Saturday, August 5, 2017

8/6/17—Detaching From Trust

This is NOT my PT Cruiser. Mine was too dirty for a photo shoot and most
of the shots I found online sucked. So imagine this with a roof.
Like many of you here, I was manifestation before manifestation was cool.

It started for me with Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, a book written more than a decade before The Secret. In fact, I think of The Secret as a longer, inferior version of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Chopra's book, along with Gary Zukav's Seat of the Soul, are the two most influential books (and probably the only two I've read cover to cover) informing my spiritual journey. Both are "hard" to read, in that a lot can go over your head if you're not actively paying to attention and thinking things through. Indeed, Zukav actually wrote a "dummies" version of his book because it was so dense. But those two books really resonated with me early on, and the Chopra book is one I've opened over and over during the past 20 years.

But just because I know something inside out doesn't mean I always practice it perfectly. And thus was the case when my car's check engine light went on over a month ago.

In Virginia, our cars have two inspections they have to go through—a yearly safety inspection and an emissions test you can either do yearly or every two years. I have my safety inspection every July. And almost every July, my check engine light comes on. It always happens on the first really hot day of the year. Most of the time it happens because the gas cap isn't on tight enough. If the gas cap isn't on right, it screws with the effectiveness of your emissions control system.

Many times, I just fill up my tank, make sure my cap is on tight and, after a handful of trips out and about, the light goes off. My car guy says you have to go at least 70 miles before it will go off. So I tightened the cap and drove a couple weeks (since I don't commute, I don't put a lot of miles on my car). But the light didn't go off. By this time, I'm getting worried...thinking of it a few times a day. If the light doesn't go off, that means it is not a loose gas cap and could cost upwards of $600 to fix. And I just don't have that to throw away right now.

So I decide that, because my car is 13 years old, maybe it's time for a new gas cap. So I order one online. And I wait. And I worry. Then it comes and I install it. And I wait. And I drive. And I worry. And now nearly a month has passed of going into into stress mode daily. I try to keep it at bay with a gut check. And I pull cards. And everything tells me everything is going to be OK. But still I worry. Then July 31 rolls around.

It was a stressful day. I had to find a way to put a good 50+ miles on the car, then when I'm out on the road, a client schedules a phone conference with me that starts in an hour. So I immediately go home before the 50 miles are up to take the call. Then when the call is over, I debate...should I just go and fail the inspection, which puts a two-week clock on fixing the car? Or should I evade the police as long as possible...haha?

Ultimately, I decide to just go and fail inspection. But then something happened. See, I once asked my inspection guy if they would ever inspect a car with a check engine light on and he said no. But either I didn't ask the question right or he misunderstood, because they actually don't care if your light is on during a safety inspection. They only care when you're testing emissions, which I don't need to do for another year. So, long story short, my car passed inspection. And all my worrying was for naught. In fact, all my worrying from many Julys past was for naught. 

See, I had forgotten Deepak's Law of Detachment. Not forgotten, really, but was ineffective when using it. And it's really one of the key laws...and the hardest to do. Because once you've put an intention out into the universe, you're supposed to detach from it. And trust. And by detachment, that means you don't worry about it (because worry sends out an intention of worry, sending nothing but more worry back your way) and you don't pathologically drive your car in hopes of effecting a result. You just let go and trust.

And once I got my car inspected, another thing happened. An intense exhaustion washed over me. It lasted all that night and all the next day. With the exception of one phone call I had to take the next day, I literally slept the day away. This was as bad, or worse than, my worst days back when I wasn't being treated for asthma. In fact, I hadn't felt that exhausted since I had been diagnosed. Then the next day I was fine. The only explanation I can think of is that the cumulative effects of a month of worry took their toll. All because I couldn't let go and trust.

For the post-menopausal woman, life never lets you get too far along without reminding you you're no longer as young and resilient as you once were. I guess this was one of those times. I believe I've had far more stressful things happen without having that kind of effect, but maybe having this on top of a general stress I've been having all year was too much. But it also reminded me to detach and trust. I do tend to try to control my environment too much. I'm good about trying not to control people, but I do like my life to be predictable and worry free. And when things fall apart, I take too much of that on, physically, psychically and emotionally. So reminder taken.

And if you're wondering about my gut check, I'll say that I think it's always correct. It's more reliable than tarot or a pendulum for me. It takes some practice to see how your gut talks to you, so give it some time and effort. Here you go:
Sit down and relax in a quiet place—no music or distractions. Once you're settled in, breathe deeply in and out a few times. Once you feel centered, quiet and still, then make a declarative statement to yourself quietly as you inhale. For example, "My car will pass inspection." Don't ask a question. Make a statement. Then, as you exhale, monitor your gut. If it feels relaxed and more expansive, you will pass inspection. If there is a slight, barely detectable sniggle in your gut, you'll probably pass, but with a small condition. And if you feel any sort of discomfort or butterflies, whether it comes at the beginning or the end of the exhale, you're probably going to fail inspection. Sometimes I will follow that by stating, "I will fail inspection." Then I'll see how that feels in my gut. That helps for times your first gut check is inconclusive. Or when you're super insecure. 
This is how it works for me and you will need to calibrate how it works for you over time. But it is a worthy tool to cultivate because, while I didn't listen well this time, it has helped me detach and trust more times than I can count. And, like I said, while I can remember times my fear got in the way of it, I can't remember it ever being wrong. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

7/31/17—Eclipsing Previous Knowledge

This pic comes from a cool site that gives details based on where you live.
If you're an American and haven't heard about THE eclipse coming on August 21st, then you lead a far more sheltered life than me. And that is just not healthy. :D

It's a big deal because this particular one hasn't happened since 1918. And what makes it special for Americans is that the eclipse is just for us—and all of us, including Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands...all of it, coast to coast.  Sure, Canada can enjoy it, too. But that's because we love them. And a part of Russia can see it, too. But that's because our President loves them. (However, only a small part of Russia can see it, due to sanctions.) Notice also that Mexico gets a crappy eclipse, probably because the new wall is blocking it. #politicalhumor

I had never really thought much about eclipses. I know a solar eclipse is when the moon crosses in front of the sun, blocking it out. And I know a lunar eclipse is when the moon enters into the earth's shadow when sun/earth/moon align. And I know you can't look at an eclipse with your bare eyes or you'll go blind or explode or something. But that was the extent of my knowledge. 

Despite the extremely long length of my post about what I do for a living a couple of weeks ago, I only scratched the surface of how cool my job is. One of the things I left out of that story is about the diverse range of things I get to learn about, from the details of things like call center software to the inner workings of corporate America to the random things you learn about life and the world from interviewing people for profiles, bios and the like. 

This week, I got to learn about about eclipses and learned a few things. Like there three types of, partial and annular. The US will experience both total and partial eclipses. I didn't think about eclipses, so I guess I thought an eclipse event was either all total or all partial. An eclipse can be as big as the US and Canada, but only people in a very narrow swath of the path get the totality...the total eclipse...a true 100% coverage of the sun. In the case of this eclipse, that path is roughly 70 miles wide and reaches across the country, coast to coast (it's the darkest color in the pic) and the eclipse moves from west to east. Everyone else gets a partial. Eclipse watchers say people in the 90% zone (the second darkest color) will only experience 1/1000th of the spectacle. That's probably an exaggeration, but being inside the path of totality is a big thing. Where I live, we'll see just 81%. 

So I guess I didn't realize all of that. And I didn't know the air temperature can drop 12 degrees during an eclipse. I also didn't know solar eclipses happen every 18 months..somewhere on earth. There have only been 10 in the US in the past 100 years, many of which were annular. In an annular eclipse, the moon is further from earth and can't totally block out the sun. Instead, it leaves a "ring of fire". The last total eclipse that came near the east coast was 1970 and I remember it clearly. It was a big deal then, too. The next US based total eclipse happens in 2024, but this one reaches in a north/south angle along a path that runs from Maine, through the Midwest and down through Texas. That one is not as special because it will miss Alaska.

My newfound eclipse knowledge comes because one of my clients is a resort-type destination on the SC coast, right in the path of totality. I mean, what better way is there to see the eclipse than from the white sand beaches of the Atlantic? Sure, it only goes on for three hours with the real show only lasting two minutes, but it's worth the trip. It's once-in-a-lifetime...unless you want to travel to the Midwest in 2024 and watch it over a corn field. Or wait until 2045 or 2078 (assuming we're not all dead from old age and/or climate change).

Stuff like this always gets me musing about what ancient man thought about stuff like this. I imagine the first time someone saw it, it was pretty scary. I wonder what they made of it. One of the sites I visited said some guy back in 500 BC determined the earth was round because earth's shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse was round. (Before him, though, Pythagoras determined the earth was round due to the curves on the waxing and waning moons.) Considering some people on earth still think it's flat, these gentlemen were way ahead of their times.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, but there are places and things I'll ever see because I'm just to lazy and procrastinating. One day when/if I move from Washington, DC, there will be sites I never saw...museums I never visited (though, trust me, I've seen a lot.) And I will probably think to myself, "I should have done that when I had the chance." But it won't be full-on regret, because if I had to do it over again, the circumstances that led me to the choice would still be the same and my choice would be the same. It is the way I am, so why waste time on regret?

This eclipse is the same way. I'm not going to drive 8 hours to SC to get in that path of totality, like my neighbor is thinking of doing. It's tempting because everything about it is cool. For two minutes. After an 8 hour drive. And the 2024 one is even farther away. So I'm consciously choosing 81%. And I do have plans for that day. I'll be watching with friends. We already have our viewing glasses and everything. I can watch the totality on youtube when I get home.

This lifetime is full of things I'll never see, never do and never regret. That doesn't mean I don't think they're magical and awesome. If I were the kind of person with the wanderlust and sense of adventure it takes to show up for things like eclipses or remote waterfalls or daunting mountain peaks, I'd be a different person. Instead, I learn about things and somehow experience them almost as if I were there myself. Indeed, one of my travel clients frequently remarks on how I know their city like I lived there all my life. I've been there in mind (and through a lot of curiosity-driven research,) if not in body. 

While it would be fun to see the world through the eyes of a physical adventurer for five minutes, I'm sure it would also be exhausting. I did some of that when I was younger and, in retrospect, it was. But mostly, in this lifetime, I'm enjoying the journey through the spiritual and mental landscape, and showing up for the totality of my own inner eclipses. Same side of two different coins, I guess. Like the adventurer, I'm sure, I'm happy I won the coin toss.