Sunday, July 5, 2015

7/6/15—Holding Yourself to Your Own Standards

I've had today's topic waiting to be written for over a month now. It was something that I'd heard said in two different ways over the course of a couple of days. I think both of them came from Humans of New York, actually. 

I usually like to wait for things to happen in threes. I've always thought once means nothing special, twice becomes interesting and three times is an all-out message from the universe. But lately a few things have happened just twice and I've felt like the second time was a message. So maybe I'm catching on to things faster these days. 

Anyway, the first thing was a question—"do you hold yourself to your own standards?" 

And the second thing was from a philosophy professor HONY photographed. They asked, "If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?" And he answered, "Never make an exception of yourself...People like to make exceptions of themselves. They hold other people to moral codes that they aren't willing to follow themselves. For example, people tend to think that if they tell a lie, it's because it was absolutely necessary. But if someone else tells a lie, it means they're dishonest. So never make an exception of yourself. If you're a thief, don't complain about being robbed." 

About a month ago, I wrote a blog about spiritual adulthoodIn that blog, I defined spiritual adulthood as having three core components—awareness of yourself and your own consistencies and inconsistencies, personal responsibility and the ability to fess up to your consistencies and inconsistencies, and the will to break free from the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that put distance between you and your higher self. 

Living up to your own standards and not making an exception of yourself are spiritually adult things to do. It means that when you see your own inconsistencies or hypocrisies, that you check yourself and realign your behavior. And maybe realigning means to change your course and act within your own standards and maybe it means seeing where your standards  are too strict and unrealistic for you at the present time. 

One of the hardest parts about being on a path toward your higher self, spirit self, Christ self, enlightenment...whatever you want to call that you have to keep your eyes open to your own inconsistencies. If you expect flawless loyalty from your friends, you'd better be flawlessly loyal and not make an exception out of yourself. If you expect secrecy from someone, you'd better not share their secrets with anyone, no matter what you tell yourself to make it ok. And if you're someone who's not adverse to confronting others with their truths, then you have to take your medicine when others are honest with you. 

Whatever you want to call it—standards, rules, or "just the kind of person I am"—you have to be big enough to take it when it comes back to you. In fact, if you're really spiritually mature, you have to be grateful when it comes back to you. Because it's showing you a place of inconsistency you haven't been able to see's pointing you in the direction of growth.  

I remember this whole idea of "holding yourself to your own standards" really kind of smacking me in the face when it first occurred to me many years ago. I was actually kind of a missing puzzle piece I needed at the time to move forward. And while I can't remember the exact circumstances, I know I eased up some on a few my more rigid expectations, partly because I wasn't ready to live up to them and partly because, even if I was, it was a lot to expect from other people at the time. And it never occurred to me until I thought to ask the question. 

It doesn't hurt to check in on that from time to time, either. Whereas a number of years back, the expectations I had of some friends was too high even for myself, those expectations would be fully within reason today, because as I've grown, so has the maturity of my friends. And let's not forget to look at the places the bar is set too low, too. If everyone around you is constantly disappointing you, for example, you either have the bar set too high or too low. 

Like most everything else on the spiritual path, living to your own standards can be more of a journey than a destination. I think some people manage to find balance there—more than in other hotspots along the spiritual path—but for many, there are too many layers of that onion to peel in a single lifetime. But it's worth trying, because being aware of and cleaning out that area of your consciousness is integral to mapping the right path. After all, you have to know who you are, what you're capable of and where you want to go before you can set out successfully on your journey. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

6/29/15—Remembering Who You Are

So I have this thing where I cry when I'm watching TV. I cry at American Ninja Warrior when I hear the backstories of contestants who overcame obstacles to become an amazing, self-made elite athlete. I cry on America's Got Talent when someone gives a performance that is clearly channeled from God. I cry on Shark Tank when someone gets a good funding deal for their brilliant invention. I watch every week and cry and cry and cry.  

Introspective person that I am, I want to know WHY I cry. Is it because I'm a sap? I don't really think so. Is it because I sit on my arse watching TV while those people are out there actually doing things? Well, no. Maybe. But, no. My life may look boring from the outside, but I'm not missing out on anything that I want. So it's always vexed me. Why?

Well, I think I found the answer. Being human means forgetting who you are...forgetting you are an limitless soul, with the stuff of the higher power running through your veins. As humans, we let our bodies define us and our boundaries. We let our minds define what is possible. And we forget that we are spirits having a human experience. We forget that we are spirits, born of the god energy, at one with all that is.

Based on that, I've decided why I cry. I cry because, in those moments of achievement I see on TV, those people are connecting with their limitless spirit selves. If even just for that split moment, they've remembered who they are and its as if their body disappears and their spirit comes through. I cry, not so much because they've remembered, though, but because I recognize them. I remember who I am through them. Perhaps not consciously, but on a spirit level.

When we hop into a body with an ego and all of that, we become an individual. We don a personality. And we tell ourselves we are different from the person next to us. But in spirit form, there is only one...we are all part of the one. It's as if we pinch ourselves off from that whole when we become human.

We walk the spiritual path to find our way back to that universal form. We seek that reunion and catch longer and longer glimpses of it, but we inevitably return back to forgetting...and remembering we're here to have that human experience, with all the stresses and frustrations and separation that comes with it. The older souls may be able to experience more oneness here on earth, but they're also cursed with the wisdom of knowing that spirit...that just part of who we are when we're here. We're spirit. We're human. We're everything at once. 

So I'm thinking maybe when I see people having moments where they step into their highest selves, I remember. I recognize them as myself, from when we were the whole. I recognize them as human having a deeply spiritual experience from all the times I've managed to channel my own divinity. And I miss that iteration of me that didn't have to remember because I was always there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

6/22/15—Faking It Until You Make It

There's a cliche you often hear tossed off by bad bosses, well-meaning encouragers and sarcastic douchebags. And it has become my #1 secret to spiritual and personal growth.

"Fake it until you make it."

That's right. That's my secret to spiritual success. And pretty much every unproductive behavior I've "healed" has fallen to the hands of "fake it until you make it." (I put "healed" in quotes, because we all suffer momentary relapses from time to time. And that's ok.)

As an example, I'll use my journey with drama. Now anyone that has ever met me knows I'm a dramatic individual. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is either creating drama with others or engaging in the dramas others create or associating with drama junkies enough that you become a target of their drama. And let me be clear, all three—creator, participant and target—are equally addicted to drama. 

I know this because I've been all three and, from a place of somewhat recovery, I can tell you that they are all engaged in drama. And while some may claim they have no choice and they were dragged into it, blah, blah, blah, fact is they have a choice. And they choose to engage. And while others will craft holier-than-thou schemes to silence drama junkies as proof that they won't tolerate drama, they're not just engaging in the drama, they're creating and perpetuating it. In fact, anyone who claims to be a victim, imo, is engaging in drama. Those who claim their power, walk away and never look back are the ones who are not engaging. And if you're really over the drama, you won't even whisper about it in private. 

So to get from the place where you're creating/participating in/denying/fighting/being the target of drama to the place where you're not even whispering about it to your bff, you have to start faking it. Because, let's face it, it's hard to walk away from that crap, even if it doesn't involve you...and especially when it does. You either have a personal stake in it or it's like a car crash. You have to look. And as long as you keep indulging the personality traits that predispose you to drama—the need to be right, the need to be liked, the need to be included, the need to be in the know and the need to be heard and/or agreed with are biggies—you're not going to break free. 

So you have to fake it. When every fiber of your being wants to respond, you have to walk away and pretend that's not who you are anymore. And I say pretend, because clearly, that is still who you are or every fiber of your being wouldn't want to respond. So you might not feel genuine or true to yourself, because you're being true to the future you instead, while still having the same knee jerk responses of the old you. And each time you fake it, it gets easier. Until it gets real. And then your knee jerk response is to disengage and see drama for what it is now...someone else's problem—a problem that, if put on your radar, you will most assuredly end up regretting. 

So now I'm in a place where it's rare to get involved, in any active way, in group drama. Even if I'm the target of it. But, if I am indeed the target of it, I'll still whine about it in whispered conversations from time to time. And I'll also cop to offering opinions on controversial topics in places like Facebook (which is, by the way, getting involved in drama if you make more than one comment, imo.) But one of the "fake it until you make it" tricks I've learned there is to make my comment, then turn off notifications so you never know if someone agrees or you don't continue the debate. I continued a debate last night, in fact. I wanted to be right. And when I recognized that, I turned off notifications. If your intention is have your opinion represented, then it shouldn't matter whether or not people agree. If you argue it, then you want to be right. 

A couple more things about letting go of drama—the further you remove yourself from the junkies, the more you see how little things, like telling others about the drama, is also drama. They are minor infractions, compared to the bigger picture, but each time you peel off a layer of an unwanted or worn out behavior, you encounter another layer hiding beneath that. 

Another thing is that, as you begin to remove layers of drama, you begin to analyze the things that continue to trigger you. For me, it's when someone attacks my integrity or lies about me. That's a trigger. Another trigger is wanting to be right. So in the example of the controversial Facebook discussion, turning off notifications helps me fake like I don't care if others think I'm right, until the day comes that I truly don't care. Once you see the triggers, you're likely to try to heal those things in some way, too. So trying to heal an attachment to drama actually becomes an impetus for healing other things in your life. 

But this isn't just about drama. The "fake it until you make it" thing works on all sorts of behaviors you want to heal—gossip, pettiness and lack of compassion, to name a few. And it works on behaviors you want to adopt—kindness, compassion and understanding. And it works really well on overcoming fears you may have. "Fake it until you make it" is like the ultimate spiritual multitool. 

You don't get out from underneath the toxic hold a behavior has on you the second you decide to change. Every thought and every action you make has a chemical signature that some part of you recognizes and relies upon. You may keep recreating a particular  signature by habit or you may even become emotionally addicted to it. Healing an unhealthy behavior means plowing new chemical signatures that register as more desirable than the old. And that is a conscious process that happens over time, not a split-second event. 

It's also not a success-only journey. You're going to get sucked back in. And when you're "healed", you'll find new layers that need healing. And certain things will continue to trigger you. But if you keep faking it long enough, you'll turn around one day and see that you no longer want to be part of whatever behavior it was you wanted to change. And the desire to stay the heck away is very real. You will have faked your way to genuine change!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

6/18/15—Contemplating Extinction

Looks like someone needs a new fishin' spot.
Here's a classic post for your reading pleasure...

There's a special place along the river where I like to sit and just be. Years back I had a habit of going to this particular spot a couple of times a week. It's within a heavily wooded shoreline and the trees on either side of the sittin' spot frame the river and view perfectly. It was cool to see the seasons change from that same vantage point. Spring to summer. Summer to fall. Fall to winter.

I must have started there in spring, because I enjoyed quite some time there before the littering started. Then every time I would go to this spot back in the woods, there would be soda bottles and bait cups and all manner of chip bags strewn about. The fishermen didn't even try to bag their trash. They just left it—and the bags it came in—where they used it.

So each time I visited, I brought a trash bag. And I picked their trash up. And I deposited it in the trashcans back in the parking lot. The same trashcans the litterers passed every time they came there to fish. And after a while I started thinking, "they probably think a fairy comes by and cleans up after them. So I'm really just enabling their behavior."

Gaia killed the dinosaurs for less.
I thought of making a sign and posting it on one of the trees. Instead, I just visited less often. And after a while, I grew so weary and disheartened that I just abandoned the spot altogether and found another.

After a month or two, it was spring again and I missed my spot. So I thought I'd give it a try. I loaded up with trash bags and hiked back into the woods to my special place, braced for all the trash I would find there. But there was none! Nothing!

I plunked down in my spot and took in everything. The sun sparkling on the river. The beauty of the opposite shoreline. The ducks and ducklings paddling by. And I looked up to see the fresh green leaves on the trees overhead and....there were at least three fishing lines and hooks caught up in the branches. It seems that, when the leaves started to come, the canopy prevented the fishermen from casting their lines!

At first I chuckled at Mother Nature's brilliance. Then it hit me. There I was worrying about saving the planet when we should all be worried about saving ourselves! Mother Nature was here billions of years before us. She survived methane air, the dinosaurs, geomagnetic reversal and all sorts of scary crap. And she came out of it looking pretty darned awesome and bountiful.

It's time to start calling a spade a spade. The earth isn't in any danger from our emissions and littering. We are. Instead of talking about climate change, we should be talking about species change. Because soon it will behoove her to choke us out, rather than suffer the case of the sniffles we're inflicting on her with our holes in the ozone and non-biodegradable toxin-infused trash. In 100 years, she'll have covered all evidence of us being here. In 1000 years, she will have recovered from our actions. And in 10,000 years, they'll have to use sonar and soil samples and carefully calibrated instruments to even know we ever existed. And Mother Nature? She'll have aged the equivalent of maybe two human weeks. 

This is an unfortunate reality of most urban shorelines.
Of course, we don't choose to see it this way, but what's going on here is a war. It's humans vs. Gaia. And we somehow have the arrogance to think we could possibly win when 99.9% of everything that's ever lived on this planet has lost. Who's the only one that's won? The gentle, unassuming ferns, that's who! To the earth, we're just another self-important species going extinct. Like the Cave Lion, T Rex and Quagga. What's a Quagga? Critters will be asking the same thing about humans a couple hundred years from now. 

So this week, consider what's really at stake with the choices you make each day—and beyond your relationship to the earth. Consider other things you may have a skewed perspective on. A pet owner may think nothing of letting their dog run off leash—until it gets hit by a car. A person may think nothing of smoking cigarettes—until they get lung cancer. A husband may think nothing of having a passing affair—until he loses his wife and children.

There is something ingrained in the human psyche that a) makes us think we're the most important and powerful thing on earth b) makes us seem beyond extinction as a species and c) allows us to justify and/or blind ourselves to things we KNOW are wrong or against our best interests.

As far as the things we justify are concerned, we know what those things are because they're the things we don't openly discuss with others. So start there. What wouldn't you tell your cubicle mate about your life? And how can you turn your thoughts around on that so that you clearly see what's at stake?

There are spiritual folk who believe earth is just one of many places a soul goes to learn lessons. And they say earth is the most beautiful and difficult of all those places. It would suck to cut your time short here only to end up in some brown, chalky, dimly lit desert in the next lifetime. We could all do well by sparing a moment to take inventory of what it means to be worthy of this place, this body, this opportunity and this gift we call life.

(Reposted from 2/12/12)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

6/15/15—Letting Go of Worry

So there's this one lesson that I seem to learn over and over again. Which is to say, I haven't really learned it...haha. But I am getting better and better at it. 

For many, it's one of the hardest lessons to learn—the absence of worry is far more constructive than worry.

The reason it's so hard to learn is because our default setting is worry. Dread. Planning. Controlling. Fear. Something inside us tells us that if we slack off, even just a little, everything will go to shit. 

But one of the things I've learned over the years is that a certain percentage of efforts go to shit and a far greater percentage of efforts pay off in some way. And even the efforts that go to shit pay off in some way or another. So there are really no outcomes that produce nothing of value. And, get this, all of this happens whether you worry or not. 

You can argue that worry makes sure nothing goes wrong and no deadlines are missed. And you can also argue that worry taints the outcome with the acidic bile of its own juices, by shaping it into some abnormal vision of what the universe originally meant it to be...haha. So, in essence, the drawbacks of worry cancel out the benefits and make it nothing more than a waste of energy. 

When you're trying to manifest something in your life or create change of any kind, your thoughts and your attitude are key. Let's place "magic" to the side...the way you carry yourself when you're thinking good thoughts makes you more open and attractive in the world than worry does. That alone makes a huge difference in whatever you're able to accomplish. 

But if you do believe that thoughts shape our outcomes, then worry is a poison you pour over your best intentions. And there are many other ways of believing...if you believe in chaos theory or existentialism or anything like that, then what's going to happen is going to happen anyway. If you're a Christian and you've prayed to Christ, then worry is kind of like slapping him in the face, right? It shows you don't trust in whatever answer he deems suitable to your prayers. So no matter how you slice and no matter what you believe (unless you're part of some weird tribe that worships worry) worry has no value. 

Depending on what you believe, your manifestation, fate, Christ, intention or just your own focused actions are what matters. Trusting in that helps. Distrusting in it just makes you crazy and it may even make matters worse. 

Over the last couple of months, I've had something to worry about. And, instead of worrying, I just let go and let it work itself out. In fact, I forgot I even had something worth worrying about. And by the time I remembered, the solution had already manifested!

Now, I can see how that would worry a worrier. But here's the beauty part...if you're a worrier, you're not going just going to wash your hands of all responsibility. You're going to be present to push the proper buttons when button pushing time comes to help your prayer along. You just don't have to sweat it until that times comes. You'll recognize the me, the universe didn't go through all the trouble of setting you up just to let you blow it in the clutch. And in the meantime, you haven't been there trying to shove a square peg into a round hole just to get your pain over with. 

When you want to create something new in your life, the first step is to name it. And I always recommend that people ask for a feeling rather than a thing. Because it's the feeling you want—the love, the happiness, the power, the stability, whatever—not the guy named Stan, the house on the ocean, the promotion or the money. All those things are good and may come to you, but they're nothing if they don't deliver the feeling you want from them. For example, if your home ends up being in a salt marsh instead of on the ocean...if it makes you happier than you've ever been, are you really going to split hairs?

And the second step is the hardest. The second step after you name what you want, is that you have to let go of it. You have to let go of how it comes to you, when it comes to you, what it looks like when it arrives and all that other stuff. You just have to trust. Trust that what you'll receive will be what's right for you at this time. Trust that you will recognize your cue to take the reigns. Trust that you really can't make any mistakes, even if you make a "mistake."  Trust, I guarantee you, makes whatever you manifest all the sweeter, because it leaves room for magic to happen...magic you weren't clever enough to imagine, but God was. 

Life is not a success-only journey. Sometimes we get exactly what we wanted and we get it quickly. And sometimes, we have to learn a thing or two before we're capable of making space for thing we asked for. Things like worry and, btw, giving up and stomping off because we don't like the way things are turning out, are like canceling your order before it's filled. So just sit back and relax. Stop trying to make things happen and let fortune wash over you, whatever form it comes in. Everything is an answer to your prayer. But first you have to learn how to trust. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

6/8/15—Embracing Our Scars

I recently remembered something I'd read about Japanese pottery, so for the past week, I've had the Wikipedia page up on my desktop waiting to write about it. 

It's a process called Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi and it's basically a technique of pottery repair that uses lacquer dusted with gold, silver or platinum powder. Philosophically, instead of trying to make a repaired break invisible or unnoticeable, the practice highlights the breakage, incorporating it into the design, history and integrity of the piece. 

As an allegory for our own personal journeys, it has many implications. The first is that, just because we're broken doesn't mean we're disposable or lacking in value. The vessel still holds tea, but now it is laced with gold. That makes it even more valuable. So for those who are recovering from addiction, the death of a spouse or child, a divorce or any other type of bad break, it's not the end. It may be AN end, but the healing of those breaks ushers in a new, more compelling form. With all we've lost, we have also gained. And that's nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about or to push aside. Triumph over adversity expands the soul.  

Another allegory is in this ego-driven need we have to appear to be something we're not. We all have a public face and that face is rarely exactly like our private face. I think the farther we travel down our spiritual paths, the more our public and private faces merge. But everyone reading knows someone who either discards their broken parts or denies they were ever broken. Maybe they act perfect all the time or maybe they reinvent themselves each time a chip appears or maybe they're just in denial about all the visible cracks. 

But just as the tea bowl above illustrates, the breaks and cracks and splits make a much more interesting story than if the bowl had never broken. And let's face it, we're all broken. And we all have gifts and wisdom we bring from those breaks. But when someone denies having any flaws, they become unrelatable. Boring. Homogenized. And while it always surprises me how many people feel more comfortable in the presence of unrelatable, boring and homogenized, spiritually speaking, that's not why we're here. 

We're here to break and repair and break and repair. Our mended cracks are the battle scars of being human. In some ways, you could say it's how we know we ARE human. It's how we know we're on the right path. In my opinion, the unscarred vessel is one that really isn't making any progress...not because they haven't had bad breaks, because they have. But because they're so busy covering up their breaks, they can't incorporate them into who they are. They haven't embraced the repair and used it to strengthen the overall integrity of their vessel. So, like any poorly repaired vessel, it breaks again in the same place and they fix it again in the same place. They can never move forward. 

So I've been thinking about the gilded cracks and the celebration of our battle scars. It reminds me of this little scar I have beneath my eye from some stitches I got when I was six. I remember my mother commenting on whether or not I'd be scarred for life, worried if I would need plastic surgery. That scar is still visible on my face and it has never caused me social discomfort because I always liked it. I'm sure I showed it off quite a bit when I was younger. "This is what I have survived and I'm proud of it." Besides, if a scar can be cute, it's a cute scar. 

But then there are scars that bother me more. I spend a lot of time worrying about the inevitable "scars" that will come when I finally lose weight, for example...the loose skin and new wrinkles and whatnot. And I think that's why Kintsugi has been on my mind. We shouldn't even allow the FEAR of scars to hold us back, especially not when we know how much more beautiful and stronger they eventually make us. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

6/1/15—Reaching Spiritual Adulthood

I've been thinking about the concept of spiritual maturity or spiritual adulthood a lot lately. 

I've been actively walking the spiritual path since my 20s, with the pace picking up over the years as more and more baggage drops away. But I noticed a shift a few years back, before or around the time I started writing this blog. And I guess that's when you might say I started making the transition from spiritual adolescence or young adulthood into spiritual adulthood. 

And let me preface this all by saying that maybe I'm still a spiritual infant and don't know that because I don't have the perspective of seeing that yet. And I might still exhibit some adolescent behavior. So I don't want to pretend I'm all high and mighty or anything. But what I'm trying to express is that I've crossed some sort of chasm in my journey and, looking back, I see a lot of people stuck in cycles they are largely in denial of and, therefore, do not want to stop repeating. 

Some of these people don't seem to really care about growing or stretching. Some are steadily working towards growing and stretching. And some consider themselves very spiritually advanced, yet exhibit spiritually adolescent behaviors and seem stuck in a vortex they can't break free of. This last group seems to justify their own adolescent behaviors, while criticizing that same behavior in others. I can honestly say, I've been each of these things in my lifetime. 

But a few years back, as I said, I broke free of that vortex and crossed over into something else. And it was not easy. It meant giving up certain behaviors (and even certain friendships) that made me a hypocrite. It meant practicing what I preached, which is not easy and, for some reason, really raises the ire in others...haha. 

So anyway, what I've been thinking about most recently is this—what makes the difference between the spiritual adolescent and the spiritual adult? And this is what I came up with. 

First, I think a key to any spiritual growth is self awareness. By this, I mean the ability to see yourself,  your actions and your motivations as objectively as possible, and usually in the context of the ego...that part of us that cares what others think. A self-aware person asks themselves why an argument broke out and a non-self aware person is certain it's all someone else's fault. Self awareness comes when you're ready to take an honest look within, see what part of a dynamic you bring to the table, and understand yourself well enough that you are no longer ruled by habit, but by choice. 

Self awareness is important, because without it, you can't take personal responsibility, which is also required for spiritual adulthood. The self aware and responsible person says, "I can see where my sensitivities were triggered when you called me a stupid whore, and my saying "fuck you" exacerbated an already tense situation." The un self aware person says, "Yeah, you really got heated. You need to learn how to chill out. Anyway, I accept your apology."

But you can be self aware and take personal responsibility and still not achieve spiritual adulthood. For that, you need one more thing to complete the tri-fecta. You need to break free of the vortices you spin around in...the vortices that keep you from crossing the chasm. The drama. The revenge. The resentment. The hate. The lies. The fear. The neediness. The gossip. Etc. You need to let go of your desire to spin in those circles anymore. And that often means you need to let go of the individuals and groups that are caught up in those vortices...not with resentment, but with a genuine "fare thee well." 

You have to practice what you preach and be aware and honest enough to see when you're being a hypocrite and take personal responsibility for that. And you have to allow space for those who don't practice what they preach because they're just not there yet. And that's OK. 

None of it is easy. And you may even find it lonely at times, because you're definitely choosing to become part of the minority. It takes devotion to the spiritual path and, hey, we're all here for different reasons with different sets of challenges to overcome. I think most people set the intention to leave the world a little better for them having been here and most accomplish that, imo. And that's a beautiful thing. And it's enough. So I'm not saying everyone needs to make these choices. Only the willing. 

Spiritual adulthood also doesn't mean you don't still have loads to work on, because you do. You still have healing and learning to accomplish. I have obvious issues, in fact, that probably won't end up getting a huge chunk bitten out of them in this lifetime because they are lower on my priority list. It also doesn't mean you can't get pulled back into an adolescent vortex from time to time. Because, man, those vortexes are strong. 

But I do think it means you've made a leap in devoting your "humanhood" to the development of your "spirithood" or "soulhood". It means that you can really no longer lie to yourself or deny your least not for long. And I believe that means that when your soul returns to earth in the next life, it will come with a lot less baggage attached—a lighter spirit, "old, old soul"...someone with an inherent talent for Zen. I also think it means you get to catch glimpses of that lighter soul in this life more often. 

There's always a human pay off to everything we do, even if we're doing it for the good of our everlasting souls. And that's my payoff...getting to experience life, if even for a second, through eyes closer to soul level than human level. When you're tethered to so many vortices, it's much harder to see the wisdom of everything. There's more fear and stress dragging you down and keeping you from getting the loft you need to see and choose and advise from a higher place. So you have to recognize and cut the ties to things that keep you caught in adolescent cycles. A few years ago, I never would have used a Bible quote in a blog post, for example. Now look at me...loving the message instead of judging the messenger. :) The further we move away from the attachments that limit us and keep us small, the higher we're able to soar.