Category: Day-to-day

The Many Ways to Isolate

The author, Barbara Sher, says “Isolation is the dream killer.” She says it’s not your attitude or your skill level or your work ethic.  My book would not be published now if I had not been a part of a group that encouraged, prodded, and supported me for the last year.  Had a chosen to pull away, I know my book would not be done.  The romantic idea of a writer ensconced in a Parisian garret plonking away writing is the worst kind of myth.  I doubt ten books have been completed that way.

Yet, knowing this, I still find myself in the habit of isolating.


days without pirate attack

I laughed out loud at myself this morning when I thought, “If I can just make those amends, then I can be left in peace.” I really thought that. La! My ego is so stupid sometimes.

I looked up the word isolate (because that’s what I like to do) to see the origin of the word. Thank you Online Etymology Dictionary!

isolated (adj.) Look up isolated at“standing detached from others of its kind,” 1740, a rendering into English of French isolé “isolated” (17c.), from Italian isolato, from Latin insulatus “made into an island,” from insula “island” (see isle (n.)). English at first used the French word (isole, also isole’d, c. 1750), then after isolate (v.) became an English word, isolated became its past participle.

I realized I can island myself with a lot of other humans around just by thinking of myself as different/not-as-good/better-than them, too.

My days and evenings could be filled with activities, yet I could just be isolating in a more subtle way.

I insulate myself from my own feelings when I want nothing more than to be alone so I can eat.

I stand apart from humanity whenever I make someone “them” and put me with an “us.”

To quote Paul Simon, on Sounds of Silence, “And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.”

I said in my book that no one can complete a Hero’s Journey alone.  I know that is true. I know that life is layered with Journeys. I know, too, that isolating is always the results of an ego-identity desperate to be right and special.  To feel that it must make me feel separate.

Taking Risks

My book, Exploring the Magic of Your Hero’s Journey, is due to launch September 9th. Now that the writing is done and I’m wrangling issues like the cover for the paperback, the author page, ISBN, etc., I’m left with the space to wonder,  was writing the book a risk? Was publishing it a risk?  Did I take a risk? I’m thinking about the same content for a children’s version.  Is that a risk?

I bought a house last week.  Was that a risk?

I plan on working remotely for several months in the winter.  Is that a risk?

Am I taking risks in my life?  Why would I want to take risks?  Isn’t feeling safe necessary to successfully get through life?

greatwhiteshark7Certainly everything in life has some risk to it.  Humans are programmed to see completely unrealistic, low risk events as fearsome (e.g., shark attack) and to see events with high risk and high probability as nothing to be afraid of at all (e.g., driving a car to and from work every day).  Even for real pirates dysentery was a more probable risk than sharks.

When I started writing the book, I didn’t think of the risk of the personal content I would divulge. My editor recommended I change the angle of my own Hero’s Journey from shamanic work to writing the book because the writing angle was so much more accessible and marketable.  I resisted.

I thought about that potential change for two days and talked about it with friends.  I decided I had to leave my shamanic journey in the story and I had to add more of it or the book would not be my truth. Opening up and sharing that part of myself still feels very risky.  Will there be any reward?

Stacia Pierce said it well in her Huffington Post article:

“Once you have become accustomed to taking risks, you break free from the average way of living and thinking. Instead of fighting to stay safe you gain the momentum and confidence needed to welcome new opportunities in your career or business. Risks build your self-confidence and self-respect, empowering you to feel stronger and more confident in taking on new endeavors. When you are open to new challenges you position yourself to profit a whole lot more than you would just staying the same.

…but can I have it anyway?


In a meeting this week, we were doing a reading from the Brown Book (OA’s version of the AA Big Book).  One of the stories had the word “deserving” in some context I don’t remember.  At that moment, I had the thought, “I don’t feel like I deserve it, but can I have it anyway?”

It was in that moment that a wave washed over me.  I don’t feel like I deserve [peace, serenity, love, success, happiness, whatever…], but can I have it anyway?

I hate the word and the concept of deserving.  Because it implies that you could deserve or not. What is the criteria? Also, the phrase “worth it.”  You’re worth it!  Who isn’t?  Well… me???

I know the contents of my own mind.  Yikes! Very scary pirate!

I know what I do and say most every day.  A little less scary, but still…

But can I have what I want anyway?

Still don’t know what/who I’m asking this of.

When I shared, as usual, there were nods of recognition and agreement all around.

Why don’t I remember this?

“When you remember you are the ocean, you’re not afraid of the waves.”  Tara Brach

I might paraphrase and say, “…you’re not afraid of the size of the waves.”  Or I might change my point-of-view and wonder why I am not laughing and riding the waves.

I know her point is to remind me that I am source.  I am the ocean and the waves are only experiences of “me.”



My Own Commercials

I had a realization last week. The old beliefs repeated by the voices in my head are like commercials. Catchy phrases repeated over and over. Jingles I can sing without a thought.

Yikes! Stripes! Beech-nut Gum! Buy some today!

The voices exhort me to buy and instructing me how to behave…

What do you want when you gotta eat something? Lip Smackin’, cracker jackin’, goooood, Cracker Jacks.

“Sit down and shut up.”
“What did I tell you?”
“Because I said so, that’s why.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Should you be eating that?”
“You’re not wearing that.”

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what I relief it is.

Tendencies and States of Being

“Atoms are not things.” – Werner Heisenberg.

Heisenberg’s quote was on my daily calendar a couple of weeks ago.  Totally messed with my mind that day — confused me.  It made me pause — then what are they?  While provocation is the point of this daily calendar,  I am usually smug and self-satisfied with the quote or koan presented.  “Oh,  I got that.”   Sometimes I catch my delusion and pretension, sometimes I don’t.

I looked up the quote to see if there was more to it.  I especially was looking for the line that said what they actually were, if they were not “things.” More of the qsnow_decuote is “Atoms are not things.  They are tendencies.”

Well, that’s helpful, I thought.  Sarcasm leads to enlightenment, right?

Today, I have some  understanding.  I was watching the snow fall this evening and reminded myself that snow is not actually a “thing” on its own.  It is a state of being of water.  Combining that thought with the definition of the word tendency (i.e., a likelihood to happen), I see my own state of being in this moment with its tendencies.  Tendencies like:  compare this weekend to last; compare how I feel now to this morning; notice the feelings in my body and label them; think thoughts and judge them, et al.

While there is no evidence that quantum mechanics and spirituality affect, interact, or even support each other.  Each make me think differently, and that’s enough for today.

Scary Goal for Next Year

keri_smithDo we all say this:  “How has the year already passed?” For the last two years I have set specific, measurable goals.  Each year I’ve pushed myself. I’ve not been perfect, but good enough.  I liked how the goals have changed me.

I started throwing some ideas on a flip chart for next year’s goals.  Keri Smith‘s book, “The Imaginary World of —“, popped into my mind.  I’ve had it for two years, but have never done anything with it.  It wasn’t even on the bookshelves, but hiding in a lidded bench.  Who put it there?!

It’s an intriguingly empty book, every few pages is another exercise to build my own imaginary world.  It scares the beejezus out of me.

I talked to a friend about it.

Steph:  You don’t ever write in books do you?
Me:  No.  Never.  I never even highlighted a book in college.
Steph: I don’t think that’s what it is.
Me:  No.  I’m afraid that I’ll fill it in and someone will see it and it’ll be wrong or not good enough… [Oooh. Awful grade school art project memories are coming up just writing this.]
Steph:  You know there’s no wrong way to do it.
Me:  Yeah. But that doesn’t make me feel any better.
Steph:  If you write in the book, you become a part of it instead of standing outside of it. It’s a completely different experience.  Writing inside it will change you in ways that even doing the exercises and writing them in another notebook couldn’t.

Guess I’m going to do this next year.  eep.