Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dropping the Bag Now - It's MY Life!

In a recent phone chat with my mom, I was sharing some realizations I’d had about the perfection of the financial struggles I had gone through over the past few years. Mainly, I realized that if I hadn’t gone through that financial stress, I would have had no reason or motivation to learn many of the things that I have learned about business, about money, or, most importantly, about myself. She agreed with me and said that was one of the reasons she had wanted me to have the experience of fending for myself, if you will, in the real world, on my own financial steam. As soon as she said that, I felt this resistance come up within me, and I started to qualify what I’d already said and contradict her. When she asked how work was going and mentioned how glad she was that I was working and making money, I started to get negative about the work that I was doing (temping as a legal proofreader at a law firm), saying, “It is what it is,” and other vaguely downtrodden things.

When I got off the phone, I started to feel uncomfortable and sort of sad. It occurred to me that I was arguing with my mom and purposely resisting giving her the win. Over the past couple of months, I have upped the ante on my efforts to minimize negativity and complaints in my thoughts and speech. At the suggestion of the speaker at a Millionaire Mind Evening put on by T. Harv Eker’s company, Peak Potentials, I even recently decided to go a week without complaining. This was challenging but never was it more challenging than with my mother. Both times that I really broke down and fell into major complaint mode, I was on the phone with my mom.

So, what do I draw from this? Two things: One is that, like most human beings, I sometimes look to my mother for comfort and, to one degree or another, I probably always will even though I am an adult. And I might even unconsciously create more drama or upset in her presence in order to get attention from her. Hmmm. The other thing is that I often resist my mother’s motions to celebrate my financial success because there is a significant part of me that is still angry with her for decreasing her financial support after college without fully preparing me for the financial realities of the real world, sending mixed messages about money throughout my young adulthood, etc. And some of this anger is valid. Some of it is not. But who the hell cares, really? Does arguing with my mother and resenting her for her choices (which she made out of love for me more than anything else) get me any closer to my dreams? Absolutely not. Nor does arguing with her in a (mostly) subconscious attempt to prove my failure and weakness to her. It’s like there’s a part of me that believes that if I am a failure in my life, I can punish her (and my father, because God knows he’s neither entirely innocent nor safe from my resentment and anger) for letting me down, and I can prove to her that I needed her help more than she thought and there’s no way I could make it as an artist without her help. It’s like this insane self-fulfilling prophecy. And guess what? It’s old, and I’m done with it. Just in time for my birthday in a week!

I deserve success and I desire success. This is my life, not my mom’s or my dad’s or my sister’s. Ultimately I am the one that I will be answering to in the end, and if I don’t achieve my dreams, I will have no one to blame but myself. How amusingly masochistic it is of me to sabotage my own success in order to prove something to or punish my parents. And isn’t it funny that it’s always someone? For most people, it’s their parents. For some, it’s a spouse or a partner or a boss or a friend or the government, or whatever.

Let’s drop the bag. I’m dropping it now. Wanna join me?

If any of you have recognized similar patterns in yourself that you’d like to share or own up to, in order to help you move on, please feel free to post a comment. I’d love to hear!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why Butterfly?

It was March 1, 2006, and I was reading a book called God Doesn’t Have Bad Hair Days, by Pam Grout. My mom had given copies of this book to me, my sister, and a couple of our friends for Christmas that year. It’s a book of experiments to test the existence of God, or whatever you want to call the higher power out there. The third or fourth experiment involved looking for butterflies over the course of your day. It had something to do with the principle that what you look for and what you intend comes true and appears to you. It was deep winter in Manhattan, but I decided as I left my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen for the day that I would do the experiment, anyway. The other two or three from the book had worked great and I was having fun playing with a sense of magic in the world, in my daily life.

The backdrop of this story, by the way, is that I was in some significant financial stress, so my desire for a sign from God, Goddess, both, whoever, was rather heightened. Sometimes when your rent is late and you’re not sure where the money will come from, the idea of seeing a butterfly somewhere in your day as a signal that someone is out there looking out for you and magic does exist – that can be highly compelling.

If I remember correctly, I think I even took a trip that day to Food Emporium on 8th Avenue in the 40s, where they have a machine that you can put your change into and it gives you a receipt, which you take to the customer service desk and they give you regular cash, like paper/cloth bills, for it. Honestly, when you’re down to your last few dollars and aren’t quite sure how you’re going to eat (thank God for my monthly autoship of low-glycemic shakes and bars, which I have at times been known to live on when funds are at a low ebb!), it can be rather exciting to take that pile of change from the corner of your desk or that plastic bag you’ve been keeping it in, walk over to the Food Emporium in the cold, and dump your change in that metal tray and listen to it funnel down into the bottom. Then you can watch the green numbers on the black display box counting up the change as it registers in the machine, and while the last few coins clink down and the rhythm of the change fountain slows down, you pray that the total will bump up to the next round dollar. It’s satisfying to be able to say, “Ah! I had $36 just right there in change in my apartment! Aren’t I resourceful to go put it in that machine and get it out so I can actually use it to buy things I need?” Actually, I think once or twice my change added up to $50 or more.

Point being, I think this was one of those days, or at least weeks, when a trip to the Food Emporium with a bag of change was a highlight and a triumph. And in the late afternoon I was walking down West 72nd Street to drop off some timesheets to one of my temp agencies. I usually like to mail them to save myself the trouble, but this time I really needed to have my paycheck that same week, so I went in person to insure timely delivery.

It was very cold and gray outside. And my eyes were peeled, on butterfly lookout. I was endeavoring to embody a kind of detachment from the outcome combined with a positive, hopeful expectancy. Based on what I knew about the laws of attraction, it was important to be clear about your desire and to believe it would come true, and at the same time to let it go on some level. In other words, I was attempting to play it cool, even though it was making me anxious that the day was almost over and I had yet to manifest a single butterfly sighting. I figured that someone, or something, was watching me and monitoring the precise balance of faith, desire, attachment, and surrender that whirled around inside me. And if the balance was slightly off, no butterflies for me! Or worse, maybe all of this law of attraction stuff was crap and I’d been investing my precious time and energy in a total fantasy.

Then something yellow and pink caught my eye in the window of a store to my left. I looked closer. It was a big, cheesy, plush toy butterfly, suspended there in the lower left quadrant of the display. It had black pinpoint eyes and a little smiley face. And there was another one next to it, lavender-colored and smaller, I think. They were hung with fishing line or some other sort of clear, plastic twine – and they were floating there in the window. There was something delightful about how transparent the illusion was and also how much fun it was to imagine that they really were floating there. It was theatrical, actually, and I loved that. I stopped and took the miracle in - and smiled. And felt my heart burn with gratitude.

With that, I merrily trotted down the block to drop off my timesheet at the UPS store below my agency, where they have a mailbox, grateful for the sign that I was not alone, that my faith was not in vain, and that someone, something bigger and smarter and braver than I was out there, working with me. And of course I thought briefly that perhaps I had mastered the balance between the desire and the surrender, but isn’t it funny that when the thing comes to you, you are so much more focused on gratitude to the world for delivering it to you? At least for me, when something magical happens, I am filled with a sense of wonder at the beauty of the world, of life, of all that is, and my own role in the manifestation is still important, but usually it seems less so than when I was actually going through the process of manifesting it. Instead, I often feel like, “Gosh, this was waiting for me the whole time! All I had to do was look!” Or surrender. Or receive.

When I got home, I had an email in my inbox from a friend that contained the word “butterfly” in the subject line, and it included a beautiful story about a little girl and a butterfly. And another one about Wayne Dyer’s book entitled Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, and the excerpt from the book in the email was a butterfly story, too. And throughout the month of March 2006, there was a flurry of butterfly stories, symbolism, and references in the online communications between the members of a class I was taking at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts.

It was a time when I desired to break out of my cocoon. I felt stuck on many levels in my life, and I wanted a symbol of release, freedom, and faith. So, among my close friends who call ourselves and each other goddesses of one sort or another, I became the Butterfly Goddess. And I began to attract butterfly images everywhere I went.

Now I feel much less stuck, much freer, much happier and more successful, than I felt in March 2006. But I still like the butterfly symbol. It’s about renewal, evolution, metamorphosis, freedom, beauty, grace, and faith. And it connects to the ripple effect that can occur when one person does something that sets off a chain reaction. I do hope that the way I behave in my daily life and in my personal and professional relationships is part of that ripple effect, for good. And I hope that this blog is part of that, in whatever small or large ways it may be. After all, as a wise woman (my mother) told me, “If you can find butterflies in New York City in the middle of the winter, you can do anything.”

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you.