over his chest like a Tai Qi master.

“Breathe,” he was telling me. I understood!

Instantly I let myself relax and feel my breath. It wasn’t so bad.

As time passed and I learned to regulate my buoyancy with my breath I started to feel as if I had some control. Although that scared little voice in my head was still chatting away, I found a way to turn her volume way down.

The fish were cool. I even saw a giant crab and a turtle…but that wasn’t what this trip was about for me…this time around it was about mastering my fear of the unknown and most importantly letting go of my need for control.

When I realized we had made our way back to the anchor of the boat, I saw our guide give us the sign for “up”. I felt my heart sink.

No….I want more! I thought. But sadly this trip was over.

On the boat ride back my husband and I looked at each other and smiled, high on our fantastic underwater adventure.

“When are we going to do this again?” I asked and together we discussed the logistics of getting our kids out scuba diving with us next time.

Something happened on that trip to the Keys. I found gold, but it wasn’t in the form of a coin at the bottom of the ocean, nor was it in a “mermaid moment” where I felt completely free and alive swimming about.

Instead I found gold in the work, in the effort of calming myself, finding my center. The gem of my Key West trip came from the struggle, from that little battle I had with my terrified ego, who wanted nothing more than to swim to the surface and hang on for dear life to that boat.

My treasure came from refusing to give in to that dark, timid side of myself and instead, nurture that piece of me that whispers: “everything is alright” “have faith” “you are safe”.

Just as I had anticipated, in spite of our wonderful water adventure, the car ride home with my husband, brought up a lot of the relationship grime, that I knew we had to deal with.

As we talked I noticed that many times in my relationships I’ve wanted to flee—just like I did in the ocean. It’s as if I want to say, “Alright. I’m done with this shit! Bring me back to the boat. This is too hard!”

But now I’m wondering if I can treat my relationships more like I treated that dive. Don’t feed the fear…instead listen for that other voice, the one who loves us unconditionally who is there whispering in her sweetness- “Do not fear. You are okay.”

I tell my daughter from time to time that the bravest people aren’t the ones who go out and do things fearlessly, but the ones who are scared and do them anyway. I think I’m one of the brave ones. (As are you!)

Bravery comes in all forms, whether its in getting in a boat and diving deep under the water, or looking at your relationships head on and acknowledging the ways you may struggle with your capabilities as a good friend, a wife, a parent, a lover.

Sometimes the treasure isn’t in a tangible object like a shiny coin, but in Love itself. The bounty comes from making the choice to not swim for the surface, but instead to stay deep down, even when things feel scary.

Today and every day I take a dive into the ocean of my own heart, and whatever darkness, whatever murkiness I uncover I keep on swimming, because I know from my depths everything is okay.

Keep on swimming.

In Love,

Becky

 

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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

Waking Up

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This morning I woke up in a horrible funk…once again angry at myself for all the ways I’ve declared myself a failure. It seems to be a pattern lately, waking up in despair.

So, since it’s Sunday and I don’t have to get the kids off to school I decided to try something different. I slipped on some clothes and walked down to the beach. When I got there the morning sky was glowing, rays of sunlight pouring through the clouds onto the ocean’s surface.

I stepped in the sand and did my morning “yoga” prayer to the sea, then settled myself on a step at the beach walkover. With no particular plan I ripped out half a page out of a notebook I had brought along. I then began scrawling all the things I “hated” about myself—all those things that ran through my head while I laid in bed most mornings…my neediness, my lack of order, the ways I’ve clearly fail my family, friends and myself….all my inadequacies. I didn’t hold back one bit.

Then with pleasure I shredded the half sheet into little pieces and stepped into the water. With a smile on my face I tossed the paper in, watching the little fragments flutter into the ocean like a flock of tiny birds on their final flight.

I then walked back to my seat, where my notebook and pen sat. In front of me was the remaining, blank half sheet of paper.

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Looking at it I decided it needed to be filled. And so I began to write a response to those negative words that were now part of the waves:

This is you. The one here in this moment, connected to the ocean, connected to God. Fear is just a distant whisper—a memory of need and loss. It serves no purpose anymore.

You are here—magnificent, with all the knowledge you need in the palm of your hand. You are the light that streams through the clouds, the breeze that blows, the changing tide. Your heart breaths light.

Chaos and order are just perceptions. The world is both—neither good nor bad.

I hereby free you from your obsessions, your worry. These are distant calls. They are no longer needed in this magnificent place.

Now—tell this to your heart! Worry and self-hatred are no longer you.

You are beauty, light, and love.

And so, I came back from the beach feeling calm and clean, free from my worries.

It’s going to be a good day.

Peace,

Becky

www.beckypourchot.com

The Ta-da Factor

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Over the past few days I’ve done some very important, very nonscientific social research. And lucky you get to hear the results–

So, my new book came out on Amazon a few weeks ago. (www.BeckyPourchot.com) The whole thing happened faster than I expected, and Amazon posted the paperback three days earlier than planned.

I was thrilled beyond belief when I saw it up there, so without much thought I shouted it out to the Facebook world sharing how absolutely ecstatic I was that my “baby” was finally out in the world.

My friends and supporters shared my post like mad. It was amazing.

There was one problem.

This “announcement” was too soon. The kindle edition wasn’t out yet, so people were heading to my site and the kindle version wasn’t there.

Nothing was choreographed like I hoped. My words in the post weren’t carefully crafted, just blurted out to the world, but something interesting happened. I watched people’s excitement as they read it. They felt connected to me, and I felt connected to them! We were sharing in the love. They wanted to “share” on facebook because they were thrilled for me. They wanted to celebrate in the moment too. It was wonderful.

Then a few days later, when the kindle edition was out I had a chance to make a “real” announcement. I created an official one, spending a very long time figuring out the exact words to say.

In the end I tried to mimic my initial enthusiasm: “Hey guys! It’s here!” but something was different, this time I was in essence saying “buy my book” and the energy shifted.

On top of it, with all that over thinking going on in my head, my writing lacked sincerity. My intention was different. This time instead of just wanting to share the news I was secretly thinking “I want people to share this” “I want lots of likes” and it completely changed the overall reaction of my friends.

Living your life wanting likes is not a great way to live. Trust me, I know this sort of thing. I’ve learned in my 43 years, anytime I go into a situation where I’m thinking: “I want this person to like me”, “buy this”, or better yet “Ta da! Everyone! Look at me!” people turn away. They’re left ironically unimpressed.

No one likes a needy person. Their behavior in essences says “Something is incomplete in me. Please fix it.”

So, what’s the answer when you’re trying to sell books, make a living? Honestly I don’t know, but what I do know is this: all I can be is me and the minute I shift from my truth…from my essence, everything is thrown off. I know, I probably will never been a marketing wizard with these tactics, nor will I likely sell a million books by just “being me”, but hopefully the people who do read my books will walk away feeling they’ve been touched by something good and they’ll tell others because the book brought them joy.

In the end, all we have is truth. There’s no reason to hide it.

Side note: I can’t finish this post without a shout out to author (and occasional sensai) Tim Baker who has been telling me this stuff for quite a while. Now I’m listening Tim. You were right.

A Good Depression

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Sometimes being in a slump is a good thing

Lately, these days I feel useless.

I feel needy and insecure. It’s not a great place to be. Trust me.

In fact I find myself avoiding too much contact with friends because frankly I’m embarrassed. I’m afraid my neediness has gotten to a point where they feel obliged to intervene, giving me advice on every little worry I have. They see I can’t fix it myself, so they reach out to help.

Over and over my friends (and most frequently, my husband) suggest ways to run my business, how to manage my personal life. This is because I ask them….beg them to help me solve my problems. They give me pep talks, cheer me on, and tell me where I’m going right and wrong. This is wonderful. I know they do this out of love and I cherish that, but at some point I have to stop asking for help.

I have surrounded myself with fixers. They’re my favorite kind of people. In fact, I’m a fixer too! We see problems and we solve them. And most importantly, if we see people suffer, we are there to help.

Lately I’m two people: first I’m this horrible, insecure girl who feeds off of her own neediness, putting up the white flag of distress all the time, because she’s too scared to take responsibility for her own actions. I hate that part of me, more than any other part. It makes me ashamed to even write it. BUT on the other side  there’s a deeper part of me, a beautiful, strong, proud self that KNOWS the answer ….or a least has the courage to make a good guess.

So as I’m sitting here on my porch, enjoying the magnificent Florida spring weather, I say this: Yes, I am in a slump,  yes I am doubting myself. Lately my worries are taking charge, but within that darkness I am seeing where I fall short, recognizing that I am sometimes weak, sometimes scared. And that’s okay.

Strong people are people who aren’t afraid to be weak. They are people who know when to ask for help, but they also know when to say “I got this. I’ll fix this one on my own.” www.beckypourchot.com

Toxic Aspirations

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Earlier today I met with a group of business women at an event called ‘Just Drop In’. I join them once a week with the hopes of understanding what being a small business owner is all about. They’re a compassionate group, who truly finds joy in what they do.

At our meeting I confessed to them my recent failure. Weeks earlier I had declared myself the “New Becky”. I told everyone the New Becky would focus on success. She would sell lots of books and give up at no cost. She would succeed because she was so dedicated to her cause.

I pictured the New Becky as this tall, slim, focused woman with a well-tailored dress. Her hair would be smooth and pulled back. I’d command people’s respect.

I explained to my friends how I pursued this new Becky for a month and a half. I bought business attire, posted goals on my office walls, and managed everything in my business life.

It worked great for a week until I found myself drowning in tasks. I was toggling too many projects. My shoulders were knotted tight and I was emotionally absent from my family. I kept on trying, kept on pushing, but I was irritable and anxious and had lost my sense of center. I was failing, I knew.   I hated myself for being weak and lazy and not being able to handle it all.

Finally, one day I broke down and cried to my husband. I was exhausted, and frankly I hadn’t been any more productive than when the “old Becky” was in charge.

After I told this story to my business friends, they all nodded. Everyone there knew the struggle…the balance of self-care and the drive for success.

It was suggested to me that perhaps I still hadn’t found the real me. Perhaps I was trying so hard to be everyone else’s version of me, I had no idea who I was. As my friend Daniella put it, “You need to find your authentic self.”

Each of the women I spoke with had a different way off being them. Some could work eleven hour days and that was fine by them, while people, like me, needed more reflective time. The trick to all of this according to Daniella was finding my purpose.

I thought on this. I decided my purpose is to bring joy to people through my words.

I know this may sound weak and lazy to some of you, like I’m copping out, but I know I cannot bring joy to others unless I am finding joy in myself.  This may not be true for everyone, but I can’t bring love to the world unless I have the time to find it within myself.

And so, today, in front of all of you, I declare a Newer Becky. One, who yes, keeps an expense report, and keeps up to date on her marketing material, but also takes time to walk on the beach, bake a batch of cookies, feel the beauty of nature, and revel in the love of my family and friends.

This ironically is the Becky I’ve been all along. The only difference is self-doubt has caused me to question who I really am.

If you ask me, life is too good to waste it on trying to be what we are not.

Work hard, love hard, and let peace rule the way.

You can find my books at www.beckypourchot.com

How do you balance spiritual life with your drive for success? Are they the same? Let me know!!!

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.