The Painful Distinction of Doing and Being

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*Image credit:  Gardner Edmunds

It’s December 17th today, I am sitting in my office (the Panera Bread location) and enjoying the high of just mailing the last of my christmas gifts.  It’s a short-lived high. My to do list, is still a thick, itchy, wool scarf… wrapped entirely too tightly around my neck.

I don’t have time to be writing this.  But, if you are a follower of mine, you might recognize that I seem to NEVER have time for this anymore.  And there, my dears, is a dilemma.  Because much to my dismay, I have a lot of complicated needs to keep me from diving into a pit of despair and self-flagellation.

Two most important: I must exercise regularly.  And I must write things…to download these emotions that pile up like the mountain of mail order catalogues that are swallowing my kitchen table.

The real thing I should be doing right NOW, is writing a paper.  A  six page reflective essay  relating to a book about development of the western mind since Zeus ruled the heavens. An essay, due today, on “the identification and interpretation of personal beliefs that influence the creation of meaning in your life.”

Can’t I just turn in a link to my blog instead?  It is ridiculous that this assignment has me hand-wringing, since I have thought of little else in my life over the last ten years.  In addition to grocery lists and christmas cards and the fact that I am still wearing toenail polish put on my toes in August, my brain is mostly occupied with huge, all-encompassing things like GOD.  And Guilt.  And Spirit.  And Shame.  And Worthiness.  And Judgement.  And Redemption.  And Soul-Crushing Inadequacy.

-Deep Breath-

Here is the thing, about my personal beliefs.  And how they affect my daily life…  This mess, that I need to neatly roll into a beautiful, personal, reflective, six page, double spaced essay:

First, an internal audit of my beliefs.  And, I find an overwhelming recognition that the toxic, corrosive, divisive, emotionally blackmailing, schizophrenic, mainstream religious cult that me and five generations of people I love have  been marinating in… is still offering me plentiful chances to learn forgiveness and acceptance and self compassion.

It has been ten years of really hard work, to unravel so much of the control the religious training had over my life.  Like a comically long and preposterous to do list, I have taken care of obvious ones, like wearing the kind of underwear I want to, and the not so obvious ones, like redefining my feelings about sex and morality. Throwing out the devastating metaphors of girls being a “licked cupcake” or “Already Chewed Gum” when they decide to become sexual beings has been a serious chore.

It has been almost ten years of liberation and excavation.  Now, I am free to have a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, wear a tank top, drop the F bomb, watch a rated R movie, buy a bag of apples on sunday or read a book about anything I wish.   And I can do those things without guilt!  I now know that strong families and sincere love and limitless joy and unfathomable generosity exist outside of mormon life.

I can watch clips like this one, and see men I was taught were infallible prophets to revere and to digest their words as God’s words, and finally hear the controlling patriarchal rhetoric and the dark stream of damage that runs through the doctrines and teachings of the faith I was born in, those things I had once taught and defended as Truth.  I have ferociously fought off ingrained belief that my only purpose in this life is to be a support for my husband, and bear children and be obedient to men who know better than I.  I have had to challenge myself to rethink what it means to love someone, what the difference is between faith and magic, how to draw appropriate boundaries for myself and my children.

Much of the DOING is DONE.  There is not much left to DO, when it comes to creating concrete distance between myself and the LDS religion.  So imagine the rude awakening I have had, when I came to the end of that to do list and unwrapped that itchy scarf, ready to breathe freely and be done with the Deprogram the Mormonism Program, and find that the really painful damage, the deepest, darkest wounds… were underneath the all that doing.  The unwrapping has revealed what is left…. raw and dangerous emotion.

Over the past ten years, I have also been busy discovering and declaring what it is I believe.  It has been exhilarating and freeing and I have felt relief and unimaginable joy in the self discovery.

Every human being has inherent worth.  Worthiness is implicit.

There is nothing to prove.

There is nothing to earn.

What happens after this life is NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

The purpose of my life is to practice living each moment in the present.

I am adequate.

Every person longs to be seen and heard.

Good and evil are judgments.  There is only fear and love.

Staying OPEN is the only goal.

Being CLOSED is part of the process.  I will be open to that too.

There is no need to define the Divine.

These things I can comfortably and passionately declare as my belief system.  My list has been scrubbed free from the doctrine I was immersed in since birth. The trouble is, now that the doing has been done, when I look at myself in the mirror, there is still the mormon girl staring back.  

The doing has not created the being.

The act of writing those words sends pain rushing up to my throat like hot bile.  It threatens to expose me.   It is the recognition that the actions taken over the last decade, as terrifying and disorienting and inspiring as they have been, have not healed the anguishing canyon that exists in my soul.  On one side, the powerful, complete woman who embodies that list of beliefs, and on the other, a weeping girl who will never be worthy or adequate or whole.

I have come to the very edge of that abyss.

Maybe the only thing I really believe right now, is that I am not alone here, on this edge.  I know my story is not unique.  We are all good at the doing.  The doing, no matter what is on that list, or how tightly it threatens to strangle us, is a matter of overcoming inertia.

But to be in alignment with our true beliefs, to begin to stitch up the giant chasm within us…requires the being.

Being is where things get real.

There is no doing left for me here.  Not when it comes to healing my spirit.  And the being is the excruciating part.  The part where the emotions must be felt.  The part where the feelings must be allowed to exist.  The part where true compassion is discovered.  The part where I simply exist.

I don’t really know how.  But I know there is no try… that is a doing word.

So for now, I will just breathe.

I Feel Like I Peed My Pants and God Made Me Do It

“Man’s chief delusion is his conviction that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness.”

                  -Neville Goddard, Barbadian Author and Mystic

 

I am sitting in my office… a Panera Bread booth.  And my jeans are wet, from the knees up.  My undies are wet.  Grateful for the long sweater I chose this morning, I tried to hide this unfortunate fact as I ordered and squeezed lemon in my tea.  When I stood up to retrieve my squash soup, I tried to act cool, despite my suspiciously wet butt.

 It’s all GOD’s doing.

 

Let’s explore.

 

I bought a book over the weekend.   I love to buy books…. they fill my shelves and boxes in my basement and weigh down my bag.  I do my best to read them, but the trouble is, I don’t have much time these days. I schlep them everywhere just in case an hour falls into my lap.

This book has  been calling to me since I first heard about it in May at a writer’s conference.  It’s called E-Squared by Pam Grout.  I went to another conference this weekend, and a speaker there mentioned the book again. There was a large stack of them being sold at the back of the room,  whispering to me.  I finally gave in and  bought one, and added it to the thick, teetering tower on my nightstand last night… wondering how I would find time to read it, along with the other VIP material on the list of must do’s.

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This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment.  And uncharacteristically, I was a half hour early.  What?  EARLY?  Yep.  Go ahead and send me a nice warm pat on the back.  And if you know me personally, you can dab at the tears in the corners of your eyes.  Before I left for the appointment, all the books in my nightstand stack  were transferred to the passenger seat of my car, as I am incapable of prioritizing before 11 am.   I have already begun to read three of the books, ones that have information I know will help me in my work.  So naturally, I plucked E2 out of the stack, a book I know almost nothing about, and took in into the doctor’s office with me.

 

The doctor was an hour late. I sat in his waiting room staring at the white printer paper sign he has taped to the door, kindly asking us out here in the waiting room to give 24 hours notice if we need to cancel, or pay a $30 charge and please don’t be late.  And instead of being annoyed, I realized with pleasure, that I had no other choice but to read my new book!

 

I cracked it open.  And it turns out, it’s one of those “your thoughts create your reality” books. In it, she talks about the science behind this fact.  And she talks about GOD…aka Heavenly Father as I was taught to call Him.  In the book, she gives assignments, or experiments that will prove the claim that we create our reality by our own thoughts, and Heavenly Father is actually a  scientific law, like gravity.  She calls this law, or God, the “FP,”  short for “Infinite Field of Possibility.”

 

This is not the first book I have bought on the subject.  And I am not a world-famous author, (yet) so maybe I have some more to learn about this practice.   Thus, the idea of doing specific things to prove that FP was out there, just waiting for me to plug-in with intention… intrigued me.

 

After I left the office, I decided to run into the Stop and Shop across the street and buy some hand soap…we were out at home, before heading to the “office” (Panera Bread).  These days, driving my car was like getting into a  giant garbage can with wheels, and it was at this moment that I exceeded my tolerance level for sitting on crumpled preschool worksheets and struggling to keep the luna bar wrappers from flying out the open door when I grab my purse.   So, while in the store, after buying my soap and an inappropriately large  bottle of lime seltzer, I grabbed a brown paper sack to use to collect the trash heap in my car.

 

I spent my shopping time contemplating whether I would follow through with reading the rest of E-Squared and doing Pam Grout’s assignments.  Have I bought in to the idea enough?  I have so much work to do!  Should I spend time on this?

 

Should I?

 

Should I?

 

When I got out to my car, I took a moment in the cold November air to gather up all the empty seltzer cans, gum wrappers, Halloween candy wrappers and old receipts floating around in my car and tossed them into the paper bag.  I picked up a very, very old white plastic ziplock bag full of wet wipes.  This bag has been stepped on a thousand times,  it did not close properly, it had been living on the floor of my car for well over a year, unused…because surely the wipes were a brick of filmy, dried out towels by now.

 

My mind said, “Do not throw this out.  You will need these wipes.  The minute you finally throw it out, inevitably, you will want them back….” (said every hoarder in the universe).

Not wanting to play into my inner hoarder any longer, I tossed it in my garbage sack.

 

I got in my seat, put my iPhone in my lap and then wedged my 1 liter bottle of lime seltzer between my legs.  And I thought, “it’s a mistake to put that beverage so close to your phone” but I rolled my eyes at that inner rule-follower… she annoyed the crap out of me…and I had had enough.

 

I began my drive to Panera.

 

You know what happened, right?

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I opened my seltzer and it exploded, as carbonated water is wont to do at the most inconvenient of times, while you are driving a car and it is in your lap and sitting on top of your key to the universe-your cell phone.  And the bag of dried out wet wipes that have been getting crusty on the floor of my car since Stella wore diapers in 2011 had been tossed out.  So I drove to my office as my ass soaked up the lake of seltzer I was sitting in.

 

After waddling into Panera, I decided to crack open this E2 business again.  Just a hunch.

 

In the first chapter, she redefines the word GOD as being the infinite field of possibility, and instead of being a He that judges and rules us, GOD is more like electricity… an energy to be used for our benefit.  Just as we use electricity to curl our hair, wash our dishes, toast our bagels. This energy responds to our thoughts and intentions just as our hair dryers turn on when we plug them in.

The fact that I feel and look like I just peed my pants has me nodding in agreement here, as my first lesson on manifesting things had obviously begun this morning.  I also had a strong urge to set down my soup spoon and applaud after each point she made about the myths we tell ourselves about God.  The one about God looking like ZZ Top is particularly accurate.

 

So I am going to do her first experiment, which she calls “The Dude Abides” principle  and I will let you know how it goes… I figure, you may not be convinced that GOD, or as Pam Grout calls it, the “FP” created the exploding seltzer and my wet pants, so I will accept her challenge to do this first experiment to prove it.

 

She has named each principle of the “FP”  (remember, the infinite Field of possibility).

She also includes a “lab report sheet” for each experiment, which I will fill out here so we can all see the results.

 

For clarification, the words in red come from Pam Grout’s book, E-Squared.  The words  in black, are mine.

LAB REPORT SHEET

 

The Principle:  The Dude Abides Principle

 

The Theory:  There is an invisible energy force or field of infinite possibilities.  And it’s yours for the asking.

 

The Question:  Does the FP exist?

 

The Hypothesis:  If there’s a 24/7 energy force equally available to everyone, I can access it at any time simply by paying attention.  Furthermore, if I ask the force for a blessing, giving it a specific time frame and clear instructions, it’ll send me a gift and say, “My Pleasure.”

 

Time Required:  48 hours

 

Today’s Date:  Monday, November 4, 2013          Time:  12:54 pm

 

Deadline for Receiving gift:  Wednesday, November 6th   12:54 pm

 

The Approach:  I hate to break it to ya, FP but folks are starting to talk.  The’re starting to wonder, “Is this guy for real?”  I mean, really, like it’d be so much skin off your chin to come down here and call off this crazy hide-and-seek thing you’ve been playing.  I’m giving you exactly 48 hours to make your presence known.

 

I want a gift – something unexpected.  I want a clear, unmistakable, obvious sign…something that cannot be written off as coincidence.

 

Research Notes:

 

(I will fill these in after the deadline!)

 

Three cheers to GOD, Heavenly Father, or the FP… I have ordered myself up a gift in the next two days.  Let’s see where this takes me!

 

Onward.

My On-Screen Life

“The significance is hiding in the insignificant. Appreciate everything.”
― Eckhart Tolle

I got up early today to walk with a friend.  The morning was dark and quiet, the street lamps perfectly illuminated the fire-red and orange trees. The houses that lined our lovely gridded streets were still dark and sleepy, the porch lights illuminating the pumpkins and mums.  The grand white colonials with black shutters and red doors stood at attention, the Tudors took on a storybook quality.  It was picturesque, straight out of a movie set.

I may be a freak, because sometimes, in moments like this, I feel that I am walking in my own movie…a sort of out-of-body experience, where I observe myself and how sublimely orchestrated and beautiful the world is.

I love those moments.

Does this happen to anyone else?  The moment where you are walking down a tree-lined street, or sharing a bottle of wine with a friend, or your husband reaches to lace his fingers in yours and laughs in such a way that your mind starts searching for the sound track to go with the scene…like every detail is thoughtfully orchestrated to convey this moment.  Everything slows down, and you feel yourself softening into a timeless breath that will carry you through the day?

The leaves were crunching just so under my shoes.  Leaves fluttered softly to the sidewalk from the molting trees, gold and crimson confetti that made the quiet daybreak feel like an occasion.  There was a posse of adorable elderly ladies in their walking gear, zipping down the sidewalk.  We ran into them on our zigzagging Continue reading