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What Do You Have To Show For It?
The measure of success
There was a time when I measured success by my level of productivity. How many loads of laundry done? How many after-school activity carpools completed? How many words written? How many articles published in a magazine? How many new advertising clients signed?
What did I have to show for it? Plenty! I had a very clean house. My children never missed or were late for the multitude of sports events, dance classes, bar mitzvah lessons, gymnastic competitions, and half dozen other activities they were enrolled in. I had bylines in local publications.
At the end of the day, I would triumphantly cross items off my list, adding on and crossing off the things I did that were not on the list but completed. (Don’t judge. You’ve done it too.)
It was exhausting and no one other than me even cared. Well, my publisher at the magazine did award me bonuses for the outstanding revenue I brought in each month. I even received a desk clock with my name on it, proclaiming me #1. Yay me.
What did I really have to show for it? Discontent, divorce, a succession of fender benders as I rushed between work appointments and transporting my children, and health-threatening weight loss from stress. Ah, the good life! Oh, yes—and now I was also dating again in my mid-forties…
But challenge brings change. Through a work-related sales seminar, I discovered Brian Tracy. I liked his approach and bought his cassette program, which included a copy of the Nightingale-Conant catalog. And via that catalog I was introduced to Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, Steven Covey, and more. Now my hours on the road were also the equivalent of a rolling classroom.
Fast forward a few years. My children could drive themselves and worked to help pay the insurance on the cars they drove. I got a job with a national trade publication and worked from home, using my phone and fax. So, less time on the road for me. More time to apply the new life skills learned from my many audio books and series.
I was introduced to the love of my life (and knew he was the “one” the night we met). Although we had very different family backgrounds, we had much in common—including an interest in self-help books and practices. We also both loved the beach, art, dance, road trips…and so much more.
In another few years my children went off to college and we married. The Secret came out and suddenly self-help was hip. We stopped drinking. I turned my attention back to publishing from advertising. Life was very good—we were deeply in love, had time to enjoy each other, and we both worked in fields we enjoyed.
Yet something was missing. South Florida was a drag. Hot, crowded, traffic, and absolutely no real art scene or appreciation. My husband, Joe, was transitioning his photography business from advertising to art and it was an uphill battle to get any real traction in a city that cherished beer, beach, and sports as favorite pastimes.
Then he got a huge commission. The iconic Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami built a new section and bought ten of Joe’s Polaroid images for the hallways on each of fourteen floors. Or maybe it was fourteen images on each of ten floors, but a nice sale, indeed. Nice enough to convince us that this could work. And the best part was we were no longer tied to any specific location because we were working with interior designers and art consultants all over the country via the internet.
We moved to Asheville to be in an art-centric community in June of 2007. In 2008, the housing/real estate/banking crisis hit and art sales tanked with the financial markets. People were losing their homes and certainly not buying art or vacationing at big hotels. Thus, the hotels, some of our biggest clients, were not renovating while the rooms stood empty.
The internet to the rescue again. I turned my writers’ group into an international online community and had members all over the world. Self-publishing became an acceptable, profitable endeavor, exploding with the introduction of Kindle and digital books. I started my own publishing enterprise, guiding new authors through the publishing process.
At the time, cost of living in Asheville was still reasonable, especially compared to what we were accustomed to in South Florida. We loved our new home and being in the mountains, but still something was missing.
We joined a spiritual community and met people who appeared to have more in common with us than some of our longtime friends in Florida and New York. We felt welcome and soon the center become our true home and family. The spiritual teachings were very much aligned with the principles of our self-help courses.
What we loved most was the inclusiveness. No one was exempt from the community or the teachings for any reason. No tests to pass, no questions asked. Just an attitude of “Welcome home.”
We found the missing link, the something that had eluded us for so long—Connection to All That Is, to Everyone and Everything.
Once there is connection, acceptance follows. No, this doesn’t mean I love everything about everyone—even close connections. But I learned to value what I loved over the aspects of what I did not. If there was too much in favor of not having a strong connection, I learned to accept that too.
I developed an attitude of Gei gizenta hait, pronounced “gay gazinta hayt,” which is Yiddish for “Go in good health.” Translated into the idiomatic meaning: I don’t agree with you, but I wish you good luck (usually said with a shrug of dismissal).
The American South version of this would be: Bless your heart! New York version is probably not printable here, but might be followed with an upright middle-finger gesture, which was not my attitude, but I include it here for entertainment and contextual purposes.
In essence, how you let go doesn’t matter, as long as you do.
Do you know why all that matters is that you let go of judgment and criticism of others and yourself? Because once you’re connected to All That Is, you see that only love exists. Unconditional love. The One Source does not care who you voted for in the last election or in future ones. There’s no preference for any of your choices. You are granted that right along with unconditional love.
Does that mean social injustice and the myriad of other inequalities and human trespasses that exist don’t matter? Of course not.
But imagine, as John Lennon suggested, that all the supposed differences between us became immaterial and everyone focused on themselves and each other with love and acceptance. If everyone did that, the injustice, abuse, intolerance, and everything else that injures us would disappear because there would be no one to create it.
Every negative thing, every aspect of life that does not support the highest good of all, is borne out of wounds humans incur due to their disconnection from All That Is. Humans create the havoc, the injustice, the pain…not political parties, religions, or any other groups. Those organizations are merely vehicles for wounded people to gather together to strengthen and project their collective hurt onto others. It’s not a conscious act for the most part. But it all begins with the disconnect from The One—which is all of us, connected.
What do we have to show for the disconnect? Dysfunction, and that indicates there’s work to be done.
My to-do list looks very different these days. Yes, I still have one…actually, several. I now use a physical planner and a digital program called TeuxDeux. Having those handy items doesn’t keep me from jotting things down on scraps of paper, notebook pages, and the pad in my purse.
I recently noticed a difference between what is on the lists that I create and the items that cross through my mind. The appointments, calls, and things to keep me functional in this third-dimensional reality are listed neatly (and crossed off) in the lines provided in my paper and virtual planners. The ideas, titles for posts, visions of things that serve my higher purpose (fifth-dimensional reality) come through in flashes and are recorded haphazardly on any paper surface handy. (This latter practice can be frustrating when I can’t locate or remember the particular slip of paper that held the great thought.)
What the lists have in common, however, is that they all now reflect things I do for me to follow the directives of my heart and soul. My energy has shifted from seeing myself as separate and judged by others to being connected to All That Is and plugging into Source energy for guidance instead. Little by little, I have shifted from fear to love.
Of course, it’s an ongoing process and evolution, but I am experiencing an increasing amount of moments, even periods, of bliss, of sheer happiness. These ecstatic moments are not relative to any particular happening or person. I simply become aware of being connected to something greater than myself, which I experience as love for myself and the world. I remember why I am here.
To feel the love of All That Is while in form is exquisite. My motivation—my “why”—is to feel it more often, which encourages me to do more of what stimulates the feeling. Sometimes that’s writing, sometimes it’s walking in nature, sometimes it’s my children and grandchildren. It’s always about connection with someone or something.
What do I have to show for it? Peace. And I’m never crossing that off my list.
Connect with me!
Spiritual Fusions Psychic & Holistic Fair: Blue Ridge Community College, Flat Rock, NC. November 4–5
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Until next time… my best, Shelley