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?

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.

Homer Simpson 300 game

Celebrate Every Day

This is my 300th blog post (or at least I think it is). Woohoo!  I never set out to write this many, but it is great to celebrate the accomplishment nonetheless. I may not have had the journalists and a single pathetic balloon to celebrate like Home Simpson had for his perfect 300 bowling game, but I will take some time today to really acknowledge the achievement, the persistence, and the positive responses I have received. Through these 300 posts, at least 150,000 words, I have sent messages meant to inspire, enlighten, and support. Hopefully affecting those that need it when they need it.

Homer Simpson 300 game
You can find Homer’s 300 game at www.simpsonsworld.com › Clips

In our fast-paced world, we don’t take enough time to celebrate big – and little – accomplishments. In a constant rush to the next event or next task, we don’t take time to celebrate what we have achieved. And because of this, we often feel not good enough, not loved. We feel less than because we don’t take the time to recognize the amazing things we do throughout the day. Don’t make that face. Really, each and every day you do something amazing. You are reading these words. You helped the elderly woman at the grocery store. You propelled a moving vehicle. You took care of your family. You landed that big deal at work, or at least managed not to kill your co-workers. Take some time today to notice all that you do and how it improves the quality of life for you and for those around you.

Now take your awareness out to a larger level and recognize all the miracles and blessings you experience. For instance, you are reading a post I wrote in Mexico which you found online or in your electronic mail inbox and can read it thousands of miles away. Amazing! Have you experienced the miracle of flight? Do you find fresh delicious foods in your refrigerator or the local market every day? Do you have food, shelter, and clothing? Are you able to listen to your favorite musical artist anytime, anywhere? Are friends and family a click, call, or short drive away?

I find that depression sets in when we look at our lack instead of all we have. Spend some time today acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing all the miracles and blessings in your life. No matter the bad that we all experience, there is always a host of good happening at the same time. When you become obsessed with the bad, stop and refocus. Start listing off things to be grateful for; recount your achievements. By going through this exercise, you not only shift your focus to abundance, but give yourself the love and courage and strength you need to move forward.

Do not just focus on yourself, but be sure to take the time to tell others how much they mean to you. Talk about their achievements. Let them know why and how much you love them. All too often we can take those most important to us for granted. For yourself and them, take the time to recognize the blessing they are in your life.

As you approach this week, find a way to celebrate and appreciate every day. Big or small, what do you accomplish? Some days getting out of bed when we dread going to work is the biggest accomplishment we can have. That’s ok. Celebrate it. Every night make a list of everything you accomplished. Every morning think of five things for which you are grateful. Celebrating accomplishments, acknowledging achievements, and being grateful are the keys to making every day special.

three leg stool

Three-Legged Stool

Yoga is part of my current daily practice. I have been learning many new lessons through the practice which I am bringing into my daily life. Today I would like to share with you three elements of yoga which can be the foundation of how you approach your challenges – on and off the mat.

A decade or so ago, I went briefly to a weekend workshop focused on finding your “one thing.” After the opening two-hour introduction, it felt like a cult and I high-tailed it out of there. The basics of the book and workshop were that if you found your “one thing” then you built your life around it. What I found funny was that some of the participants had been attending these workshops for years and either could not find their one thing or had changed it many times.

I think one of ththree leg stoole issues of the program was the focus on results and the physical world. The idea was to find a singular purpose, something tangible and achievable, and then create your life around that making it happen. Instead, what I have found in yoga and in my own life, is that a focus on ways of being allows a purpose to be revealed, evolve, and lead us on an amazing journey.

The three ways of being I am learning through yoga are: strength, balance, and flexibility.

Strength

For me, this one is easy. My Type-A personality is all about strength, perseverance, and making things happen. What I have had to come to accept about strength, is that I am not strong in all areas and that leading with strength is not always the best choice. I am learning my limits; where can and should I be strong, and what is not in my ability. As I flow more into Type Me, I also am releasing strength as my go-to tool and am learning to find other ways to approach life.

Balance

I write a lot about work-life balance, but balance is more than juggling the things in our lives. It is also about being centered. I am learning to be physically centered in my body on the yoga mat and out moving in the world. I am also returning to being centered in my mind and thinking. Balance is an inner strength and confidence no matter what is happening outside. It is calming the mind.  It is remaining still in the center of a storm.

Flexibility

When I think about flexibility, it is not giving in and bending over backwards for others. Flexibility is about remaining open; it is being a young branch swaying in the wind not an old brittle hardened stubborn branch susceptible to damage because of its rigidity. To be flexible is to be open to what we know and what we don’t know; being open to new opinions, personalities, and ways of living.

Strength, balance, and flexibility work together to create a powerful way of being. If we are only strong, we may become exhausted or rigid. If we only focus on balance, we may never move forward. If we only choose flexibility, we may be swayed too much by the wants and needs of others. When we use all three legs of the stool, strength, balance and flexibility, we create a strong foundation for living.

a wish

A Wish Comes True

Talking with friends the other night, the topic of ayahuasca came up. Ayahuasca is a medicinal cactus used by shaman in South America to aid emotional, spiritual, and physical healing. I was the only one who had a personal experience with ayahuasca, so when I returned home I pulled the passage from my book about my first experience to share with my friends. I don’t know if they gained insight into ayahuasca, but I realized something amazing. I got what I wanted.

Ten years after my amazing trip to Peru, I discovered I have what I asked for. During that trip I wanted to be released by my apparent failures and disappointments. I wanted to create a new definition of what success looked like to me. Not a definition of a new career, an amount of money in my bank account, a new home, or any other tangible thing. But success which took “the form of being true to myself, having a pure heart, being grateful, finding time to be in nature, being positive, calm, and peaceful, and taking care of my body. I wanted to be a joyful Peruvian, not a stressed-out American.” Now, on most days, I have what I requested. Got the country wrong, but the intent is the same.

a wishIt was not an easy path. During the transition, I quit a stable position, was laid off from the next, and struggled with starting my own business. I experienced the exhaustion of caring for the dying, and the pain of losing them. I made good choices, bad choices, and really bad choices. I parted with friends who were not on the same path. I sold almost everything I owned and moved to a new country. I worked through struggles, challenges, and doubts of being in the right place but not quite the right place. I worked and worked and worked on my emotional and physical health.

After a decade of growth, the way I live and approach my life is completely different. I feel successful when I spend the day calm, centered, and compassionate. I have learned, and am still learning, how to be true to myself and take care of my mind and body the way it needs it. And I continue to work through the relationship challenges that appear again and again. Part of this is being an empath who easily takes on others’ energy and emotion without knowing it, and my background which taught me to care for others above myself. As I enter 2018, my goal is to learn to recognize, focus on, and fulfill my own needs and wants; to create strong boundaries against toxic individuals to keep them from infiltrating my actions and experience; and to spend my days focused on gratitude and compassion.

As we reflect on the last year, or even the last ten, take some time to redefine success for you. What would bring you peace, joy, and happiness? How do you need to be to feel complete? What do you need to experience to make you whole? Instead of struggling for things outside of yourself – money, fame – choose the hard road of working on the things inside yourself and see how your life can shift for the better.

enjoy life more

What We Can Learn from Atheists

For random reasons, I heard interviews with two well-known atheists recently and found some amazing insights. The interviews were not about atheism per se, but some of the questions branched into their beliefs. Many of us believe in some sort of a God and an afterlife. We live our lives in the hopes of a final reward. We believe that something or someone is looking over the world ensuring bad does not happen. But there are those who believe that this is the only life. This world is the only world. They do not believe in a higher power with the ability to rescue us. I tended to think without believing in something more, that the struggle and strain of this world might be too much. But for these two gentlemen at least, that is not the case. Both of these atheists site their beliefs as a reason for empowerment.

Penn Jillette expresses that if there is no god to rescue us, we need to take responsibility for the well-being of those around us. Great thought, huh?  Instead of praying to an outside force to bring help or assuming some government agency or charity will step up, how would your day change if you believed you had the responsibility to make a difference? Think about all of the people you meet during the day. Who could use a helping hand?  How could a kind word, a piece of advice, or a small donation change their experience? How could you and those around you benefit from you believing and living that you have responsibility for the well-being of others?

enjoy life moreNeil DeGrasse Tyson spoke about not fearing death. Death is a natural part of life and as a scientist he accepted the breakdown of our bodies and its return to the earth. Instead of fearing death, he preaches to fear not contributing to your life. If we have just one life, it is a waste to not make the most of it. How are your fears keeping you from living your life to the fullest? How is playing small keeping you from being all you can be? Neil found purpose in making the most of his life, learning and contributing to the fullest. As he spoke, I could feel his zest for life. He lives his life under the clock and is maximizing every moment to the fullest. When we look to our own lives, are we making the most of them?

Without giving up your personal beliefs, what if you began acting as if this was your only life? What would you try? Who would you help? How would you spend every moment knowing that each and every one is fleeting and irreplaceable? What would you choose to contribute to the world? Take some time to imagine that this is your only life. How would that change this moment for you? How would it change the next interaction you have? Spend a day really living and giving and making the most of the time you have here on earth.