Friday, April 7, 2017
"You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need."—Jerry Gillies
Hello fellow Earthlings:
Lately I've been thinking about identity.
Who are YOU?
Or more precisely, I've recently asked, "Who am I?"
It's the age-old question and I'm sure there are many answers, but I believe almost ALL of it has to do with programming.
When you were born, depending on what you believe, you came into this world with whatever was leftover from your past lives OR as a blank slate. Well, not completely blank, because I believe our true nature is something we each have that can't be carried over or even learned.
That innocence you had as a newborn. Can you remember any part of it?
Strangely, I remember lying in green grass as a baby. I remember the warmth of the sun and a soft blanket under me. I remember lying on my belly and clutching fistfuls of fresh green grass, testing out my grip. I remember the herbaceous aroma, so soft on my bare skin. I lived through my senses and I remember feeling elated to be alive. I remember seeing through my baby eyes with a sense of wonder and awe, but also with a slight hint of familiarity...I'd been here before!
And then the programming set in. The programming came first from my parents: "Don't touch that!" and "Don't go there!" or "If you are good, I'll give you a cookie." And I remember that there were rewards and punishments for things and it got confused with my parents' own emotions and their states of mind. Sometimes I was rewarded or punished for things that weren't consistent. I didn't want to rock the boat because there was enough turmoil in my life as a child. My parents ended up divorcing when I was young, around six, and I forever tried to please them. I grew up trying to please my mother and be a good girl. I learned a lot of behavior that simply was NOT MINE. I took on my parents', friends' and society's behavior. I conformed. I did what was expected of me given my home life, where I lived, where I went to school, etc.
All of this was my programming. I took it on. I became it and believed that's the way things were. I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve. I wasn't good enough unless I was checking things off my list. I went to high school and became the "Outstanding Journalist of the Year" upon graduating. I got into college and before I left, during my senior year, we were asked to write down what we expected we'd be doing in 10 years. I wrote down my plans on a little slip of paper that was carefully placed in a film canister (time capsule). I was told I'd receive that canister back at my 10-year reunion.
I missed my 10-year high school reunion. I was thousands of miles away living in a tiny, Japanese, tatami-mat apartment in Sendai where I taught English. I lived in the suburbs and had few friends. I was lonely. Maybe the loneliest I'd ever been. My best friend from high school mailed me my film canister. I remember that day the mail man slipped the envelope through the mail slot. It fell on the freezing cold concrete floor that was my kitchen. My apartment smelled of Kerosene and was freezing. With gloved hands, I ripped open the envelope and read the letter from my girlfriend and then carefully opened the canister, which had been sealed for 10 years. I took out the little piece of paper from the canister and read:
"I will be married with 2 children (a boy and a girl), I will drive an SUV and live in the suburbs and have an MBA or Masters in Journalism."
Shit! Here I was in my squat Japanese apartment, single, the owner of a BICYCLE with no masters degree in anything. What happened?
I am not really sure, but somewhere along the line, maybe after graduation from college, I had had an identity crisis. I did not know what I wanted, but I knew what I didn't want. I did NOT WANT TO SETTLE DOWN and live the life I was destined (or programmed) to live. I felt I needed to get FAR AWAY from everything I knew in order to find out who I really was. I traveled all over Asia. I went to Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, India, Tibet, etc. I studied Buddhism and I eventually married a Buddhist monk, moved back to Seattle, wrote a book (Lessons from the Monk I Married, Seal Press 2012) and
settled into a wonderful life of traveling, writing, teaching, etc. I felt so elated. I felt like I knew who I was. All the risks I took were worth it. I let go of a lot and found out what really called to me.
And then my husband left.
He ran off with a younger woman and left our 20-year partnership.
So much of my IDENTITY, the one I thought I really OWNED, was enmeshed with my husband. Who was I without him? I had built my life around this person. I had written a book about this person. NOW WHAT?
And I began to suffer an even BIGGER identity crisis. I was floating in a vast sea looking for anything somewhat stable to grab onto—a stick, a tire, a log. It was dark and lonely...lonelier than my time in Japan even.
I felt nothing. I felt I was nothing. Nothing to offer. I went into a shell. I went into hiding. I stopped writing and reaching out. I was in what some people call the "dark night of the soul" period. I didn't post on Facebook, I didn't write on my blog. I reached out to just a small handful of people eventually. That was it.
At some point it dawned on me, maybe 5 months or so down the line, that I had a gift. I could now be WHOEVER I WANTED TO BE. I didn't need to live by any other person's rules but my own. I took ownership of who I was. I decided to take a Burlesque class. I became VENUS ON FIRE. I have a stage name. I am sexy, fiery, strong, passionate, alive. I dance in high heels and sometimes dye my hair red. I wear sexy dresses and skirts and leggings and a flower in my hair. I buy myself fresh flowers once a week and get massages and drink fancy cocktails with names like "purple skirt" and "sex on the beach" and those very cocktails became sign posts pointing the way of my future. I would wear a purple skirt and have sex on the beach in the most passionate, romance-novel way you can imagine.
Who woulda thunk it? Well, I did. I CREATED IT.
We don't have to live PROGRAMMED lives. We can be whoever we want to be. We can create whatever identity we want and live a life that is our own.
I feel like when we are young, we accept all the programming that is around us because we need the experience, and as we get older, we have to DE-PROGRAM ourselves to find out who we really are or what we are drawn too.
One thing I uncovered about myself, that I don't think was programmed, is that I'm HIGHLY INTUITIVE and I was always afraid of this side of myself because being psychic is not something that was encouraged or accepted early on by my family or peers. Now, I've found my people. I am in an 11-month Clairvoyant Awareness Program at Psychic Awakenings in Seattle and I give weekly hour-long psychic readings to people along with my teacher and other class members. I have developed this side of myself that I always hid from before. Now, I am offering useful and valuable information to people that can help them on their journeys. And I'm still creating and uncovering parts of myself. I get to write my story and that's EXCITING!
Who are YOU?
Is it a question you care to know about? Do you feel you are leading a life that you created that is YOUR OWN or have you been programmed or influenced to lead a life based on your family, society and the people around you? Did you know you have a choice?