Maybe You’re Ready for a Life of Freedom


Look what arrived in my inbox from the amazing Tama Kieves:

I have always craved freedom. It’s why I’ve pursued an authentic life. But it’s meant I have had to go off the map. Sometimes, off the rails, maybe where the mail can’t find me. I have had to find myself. I have a junk drawer of inner voices, and it took a while to realize which suggestions come from the beacon of my truth and which were useless screws from gadgetry that no longer works for me, if it ever did. I still hesitate around vital guidance. Because my heart always tells me things like rest or go pick daisies, when I’m hoping for some lottery numbers or an in with Oprah.

Of course, I imagined that “finding myself” would be a once in a lifetime thing. I thought it would be like riding an escalator once you found your right step. But turns out, it’s a way of life. The world never stops shouting or posturing in ways that muffle wisdom. It’s easy to lose touch. It’s like dropping an earring at a rambunctious party. I have to hunt for the glint of gold again. Normal people peer at me strangely. Still, I search. Because only I know what is missing. A life of reaching the highest expression of my potential requires continuous focus and choice. I may not know exactly what I’m looking for, but I always know when something’s missing.

Just to be clear, I am so not cut out to be a trailblazer. I am careful and neurotic and do not like adventure one bit. I don’t even like trying new foods, much less new jobs or lives or voices inside myself. But I want to feel good. And feeling good comes from undiluted self-honesty. There’s no owner’s manual or cheat sheet. And forget about external validation. No tour guide and souvenir shop. This is not a trip for tourists. This is the trip of travelers. Your feet crunch on the ground as you listen to your own breath. This is the footpath that only you can find, create, conjure, or allow. It’s unsettling to be “on your own” without directions. But it saves time. Because the highways just take you where everyone else is going and while it’s popular as all get-out, so are Kim Kardashian Instagram posts. Freedom demands more of you. Freedom reveals more of you to yourself.

When it comes to owning your life, no one else can tell you where you belong. It’s okay to falter and lose your way. You have to listen, probe, make mistakes, step on snakes, and do a few takes of the scene that might not even get into the movie. Because you will get this right. You will find what’s yours already.

It’s the process that gives you clarity.

And it’s always better to lose the way for a time, than to stop for good and lose yourself.

Tama Kieves

You Don’t Need to Explain Yourself

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How much time did I waste wondering how something I wanted to do would affect other people? Perfect example: For years I worried about inconveniencing friends because I had quit drinking. How would I explain it to them?

What a waste of time.

Today, my reading from the book A Year Without Fear addressed this perfectly:

Today, you do not need to explain yourself to others.

You do not have to explain your journey or courageous faith to others. If you were giving birth, you wouldn’t take time to make others feel comfortable and secure. You would be doing what your nature demands. You’d focus on the task at hand, the evolutionary impulse. You’d attend to your own needs. A new life will speak for itself.

— Tama Kieves,  A Year Without Fear

Who’s Driving Your Car?

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Cooped up in my house, my thoughts seem to be all over the map. I can’t divert myself with friends, wandering stores, or yoga classes. Dealing with my own thoughts has been the biggest challenge of my life. But it’s also the one thing that changed my life so profoundly.

Pam Grout described how she handles these thoughts in her blog here. For those who don’t know, she lost her only daughter, Taz, this year, but has continued on her amazing spiritual journey.

Insist that Love Drive the Clown Car

Here is a photo of Pam with her daughter.

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Stepping Out!

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“You can choose COURAGE or you can choose COMFORT, but you cannot choose BOTH!”

— Brené Brown

This is one of my least favorite quotes by Brené, probably because it’s the one I most need to hear. And if you’ve ever been without comfort for a long period of time, you want to grab on to it with both hands — it might just get away from you.

Regardless, I just started a new blog for anyone interested in spirituality and A Course in Miracles. I can tell that some people here in the blogosphere are really interesting in this kind of thing, and others are really not. Another blog was the answer to keeping the two separate, though they’re completely intertwined for me.

And I’m also stepping way outside my comfort zone, as sobriety teaches you to do. I had an unusual and amazing spiritual experience about 18 years ago, and only a few people know about it. The result was that a doorway opened, allowing me a more direct connection with my spirit guides. I’ll be blogging about that as well … how we become channels of the divine, particularly through journaling. I’ve done readings for friends for years, and will be doing intuitive readings over the phone. I’m not sure how that will work yet … but I’ve been talking it about for over a decade. (Don’t tell my mom.)

So there you have it! My new blog is www.shawna-rae.com, and I currently have zero followers. I can only go upward from here.  💕

Before and After: Breakfast

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Behold: the Breakfast of Champions!

A million small things change when you stop drinking, even for a short period of time. Those small changes add up to seismic changes in your life.

Here’s a typical morning for me, before and after:

Breakfast after drinking: McDonald’s take-out on the way to work to settle stomach. Egg McMuffin and medium Diet Dr. Pepper. Eat while driving and applying make-up. Arrive late, as always.

Breakfast while sober: Fried egg over avocado, Italian herbs, and tomato. Add fresh basil from actual plant, kept alive for weeks on end. Read A Course in Miracles meditation for the day. (upper left) Work from home, for self.

Happy Monday!

💕

What Could Possibly Go Right?

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Are you a catastrophizer?

I’m not usually one, but I can go there if everything else seems to be going wrong.

Like you, I was taught to anticipate problems as part of growing up. This system causes our brains to immediately anticipate what could go wrong, causing unnecessary worry. Add in the whole law of attraction angle, and we’re drawing towards us exactly what we don’t want.  

This short post from Gabrielle Bernstein reminded me to start asking myself, “What could right?”

From Gabrielle:

One morning recently I was future tripping about a very stupid issue. (Though there are really no stupid issues because there’s always something bigger under the surface.) Nevertheless, I was sweating the small stuff.

But all I needed to do was a shift my focus. I needed to see what was right about the situation rather than focus on what I perceived to be wrong.

In any moment we can transform our experience by shifting our perspective. Now it’s your turn. Take an issue you’ve been afraid of and spend a few minutes thinking about all that could go right. Let go of every “but” and the whole concept of “cautious optimism.” It’s safe to think about all that can go right. By doing this you move into a higher vibrational state and begin to attract the very things you need in order for things to go right! Try it now.

— Gabrielle Bernstein

I Will Never Forgive That B*tch

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“Yes, a friend might have said something cruel to you—but in her heart, she’s simply lost and lonely like everyone else.”  — Marianne Williamson

So often, when I am commenting on someone’s blog or writing on my own, I start talking about forgiveness. And people may think, Yeah, whatever. Everyone talks about forgiveness these days, but I can’t let go of what happened to me, nor do I want to. Other people know that they do want to because forgiveness is the key to their own happiness.

Flashback to me, twelve years ago: “I will never forgive that bitch.”

I used those exact words in describing a former friend. And I was therefore tied to that friend through drama after drama, fueled by drinking, even when I moved out of the area. And I was totally justified, I thought, and I could explain why ad nauseam. Reliving the ‘betrayal” would get my blood pumping in seconds. It made it hard to sleep.

In time, only true forgiveness freed me. I called her out the blue one day, a decade later. It wasn’t easy to pick up the phone, but it was easy to reconnect and talk like old times. And I love her now, thought she isn’t in my life. I do ask for her forgiveness through prayer on a regular basis, and I know she feels it in her heart.

Marianne Williamson is so good at explaining why forgiveness is key to everything else:

The Miracle of Forgiveness

I’m Out There

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For those of you who think I might be a little “out there,” I’m about to prove it:

Tomorrow, I’m flying to Chicago to attend a Sonia Choquette workshop. I can’t wait!

I’ll have three days to delve into intuition, chakras, spiritual healing, and dancing sober. And not even my mother’s deep deep disapproval of anything “psychic” can stop me. (She always points to a 60 Minutes show that she watched 30 years ago in which an elderly woman gave all her money to a gypsy.)

Sorry, Mom.

Then again, my mom has no idea I have a sober blog, or that I’m writing a book about my journey to sobriety.

There is much much disapproval and chagrin in my mother’s future. I can hear her now, embarrassed to go to the grocery store in case someone who knows her also knows me and also knows about that whole drinking thing, which was much better swept under the rug, like women did in her generation.

Best epitaph ever: She Never bothered her neighbors. 

(Someone out there remind to take down this post around publication time.)

No matter. I’m on a roll.

A Mindful Relapse

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In February of 2016, after a promising 8-day start on my new blog and new sobriety, I decided to drink. (Or relapse, as they say. But is it really a relapse when it happens every other day?)

Anyway, I had been doing these mindfulness meditations, where you observe your own thoughts, and I had a brilliant idea. I would relapse, but I would do it MINDFULLY. I would turn this relapse into a learning experience. This thought gave me permission to drink (or course). But it also gave me a sense of purpose: I saw myself as a sort of spy, going under cover in the murky world of addiction for the betterment of mankind.

But also, I really did want to witness the mind-boggling process that had knocked me off my feet over and over again, despite my pledges and promises and resolutions. How did this one slippery little decision keep sneaking past me? Because once I made the decision to drink, nothing could stop me.

Here’s what I learned:

The decision to drink always begins with a thought. And it will seem like an innocent one.

The day of my relapse, as I was sitting at home, minding my own business, this thought came to me: My husband doesn’t seem like he’s having much fun lately. He’s been a little stressed out.

And that was it. That was the first thought. And that thought led me to thinking about how I could help him. I would call him to meet for lunch, just like in the old days. He’d be so happy!

The first thought is often disguised as you helping someone you love. Because you’re a good person and you want to help people. (How cunning is that!)

So I call my husband and arrange to meet him in an hour. I have not yet thought about drinking. But I begin to romanticize the setting. This little lunch outing will be fun! Just like when we were dating. It will lift his spirits.

And that was the second thought. My second thought romanticized the past. Because I begin to savor the idea of a lazy Saturday afternoon … the cozy booth lit with candles … the happy server bringing us drinks.

Drinks … how did that thought sneak in?

As I look at the scene in my mind, there’s a frosted glass. And just the sight of that glass has me imagining the icy taste of that drink.

And just like that, the decision is made in an instant so quick that I hardly notice it. I can’t pinpoint it. I’m not even sure I made it all. But someone did, because now the idea that I will drink is a given.

I don’t question this decision. (We don’t want affairs of the heart exposed to scrutiny.) In fact, the decision takes me out of the present moment. I have already projected myself into the future, where that drink is waiting for me. It’s only in the present moment that  the decision can still be undone. But I am no longer there. This is the opposite of mindfullness.

I am already tasting that sweet elixir, feeling the cold of that frosted glass against my lips. In my mind, that golden liquid is seeping into my veins, easing my worries, joining me in the intimate bonds forged by drink.

I am already gone.

I notice the momentary tug of my conscience. You were doing so well! You don’t have to do this. You know it’s not going to end well. But I rationalize the decision to drink by promising future sobriety. I begin to bargain: True — I was doing well, but I can start back tomorrow. February 1st. It has a nice ring to it … a dry February!

I don’t really believe this, but it’s too late now. The drinking voice and I are co-conspirators. I banish all thoughts about stopping, because the decision has been made, and I don’t want to question it too closely because I want that drink badly.

And I don’t want to see that the decision is a betrayal. Deep down, I know it is. But like any under-handed deal, it has to stay behind closed doors. Money has changed hands, and I’ve been bought and sold, though I’m not even in the restaurant yet. A deal has been struck, but I’m almost unaware of it. In that instant, I collude with the drinking voice to cover it up.

At the 3 am witching hour, I’m sick and hung-over and filled with regret. Enter shame. Only then do I acknowledge that I’ve made another deal with the devil himself.

The Good News:

Isolating that first thought was the beginning of taking its power away. I learned to isolate the first thought, and then the next, and then watch them fall like dominoes. That day, it occurred to me that if I watch for the first thought, and question it, and then unmask it, I might finally learn to think for myself.