Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taking Personal Inventory

Leaving a meeting this morning, a woman in a Subaru wagon flew out of a side street and cut in front of me. Neither of us was in any real danger of colliding because I was going slow enough to tap my brakes and give her a wide berth. Nevertheless, out of her driver's side window came the finger, the disrespect. Odd, I thought, since I hadn't exhibited any hostility towards her. She sped off, but I caught up to her at the red light. Just as I was pondering her furrowed brow and rapid hand movements (all evident in her side mirror), she leaned across the front seat and tossed a Dunkin Donuts bag out the window to the homeless man, panhandling, in the wheelchair on the corner. Her gesture (generous in spirit this time) got me thinking about duality, and my own struggle to keep it between the lines of grace and disgraceful behavior.

The lessons in this realm have come fast, furious, and with painful clarity to me in the last few weeks. I have been humbled by the power of one of the so-called maintenance steps on the road to recovery: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." 

As of this writing, I have inventoried, and amended, three out of four blunders---blessedly to women in recovery who understand, cognitively and spiritually, how the program works. In doing so, I have had to examine my motives, and while the excavation process has not been pretty, it has served up profound and far-reaching lessons. The first amend was an overdue acknowledgment that I had failed to communicate my intentions at the group level. This sister graciously accepted my explanation. Next, I made a swift apology for carelessly blurting out information that had been shared with me in confidence. My harm, though unintentional, may have taken the surprise out of a surprise party planned for a loved one. Time will tell if my faux pas caused permanent damage to the friendship, and I must accept the outcome.

The third amend was a true demonstration of how the tenth step works. Several Saturdays ago, I used my concern for a male newcomer to spiritually clobber a woman I have known for years in my home group. I had ceremoniously dressed up a bad motive and masqueraded it as a noble one. Truth is, I stuck my nose into a matter that had nothing to do with me. This woman not only accepted my amend, she hugged me after the meeting yesterday. She told me she loved me. She forgave me, and in so doing, she encouraged me to forgive myself. Growing up in public can be messy, but like this same friend is fond of saying, "I'm not here to save face; I'm here to save my ass." 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Intention and Trust

I've gotten better at keeping the faith. I've learned to not only expect miracles, I've come to rely on them. Ask anyone who has visited my third-floor loft studio/apartment and each will say, in his or her own way, "It's so you." The place that I alternately call "home" and "office" is, quite literally, beyond anything my mortal mind could have conjured up. Let me never forget one important detail: I had nothing do with it. Last year, I was seeking a place to grow my business, and the 3,000 square feet of office space that I had my eye on, inexplicably, fell through. My response was not one of gentle acceptance and humility. Hardly. I railed against a fickle God that had toyed with me through months of planning and negotiations. I was pissed. I stopped praying. I began drinking large quantities of caffeinated coffee. (Yeah, I'd show God alright.) Ten days later, unaware of how my life was about to change, I drove into East Greenwich, RI, ostensibly to kill some time before a 4:30 meeting. I wandered into an open house downtown, and in an instant, I knew. I knew that I didn't know jack shit about faith or divinity or God's will for me. Surveying the expansive, open floor plan, and the possibilities (for one major tax write-off), I knew that the reason the other deal had fallen through was because God had something better in store. Sheepishly, I looked up, and apologized to the heavens.

Now that God has my attention, he's managed to keep it. Seven months into my residency here, a morning doesn't go by that I don't open my eyes and give thanks for my good fortune. All that being said, yesterday's email from the vendor coordinator for the 38th New England Equitation Championships being held in West Springfield, MA, beginning October 16th, should not have surprised me, yet surprise me it did. The email began, "I was given your card as a possible contact" for massage therapy "for our finals." I could not have fathomed that opportunity any more than I could have imagined living a creative life overlooking Main Street. Each time I put my faith and reliance in a power greater than myself, I am shown that God's big picture for me, is infinitely more nuanced, colorful, and textured than my limited, monochromatic version. Every day is an opportunity to suit up, show up, have faith, do the next right thing, turn my will over to the care of God, and believe that if I set my intention and trust, the universe will take care of the details.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Live and Let Live

There have been a lot of pictures on facebook lately of oversized, leggy, furry spiders. Some brave friends have actually gotten close enough to photograph these creatures, and I've marveled, not sure what fluke of nature is underway.

Once upon a time, I ran from bees, hornets, wasps, spiders, and insects in general. If it had the capacity to sting, bite, or crawl over me, it didn't matter where I was, or who I was with, I ran. I have barreled head-first, down stairs, into bushes, over chairs, and bolted out of cars (several times into traffic). To say I was afraid of insects is a gross understatement. My fear of bees, in particular, was pathological, yet at the same time, I had an insatiable urge to watch them, to understand what made them tick. Fascinated, I would watch from afar (providing I had an escape route) as hornets crawled and burrowed their way into our stone walls, wood trim, and other hiding spots.

Ten years have gone by since the summer morning that I emptied an entire can of Raid in my kitchen to kill one hornet that had mistakenly taken up space in a skylight. (Certainly, the toxins from that spray had the potential to do way more harm than any bee sting.) I am no longer that same fearful, hysterical woman. What changed? Well, certainly I have aged. Life itself, indeed all life, has become more precious to me. But it's more than that. Fear has given way to a knowing, a belief, that all creatures have benevolent intent, and that a bee doesn't wake up in the morning (do they sleep?) plotting ways to sting me. I've become more inclusive of other people, their viewpoints, their idiosyncrasies, our differences, our similarities. It was only a matter of time before I could extend that same magnanimous worldview to all living things.

Today, I marvel at the powerful role insects play in nature. I've sat stock-still and noticed the translucent, shimmering green wings of a sand flea. I've admired the tight waists on wasps as they crawl over a brick on a hot day. Today, when I find myself in the company of a spider, a bee, a slug, I reach for my pocket guide, Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, and I open my mind and heart to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, that insect has come into my life at that moment to deliver a valuable lesson.  Why not?