dirk gently's holistic detective agency

Decisions in Desperation

I was saddened to hear my latest Netflix binge show is not getting a third season. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based on the 1987 novels by Douglas Adams.  The show was well written and acted and was loaded with the geeky humor I love. What I also loved was the deeper messages the show conveyed.

In the first episode, Dirk tells his reluctant new assistant Todd, “You’ve been making choices out of desperation for too long, that much is obvious. You’re backing yourself into a corner. Break the pattern. Take control of your life, Todd. The instant you take control, interesting things will happen. I guarantee it.”

dirk gently's holistic detective agency
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4047038/mediaviewer/rm4061739520

Many times in my life I made choices out of desperation. I was living in a reactionary state. I didn’t think I had a choice or didn’t think I had the power to act on my own choice. So instead I moved through life based on what came to me or what others wanted. I wouldn’t act until the pain was great enough to force me into action. Like the old saying, it had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I would accept more and more and more of what I didn’t want because I felt afraid to act. I felt powerless. I didn’t know or accept that I had power to create my life. The result is that by the time I acted, I was just protecting myself against all the crap I took on instead of consciously moving into what I wanted.

When I completed college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no direction. I was accepted into graduate school for theatrical directing, so I went. It was not a choice. It was an act of desperation. I didn’t know what else to do so I went where I was accepted. It was an honor to be in the program, but it was not my passion. It was not my life purpose. After one year, the school realized this as well and kicked me out. I could have moved home afterward. I could have resigned myself and acted out of desperation yet again, but for some reason I didn’t this time.

I chose to stay in Los Angeles. I had no safety net. I had no real job. I had only a temporary residence. In college I had wanted to try skydiving and my experience in California was that same terrifying exhilaration of free-falling I assume skydiving is. Because I had nothing else, I had to begin to create for myself. I found my way. I made some bad choices and wrong turns, but for once, I was the one walking the path. I didn’t follow anyone else. I didn’t react. I chose. I acted. I created. I started accepting my power. I began to take control of my life. I began to define and move toward what I wanted. And as Dirk predicted, interesting things did begin to happen.

Do you act out of choice or desperation? Are you choosing your life or letting it be chosen for you? Are you ready to begin taking control of your experience?

Tiki Bar Curricanes

Chopsticks

No, I am not going to talk about the favorite beginner piano song. I want to talk about those wooden implements created to shuttle sushi and other delicacies into one’s mouth.

My husband and I were at our favorite local hangout enjoying, once again, curricanes, our favorite dish of tuna, avocado and crab. Not sure why but I looked at my chopsticks and I had a revelation. In reality, chopsticks are just two thin pieces of wood. Not a lot of engineering went into them. As single pieces of kindling, they are pretty useless. I guess I could stab a piece of melon with one, but where chopsticks become powerful is when they are used in a pair. It is not a single chopstick itself that does much, it is when a pair are used together that they can make a difference.

Tiki Bar CurricanesMy thoughts turned from kitchen utensils to people. For many years, I was independent. I was a loner. I didn’t want or need anyone. When I met my husband, I found my other chopstick. Yes, I could function and survive and even thrive without him, but with him things were better. We work well side-by-side picking through the ups and downs of life. We are a team. We support each other. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We pull up the other’s slack and let our spouse lead when it is their strength. We may not always believe the same things, but we always strive to keep working in unison.

I see other couples who have forgot they are chopsticks. They have forgotten how to work together. They think they are doing it all on their own or are expecting the other to do all the work. Instead of striving to work together, many are focused on attacking the other and causing separation. They have forgotten how to communicate. They have forgotten how to be vulnerable. They have forgotten how to forgive. It is similar to the division I notice in the larger United States. Both sides of the political system are pointing fingers and placing blame. They are focused on the differences. They further divide through personal attacks. The country is separated chopsticks and is not working well.

Whether individual relationships or larger groups, I see a lot of single chopsticks running around. We have forgotten that we need each other to make things happen. We have forgotten that we work much better together than apart. Instead of trying to come together, we focus on how the “other” is wrong and condemn them for it. We have forgotten that we are all wrong at certain points. We have forgotten that one poor action does not define who a person is. We have forgotten that we are all flawed human beings. We have forgotten how to forgive and love.

Now is a time for unity. It is a time for compassion and understanding. It is a time to look for ways to come together instead of dividing further apart. Our strength is amplified when we come together.

Take a look at your relationships. Are you working as a team? Are you creating unity or division? We don’t always have to agree or be happy about our other chopstick, but through compassion and understanding, we can learn to accept and come together. As with chopsticks, people work better when we are together.

fish out of water

Out of My Comfort Zone

Practicing yoga is doing a lot to take me out of my comfort zone. The other day one of my fellow yogi’s said she noticed that I had moved from the back to the front of the room and then she read my blog about the experience. We discussed how my fear had kept me at the back of the room; the lack of confidence in my practice, the concern that others would make fun of my ability, the desire to blend into the woodwork. We also talked about how once I let go of those fears and made the physical shift within the room, my practice improved because I could now do it without all the mental blocks. In the end, it was better moving out of what I thought was my comfort zone, into a space that truly served me.

As I began working up to a headstand, I had a similar experience. The fears and beliefs I had in my ability, held me back mentally and physically. My old thoughts and beliefs kept my legs planted and stuck. Through help and practice I am now close to doing a headstand on my own. What changed? I began to believe I could do it. I released my old story of negative self-image and any thoughts of “I can’t.” The experience was night and day. My first attempt with all my restricting beliefs increased the weight of my legs ten-fold and made it feel like magnets where locking my feet to the floor. My most recent attempt my legs floated into the air like feathers. I still needed a little spotting, but for the most part my legs just went where I directed them. What changed?

fish out of waterOn the physical level, I have been building my core and learning how my core, not my legs are the power of the move. But what I needed to do first, before I could even have the mental space to allow myself to work on my physical ability, was to shift my mind.

First, I had to release what was, what I believed was the truth, and what I experienced in the past. How many times do we keep ourselves stuck in old ways of being, simply by believing what happened before will happen again?  The first step to making a change or trying something new is to release all that we learned from the past which holds us back. In releasing this we now have the power to make baby-steps toward our goal.

The next challenge is the process of trying, learning, failing, and trying again. Especially in our instant gratification society, we may expect things to change overnight. Sorry, that’s not usually the case. More commonly it is a journey to get where we want to go. It is during this two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back phase that I find myself the most challenged. Being a perfectionist, I am always on the lookout for what I am doing wrong. Making judgements if things are not quite right. Putting myself down for not getting there fast enough. It is during this phase that it is important to focus on the minor accomplishments, not being focused on the ultimate goal or the setbacks. This is similar to what I tell job seekers. They are usually focused on and disappointed because they have not yet landed their dream job. They focus on what they messed up in their interview, instead of seeing all they did to get the interview or focusing on the lessons from the experience. I change their focus to celebrating their efforts – improving their resume, networking, following up, and learning. It is in these small efforts that they continue to move forward, and hopefully, now that they are celebrating the efforts, the process is also more enjoyable, or at least not constantly stressful.

Once I make it to my goal, I am always amazed on how it is much better on the other side. All of my fears of what would happen, how I would mess up, or who would be upset, are dissolved. I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. I see how my fears kept me from moving into a space that is much better for me.

Where do you feel stuck? What do you want to change or accomplish, but feel like it is impossible? How are your fears of change creating reasons you shouldn’t even try? Reframe your thoughts so they support your goals. Celebrate your efforts and accomplishments along the way. Then accept and embrace your newly found space. You will find it better outside of your comfort zone.

macchu picchu

Enlightenment

Currently I am part of an amazing group of women focused on their growth. One day we talked about enlightenment. I said I felt I had a moment of it when I was in Peru. It is something I still get glimpses of, but not at the depth I had there. They asked me to describe what my experience of enlightenment was.

macchu picchuBelow are the elements I recognized as part of my enlightenment experience. What I notice is if I can regain one or more of these elements, I can return to that peace in my daily life. Each element addresses something that can cause us pain, and by removing it we can find peace.

No Judgments

Judging ourselves, others or circumstances causes us pain. When we give something meaning, good or bad, is when we get away from the truth and into our interpretation of the truth which creates pain. I wrote about the peace of releasing judgments in a recent post where I shared an old story about how releasing the self-created highs and lows of life, provides more peace and contentment.

No Labels

One step further than no judgments, is releasing labels and words. When we label something, we have created a judgment – young or old, boy or girl, happy or sad. To find the peace of enlightenment, release words themselves. Once you label or name something, you have categorized it in your mind and it is no longer a magical thing existing on its own. Also releasing words detaches us from our self-created world. When we just see and experience things without a label, we experience the peace of unconditional existence.

No Desire

Desiring something means we are not unconditionally accepting of the current moment. We are saying what we have and where we are is not good enough. True enlightenment is being at peace with the current circumstance whatever it is. It means pure acceptance of this moment and not feeling the pain of wanting something better or different.

No Time

When in a state of enlightenment, the past does not exist or influence our current experience. There is no worry or hope for the future. It means being completely present in the moment without ties to the past or expectations for the future. It is the ability to be fully present in this and only this moment.

No Self

As we release judgments, labels, desire, and time, we begin to let go of the meaning of the self. Enlightenment is releasing the ego and personality. When we are not judging or labeling ourselves, we are free to just exist. When we release desire and time, we are in the moment. Imagine if you could release all your baggage, all your judgments, and just experience the liberty of being. It is experiencing from outside your physical being and mind. It is allowing yourself to be separate and independent from the human experience.

At One

When we are no longer tied to the self, we become at one with all. We no longer feel the separation created by judgments. We lose our self and blend into the wonder of all.  Instead of feeling lost and insignificant when we release the ego, we instead gain all existence. We no longer become a single drop of water, but can experience what is means to be part of and wholly the ocean.

When you are having a challenging day, see if you can experiment with one or more of these concepts. Start by spend 10 minutes every day and try to remove your words, judgments and labels. Be at one with what is around you without interpretation.  See if this new way of being can bring you peace. Namaste.

Why

Stop Looking for the Why

For years I read self-help books and worked with psychiatrists to uncover what was wrong with me. Why was I the way I was? Why did I act a certain way? What was the root issue? What was wrong with me? I wanted to know so I could then fix it. The truth I discovered was that knowing the inceptive why is not necessary. We only need to choose a different path.

WhyIt is helpful to become aware of one’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions. But it is not necessary to find the root cause or initiator of those tendencies. When we recognize the basic factors which explain our tendency toward these unwanted behaviors, we have all we need to fix them. We don’t need the initial starting point of the issue. We just need to have awareness of when we are acting that way, to accept that this is our current state, and then to choose a new thought, belief, or behavior. That’s it. Just recognize that this thought, belief, or action is not working for you, and then explore how you can in the moment make it better. What is important is choosing what you want, not getting stuck in the unending search for the definitive why.

I believe growth is never ending. If we are not growing, we are not living. Right now, I am working on having true, unconditional, complete self-love. It’s challenging. This weekend was especially tough, so I asked my coach (all the best coaches have coaches) if she could help identify my block(s) to self-love. Her intuitive response was that there wasn’t necessarily a block. It was more like a phase. Just like a young child who is having an uncomfortable growth spurt or losing their teeth, now was my time to grow into self-love. There was no root-cause block, nothing to fix. I just need to recognize this is my current challenge, accept it and myself, and move on toward love.

Whatever your current challenge is, here are some tips to help you move through your current growth.

First, release the belief that you are broken and need to be fixed. Stop looking for the blame. Stop looking for the root cause of your issues. Accept that things are as they are. Knowing exactly what happened to make your experience what it is today, does nothing to fix your current experience. You can’t change the past. Release the desire to put yourself or others down for your current experience.

Next realize you are not your mind. We often believe the constant monkey chatter of our worries, self-doubt, and negativity are real. In truth, they are just old tapes we are playing again and again. Recognize that you are telling yourself a story and stop feeding the story. The story keeps us stuck in the past and stifles our power. Release as much of the old story as you can so you can start with a clean slate.

Instead of the story, focus on how you want to be and what you want to experience. Even if you don’t know the full picture, start naming what you do want in your life. Start pulling together the pieces of what would make your life better.

Then take baby steps in the moment to move you closer to what you want. If you are used to holding yourself back in due to the negativity in your mind, it may seem impossible to choose differently. That’s ok. Do what you can. Even the smallest new choice can open the way to empower you to make more and bigger choices and changes.

If you feel stuck or are constantly replaying reasons why you or others are responsible for your current situation, stop. Release your need to know why, release your need to blame. The result is usually just beating ourselves up for things outside of our control leading us nowhere. Instead, know you can control your thoughts, your direction, and your choices. Start to build the life you want. You have all the knowledge you need right now to make a change.

Puerta Vallarta peace

Chaos out of Peace

What I really want is peace. Peace in the world. Peace between people. Peace within myself. For me the biggest challenge to peace is truly believing it is possible.

Often when things are good, I mentally, verbally or physically make them bad. Deep down I find it hard to accept peace. On some level I don’t think peace is real or will last. As they say, I am always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” I see happiness and peace as signals that things are going to hit the crapper at any moment. And if they don’t, I do something to sabotage and dissolve any of the peace I had experienced.

Puerta Vallarta peaceRecently we went on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. We had a great day on the beach then a lovely dinner with friends. On the way home, we took the wrong bus which took us 30 minutes and a mile or two out of our way. I could have laughed it off as an adventure, but instead I turned a wonderful day into a horrible one. I was tired and cranky. I stayed in the negativity instead of choosing the joy I truly wanted. Why do we do this sometimes?

I think the first reason we self-sabotage our own happiness, is that we don’t believe that peace, joy and happiness are a meant to be the normal way of life. From our own experience, through our parents or peers, or what we see in the news or social media, we are led to believe that life is difficult; life is a struggle. We do not accept that it is possible to enjoy peace, joy, and happiness as much as we want.

Another hurdle to overcome in order to have more peace and joy, is to believe that you deserve peace and joy. One of the reasons we think peace and joy will be taken from us is that we don’t fully believe that we deserve to be happy. For me, the thought is if others are in pain in the world then it is selfish of me to be happy. For others, the thought is that they are not good enough to deserve to be happy.

Starting today, instead of creating chaos and negativity, start bringing more peace into your life through Acceptance, Focus and Gratitude:

Acceptance

The first shift we need to make is believing that peace and happiness are possible. That these emotional states do exist if we choose them. We need to accept and truly believe that we deserve and can have peace and happiness. We need to believe that peace is possible in our lives. Embrace the concept, believe it is possible and know that no matter what, you deserve it.

Focus

Be aware of where your focus is. Are you focused on peace and joy, or the fear of losing them? Are you enjoying the good, or waiting for the bad to follow soon after? Be alert and vigilant. When you notice your focus moving to negativity and fear, take a breath. Shift your focus to what you want.  What we focus on is what we experience. Choose peace and joy.

Gratitude

Show gratitude, not fear of loss, when peace and joy come into your life. Say “thank you more please” when times are good. Have the expectation of more good coming to you. Start out with little things. If 90% of your life is in chaos, focus on and cultivate the 10% of good. Be grateful that you have even that little bit and joy, and soon you will see more coming your way.

Instead of creating chaos and negativity in our lives, let’s do what we can to create more peace. When we can all start creating peace for ourselves, we begin to create more peace in the world.