Monday, June 29, 2015

I'm not sure when it began, but there has been a slow and steady shift in me. I felt it on the inside a couple of years back but I'm now hearing about it from the outside, a sort of confirmation for me.

I talk a lot in this blog about "lifeshocks," those wake up calls we get from God or life that tell us, "Wake up, be present!" Sometimes they are subtle, like a child misbehaving in a way that looks exactly like me. Others are huge, like the death of a loved one or losing a job (or the converse, a new baby or a windfall of money).

Since 1992, I have made a conscientious effort to pay attention to the lessons in my lifeshocks. Like everyone, I go through periods of sticking my head in the sand and trying to ignore these nudges and when that happens, they just get louder and louder until I have to pay attention! Back in the early 90s, my main goal was to find joy, to have a joyful life. That happened almost the instant I started paying attention! My secondary goal was to be a serene person; I wanted to learn to weather my lifeshocks with grace and tranquility.

That one took longer. Honestly, sometimes Life batters me around like a raft in a hurricane and tosses me, shipwrecked, on some foreign shore. Yet I notice it happens less and less often. It takes a big one, these days, to throw me off completely.

I had an unprovoked and amazing affirmation toward the end of school. Someone I work closely with and whom I greatly admire said, "Dreena, I want you to know I am trying to be more like you. You are a pillar of calmness and serenity in here."

Lifeshock! I do feel very calm and do not let little things or things outside my control rattle me, but it was so evocative to have someone notice it and call it out. Wow!! It's good to know, too, that my serenity does not look like complacency because -- on the inside -- it is anything but! I am focused on doing as an old Rudyard Kipling poem says, "keep my head while all about me are losing theirs."

I read a quote from Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers, after her death.  She said, "I do believe people can change." I believe it too. Genetics play a huge role in our personality but so do habitual responses. Automatic behaviors and learned responses so often rule the day. We are not slaves to these bad habits! We are able to learn to curb a harsh tongue, take a deep breath in crisis, learn to be less defensive, or become empathetic. Awareness is the first step. Choosing to be different is the second.

It's a self-serving time; we are in another "me" generation. Yet it is also a reflective and growth oriented time. As a nation, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in arenas of poverty, child welfare, hate crimes, our political system and climate change, as a start. Change happens from within. When, as individuals, we recognize our power to break free of the crippling habits and behaviors of our pasts, as a whole, we are then empowered to act on our collective conscious and work to reform our communities.

What is solid and holy and blooming in you? What steps can you take to nurture it and let it bear fruit?

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