Tribulations “R” Us

I wish I could write something light and airy for you to read and consume with the ease that cotton candy melts on your tongue. Unfortunately, these past few days have been exhilarating and daunting. They have been relentlessly jarring me out of comfortable spaces to address the long overdue.

Everywhere I turn there is a fresh challenge: wisdom teeth chose this weekend to remind that growing wise is a never-ending and often painful process, maneuvering the end of a long standing relationship and trying not to be horrified postmortem, health issues of family and friends. It is nonstop.

I could rail against fate and all of this “too much” at a time where I’m not sure I can muster up “just a little” but I know that Tribulations “R” Us” always precedes Triumph Unlimited. So I’ll take my mind-boggling dose of issue stacked upon issue and dismantle each one powerfully to tap into the triumph that I’ve been squirreling away for days just like this. Take that, trouble! I’ve got more victory where that came from. Bring it.

Affirmation: Each tribulation is a gift that allows me to experience the amazing power of overcoming anything in my way.

Challenge Day 30: Score!

I swear I have the 30-day challenge blues.  After pushing day after day, I’m pretty sad that there is no more challenge left and that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Funny since I expected Day 30 to be the day to end all days where I would stand atop the mountain of my achievement and look out with puffed chest congratulating myself for daring the impossible.

I’m sure that I have the blues.  Now that there is no challenge each day, what will I do with myself?  Haha!  Anything and everything. The interesting thing about challenges is that they beget challenges–a sort of challenge-addiction.  Tomorrow or later this week, I’ll ruminate about lessons learned.  In the meantime, let’s get on with our last challenge!

Today’s challenge: Take stock of the last 30 days.  How did you do?  What did you do well?  What did you not do well?  What would you like to continue to work on?  How did it go?  What did you learn?
I’ll be sorting through the lessons learned on this journey for days to come but in the meantime, here are the stats of what I attempted this month:

My closest friends can attest to the wonderful peace I gained in these 30 days as well as the struggle it was to complete these last few days.  I know I couldn’t have done it without them or you.  I also know that I’m not quite done yet.

While I was able to challenge myself to different things each day, I haven’t gained mastery over anything new.  I have an experience of what it is like to live a revolutionary life but I still have work to do.  Each day of these 30 days of challenges revealed so much about myself to me.

The greatest revelation is that this month was a buffet of challenges for me to choose from and work on extensively in the near future.  All the challenges have been interrelated.  They are all pulling for the same transformed, galvanized life.  The next step for me is mastery.

Gratitude: I am grateful for that I could complete this month of challenges when I’ve done nothing like this ever before

On the horizon: More results, lessons and mastery…the journey – to be continued.

This is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper.1

Challenge Day 29: Dare to Want

One more day to go and suddenly I am incredibly exhausted.  I’d rather nap than blog.  The only thing that keeps me going is my promise.  Good thing I made one, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued.  Thank you for the strength you give me by reading and witnessing my journey.

The last few moments before the end of a grueling marathon can be the worst.  It is in those moments that your mind, body, being resolve whether to finish or to curl up in a ball right there.  The next challenge is important for me to keep going.  Come run with me.

Today’s challenge: Dare to want…wantonly.  Allow yourself to want for no reason.  Want things you’ve never wanted before.  Want until you want no more.  Write it all down.  Change your mind if you need to.  Keep going until you see what you say you want and match that to what you really want.  Write that list about ideal mate that you’ve resisted writing for years.  Go ahead, write it.  Want him and everything.  Go!

Wanting is such a odd thing.  Most of us don’t allow ourselves to want things fearing that wanting things that don’t manifest may kill us or be close to dying.  We treat our wants as if we will never have them and work to push them away.  In turn, we end up yearning those things that we deny.

We suffer when we live as if wanting is a reminder of our inadequacy.  We are stuck believing that we’re not enough to deserve or earn our wants.  What if wanting was a normal part of your day as simple and constant as brushing your teeth?  What if wanting was a tool that you use to design your life?  Today’s challenge is my opportunity to dream to the point of incredulousness, dance into the impossible and shed suffering.  So I will be writing that list and collaging my vision of heart-thumping future.  What have you not dared to want?

Today’s victory: I spent a wonderful weekend failing and winning at most of my challenges.  When I missed the challenge mark, I made sure I went back and hit it dead on.  That looked like heated discussions, impasses and, finally, peaceful resolution.  I’m glad I have these tools working actively in my life.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds, supports and fuels my dreams.

On the horizon: The scoreboard

Challenge Day 19: Ask for Help

On day 19, I’m challenging myself to something I rarely do.

Today’s challenge: Ask for help.  You know you need it.  Let people contribute to you.  Graciously allow people to give to you in the same way you love to give to others.  Give them the pleasure of making a difference for you.  Accept things.

More often than not, I work on challenges on my own.  Whether they’re 30 days of Bikram yoga or a month of challenges, accomplishing them is a solitary endeavor.   I realize, though, that it is far more enriching and productive to ask for help.

Community is key in building the life of my dreams.  Being accountable to a community of readers keeps me blogging daily.  Without them, I would have stopped writing weeks ago.

I rarely ask for help and when I do, I ask very few people.  I’m always ready to help wherever I can.  Stranger, friend foe–I will help you.  It’s another thing for me to ask for needed help and with this challenge.  I am going to allow people to help me achieve results more incredible than the ones I would have on my own.

Allowing people to give to me multiplies all our strength and power.  For the next few days, I will look for wherever I need support in and ask for it.  You can too.

Today’s victory: I answered a call to do excellent, additional work today.  It wasn’t requested but I knew it was necessary so, with passion, I knocked it out of the box.  Feels good.

Gratitude: I am grateful to live in one of the most incredible cities in the world.

On the horizon: Miracles

Challenge Day 14: Empty Your Cup

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a bit of finality and fatalism in the conversations that I’ve been hearing.  I kept hearing “nevers” and “it will never be the sames” and so on.  At first I wanted to dismantle the absurdity of such statements with a cool dose of “how do you know?”  Seriously, I thought, if you know so much about the future, can  you tell me about next week’s Mega Millions?

Then I realized that I do the same thing in conversations with myself and others: predicting fate with a certainty reserved for oracles.  How do I know?  Why must I always know?  The antidote for that is today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Adopt a beginner’s mind.  Give up the arrogance that you already know.  Give up your view that you know everything and that your view of life is the only way that it is.

When you already ready know, there really is no room for anything new.  If you want to create anything new, there needs to be space.  The following story illustrates this:

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

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Since I am committed to building a life unlike anything I have already seen, Beginner’s Mind helps.  This is simply giving up being right.  It takes rightness to a place of cluelessness–a place where knowledge can be developed and acquired, not assumed or dug up. Such thinking entails the ability to encounter fresh experiences with the innocence of first inquiry.  Here are some characteristics of Beginner’s Mind:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Wonder
  • Naïveté
  • Curiosity
  • Playfulness
  • Fascination

Beginner’s Mind is curious, flexible and more committed to questions than answers.  Its delight is in wondering and it is willing to try out new possibilities without being stuck.  Amazement, wonder and awe are the realm of Beginner’s Mind.  When we adopt a mind that doesn’t know, we are open to unlimited possibilities and we discover that

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.  — Unknown

A Beginner’s Mind creates a new twist in this journey for me.  Anything and everything is possible.

Today’s victory: I was doing great today and then I wasn’t.  I’d put ego aside and I was so wonderful and then something set me off.  All I need to throw a wrench in these days of challenges is a conversation or two with people.  It’s very easy to be gracious while sitting in front of my computer.  It’s another ballgame when I take those challenges and involve people and their opinions and button-pushing.  Today’s victory was simply doing everything in my power to remain committed to my challenges.  I did not give up on the conversation.  I was able to step back and observe my reactions, ask for a time out and jump back in and try again.  In the end, I was rewarded with peace and all is well.  Now that is the little victory that could.

Gratitude: I am grateful for each day I awake with the mistakes of the past solidly lodged in the past, facing a brand new blank canvas awaiting my creation.

On the horizon: Compassion


Something’s coming.
Struggle to keep arms
a vise around known,
shattering now like clay pots.

Wasn’t much.
What was here seemed
to be all that
could be had.

Shards of fallow hope do cut.
Yet they are familiar, welcome,
not this formless new,
an unpredictable impending.

Spark burns resistance.
No place for bits and bleeding
where change seizes
territory once withering.

No more.
There is another way
through blind leaping.
Sore heart soars.


Lately I had been feeling clogged.  By what, I didn’t actually know.  I couldn’t place the malaise that tried to steal each day away.  It didn’t help that people kept dying.  Another one too young.  Another, well-aged but no less painful.  Even my friend’s triumphs in things we had both prayed about for her were dull evidence of my own hopelessness.  Works out for you but not for me.

I can’t put my finger on where this came from in spite of all the tools and support surrounding me.  I can only attribute it to the things I’d been lying about and refusing to say.  It was that person I would not love because loving him with no evidence of reciprocation would be the most humiliating death.  Silly maybe, but the mind and its pride have ways of sapping the logic from your thoughts.

It was the choices I refused to make.  The risks I refused to take.  The questions I was not going to ask.  All that was packed in.  It was my nature denied.  Apparently love stuffed down becomes mind-altering poison.  Who knew?

Then I realized that these denials and refusals were an excuse to do nothing and be miserable–a quiet, impotent emotional suicide.  I’d made a pact with sorrow: You can live here as long as I don’t have to be responsible for anything.  Sit on my chest and I’ll make do with raspy breaths as long as I can wallow uninterrupted.

The trick, though, is that somewhere I’d forgotten that I’d invited sorrow to live with me.  Squatter-sorrow is never satisfied with just sitting on your chest.  It wants all your life.  It wants to be the only thing.  I had let it in and I was drowning, barely able to move and unable to find the clog that let sorrow fill up to my neck.

As it reached my nose, I wondered whether I should bother fighting.  I didn’t want to participate in this anymore.  Might as well let it win.  I thought of what A.R. Bernard always says: Suicide is a permanent solution for temporary problems.  An emotional suicide–giving up all hope and resigning myself to being a pretty shell harboring a drowned spirit–may not be physical but can be just as final.

Ecclesiastes to the rescue…again

What stands in opposition to misery and defeat?  FAITH:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

With a simple sigh, I dipped my head deeper in the sorrow, reached for the plug and pulled.  Sorrow, our agreement is done.  Let’s see where faith leads me.