The Happiness Manifesto Blog

How I Beat the Living Hell Out of Suffering and Made It My Bitch

Archive for the tag “new”

The Chakra Sledgehammer

So, as you may or may not know, I am, among other pursuits, a painter.  I paint mostly abstracts, and one of my current projects has been a series of chakra paintings.  This has been a longstanding project, because I am only working on them as I feel moved, spiritually speaking, to do so.  Generally this means that as I am working with a certain chakra, or have made some breakthrough with it, a painting gets made.

I have four out of the traditional seven chakras painted (my original plan was to do the seven; if I feel compelled to move beyond – some systems speak of even more chakras being in existence – I will do so).  The last one I completed was of the heart chakra:

Heart Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2013

Heart Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2013

Currently, I am working with my second chakra.  And when I say, “working with,” I mean smashing through blockages with the proverbial sledgehammer.  Plowing into it headfirst.  Crashing through it.  There is no gentle way of expressing what it is that I am doing.  Every time I have tried to put it into words, it is some destructive act that comes to mind.

(Amused grammar nazi side note – I got a little red squiggly line when I wrote the word “ploughing.”  So I Googled it to figure out how I was spelling it wrong.  Apparently in America and Canada, “plowing,” is correct, and “ploughing” is correct in all other English-speaking countries.  I am an American.  Apparently, I read a lot of books written by Brits?  But I digress.)

Historically speaking, it is my second chakra that has been my “problem child.”  If it’s not blocked like Gandalf is standing in front of it yelling “You shall not pass!!”, then it is leaking energy like a drafty old house leaks heat.  Yes, I am magickal enough that I can both be stopped up and leaking at the same time.  Woo!

So this work is simultaneously desperately needed, wicked difficult, and vastly rewarding.  And it also makes me wonder what the hey I’m going to paint when all is said and done.  As I’ve been making progress, I get an idea, but am not moved to act on it.  A couple of days later that idea is radically changed.  Then it’s changed again… so basically, as I purge and cleanse the chakra, my perception of it is changing.  A lot!  At this point, I’m kind of giving my painting muse a confused dog look (complete with head cocked off to the side), and a bemused grin.  She just laughs.

So yeah… I’m as unsure as to what I’m going to paint next as a stranger on the street might be.  But that’s half the fun!

If you were curious, here are the other three completed chakra paintings:

Solar Plexus Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2012

Solar Plexus Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2012

Root Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2010

 

Third Eye Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2010

Third Eye Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2010

Up next… orange fireballs?  Stay tuned!

 

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Redefining Self

After a meditation session that left me with an epiphany this morning, I find myself examining the very things that define Me.

In retrospect, the epiphany feels a bit like a “duh” moment: I very suddenly realized that a core belief, for lack of a better word, that has always been a part of me (but I knew wasn’t normal, or at least, common) was due to something that happened in my childhood.  It seems obvious now to link the two together, but I just had never done it before.  It was a very simple thing; a very essential thing.  It kind of turned my concept of self over on its side for me to get a good, long look at the undercarriage.

When such a basic thing is examined thusly, you begin to question everything else.  If this central item can be changed, what can’t be changed?

That’s the “rabbit hole” I find myself in this morning.  Taking a good, long look at seemingly fixed aspects and seeing if they, too, can’t be shifted around and examined, and if warranted, changed.  I’m not even sure that I’m going to change the original concept that was the subject of the epiphany this morning, but now I at least know it’s possible.

As a general rule, I like to think of myself as open to change, discussion, and debate.  I have in the past changed my stance on say, political issues or even religious issues.  I’ve never understood why it was bad for a politician to be branded a “flip-flopper”: I would rather have someone who could, when presented with new information, change their mind and/or admit they were wrong, where warranted.  Being a stubborn idiot in the face of contrasting evidence, to me, is not a leadership skill.

But like anyone, I guess, there were certain things central to my definition of Self that I had always just accepted, and not really inspected closely.  They always felt like immovable objects, unchangeable facts.  They felt as unquestionable as, say, my race or the fact that my first language is English.  I can learn all the other languages I want to, but my native tongue will always be English: that’s just the way it is.

To discover that these assumptions about Self aren’t always as immoveable as they may seem is rather… weight-lifting.  In the sense that, I needn’t burden myself with them anymore if I don’t want to.  I’m purging on so many levels in my life, it’s ridiculous (in a wonderful way); I had no idea it could go even deeper than it already had.  But of course, it makes perfect sense now that it did: I find myself opening up to the idea that we are more than the sum total of our experiences here on Earth in this lifetime.  We are Spirit.  We are so much bigger and greater and more amazing than we can possibly frame in terms we can relate to.  It’s like mathematicians trying to explain to the rest of us the idea of some insane number like 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  What frame of reference can we possibly use to understand the scope of a quantity that large?

I have been limiting myself by thinking of myself in such small terms.  We all do.  I, the wild-imagination, über-verbose writer chick do not have sufficient vocabulary to describe what we are.  No language on Earth has the capacity to do so.  When we open our minds to the larger existence, we are still only seeing a sliver of the true potential of life.

So, join me.  Reexamine the very basic tenets of Who You Are.  Question the ones that seem unquestionable.  Turn over the ones that seem immoveable.  And maybe we’ll begin to understand, at least a tiny bit, what Self truly Is.

Fulfilled = Fulfillment

This thought is still fresh and somewhat percolating, so forgive me if I need to revisit it later to clarify some things, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the difference between being fulfilled and being a fulfillment.  Here’s what I mean: being fulfilled, as in, you’re content, you have all that you need, your wants and desires are fulfilled.  Being a fulfillment is more like being the fulfillment of a plan, your destiny, or even your potential.  How many of us were told in school to “fulfill our potential”?  In other words, it would have been a crime if Einstein had become a janitor (that one movie with Matt Damon notwithstanding).  We want the great scientists to be great scientists, the great artists to be great artists, the great parents to be great parents, etc.  We don’t want people inherently gifted in one area to ignore those gifts trying to pursue endeavors where their contribution might be mediocre at the expense of what would be amazing contributions in their naturally talented subjects.

A lot of people don’t believe in destiny or fate, and that’s fine, I’m not altogether certain that I do, either.  At least not in the sense of how they are normally understood.  However, I think it was Leonardo DaVinci’s purpose to be a great artist and inventor, Stephen Hawking to be a great scientist, Michelle Kwan to be a great athlete, and Jimi Hendrix to be a great musician.  And I think all of us have a “purpose”.  No, we’re not all going to be world-renowned or famous, but say your purpose is to be a great parent: maybe you don’t win any awards or get a ton of recognition, but your contribution goes forward beyond your life through the lives of the kids you raise.  You’re still changing the world, even if you’re not in any history books for doing so.

So, fulfilled versus fulfillment was what I had been dwelling upon, and then tonight while meditating, I was asking questions of the Universe/God.  What am I supposed to do, why am I here, what’s the meaning of life, you know, mild stuff.  No pressure, Universe.  In this same meditation session I was putting out there my wants on a very “physical realm” type level.  I want financial security (I’ve already discussed the difficulty in focusing on higher purpose when you’re stuck low on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs totem pole).  I want a home.  I yearn for a home.  I dream of a home.  I look at real estate listings and cry.  Really, really (really), I’m obsessed with having a home of my own (yes, it’s just me and the kitties in my apartment, but I rent.  I want a home I can truly call my own).  And as I was thinking of the more physical realm stuff, one of the larger answers hit me: I’m supposed to write my book.

Yes, the book has transmogrified in scope these past several months, and the original “happiness manifesto” idea has given way to a much larger concept (plus, I found out sometime after starting this blog and the book that there is apparently already a book called “The Happiness Manifesto” – oops!  While I’m sure it does not have my subtitle (“How I beat the living hell out of suffering and made it my bitch”), I didn’t even think to search for similar titles when I was still in the just-starting-out phase of writing.  Gah!  If anyone finds this blog looking for information on that book, sorry – not me.  I didn’t even know it existed until I was browsing on my Kindle one day and lo, there it was.  I just about kicked myself.  I’m sure there are books out there with alike titles, but still – so it’s a good thing that that is no longer the title).

Anywho, The Book (it will heretofore be referred to as The Book in capital letters, as even though it has another working title, I don’t want to a: goof again before I’ve researched that no one else has a book out by that title and b: it’s still shifting around in my head, and I may change it again when all is said and done.  I’m not putting it past me at this point).  The more I think on it, the more The Book is my raison d’être.  I want to write.  I’m meant to write.  Don’t worry, I’m not growing a massive ego and thinking I am The Most Awesome Writer Ever, but I must write.  I used to write so prolifically that I could reliably sit down and pound out a chapter in one sitting, giggling to myself as twists and turns came to me as I was writing them.  I gauged if it was any good or not by how violently my best friend threatened my well-being if I did not write the next chapter soon (I was really good at a cliffhanger).  Now, of course, I look at those old stories from my college days (or high school days or junior high days – yes, I wrote stories to share with my friends back then, too) and think, wow, I was really young.  Characters developed in my head as I was writing them, and so the original vision didn’t always mesh with the end product.  I was famous for going back and doing re-write after re-write after re-write in an attempt to align the earlier flying-blind parts with the later now-I-know-who-this-person-is-and-where-the-story-is-going parts.  I was more famous for forgoing paper altogether and just regaling my friends with verbal stories; the aforementioned best friend and I would take a random drive and she would put forth her one-word request: “Story?”  My friends knew the universe inside my head by then and it was nice to just shoot the shit with my characters and not worry about having to spell out backstory for potential new readers to understand what I was talking about.  Also, it was the most awesome way to test out new ideas and character developments ever.  But I digress.

The point is, I’ve always been a writer.  And lately it seems to come in fits and spurts, and as often as not I go back to the completed parts and look on them with disdain some time later.  It’s not that it seems terrible, but it does seem contrived.  Or young.  Yes, there’s that word again.  When I look back at my writing and think young, it’s the equivalent of crumpling up a piece of paper and tossing it in a wastebasket.

Though now I look at my old stories and think young, I actually was young at the time.  I’m allowed to think the oeuvre of my twenty-year-old self seems young.  But I don’t look at it with disdain: I look back on it with fondness and pride.  I actually wrote that book, and that book.  I told thousands of stories.  I drew thousands of related comics.  One of the friends who read and heard the stories even drew comics based on the characters in my universe.  I inspired someone else.  My stories spoke to someone else.  I couldn’t have asked for better confirmation of worth than that.  Yeah, I was young, but my youthful stories spoke to other young people.  To this day I can drop a reference to those stories among that group of friends and get a giggle.  And two of my cats (I have three) are named after two people from that pantheon of characters.  Those stories are a huge chunk of my life.

Today, not only have I shifted my focus both in reading and writing to non-fiction (it’s rare that I pick up a novel anymore, though it does happen occasionally), but I don’t seem to be able to sit and churn out a chapter as I used to.  I would be okay with a slower pace if it was at least steady, but it’s not that either.  It’s very much as if my muse is teasing me with hints of what I will be writing more than actually writing it.

Tonight, in that meditation session, the reason came to me: my mind is still too focused on the Maslow’s Level Two stuff to be absorbed in The Book.  Back when I used to sleep, eat, and breathe Story, it was my survival mechanism.  Life was supremely craptastic and so I escaped to the much better world in my head, and ran on autopilot in “the real world”.  Now I’m firmly anchored in “the real world,” and unable to fully let myself escape into Book World.

Therein lay my answer to the fulfilled/fulfillment question: it shouldn’t read “versus”.  It’s more like, in order to be a fulfillment of your purpose, you need to be fulfilled.

I’m not fulfilled in the “physical realm”.  I need to be so I can let go and fully engage in The Book.

Now, I’m not saying every wild dream has to come true in order for me to fulfill my purpose in writing The Book.  In fact, that would be a Star Trek-worthy paradox, as completing and publishing The Book is one of those dreams.  What I’m saying is, I need to feel “safe” enough to go and live in the alternate universe that you really have to take residence in in order to pen a meaningful work.  I need to not worry about how I’m going to pay the bills, or where I’m going to live, or when am I going to do this or that.  I need to have some basic things taken care of that are taking away precious focus from writing.  I have been better about not stressing so hard about things like money, but to be frank when I’m not sure where/how/when it’s coming, I do focus on things related to it, like: I need to list more things in my Etsy shop.  I need to check Craigslist for temp jobs.  I need to make business cards.  I need to “network”.  I need to list more things in my Zazzle shop.  I need to submit another article in an attempt to get published and paid for something now.  Etc.  It’s a very different distraction trying to establish yourself as a freelancer than working a full-time “day job”.  It may be more miserable, but in some ways it can be easier to mindlessly punch in, do work, and punch out again.  The more mindless the job, the more my mind wandered off and dreamed up new stories.  But then again, when I was in a horrid make-you-cry-in-the-restroom type job, there was no daydreaming there.  Well okay, there was, but it involved choice words to certain real-life people and maybe a middle finger or two; not exactly “storytime”.

So, I made a deal with the Universe.  God knows I don’t need or particularly want a lavish, crazy lifestyle.  But I do very much want certain needs taken care of, which would free up my brain to go live in Book World.  I want my own home; I want financial security; I want a car (yep, 33 years old, never owned a car.  In NYC that may be normal, but in Denver that’s shock-worthy).  The car seems arbitrary until you consider how much more involved it is for me to go anyplace (hours instead of minutes whether I’m bussing, bicycling, or walking.  How much can I carry or cart around if I’m grocery shopping.  The fact that I can’t do those things I would love to do and have always been good for my soul, like drive into the so-close-and-yet-so-far mountains and just enjoy the scenery or load up an SD card with metric tons of photographs.  There is no city bus that reads “pulls over at every cool spot for photographic opportunities”.  Go and visit friends and not worry about the last bus out or if I can hitch a ride.  Not have to deal with creepy creepers following/chasing/stalking/bothering me (yes, that’s happened… a lot) walking home or waiting for a bus.  Etc.  For me, it would be rather life-changing.  So I told the universe that basically, I need for the little things to not be so hard.  I need for them to not be so thought-consuming.  I need to be able to live somewhat on auto-pilot again but not because things suck; because it’s easy to do so.

It’s not that I want to be permanently on auto-pilot, though I do want my life to be permanently at least a little bit easier.  I want to know that if I follow my muse into Book World, where time moves much more slowly than it does here in physical realm, then I’m not going to come out of it with a completed chapter and an eviction notice.  I want for my physical realm to be safe so I can go play in the alternate Universe.

So there it is.  I get a safe home, the world gets my purpose fulfilled.  Not a bad deal, eh, Universe?

Hold on, I’m totally getting a download right now

For the past week or two I’ve been brewing a blog post/chapter on not wasting your energy on negativity – be that places, people, situations, whatever it is that sucks you dry and makes you more miserable for all your efforts in the end.  But before that post/chapter came to fruition, my brain moved on to other topics (or so I thought).  Sometimes I have the focus of a laser and sometimes I’m the dog shouting, “Squirrel!!”  I figured an afternoon of wrangling my brain back a step or two was going to be in order, because books don’t get written just by thinking about them (why hasn’t that software been invented?  I’d like to make some movies that way, too… ).

But, ah ha, no, my brain hadn’t moved on after all.  The reason why I hadn’t been able to put the thoughts into words yet was that I still had more to learn on the subject myself (this is not to say that I have all the other topics I’m writing about figured out and will soon be dispensing advice from the summit of Pike’s Peak.  This is me writing from where I am at the moment.  I certainly hope not to stop growing here!).  I’m not going to be able to verbalize a thought that isn’t done baking yet.

I had all these witty metaphors ready to go and it turns out that perhaps they aren’t exactly how I would phrase things, after all.

A friend of mine suggested that I nix the whole idea of committing a book to paper and just make this whole experience a blog alone, because the downloads/updates/epiphanies are coming so fast and furious at the moment that I look at the first chapter I wrote just weeks ago, and it seems immature and contrived.  Eight weeks ago I was a proud book mama with a fledgling chapter I wanted to show off to the world!  Now I’m reading it and thinking, “That’s such simplistic, entry-level type stuff!  Did I really think it was profound at the time??”  Yes.  Yes, I did.

We now interrupt this blog post with a YouTube video that makes me laugh so hard, and if you’re following me on the term “downloads” then you might get a kick out of too:

Shit New Age Girls Say

No, I had nothing to do with making that video.  I just wanted to share it, because, well… it’s true.  ^_^

We now return my train of thought to its rail.  Thank you for your patience.

One of the first and largest changes that I have undergone in the past few years has been being able to say “no”.  Being able to express anger.  Being able to walk away from harmful people.  Being able to think well enough of myself to know that I don’t deserve to be hurt.  That seems pretty basic, but when you’re coming from the vortex of self-hating, people-pleasing, too-nice and too-timid punching bag-ness that was me just a few short years ago, it’s revolutionary.  I’ve walked away from people, situations, and securities that I never would have thought possible before.  How many of us are trained to suck it up and take it because the alternative – that is, the unknown – is far more scary than the devil you know?

Well, I started by telling people that hurting me was not OK.  If they continued to do so, I walked away.  If whatever I was getting out of the relationship wasn’t worth the pain inflicted, I was outta there.  And I’m not talking romantic relationships, here (I’m about as crazy cat lady single as you can get while only having three cats).  I’m talking friendships (and even a job).  I used to find every excuse for a “friend’s” behavior being painful to me.  They were going through a rough time.  They didn’t mean to hurt me.  Etc.  Finally, I said to myself, an actual friend wouldn’t want to hurt me.

Of course we’re all going to prick and poke each other occasionally; we’re cacti human.  The nature of being separate entities on this spinning blue marble means that we’re going to bump into each other sometimes.  I get that.  What I figured out was, if your friend does something especially hurtful to you, and you let them know about it (I like to presume unintentional whenever possible), and you don’t get so much as an “I’m sorry” or an “I didn’t mean to do that” or some other indication that that wasn’t their intent, but they double down and stab you again?  That’s not cool.

Revolutionary, I know.

So when I had people who did this not once, not twice, but three times or more – sorry batter, you’re out.  I saved myself and walked the heck away.  I felt like the lady in Fried Green Tomatoes who slams her car into the rude girls’ car in the parking lot and tells them that she’s older and has more insurance.  I was about to start screaming “Tawanda!”

And it became like purging my belongings (another endeavor that has been life-changing and oh-so-freeing that I shall have to blog about): the more I did it, the better it felt.  Thought I was going to say “the easier it got”, didn’t you?  Yeah, that too.  But mostly it felt better.  Hurt me again?  Goodbye.  Facebook friend?  Unfriend.  Every asshat I eliminated from my life was like ripping off a cast that had been immobilizing me for too long.  Scratch that itch, baby!  I’m done with that!

What more was there to figure out about this, right?  Purge the toxic people from your life and the the excess detritus from your closet.

Except I keep getting poked with the universal stick about one of the first people I walked away from.  I have the deep and unmistakable feeling that there’s a patch to be made there.  This patch could not have been made three years ago, or two years ago, or even one year ago.  But today?  I’ve repaired my sewing machine and have been crafting all kinds of new designs for myself.

OK yes, friends who are reading this, I know I literally have repaired my sewing machine and have been crafting all kinds of new designs for myself – but the analogy was just too perfect to resist.

So, how on Earth do I approach a patch that I’m not even sure the other party is interested in sewing?

Well, I haven’t figured that out yet.  Check back with me after I’ve had a few more epiphanies.

Hold on, I’m totally getting a download right now. 😉

Honoring your needs

Right now I am working on a chapter about honoring your needs.  These can be any needs – physical, emotional, spiritual.  And while on the one hand I have made great strides in honoring my needs in all three categories and no longer feeling guilty about it, I still had a block in place when it came to a certain need: money.

Without going into too much detail, lest this post turn into a “triumph over adversity!!” daytime movie, I grew up, shall we say, in a “scarcity” mindset.  And that mindset followed me well into adulthood.  I always felt like other people had things, other people had opportunities, other people had things go their way, and I thought that just didn’t happen for me.  Even as I learned (and am still learning, because I don’t think any of us can ever truly say we’re done learning such things) to accept various things that I have long struggled with as not bad; even as I learned to accept my body the way it was, etc., I still had some convoluted notions about wealth.  Either there was the old self-esteem issue of thinking I didn’t deserve wealth; or perhaps the spiritual guilt issue of not thinking I should want it at all; or the flat-out defeated notion that even if I deserved it and and wanted it, it was never gonna happen.  In short, I could think “that would be nice” or “I deserve a turn” all I wanted, but that was not going to open the path for wealth to come into my life.

My revelation, while working on this chapter and with my own internal struggles with not having a regular job and hence, a regular paycheck for some time now, was that I needed to change how I viewed money.  Money is not a bad thing.  It is not “evil” or a vice.  It is the means to an end.  I can squash the spiritual guilt with the knowledge that if I was awash in abundance, I could truly focus on “higher level” growth (see “The Manifesto” about my history with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).  The physical plane is not “worse” or “less than” – it is its own perfectly valid and here-for-a-reason experience.  It is not something to be suffered through on our way to a spiritual afterlife.  We are not supposed to suffer.  We are to overcome suffering.  We are here to learn things that we couldn’t learn without taking physical form.  Being in a physical body is not a punishment.  It’s OK to be taken care of here in physical form.  We don’t need to be poor and struggle to be holy.  We are holy, by default.  If you believe in creation, God created all that is, right?  That means all of us are “of God”.  Do you think God would create not holy things?  Knowing that we’re safe and secure and will continue to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies does not make us not holy.  Now I’m not saying that materialism is holy – but things are tools that we use to achieve other things.  I’m using my computer right now to communicate.  You might use your car to run errands and go volunteer.  A computer or a car, or possessing them, is not “unholy”.  It’s simply having the tools to accomplish goals.

I’m writing this entry after having just had a wonderful meditation session, so I hope it’s not as rambly as I fear it might be.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  Have you struggled with accepting abundance in your life?  Have you overcome this struggle?  Share your stories!  It is my hope that this blog can become a forum for everyone to find happiness together as a community.

Welcome to the new blog!

Hello and thanks for reading my blog, where I will be posting thoughts, observations, and other hopefully interesting stuff as I write my new book on happiness.  If you are looking for my crazy cat lady credentials, check out my cat blog over at: kittehpeacesummit.wordpress.com.  ^_^

Not much to say as I am just setting this one up today but stay tuned as there is more to come!

Wren

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