The other night, I grew a little bit taller. And isn’t this what our soul journey is about- growing and expanding deeper into the truth of who we are? And isn’t it wonderful to know our soul leads us to the perfect experiences to make this happen?
I remember sharing an experience, which I don’t remember now, to my great-aunt and dear friend, Linda. I was talking about someone, and I am sure mentioning an issue I had with that person, and she said, “Now remember everyone is you.” Everyone we meet holds a mirror that only seems to show their image, but it actually holds our own. When we really OWN this, we begin to see aspects of ourselves through others~ our ideas, beliefs, desires, patterns and truths we hold within ourselves. If we are open, we will see these reflections. If we are brave we will learn and grow from them.
I’ve held a deep pattern. I hide. I withdraw. I become invisible. I try and stay safe, and not stretch too far. I also hold a deep and burning desire. To be seen. To become visible. Actively participating and engaged with life and its people. These patterns cause conflict because the way I perceive them, but…the ocean holds two patterns- to move in. To move out. The breath- in. Out. My pattern- in. Out, but mostly I’ve been in. And now I’m moving out. While I’ve been in, I’ve imagined this big life. Holding the vision of this life, I may receive opportunities to bring more life in so I can breathe more life out. But instead of greeting this with enthusiasm, I greet it with dread and hear my fear say- can’t we just stay home. And if I’m already in my car, it says, God, I can’t wait until we get home. I just want this to be over. Than I hear another voice. It says, If I am anxious about this “minor” happening in my life, then how am I going to handle the “major” ones? Then, I feel defeated. Isn’t it interesting how we ask for what we want, turn the corner and see it coming toward us, and then dip so it misses us, or we run the other way. But- if our desire is stronger than our fear and our trust in the life force within us is in tact, then we may stand up and embrace what’s coming our way~ and soon our pattern will be as rhythmic and natural as the ocean wave and the holy breath.
On Mother’s Day, I was invited to see a screening of a wonderful documentary, Wise Women Speak. The voice tried to talk me out of it, but my body kept moving toward it and before I knew it, I was on La Brea parking my car and meeting a great new friend to see the movie. We met another woman in the theater, and found we had interesting similarities- both Italian with the same ending in our last name. She is from a part of Illinois my Italian family is from, and she is a huge adoring fan of Marianne Williamson, and invited me to go with her to Marianne’s Monday night lecture. Since I had affirmed the other day, I possess the essential ingredients, and the rest is synchronicity, I took this as a synchronistic sign I should go see Marianne Williamson, especially because Marianne and I have a past.
My relationship began with her when I read, A Woman’s Worth. Because of that book, I bought an I am a Goddess bumper sticker that always embarrassed me. I was hiding from my goddess, yet I knew I had one in me. Then, I read Illuminata and loved that. Still, when I see the cover I feel warm and cozy inside. CD’s of her were the next phase, but I found it difficult to listen to her voice, and would often press the fast forward button on my Ipod when she came up on shuffle. From here, I didn’t have much to do with Marianne.
Then, we moved to California and my husband and oldest daughter started reading a book together every night and would discuss it. We enjoyed this so much, we decided to read another. This time, A Return to Love, but we never finished it. Around this time, I wrote a blog post. It is titled, The Guru Has Got to Go~ Now. Since moving here, I had found a freedom I could not grasp when in my home-state. And I liked it, and wanted more, but there was a problem. Someone was holding me back from even greater freedom, and I called her Sergeant Williamson. I’ve always carried a perfectionist inside of me, and when I lived my life as a home-maker she was obvious in her way of barking out her demands for a perfect house and life. When I left my home behind, I thought the perfectionist left as well, but she hadn’t. She now became someone who barked out spiritual orders to me- to be compassionate if I judged or had an opinion. To up my mediation to 30 minutes instead of just 15. Stuff like that- so it seemed fitting to see her as a cross between Marianne, a spiritual teacher who offers spiritual teachings and many know, and a drill sergeant who dictates orders. It made sense to me, and to most people who read it, except Marianne.
She sent me a message on Twitter and asked how she offended me because I painted an unattractive picture of her. I remember sitting on the couch, pre-menstrual, crabby, feeling like shit, and seeing my Iphone light with “Direct message from Marianne Williamson,” and I laughed. It was hysterical to me for some reason. I mean you don’t see that everyday, right? And how did she believe she offended me when the post was clearly not about her? I thought maybe she had an assistant or someone who read it, but she didn’t read it, so I responded with the question- “Did you read the post?” I asked this question several more times, but I never got a response. And I could not give a response to her question because she didn’t offend me, other than her voice not resonating with me years ago, but that’s not what I wrote about. I wrote about MY inner perfectionist, which I fatefully called Sergeant Williamson.
Because of Twitter’s 140 character limit, she asked for my email so she could write a longer response. I was really looking forward to this. I thought- okay, great we can really have a good conversation now. I can explain my side further and she can explain hers, because at this point I didn’t understand her side, only that it had enough of an impact to contact me. And it is Marianne Williamson, and I am passionate about spiritual growth- and what a great opportunity to speak with her- I mean really who knew what the possibilities were. Not to mention I had been working on a blog post about spiritual teachers.
Months later, actually the exact same moment my post on spiritual teachers, a post I had been working on for months was deleted. Gone. Poof. Could not be retrieved, I received Marianne’s email. Um, call me stretching myself to look for signs, but this meant something for me. I knew it did. Her email however, probably was only 140 characters and posed the same question- how did she offend me. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you find no matter what you say, they seem not to hear you? This is how I felt, and I couldn’t figure it out. I mean the intention of my post, which I shared numerous times seemed simple, and yet she continued to interpret me calling her a drill sergeant and speaking of her harshly. It leads me to ask, what is the pay off for holding a story, which seems to cause suffering or at least causes enough of something to warrant energy spent, even with the true intention being shared.
Honestly, I felt she wanted me to say, something like this, No Marianne, you did not offend me at all. I think you are wonderful. I adore you. You’ve taught me so much. But to say this might only appease her, and certainly not me, which brings me to the true point of this post. During the lecture, as I sat in the theater seats and watched her speak, I began opening to her. Her voice was easier to hear in person. I was impressed with her ability to “work a room.” She is creating a container for a community of people seeking and grieving in various ways, and it is a beautiful thing. By the end of the night, after listening to her lesson on relationships and how they are our opportunity to be in our nakedness (vulnerability) with another, any preconceived ideas I had of her after our on-line discussions dissipated in the light of this possibility.
And on some level, I must have known this as a possibility. The anxiety while driving to the event was extreme. The voices told me to go home and be safe. When parking became an issue, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to turn around and leave. My daughter, who went with me along with my 10-year old, asked me what kind of anxiety it was. The kind, which forces an event to happen based on fear and insecurity or the kind, which resists an opportunity for real growth to occur. It was definitely the kind that says feel the fear and go for it anyway. And what empowerment to finally be able to discern the difference. Going through the fear, I was stretched to the place where I now stood face to face with Marianne. My heart beat fast. I moved my attention outward, and watched a young woman speak to her. I saw in her, the old me that hides her divinity and bows down to those who must be more wise than I. I didn’t want to go there again. She is a human being, just like me. Isn’t it funny how we think otherwise, and do we ever wonder as “fans” how this feels for them?
When the exchange was over between her and I, I walked away wondering, what just happened. I came to her in one way, open and embracing and left feeling just as I did during our on-line conversations- dismissed. Once again I was unable to help relieve her of her story that I spoke of her harshly, and in my deepest self, I want to relieve others and myself of suffering. As our conversation went back and forth, never going to a place of resolution or understanding, I stayed true to myself, especially when she offered me feedback. She told me I need to be careful with my words, especially when speaking of women because we can get catty. “That does not resonate,” I said. I cannot use advice from a spiritual teacher or anyone when it does not resonate with the truth of who I am. From here the conversation was soon over after getting a “good luck with your blog, or whatever” with what looked like a dismissive hand gesture.
I am going to admit something to you. It feels a bit like coming out of the closet, so I’m frightened. I am afraid you will say, yeah, right who does she think she is. She’s no Marianne Williamson. But I’ve imagined myself, probably since the days of reading self-help books and watching “experts” on the Oprah show, as a “spiritual teacher.” Well, first I wanted to be a psychologist. And then the expert on the talk shows, and than an author like Melody Beattie. But spirituality is my passion. I love learning about the most interesting subject I know- self. The deeper I go within, the deeper I want to go. The more I learn about the inner awakening process, the more I want to share. I always hear, do what you love. Should I then be a spiritual teacher (I only call it this because people can relate, but this title makes me uncomfortable)? To say this, especially out loud makes me nauseous. It is an enormous responsibility.
People came to Marianne’s lecture with big stuff, which they shared in the audience and sought her counsel. I watched people wipe tears as Marianne said prayers. I am not saying as “spiritual teachers” we have to be responsible for everyone. Our work is our work, but I am saying there must be reconginition for what people are holding and to honor it sacred and do whatever we must for them without personal agenda. I couldn’t be sure for many years if I was ready for such a responsibility. What if I was seeking fame or recogntion or money in payment for spiritual teachings. If this were so, I could not live with that kind of karma. How can I deal with the adoration of others? How can I not believe their hype or my own? How can I stay grounded and true to my most basic intention- to help relieve suffering and create openings for self-realization? How can I be true to my teachings? No, I don’t think I can be perfect, although I know myself to try, but I can be honest. Transparent. Walk into an auditorium and have nothing to hide from anyone and have everything to give if I remain open and present. But I resist the call.
Remember how I began this post…I hide, and how everyone we meet is us. Marianne, for me, holds my desire to be a spiritual teacher. When I spoke with her in emails, it was important for me to level the playing field. To see her not as above me, but as my equal, and I came to her from this place. If I believe my desire is unreachable then how can I ever stand in its light. So, I kept at her in a sense. To let her, but mostly myself know I can engage with you. To meet her was even more powerful. To my desire, I said, I fear you. My heart pounds in your presence, but I am closer to you then I have ever been. And the dismissive response I perceived from Marianne, tells me I still reject my desire in some way. But…I walked toward her. I touched her shoulders. I looked in her eyes. I was open to her.
A message I received from her lecture on relationships is, the people who hold our lessons will continue to show up until we receive them. I remember someone saying, our soul wants our growth and expansion over anything else and it does not care what or who it uses to get us to grow. I understand there is still a part of me rejecting this aspect of myself, but I am closer to it than I have ever been. And if nothing else, my children are proud. My 10-year old who had no idea of the back story, who played on her ipod during the entire lecture, and watched from the sidelines during our exchange, said, to me, “Mom, I’m proud of you.” My 18 year old agreed and said I stood my ground. I see myself with two major roles in this life, neither separate from each other. The one role is as student. I am here to learn and grow and study the most interesting subject there is- self. The second role is mother. If nothing else ever came from this interesting series of events with a spiritual teacher, having my daughters witness their mother standing in her truth is more than enough. As mothers our strength invokes that spark in our children. I saw this spark ignited after the lecture, when we went out to eat. My Lilli, the 10-year old has been shy to order. When the waiter asked if she wanted another Sprite, she lifted her head, looked him in his eyes, and very clearly and loudly, said, “yes.”
The next morning, I woke up with a big smile on my face. Something resurrected. And something died. When I feel the foreboding as I move forward on my path, it is only old energy that does not know I am new. With each step, I am less afraid of who I am and all I am capable of. I live with the dream and desire inside of me to bring big smiles to myself and everyone, and as I do, I watch the part of me who dismisses her desires, walk away. I wish her well (and won’t give her a name this time) knowing I understand her and it’s okay. I trust one day she shall see. And in her wake I am left with me. Still present. Open. Embracing. I’ve nothing to fear. I know who I am. I’ve nothing to hide and I no longer want to.
Today’s Soul Tip:
Begin to see everyone as you. What are they showing you? Are you rejecting a part of yourself it is time you embrace? Are they showing you where you may need to go within and reflect, perhaps let go. Marianne said in her lecture the most important person is the one in front of you. That person is you. Are you going to give yourself, yourself and all that you are capable of? Your wishes and desires? Are you going to hold your head up and look yourself in the eye and say, yes? If you do, I promise you will grow a little bit taller and smile a little bit wider.
I thank Marianne Williamson. I thank Natalie, the woman I met who invited me to the lecture. I thank Lana for inviting me to the documentary screening where I met Natalie. I thank my cousin Christopher for introducing me to Lana. I thank Linda for reminding me everyone is me. I thank me for showing up and seeing me. I thank my daughters for seeing and supporting my strength. Are you seeing the beauty…how the soul and the universe, if they are even separate conspire to support us- to bring synchronicity so our SOUL EXPANDS.
The Soul Reporter