Monday, March 24, 2014

Planet We

Loneliness can be hazardous to your health. 
Really. I just heard about a study that revealed how loneliness raises your cortisol level. That dastardly stress hormone is higher in the morning in lonely people as if in preparation for another day of assault. I found this fascinating. In a culture where loneliness is considered a weakness, something to be gotten over, I hadn’t realized that feeling like you don’t belong or are on the perimeter of a group actually alters the brain and places it on high alert, a state that after prolonged activity can result in compromised immunity and fragmented sleep. 

While we are wired to be aware of physical danger it was a revelation for me to view loneliness as a threat to one’s social body. In the old days, in a village if one felt lonely you could simply wander down the road and drop in on a neighbor. Today we try to ignore it or fill the hole with substances or TV. And sadly when this becomes chronic you are literally getting wired repeatedly to guard against people in the name of self-preservation.

 Loneliness then leads to continued isolation and that state leads to dis-ease. Think of a school of fish. It is always safer for the fish in the middle, surrounded by others. Those on the outside are more likely to be eaten by predators and are in far more danger. So too with us, swimming on the edge of the social perimeter, feeling like an outsider leads to an activated brain that makes the body more susceptible to disease.

Who would have thought that the need to belong is actually an evolutionary force? 

Here is where it gets tricky. If the need to belong requires us giving up parts of ourselves in order to fit, we are going against our nature. This too will have disastrous consequences. Yes I am waving my banner again. The marriage of togetherness AND autonomy is without a doubt my current curriculum and I get the opportunity to flex this muscle and grow it every time I meet a new person or in my current situation read…man. 

 Yup another interesting internet connection has arisen and I am challenged with each exchange as to what information I share. I usually default to sharing everything but find this time I am doing more listening than talking. And the talking I am doing is vulnerable and real. There is no strategy to tone down parts of myself to fit with him and at the same time I have no agenda to get him to open up to me. Feels kind of freeing actually. Perhaps my evolution has brought me to swimming for the sheer joy of it and not making my experience of belonging dependent upon his acceptance. I accept me…that is enough. 

Although I must say when I ask him if he is interested in personal growth and he says” I am interested in you, that’s the same thing,”it sure makes me smile. Lets face it, we all need each other. Independence may be cool but for me, what's behind door number three is calling. I need to put what I know about interdependence into practice. I am holding out for the Divine Merger and it may not look at all like I have pictured. That is the mystery.

If I had a current soundtrack it would be

Branded by being real AND connected::

Authentically Yours,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What’s love got to do with it?


I couldn’t figure out why I was inflicted with a pretty serious case of “writer’s block” for the past week and a half.  I kept putting off writing my post because I couldn’t come up with anything that I thought was worthy of your time.  I also had a hunch that there was something I was being beckoned to ponder but I didn’t want to go there. What if I found something I wasn’t prepared to look at?

Then on Sunday, I happened to run into a long-time friend and we got around to talking about this blog. I asked him if he had ever read it and he said he hadn’t, and proceeded to tell me why.  What an eye-opening (heart-opening?) conversation that was!

Let’s start with the fact that we enjoy each other’s company even though we have never dated. He is very bright and perceptive, and we have meaningful conversations.  He’s not afraid to go deep, make tough observations, and in short, call a spade a spade… sometimes a tad less delicately than I’m comfortable with, but nonetheless, brutally honest.

His reason was that if my blog is a “tell-all”, then who would want to be my partner when there’s no room left for private information, just between the two of us? I assured him that there were some things that I haven’t published (have I mentioned my tattoo?) but still, he was pointing at something that rang a bell for me. And I am really grateful for his candor.

Here’s my takeaway from our tête-à-tête… he had also referred to my ability to connect really well with a large group of people when I’m performing. And I also suddenly remembered what I had said about Molly of the Beachcombers in a previous post… that I resonated with her because of her public persona but didn’t give much thought to her private life. Am I unattached by choice? Do I believe that I am getting all the love I could ever want or need from a very large group of people, vs. “the one”? Am I crowd-sourcing my love to hedge my bets and avoid nakedness (on all levels)?

I think I am. Way safer to be loved by many than by one. Fear of loss? You bet. All the things I am afraid of are taken care of when I garner affection from many. Safety in numbers.  Don’t have to be completely visible and vulnerable in a crowd. I’ve got it made! Yeah. Sure.

And while I’m writing this, I realize there’s a third option and that’s the possibility of having it all.  It’s not a case of one or the other.

Love. Is. Everything.

Branded by it.

Love Buns

P.S.  And yes, back in the day, I did perform this song many times!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blinded by the Light

I just finished a weekend training called Rock the Stage with Karen Mcgregor. It was a jam packed, info laden, edge of your seat marathon that invited entrepreneurs to develop one signature talk that they would deliver.

Some people were conquering their fear of speaking on stage, others their inner critics. For me the challenge came in choosing what to talk about. I had so many tracks, so many topics that I felt overwhelmed. I understood that once you learned the structure you could apply it to other topics so you could have a number of signature talks but I wanted this one to be the quintessential one. And that attachment had my head spinning. I would come home after a full day and work till midnight only to wake up knowing I would throw away what I had written the day before and start again. I watched myself bounce from elation to crankiness as I wrestled with landing in ONE topic.

They all rested on a similar foundation, that lasting change can only occur if one is inhabiting and feeling fully in the body but to make the topic as juicy as I wanted, had me spinning.

Once again the impermanence of life reminded me of what was important. My friend Andrew read a letter from his 18 year old son Daniel on our last day of the workshop to inspire us. Daniel had written the letter to himself three days before he died. Dear Self, he began. As Daniels words landed in my heart, I was touched and awed at his wisdom, at the knowing that could radiate from such a young man with such an old soul. He reminded me of the art of appreciation, loving the present moment exactly as it is. He reminded me of the power of gratitude and showed me how contagious excitement and a positive edge is. He reminded me of the beauty of tenderness and curiosity as he invited life to mark him through nature. Daniels life was short but it was inspired and flowed with grace.   

As I took the stage to start my signature talk I knew my opening words were sparked by his spirit.

 “A palliative care nurse made a list of the five things people regret as they are dying. The first is not living the life they wanted but rather the life others expected of them. The second is not feeling all their feelings and expressing them. The third is working too hard. The fourth is not maintaining deep friendships and the last was not choosing to be happy more often.”

I smiled inside as I continued my talk knowing that Daniel did not have even one of those regrets. He had lived his young life with full abandon relishing each new adventure and welcoming the dawn of every day.

 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross saw death as a graduation like a butterfly shedding its cocoon as it transitions to a new beginning. I know for me death has been a profound teacher, a mirror that makes sure I look at myself and live true, live real.

As Kubler-Ross says, “It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive-to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a façade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.”

Somehow I feel certain that Daniel already knew that.

Branded by light:

Authentically Yours,