What a Bike Ride Taught Me (or How I Am Learning To Stop Making Excuses and Live the Life I Want)

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I rode my daughter’s bike to the post office today.

Why is this even a big deal, you might ask?

Okay, it’s not a big deal.  It’s actually a really small act.  I will share with you why I am so pumped up about it, though.

When we moved to our small farm, we moved a ten minute drive from town.  This may not seem long to some, but it’s long enough that if you leave the grocery store having forgotten something, you’re not going back to get it.  The road into town is an actual ten-curvy-road miles, with cars and trucks going 50-60mph, so cycling this road is really left to cyclists, with the gear and the tight shorts and you know what I mean – not for kids and moms going on a leisurely bike ride together.

And this trek into town has been somewhat of a big deal to me because of my business.  I make jewelry and jewelry supplies.  There are several days that it is imperative that I ship -that day-.  Designers needing their supplies, customers needing their pieces for an event, a variety of reasons.  What this means is that most days I am hustling out of my shop at 4:45pm to make it to the post office in time for their 5pm cut off.   I am driving ten miles into town, dropping off packages at the post office, and then driving right back home.

I have never loved this.

When I talk about living a connected life, I am finding that questions start to arise.  Questions such as, if I don’t love that I rush to the post office everyday at 5pm, what else can I do that would be more in line with how I want to live?  What else can I do that would feel in alignment with what my spirit wants, instead of what doesn’t feel good?

I know we don’t always have flexibility here.  I know there are times that we have to do what we have to do for the time being.  But there are times when we can make an effort to make changes.  There are instances when I have alternatives that feel better, but I easily talk myself out of them.

Here is the thing – there is a post office less than 2 miles from my house.

Not kidding.  Literally less than two miles.  It is just the sweetest little post office with the sweetest postal person (hi Becky!).  The hours of this post office have consistently been reduced because the government doesn’t like to pay to keep this post office open longer since it is in such a small area of town.  It now closes at 2:30 in the afternoon.

I love going to this post office for several reasons, but one important reason is that I want it to stay open.  It is a place where people know each other, where people aren’t in a rush, where some get the only interaction with other humans they will have all day.  The more business they see, the more likely they will stay open.  I know bringing some of my large shipments may make a difference to this office.  But I could never make it by 2:30pm.  I always was too busy, too many orders, excuse, excuse, excuse.

I am trying to live differently now.  I am asking myself the hard questions.

“What don’t I like about hustling into town just for a post office run?”

Two answers – I want to give the small post office my business because I want them to stay open.  And then a larger scale reason: I get a little nauseous when I read about efforts to open up more US land for oil drilling.  I am heartbroken when pipelines are put in despite peoples’ efforts to protest.

But I still drove anyway.

I made no effort to reduce my consumption, my reliance on the oil that I was against drilling.

My actions were not in line with the way I felt, the way I wanted to live.

So what actions can I take that will feel more connected to who I am, to my true self?

Well, I figure the best way to start, the best way to protest something, is to just not give them my money.

Today was a day I made one decision that put me more in line with the life I want to live. I would be done by 2pm and ride my daughter’s bike to the post office to deliver packages.

I was nervous, because busy road.  I was excited, because I can take a bike to where I need to be!  I don’t have to drive!

So off I went.  And it was exhilarating.

I wasn’t afraid anymore.  I didn’t have a child with me to set the pace.  I went as hard as I could uphill, then coasted downhill, breeze blowing. (I actually laughed at one point!  I couldn’t hold it in)  I noticed flower boxes on houses that I drive by every day but hadn’t noticed before.  I smelled the lilac bush I drive by everyday but hadn’t smelled before.  I was living.

I dropped my packages off and rode home with a smile on my face.

I wasn’t rushed.  I wasn’t using fuel for one quick trip into town.

Connection.

Now, let me say this…I am giving myself grace.  There are days when I am going to have a rush order and have to get to UPS by 6pm to get it out.  But now, I am asking the questions.  I am asking myself what kind of life I want to live.  I am figuring out how I want to feel during my days and then taking action based on that, not living in reaction to the circumstances of the day instead.

It is so empowering, so fun to really think about your life, to reclaim your power, to make decisions based on how you want to live.

As always, thank you for being here.  Thank you for sharing in this journey to reconnect to the lives we want to truly live.

Are there details about your day you would like to change to be more in line with who you are?  It can be the smallest thing!  I would love to hear.

Blessings

Seja

 

 

 

Life from Within

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Okay, let’s play a little game.

I am going to start a sentence and I want you to pick the option that would most likely follow.

Okay, here goes:

“I have decided to follow my heart and…”

  1. “…become a tax attorney.”
  2. “…take an extra shift at my job.”
  3. “…move to Patagonia to climb and write.”

Which would you say?

I know, there may in fact be people who dream of becoming a tax attorney.  There may be souls who love working the third shift at their manufacturing job.  But, let’s be honest…how many of you initially went to number three?

When we talk about following our hearts when making decisions, it can be greeted by our friends and family members with a raised eyebrow or two: “You seriously want to move to Vermont and work on a goat farm?”,  “You are seriously going to move to India for six months to study yoga?”,  “You are going to quit your corporate job to join the circus?  How are you going to pay your bills?”

It’s not ridiculous to be received this way.  A lot of times, these heart-rendered decisions can seem to come out of left-field to the people close to us.  Heartfelt desires start out as whispers.  We hear them and either choose to be curious and listen and explore where it may lead, or we stifle them.  We don’t want to cause waves.  We are comfortable.  The people around us are comfortable.  We continue to live our lives without mentioning these pulls to anyone, knowing they may look at us like we are crazy.

As life goes on, the whisper may grow into a song we hear during the rare silent moments of our lives.  It is in these moment we can choose to listen, we can sit in the silence and not distract ourselves away from this call, and let the visions and insights come to mind of what our soul is calling to bring forth.  Or we can continue to stifle this, pulling ourselves away from what may in actuality bring us purpose and presence.

Many of us have learned throughout our lives that following our hearts is not responsible.  It is not realistic.  It is not rational.  Our hearts are not always concerned with comfort, with financial outcomes, even with bodily safety (rock climber Alex Honnold’s dream to free climb El Capitan?  Do you think his mother was fully on board with that one?).  It is natural to care for the safety and comfort of your loved one.  It is innate to want your child, your sister, your partner to be safe.  And it can be simple to dismiss these calls of our hearts when we receive negative feedback, real or imagined, from anyone and everyone who may have an opinion.

But what if you are the one to break free?  What if you are the one who quiets the outside noise of resistance, of opinions, of the world around you?  What if you are able to quiet the noise inside your own mind doing its best to drown out your innate voice and give life to what your heart is asking?

When we let go of the illusion of happiness that safety and smallness can bring, when we come out of the house we have built to protect ourselves, we can grow.  We are no longer stifled by the outside world and the ridicule you may receive from it, knowing that this comes from denying their own desires within.

Find some quiet.  Breathe.  And let yourself to connect the life awaiting to come forth from within.

Photo credit : http://last-best-place.tumblr.com

The Start of My Path

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I was twenty-two years old on my way to a job interview when my car broke down.

I was about a quarter-mile outside of the first town on a long stretch of nothingness, about ninety minutes away from home.  I had just graduated from college with a marketing degree and was looking for my first job.

Six months earlier, when most people in my business school graduating class were interviewing with Fortune 500 companies, I was on the phone with a couple who owned a goat farm/bed and breakfast in Vermont, responding to their online advertisement for a caretaker.

I just could not see myself in a suit, working for a large corporation.  When it came time  to go into the business school placement office to sign up for interviews with the different companies that came to recruit, the pit in my stomach was actually physical, more of a large bubble that made my suit pants feel too tight.

Fear and shame kept me from moving to Vermont.  Student loans, a business degree, the need to be “responsible” – those were the reasons the voice in my head told me to stay in the midwest and find a job that could lead to a career in the business world.

So that’s what I did.  I graduated, moved back in with my parents to sort life out and figure out my next move.  My best friend’s dad gave me a clerical job with his company while I looked online for something more long-term.  A job opening in Indianapolis peaked my interest – outside sales (no desk – yes! Indianapolis – closer to Joe, who I had been dating for about a year and a half, and who still lived in Bloomington where we went to school).  I applied and received a call about a week later to schedule an interview.

So, there I am, on the way to the interview, and as I pull into the small town on the way to Indianapolis, I watch the temperature gauge on my dashboard quickly move into the red area.  Steam (or is that smoke?) starts to float into the sky from the hood of the car.  I look to my right and see the first building in forty-five miles, a gas station.

Hoping they might be able to help, I go inside where the nice woman at the counter  informs me this is a convenient store gas station, not an auto repair gas station.  I go back outside.  The car won’t start at this point, so I call my dad.  He has a mechanic he likes in South Bend and doesn’t want me taking the car to someplace he isn’t familiar with and paying more than I need to for repairs, so he says to hold tight, he will come pick me up.  I then call the company I am scheduled to interview with, explain the situation, apologize profusely, and ask if we can reschedule.   They are very kind and agree.

My dad comes to pick me up, we tow the car back to South Bend and drop it off at my dad’s friend’s auto repair shop.

The mechanic calls two days later to let us know that nothing is wrong with the car.

They checked it forwards and backwards and sideways.  They drove it.  They let it idle.  The car never overheated, there was no sign of damage from the car overheating earlier, and that it was ready to be picked up.  No charge since they didn’t have to fix anything.

My dad and I shrugged it off as some crazy incident.  I then picked up the car, drove to Indianapolis for the interview, got the job, moved to Indianapolis and proceeded to have the most miserable six months of my young life.

The job was not awful.  I just was never supposed to have that job.  It was not for me.  Literally.  Not in the way someone says, “Oh, golf isn’t for me.”  The job I took was not mine to have.  But I ignored all guidance, every feeling, every message – even when I was physically stopped in my tracks on the highway to the interview.  I didn’t pay attention to any of it.

We are all on our path.  Sometimes we take the off-ramp, like I did when I ignored all of the signs and messages I was receiving.  I could have listened to my heart, my innate self, and kept going, but sometimes we just aren’t ready to keep traveling.  Sometimes, we need to take a rest stop, especially when it’s dark and the road ahead isn’t visible.

And that is the one of the reasons reconnecting to our true selves is so important – when you are connected to your innate self, you can trust that whatever is happening is a part of your path (even the off-ramps and rest stops) and whichever way you go, it will lead you to the same place eventually  – to where you need to be to live a life fully expressing who you are.  And if you are feeling not-so-tapped in, eventually the signs and pull will get strong enough to lead you back to where you need to be.

I have tapped into this trust mentioned above several times, especially when I perceive things as “going wrong”, “not as I pictured”, or “not according to plan”.  Like my car breaking down – all I could think of then was how ridiculous this timing was, how much it would cost, on and on.  And now I know, if I am living a life of connection, even the “bad stuff” is there to serve me.

So, if someone were to ask me, how did you get here?  Why do you feel the need to write about this?  I would say this story was my starting point.  Yes, there were and still are times I feel disconnected and I have doubts and can’t even make a decision about what to have for lunch that day.   But now I know the difference between feeling connected to God, to soul and spirit, and what it feels like when I am lost in the fuzz of the world.  And I am having so much fun doing my best to stay connected and having more days of being in alignment with who I am than not.

Our innate selves always know what we need.  It is always there waiting for us to connect to it if we get quiet and listen.

Much more soon but in the meantime, can you think of a time when there was a sign pushing or pulling you a certain way in life? I would love to hear.

Blessings

Seja

Photo credit:  Homeland by schraglage on Flickr

 

 

Our Journey Back

 

What we are looking for is a way of experiencing the world in which we are living, that will open to us the transcendence that informs it, and at the same time, informs ourselves within it.     Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

The needs of life.  

When we are infants, they are as basic as they get, right?  We need to eat and sleep, end of list.  And fortunately, it stays that way for a while.  Our worlds are small.  We have our toys and the everyday objects we make into toys (a new refrigerator equals a huge cardboard box that is now a fort in the living room!  A pan with a wooden spoon is a drum!) and we are content, rolling around on the carpet of the family room floor.

We also lived life from our heart center, even if we weren’t aware of it at the time.  We led with our emotions.  We laughed and screamed and squealed for joy when we were having fun.  When my husband, Joe, and I were newlyweds, the backyard of our first home abutted a preschool playground, so we were reminded of this daily.  One little girl’s shrieks of delight at being chased were so signature, we knew she had moved on to kindergarten when we no longer heard it the following fall.  

We cried when we were sad or scared.  We had no edit button, we held nothing in.  

But then something happened.

We began to venture out into the world.  We started to see the beauty and openness and variety of what was outside of us.

We also saw the girl down the street with a bike with streamers coming out of the handle bars.  

We met the boy who was allowed to have the larger, more dangerous fireworks, with which to blow up the neighbor’s mailbox when they wouldn’t let you swim in their pool (Another story – I’ll save that one for later).

The voice in our mind, which was quiet up to that point, began to talk, getting louder and more vocal as we got older.  It is now the voice of commentary that starts from the minute we wake up until the minute we fall asleep at night.  It is the constant broadcasting in our minds, interpreting the play-by-play of our day.  Crazily enough, by the time we are adults, we don’t even realize it’s there anymore.  It has become such a part of us, we mistakenly think it is us. And the connection we had with our heart, the center of our soul, our soul itself, has been drowned out.

We forget.

We forget who we were when we were three years old.  The simplicity of living in the moment, the lack of thought outside of what is happening right now, all in on this tree-fort-I am-building with joy and flow in my backyard.  That is pure, divine, source/sacred/God-created energy right there.

We disconnect from the spirit, the source that made all life, the soul inside that we have always been.  And at some point, a feeling of something missing in the midst of a full life, may arise.

And then we try to fill in the disconnect, the gap.

We forget that we are sacred beings, that we are all connected, made of the same stuff as God and each other.

But as soon as our egos start to develop and we desire to be seen a certain way, we disconnect and begin to fill in.

Oh my gosh, I was so good at filling in this space between the disconnect, the gap.

Because I was completely unaware of the disconnect with my soul – other than an uneasy feeling like I was supposed to be at a party when my invitation had gotten lost in the mail – I did a bang-up job of filling it in with stuff.  And by stuff, I don’t just mean material things.

Stuff can be different for everyone, but some examples that fill in the gap:

Worry, judgment, beliefs, attachment, information overload.

My gap was brimming to the top full.

And it really is so ironic that we do this, because not only does it not bring us back to the thing we think will make us content, it actually makes it further out of reach. 

See illustration below (nice artwork, right?)

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The stuff on the left can be anything from worry and beliefs we love to hold on to, to buying stuff you don’t really love and don’t need.

Even though Option A can have some moments of fun, I often found it was like eating fast food at 2am – felt really good going down, but a general mixture of not-what-I-needed and regret afterwards.

Option B then.  It took me a long time to find it and I am still figuring it out.  Even when I found it, I fought it. I had a lot of thoughts initially like, “Who has got time to meditate?  I can’t even sit still for 5 minutes, and besides, I have to go to work now so I can pay my bills.”  File this under “Other Lies Your Ego Will Tell You to Keep it Intact.” 

I accepted parts of it, like gratitude, which I had actually been living my whole life subconsciously.  But gradually, one by one, I could not turn away from it.  And when I attempted to, life took over and pushed me (literally) in the direction I was meant to go (more on that later as well).  The universe will lead you to where you are supposed to go if you let it.  

It is all there to bring you back home to yourself.

As we talk more about our journey back to ourselves and reconnecting to who we truly are, can you think of a time when you truly felt like you were in the moment?  With a feeling of clarity and connection?

I am grateful you are here with me.  Let’s do this journey together.

Cheers to moving forward ~

Seja

Clarity in the Quiet

I began to feel the pull in late spring and by the beginning of summer, it came to feel like a full-on tug of war.

If you have ever had an event – the feeling in your stomach of anticipation – I had this feeling many times before soccer games, before trips to locations I hadn’t been before, before big moves to college, Chicago, other places I didn’t end up going at all, due to fear.

I knew this feeling well, but this time it wouldn’t go away.  I would be busy doing work of whatever kind, with the feeling I should be doing something else.  I would continue to work harder, keep myself busy, moving.  And the rare times I was sitting, relaxing, that pull would become stronger than I could take, and I would do what became comfortable and distracting – I would pick up my phone and scroll.  Pull denied.

By the end of June, it became somewhat unbearable.  In dreams, a restlessness when I was awake – I knew I had to deal with whatever this was.

So, in early July, I turned my phone off.

I deleted my Instagram app.

I blocked Facebook on my phone.

I knew the more I took in, the less quiet I let myself have, the less of a chance that what wanted to be born would come.  So I made myself get quiet and listen.  It was one of the hardest things I have done.  Hard because I didn’t know what would come of this.  What if it was nothing?  What if it was something I couldn’t do?  Or worse, something I didn’t want to do?  Despite all of this, I gave in and let myself rest.  And some beautiful things happened in the process.

At first, the simplicity of turning off all of the incoming information, media, opinions, was reward enough – and woke me up to how much I reached for my phone without even being aware of it.  Even though I made it impossible to see what I was habitually reaching for, my hand would reach anyway, anytime there was a period of quiet.  I would set my phone back down and soak in the quiet.  I would carry my notebook with me to write down any thoughts that came to mind, even the mindless chatter of daily annoyances or a grocery list.  I let the quiet soak in.  And in the quiet times, I began to listen to my heart instead of my head to tell me to keep moving.

One evening in particular stands out.  The girls were busy with friends, Joe was working outside.  I before may have pulled out the computer, cleaned something, or busied myself with something else.  Instead, I went outside and sat on the ground.  The sun was just starting to set.  I noticed the grass beneath my legs.  The sky, darkening with clouds that could break or release rain at any moment.  The leaves blowing, turning upside down so I could see the light green and dark green at the same time.  The smell of rain, with no rain falling.  And God.  Mostly, I noticed God in all of it.  I noticed that everything around me was drops of sacred, the divine in the mundane.  Drops of God in my hands, my feet, the air, the branches creaking as they swayed.  God, Love, Spirit, was in everything, around me at all times.  And in that moment, the thing that would not let me rest, was found – connection.

It is easy in this life to be disconnected from each other, from the earth, from the resources that make our life possible and full of joy.   And it is easy to feel the separation from God, Source, Universe, the Divine Spirit that made all of it.

With so much information coming at us at all times; with so much to do, to keep us busy, to take care of, it is easy to disconnect from the spirit inside us, the soul that we are and always have been.

And that is my pull, that is the feeling that would not relent – the reconnecting.  The reconnecting to God, the reconnecting to myself, my soul, my spirit.  The reconnecting to earth.  The reconnecting to what my heart is pulling me to move towards.  And reconnecting to each other.

So, for the time being, that is what I will be writing about here – how we move in this world on a daily basis and how to stay connected to who we are, to what is important to us, the resources we use, and to the particles of beautiful divine that comprise it.

I hope you stay with me as I make my way through this and join me in what I hope will be a conversation about how to live a more connected life.

Blessings

Seja