Be Fearless, Love Garry – Part 2

I had to return to Garry for this post because his documentary has stayed with me in deep and thoughtful ways since viewing the two-part series.

I posted Part One of Be Fearless, Love Garry in the middle of last week. As I was getting ready to go away for the weekend, I was wrapping a gift for a friend’s party for whom I was going to miss due to my weekend travel. I planned to drop the gift off before I left town.

I had a couple of oddly shaped presents that I wanted to connect together in their wrapping.  I inserted the goods into a hand-made bag that I had purchased from a local shop and went to cut the tags off. My heart skipped a beat and the hairs on my arms stood up. The bag, which I bought because I thought the wording on the front was funny and befitting the receiver, had this beautiful leather tag attached to the back of it, which I had not noticed when I bought it. At the bottom of the tag:

BE FEARLESSLY AUTHENTIC

All caps. The pretty tag was yelling at me. Thank you, Garry, I hear you loud and clear. Just as in last week’s post, Garry’s message was to be brave, fearless and myself.  Synchronicity Posse at it again.

The entire purpose of my writing, starting with the journals years and years ago, was to figure out “who am I” and “what is my purpose”? Authenticity in terms of self had not really entered my vocabulary at the time. But at 40+ a few, I had no idea who I was, what was important to me, what felt true in the deepest levels of my soul. My anxiety had crept up to levels of which I had not felt since postpartum with my first child.

I found myself being reactive, quick to make assumptions, feeling alone and disconnected. Unhappy with myself and my life situation, yet not having a clear cut reason for my unhappiness based on my surroundings and love of my family.

This quote from The Zen Diaries is one of the reason’s I can’t shake Garry’s story:

Sarah Silverman notes, “He turned to Buddhism, but it’s not because he’s Zen. It’s because he was in desperate need of being Zen.”

A few people in my life know personally what it is like to be cut by the knife of Jane’s words. Mean, nasty, inconsiderate, selfish, cutting words.  My inner struggle was taken out on those closest to me at times.  I was in desperate need of being Zen.

This observation, this comment by Sarah Silverman is so poignant to me because of the depth of truth contained within it.  Why do we change our diet? Because we need to lose weight. Why do we exercise? Because we want a healthy heart and bones. Why do we have relationships? Because the human condition requires connection.

I needed to find some sort of Zen because I was in desperate need of peace, love and contentment in my life.

A couple of years ago I took a birthday trip with friends. We were there to celebrate another friend’s birthday but it just so happened to be my birthday while we were there as well. I made a firm proclamation that I wanted essentially no birthday attention – the weekend was to be all about my friend.

Based on my reaction, that proclamation was not at all aligned with what my innermost self had wanted.  I was hurt, acted irrationally and basically made an ass out of myself due to my perceived unmet birthday adoration.  Awoken horrified the next day, I grabbed the book that I was reading at the time by Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart,” and headed to the beach.

I can see how that may have seemed incongruous to the friends on the beach with me. I had acted like a bratty baby the night before and was now reading the teachings of a Buddhist Monk twelve hours later, keeping to myself, ashamed and saddened.

But that is why Sarah’s quote is so on target: we, the hurting souls and spiritual seekers, are here at this point in our lives because we desperately need relief. We know there is more to life than pain and discontent and we are willing to do the work to find healing. I know I am. And I want to help those who feel the same way.

I travel from place to place with my brief case loaded with a little “work stuff” but more fully weighted down by journals, articles and books about healing, meditation, mindfulness work,  resolving trauma, and self-compassion to name a few. These are my journey and they help me answer the question I for so long have asked: Who Am I? Why Am I here?

I am a flawed human soul who has a deep, almost desperate desire, to become the most authentic version of myself in this life time. I no longer hide in shame nor am I afraid to say I am sorry or to reach out to connect with those in need.

I am willing to be me, to BE FEARLESSLY AUTHENTIC, in life and with love.

befearlessGarry

Be Fearless, Love, Garry

Lately I have been having these incredibly interesting life events simultaneously occurring. As I continue to open myself up to others regarding my personal history with mental health struggles and some of the causal factors of those challenges, more people, more articles and more connections are continually being revealed to me.

In psychology, Carl Jung calls this “synchronicity:”  events that are “meaningful coincidences,” occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.

For example, if someone recommends a certain book to you, then you happen to see a review of it in a magazine and then see a stranger reading it in the airport, there’s most likely a message in that book for you.  When three different people of no connection suggest you try something new, it is worth your effort to investigate. The universe has something waiting for you in these meaningful coincidences. I accept life’s synchronicities as little winks from the universe: “Keep going, Jane. You are on the right path.”

However, in order to be alert to life’s synchronicities, we must be fully present, or mindful.  As a reminder, mindfulness is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

This is a picture of the artwork I keep on my office wall as a mindfulness reminder:

BeHereNow

It’s a lot harder than it seems, frankly. When I am at lunch with a friend, am I actually present mentally or am I thinking about the 3 things I need to do immediately after? When I am working at my “real job,” where the above artwork is framed, am I day dreaming about what I want to write about next on my blog? (Usually, yes…but we are all works in progress).

The most significant synchronicities have been in the revelation of connection through our shared experiences, particularly our common struggles:  real life stories of anxiety, panic attacks, major depression, anorexia and/or bulimia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, alcoholism, prescription medication addiction, PTSD caused not only by military experience but also by rape and child abuse, suicide and suicide attempts. Real stuff. Scary stuff. But the stuff from which we are most deeply connected, if we allow ourselves to remove the shame and stigma.

Big name movie stars, athletes, news anchors, and comedians are braving the consequences and sharing the truth of their struggles with mental health. Parents, coworkers, college students, children, young adults and grandparents are opening up with confidants and professionals. I am hearing these stories first hand and know that the more we talk about these things, the more they will be lifted from of the darkness, free from shame.

Which brings me to Garry Frickin’ Shandling, of all people. As those closest to me know, I’m a sucker for anything biopic. Unlike a sitcom rerun that makes me run from a room covering my ears, give me a life story and I’ll inhale it faster than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But Garry Shandling? Isn’t he a dorky comedian who was in his prime during my college years??

Well, yes, I guess, but I’ve just recently learned so much more about his depth and process through the HBO mini series, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, produced and directed by Garry’s protégé, Judd Apatow.

Posthumusly, Garry Shandling, who died at age 66, has become a major contributor to my Synchronicity Posse. Below are  pictures on my phone from some of his diary writings, which he began in his earliest days of trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life, and continued throughout his explosive career.  His soul searching began as a result of the trauma he experienced as a boy through the loss of his brother at ten years old. His parents never acknowledged the death of his brother, nor allowed his grief. He wasn’t even permitted to attend his brother’s funeral.

I paused the show and snapped pictures, paused and snapped, taking photos of Garry’s personal diary and his words of wisdom and personal reflection. Each one of these had a personal meaning to me or was relevant to things I care keeping about: being fully present, being/becoming my most authentic self, being fearless, the power of vulnerability, just to name a few.

This is a screen shot of all that I accumulated… from Episode 1:

GarrysNotebooks

A writer. A spiritual seeker. A student of buddhism. Practicer of mindfulness. Also, often a pain in the ass, work-related perfectionist who was often difficult to deal with and overly sensitive. Was I watching a documentary on myself???

No, just my synchronistic soul brother, encouraging me to follow my path and be both brave and fearless at the deepest levels.

Because, of course, this is not the first time I have heard these exact words recently. Meaningful connection through occurrence. Synchronicity.

befearlessGarry

“Have the courage to feel your emotions in <whatever is important to you>”

Meditate on it, open up at the deepest level.

Be brave at the deepest level.

Be fearless.”

– Garry Shandling, Zen Diaries

Look for the 2 part series, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling on HBO:

https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/the-zen-diaries-of-garry-shandling

Butterfly Kisses

I can’t remember exactly what chain of events lead me to the book E-Squared by Pam Grout in my early days of self discovery.  Whenever I sat down to read or write, it was a completely organic process. One word or phrase would lead me to another, and before I knew it, my Amazon Prime account was activated yet again.

I credit E-Squared with kicking off my next phase of higher education. The subtitle of E-Squared is “9 Do It Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.” The theory is that each of us can affect an invisible energy source with our thoughts and actions. Revolutionary. At least to me.

Esqauredbook

The idea behind the book is that in conducting the nine fairly simple experiments the reader would have proof in the existence of this higher energy field and how thoughts and actions effect the results. Pam Grout calls this energy the FP or Field of Potentiality.

Experiment #2: The Volkswagen Jetta Principle: You Impact the Field and Draw from it According to Your Beliefs and Expectations, rocked my world.  At the end of each experiment there is is a “lab report” where the the principle and theory are explained and the reader documents his or her approach, application and result of the theory. Each experiment has a defined time limit to produce the result. For #2, I had 48 hours.

The theory of this experiment is that you impact the field of potentiality and draw from it according to your beliefs and expectations. The question to answer is, “Do I really expect to see what I want to see?” Pam’s direction was to see an unusual color of color of cars (specifically sunset beige) and butterflies. I read through the experiment and documented the time: 12:19 am.

I made notes in the lab report and affirmed that I would see butterflies and sunset beige cars in the next 48 hours. I went to sleep repeating these thoughts in my mind. Not, “I HOPE I will see…” but “I WILL see…” apparently there is a very different energy to those two statements. HOPE insinuates lack or scarcity, while WILL is an affirmation of what already is. In order to draw towards you what you want, it was important to be operating only in this positive space, or vibration.

I fell asleep late and was awoken the next morning by my youngest daughter. She jumped on my bed and laid right on top of me. “Wake up, Mommy! Wake up! I’m going to give you BUTTERFLY KISSES to wake you up!” Butterfly. Kisses.  She said it over and over as her soft eyelashes brushed against my eyes.

I was so blown away by this example of the FP that I actually wrote and shared it with Pam Grout. I was also shocked when she wrote me back and asked if she could share the story in one of her next books.

E-Squared introduced me to a new realm I had been completely unfamiliar with until then. The more experiments I performed, the more the results solidified my belief in this universal energy. Pam’s book lead me to study more about the Law of Attraction and the work of Abraham-Hicks, among others.

As exciting and profound as this new-to-me energy source was, I get a pang of discomfort when I read through my notebooks at the time.  After a couple months of writing, I can see a sense of frustration setting in.  A sense of “I’m not happy enough, vibrating highly enough, just not good enough” to draw to me those things that I thought I wanted. The initial excitement of the experiments had worn off and old anxieties started creeping back into my life.

I didn’t know then what I know now: I needed a softer side of manifesting. I really didn’t want things. I wanted deep healing of the hollow in my heart. Finding 3 dimes on my walk through the neighborhood wasn’t quite going to fulfill that longing. Universal energy, I learned, was an essential piece of the puzzle towards healing, but not the whole enchilada.

Desperately Seeking…Self?

While this won’t necessarily always be a linear story, I want to address how the Badass article further launched my inner curiosities. I had never been a free-thinking, curious child. Growing up, my sister and I were taught that the world operated in one fundamentalist Christian fashion, no questions asked. For most of my life, it never occurred to me to veer from that narrative.

I envied women who questioned authority and challenged norms, even though I was simultaneously perplexed by them. Where did this source of strength come from, to show up and be seen?

From an early age, safety for me was only felt in hiding behind my mother, in her pant leg or skirt. Over the years, the hiding evolved from my mother’s pants leg to the chamelon-esque persona I embodied.  Essentially, I didn’t want to be seen and I didn’t feel safe in the world.

I had spent my late 20’s and 30’s as a dutiful wife and mother while climbing the ladder of traditional success. Beautiful home and family, yet there was also an ongoing emptiness. For many years, I looked the part of societal perfection, but along with my emptiness came the gnawing need for more. Something greater than myself and greater than what I could see with my own eyes. I longed for more, whatever that more was.

The traditional fire and brimstone Christianity I had been raised with no longer filled my soul. I believed God to be a loving God. I wasn’t looking to replace Jesus. Or God. But I was seeking an inner peace and fulfillment that wasn’t being met within the constraints of my religious upbringing.

“Badass” posed existential inquiry, which I had never before attempted.  “Let yourself be seen…deep inside where you feel your breath, that is where you will find yourself.” Some more curiosity triggers from the article:

  • maintain the faith that an energy greater than you has your back
  • fear is the language of the ego that leads you away from where you want to go
  • forget your imperfections
  • what do you need in this moment – let it out, accept yourself & LET OTHERS IN
  • acceptance, forgiveness, letting go
  • every moment is fleeting – do not cling
  • love, care and compassion allow you to operate at an optimal state

Early stages of studying the concepts contained within the article, helped me realize that fear had kept me contracted and closed off from my highest, truest self, my soul. Fear had also disconnected me from others by not allowing them to see my authentic self.

My inner and outer worlds were completely misaligned. No wonder the struggle.was.so.real.  The two selves battled each other every day, which was contributing to my general state of anxiety and discontent.

“Badass” launched me into the study of meditation, mindfulness, gratitude practice, the law of attraction, higher power and energy work. Some kind of next level shizz.  These new-age buzzwords can turn some people off immediately, but it was unexpectedly working for me and I was all in. The article lead to books, websites, more articles and more books. With each inquiry, I recorded my thoughts and feelings and slowly began to put theories into action.

A picture of my inner self was becoming clearer. The practices were making me feel grounded and in closer touch with my higher self, which allowed me to feel safe enough to start to reaching out to others.  I was tightening the Spiritus Link by feeding my hungry soul. I was even beginning to like a little of what I saw on the inside.

That is until the “T word” confronted me. Trauma. I wanted to be living in this happy, higher plane that I had discovered, which at times felt almost euphoric. But Trauma wouldn’t let me stay there too long. Trauma kept pulling at my pants leg.

Top Ten Lists

Five years ago (2013) I came across an article on the wholistic living website, Mind Body Green, that changed my life because it caused me to examine how I looked at the world, the way I lived in the world and how I understood myself. The article took up residence in my psyche and planted a seed that snowballed into years of reading, research and intensive therapy.  Sometimes the message was in the forefront of my brain affecting all of my decisions. At other times, it was deeper and harder to access but it never was far from my consciousness. The truth of that article resonated so deeply within me that I knew my life’s work was somehow centered around the information contained within the 500+- word post. I had no idea how,or what my “life’s work” looked like, only that the content activated within me a need to know and understand more of the topic.

I was drawn to the article because of the title, “10 Ways to Become Your Most Badass Self.” Who couldn’t use more bad-assness in their life?? Immediately I was sucked in, as a good title should do. At the time, I was feeling anything other than badass; more like fearful, anxious, lonely, disconnected, unworthy and borderline depressed.

Just like any “Top 10 Tips to X, Y, Z,” article, the headline conveyed that it had the answer – all the answers. A few tweaks here or there and I’d be “fixed.” Fine-tuned, Bad-ass-Jane, at your service! Super-sized, please! I’m in.

But, alas, the information that followed the headline was much deeper than any 10 step, quick fix program. Damn it. Sold me a bill a goods.

What I wanted:

  1. Wake Up at 7:30 am.
  2. Do 20 sit ups.
  3. Walk a mile.
  4. Make a to-do list.
  5. Less Netflix.
  6. More healthy foods.
  7. Go to bed by 11 pm.
  8. 9. 10. More of the same: clear cut, unambiguous steps.

What I read:

To become our most badass, we must live the most authentic version of ourselves in order to transcend states of anxiety, stress, fear, loneliness or unhappiness. W-T-H. Then more: The balanced center between our inner and outer worlds is found in our Spiritus, which is Latin for spirit, breath, soul, courage, and vigor. When feeling sad, confused, uninspired, tighten the S-Link.  “Tear down the wall that fear built inside you which clogs your passageways to reach The Spiritus.” Spiritus, then, is the truest expression of who we are.

Balanced center of inner and outer worlds. Balanced center of inner and outer worlds. The phrase repeated over and over in my brain. What does that mean? What does that look like for me? Where are my easy and actionable 10 steps!? Instead, this seemingly rag-mag style headline asked me to:

  1. Figure out who I am.
  2. Go slow and steady.
  3. Trust my path.
  4. Be fearless.
  5. Tell my truth.
  6. Move and sweat (finally, a step I understood!)
  7. Look with love.
  8. Practice patience.
  9. Remain in the moment.
  10. Practice gratitude.

Item number one threw me. The writer suggested I “peel back the layers and let yourself be seen…Behind the body, behind the spiral of your overactive mind, deep inside where you feel your breath, that is where you will find yourself.”

I realized for the first time, I truly had no idea what an authentic version of myself looked or felt like. I had lived as a chameleon, changing myself to match whatever was presented to me externally.  For 40+ years, I allowed the outside world to dictate who I was and how I felt about myself. Faced with this reality, it was no wonder I felt like I was spinning out of control, drowning, and miserable.

These daunting 10 steps were not what I was looking for when I pulled up the article, they were, however, exactly what I needed.

This is my story of a deep, deep dive into the truth of my life story; excavating all the way down to my most authentic self and finding worthiness. Finding a woman who has value in all her cracks and flaws. Finding a woman who loves to love and loves to laugh. Finding a woman who forgives. And finally finding FREEDOM through the balanced center of my inner and outer worlds.

*******

Inside the cover of my first major writing notebook – 9/23/13. Drawing and doodling concepts I read helped me process the information.

dipictionofspiritus

First page of notes – 9/28/13. Top line references the article referred to in post above.

first spiritus link notes