We Come Running

Not to try to ratchet up my cool quotient, but I’d heard of Youngblood Hawke long before the American Idol commercials from this most recent season.

First, it’s a very irreverent song. You can’t help to bop to the beat. But, it truly were the lyrics that struck me when I first heard this song. Lyrics like, “Headed for the open door, Tell me what you’re waiting for, Look across the great divide, Soon they’re gunna hear, The sound, the sound, the sound, When we come running.”

When I hear these lyrics I think of someone running free. Being completely unencumbered in their experience. I picture a person sprinting with their arms stretched to the sky, with a huge smile plastered on their face, thinking of nothing but release and possibility.

Pre-living wide, I used to hang on to a lot of things with an unflinchingly tight grip. Things that I should have released to God, the universe, just in general. I never felt free to completely let go. To be carefree. What I love about this song is that it reminds me to be irreverent. Why should we feel laced up or tied down by expectations? Why shouldn’t we shatter through these things at a full-tilt run, like football players busting through a paper banner just before game time?

Take that visual with you when an obstacle seems a little to hard.

The Rising

Tonight’s second post is one of my favorite songs from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. I remember him saying he wrote “The Rising” as an anthem to latch onto after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He wanted it to be an inspiration, a juxtaposition between what life was like before, during, and what it should feel like after such a horrible event.

“The Rising” is classic Springsteen. It’s simple instrumentation, it’s hard-driving rock rhythm and it’s inspirational lyrics. A commentary on pain and how there is always a way to rise up from it. To be better for it. And to love harder because of it.

I’ve often said, living wide is in the lessons you’re given and what you make of them. I often take to heart Springsteen’s reminder to see the opportunity through the hardship. Quite simply, it makes you better.

Shake It Out

Author’s Note:  For the sake of honesty, this blog post is helping me momentarily avoid my grad school homework… just so you know. Quite simply, it is the end of the semester, I’m over it, yet I have to press on. [Sigh….] Okay, pity party over. Carry on.

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When I first heard Florence + The Machine’s “Shake it Out,” I was knocked completely sideways… in a good way. Without boring you, I was going through a weird time. I had some things in my life I knew I needed to sever and purge, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let go, and I didn’t know why or how.

I promise, if you’re living through a moment like that, nothing will punch you in the gut faster than the lyrics from this song. Lines like, “Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments,” or, “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.” They make you face not only the enemy outside of you, but the enemy within yourself as well when you’re trying to live a wide life.

Darkness wants to keep you small. It wants to keep you limited. It wants to show you the boundaries and make you fear pushing past them. And what’s even scarier, it wants to prevent you from pushing past those feelings to things that are unknown, uncertain, strange, alluring and terrifying all at the same time. You want to pursue them, but you’re also courted by the comfort of your past… the safeness of the known versus the unknown.

The thing I try to remember is, if I ever feel burdened or heavy, if a situation ever makes me feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, then I am in the wrong place. The only person who should ever feel that is not of this plane. I shouldn’t feel that way. That’s not my job. I should feel more unencumbered, untethered. I should feel free, and I should feel free to feel free.

So here’s a question, what song releases you to feel like you are completely free?

What, Me Worry?!

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a worrier. Not of the perpetual furrowed brow, constant handwringing variety per say, but I do have a fairly regular level of concern. Being single, that’s kind of a given. In terms of income, you’re it. Reconciling bills, you have to do it. Unexpected pricey repair for the car, well, it gets you too and from where you earn the income, so you have to figure it out. As you can tell from my last post, my living wide life has been more living day-to-day as best I can, and a lot of that has to do with worry.

Quite a few storms have rumbled into my world recently, but instead of blowing through quickly, they’ve stalled. If I could draw a cartoon of myself (believe me, you don’t want me to try), it would look something like a completely drenched girl with a gray, violent cloud over her head from which lightening strikes out periodically as a zinging reminder that, yep, it’s still there.

Now, generally, I handle stress pretty well, but when there’s no preamble to a storm, when it starts at a deluge and doesn’t let up, unfortunately, even keel kind of goes out the window. And where worry was once creeping in through a few small leaks in the roof, now it’s an unadulterated pummeling because, well, there was no roof anymore. I was worrying so much, in fact, that I was worried about how much I was worrying. I know, I know… vicious cycle.

The thing about being worried, especially when in a worrisome situation, is that people around me begin to worry sympathetically. Trust me, my circumstance did warrant it, and those around me weren’t just being supportive; they had concerns of their own. The issue was that the collective worrying began to self fulfill and spawn a whole host of bad juju, like paranoia, emotions I’m sure swirled round and round the bottom of Pandora’s box.

One day, at yet another collective worry session, I hit a wall. I simply could not worry about one more thing. Big, small, it didn’t matter, there was no room left at the inn. I looked at the people around me as they speculated and spit-balled, and realized, this is kind of pointless. There we were, trying to crystal ball some outcomes, trying to define the unknown variables, when truthfully, the dominos were already falling. The best we could do was navigate the present and not try to predict the height of the waves or the pitch of the ocean.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is chronicled in a couple of different books of the Bible. He and the disciples were on a boat in the middle of horrific storm, and Jesus, unconcerned, was asleep. The disciples woke him because they were scared, and, invariably, he calmed the storm to appease their worry. But notice, he wasn’t worried. He was so not worried that he was asleep. He knew that particular moment was scary, yes, but his father, God, was going to get him through it, while Jesus’ disciples, not yet quite as sure, worried.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly thinking of this story when I hit the wall, but when I did, I realized something. The only thing you can control in a circumstance that is worrisome is how you react to it. You can’t control someone’s behavior, choices or actions, but you can control how you respond. So, basically, stop trying to be hyper offensive to avoid being defensive. Be aware, don’t be naive, but don’t be a slave to the “coulds,” of life. Rest in the fact that someone far more capable than you has “got this,” and you can rest easy in the fact that you had faith enough to get in the boat with him.

Aha!

It was Sunday morning. I had another half an hour to sleep before I needed to get up, but no matter how many times I rolled over, I just couldn’t slip back into the unconscious. So I got up and started my normal Sunday routine: Bemoan the Fraggle Rock do that is my bed head, feed my cat, turn on the TV and start my coffee.

As I sat on my couch, cereal in hand, I scanned through the TiVo guide to see what was on. My normal go-to, The Food Network, had a chef on that I didn’t really like, so I surfed the channels to see what else was on. The only thing that looked remotely interesting was Oprah’s LifeClass, so I tuned in, but only half-heartedly.

Then it happened. I had one of those Aha moments she always talks about. Her class that day was titled, “You Become What You Believe,” a concept that I’ve often heard her talk about, but I guess never really got. In this particular episode, Oprah talked about shadow beliefs, the underlying sabotages to one’s positive sense of self. She pointed out that these shadow beliefs are the tapes that run in your head, the ones that convince you you’re not worth it, that you’re not enough. And if you listen to them, if you buy in, these tapes will color your life from stem to stern and back again.

What struck me right between the eyes was the fact that I was clinging tight to my shadow beliefs. That my current discontent with the state of my life was because I simply put my belief in something other than God and myself. It was like someone held a mirror up and said, “See, that ugly lack of faith, yep, that’s you.” It was two and two that I’d never put together before. I had become the gook I believed about myself, and I had made choices based on lies. I believed that my instincts were wrong; that I wasn’t making a difference with the talents God gave me. I felt I didn’t deserve love or abundance. Simply put, I had become what I believed about myself.

I had become a shadow of the woman I once was; the one that graduated from college 11 years prior, determined to take the world by the tail. Somewhere along the line I’d lost her. But more than that, I’d convinced myself that that was okay. I had accepted the worldly prescribed view of my life – you can’t do that, that’s too radical; why are you even considering that, it’s not prudent; are you crazy, what if it doesn’t work out. And even though I’d worked on living a wide life for several months, I realized, in that moment, I’d still been living very, very small.

And just like that, the 22 year-old me woke up. She pushed off the thick quilt that had been smothering her for over a decade, she sauntered to the front of my mind, looked the 33 year-old me up and down and said, “It’s about time. Now what’s your plan?”

“Well,” I answered, “let’s start with, this, ‘I am worthy of abundance, and like Gavin DeGraw said,

Sometimes our only way is jumping, I hope you’re not afraid of heights’.”

My 22 year-old self smiled approvingly. “Alright then, let’s do this!”