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

 

On Enough

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The cream almost empty, but the jiggling of the carton proves enough for morning coffee.

The broken shoelace, but if removed from one eyelet, enough to tie for a run before buying new.

The market flowers lovely, but the wild ones by the side of the road fill my pitcher.

The tiny hole in the toiletry bag, with a quick whipstitch is made whole again.

Made whole again.

This of mine I give to you.

It opens the space for more.

There is enough for both.

The blanket cannot stretch over the whole bed.

But if you come closer, it can easily cover us both.

And there is enough.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.*

Five years old, sitting on the kitchen table, like every morning.

My mom, curling my hair.  The sun shining in the back window.  The smell of hairspray and coffee.

“Why does she live far away?”

“Because they bus her to your school, honey.”

“You mean she rides the bus to school?”

“Yes, but from a different part of the city.”

“Why?”

“I think it’s because schools in other parts of town might not be as good, honey.”

I didn’t know when we played ‘house’ in first grade that she was from another part of town.  I knew I couldn’t walk to her house to play after school and on the weekends.  And that she was black.

Mostly, I felt she was just like me.

“…schools on the other side of town might not be as good…”

SCHOOLS ENDING CHAPTER IN U.S. DESEGREGATION SAGA

In South Bend, Ind., a city that boasts of being ”the first Northern school district to enter into a voluntary desegregation plan,” school officials say their plan will desegregate the schools ”now and theoretically forever.”

The South Bend plan is not without its critics. White parents have sued, saying the plan is too sweeping, and black civil rights activists have sued, saying it places an unfair burden on minority students.

“Twenty seven years after the United States Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in schools, communities are still caught in confusion and dissension over how best to end it.”

I don’t know how it ends.

Another thirty-five years later.

My girls on their bike ride on our country road.  I let them go by themselves to get a taste of some of the freedom I had at their age.

The young man who lives down the road from us, driving his truck at fifty miles per hour.

This is the time I worry about my girls’ safety.

My luxury.

Mothers who have to worry every time her child leaves the house.

The color of his skin.

Too many stories of others.

Too many.

Thirty five years later.

Sixty five years later.

Two hundred years later.

When will it end?

Mothers in arms.

I stand with you.

Your child is my child.

I worry when he leaves, too.

I cannot say I know how you feel.

But I will no longer let my silence be misunderstood as indifference.

I stand with you.  I stand with love.  And I will not be quiet.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

*Quote – Elie Wiesel

 

 

 

Show ’em What You’re Made Of

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So, it’s not a far stretch to say there are points in my life when I would have been okay with him moving thousands of miles away.

I guess it probably started when we were about three and five.  Coming home with stones in my pants, fat upper lips, and chains off of bicycles, I was pretty used to the normal 1980’s treatment of younger sisters by big brothers.

By middle school, our relationship transitioned into mostly just avoiding each other, although I would take any interaction I could get.  Sometimes I think I would even egg him on to get in a fight with me, just so I could have a sliver of his attention, even if it was painful.  So when I would be upstairs in my room, and I would hear him call, “Sej!!  Seja!  Can you come down here?”, I would drop what I was doing to see what he wanted.  And then of course, him, laying on the sofa, watching TV, looking at me and saying, “…the remote is over there.  Can you throw it to me?”  And me launching the remote directly at his face.

That kind of summed up high school.

As we grew into college, our relationship started to shift, realizing the parts we’d played in each other’s lives up to that point.  The kind of person that isn’t always present, but you know they are there when you need them, and they are the person you call for advice or to just sound something out.

So when David called telling me he’d met this girl, and she was pretty awesome, I knew something was different than the times before.  And a few years later, they were married.  And I gained a sister and a pretty amazing friend.

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And then eventually nephews and a niece.

It’s easy to say my brother is one of my best friends and my strongest ally.

Like the time, when our entire family plus some friends, went to Mexico for spring break together.  A guy started hitting on me.  A guy with no shirt.  And a huge tattoo.  Dave stayed close by, talking with his friends, keeping his eye on me.  I then saw his buddy Jake whisper something to him, then I clearly heard David yell, “Because my sister isn’t going out with a dude with a giant tattoo on his back that says ‘T-Bone.”  That kind of brother.

So now, I feel differently.  I don’t really want him moving thousands of miles away.

But tomorrow they are.  Tomorrow, my brother and his beautiful wife and family are moving to London for three years.

My excitement for them and this experience they are about to have is what comforts me right now.

And mostly, my pride.  I am so proud of this man, who has worked so hard, to go from an entry-level sales representative position to an executive within the same company, and now being transferred across the Atlantic to have the same impact there that he had here.

So now, I kind of feel like that five-year-old again, realizing what I felt even then, wanting his attention, was pride.  Because I knew that even though he beat me to a pulp at times, like all big brothers do, he would never let anyone else.  And his heart, bigger than his little-sister teasing, was always on my side.

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Maia wanting to snuggle when she realizes she won’t see her uncle for a while.

We plan to go visit early next year, and we are so excited for that trip.  But until then, our excitement is for them, for this adventure, for this experience of a lifetime.

We love you, David, Callie, Caden, Brody, and Hadley.  Go show London what you’re made of.