On Embodying Our Calling

mark-nepo-embodiment

My favorite poet/teacher these days is Mark Nepo. No one helps me live more mindfully and deliciously than he does.

Today I feel I MUST share here this passage with you from The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

It speaks to me so beautifully about what is like to embody our calling. I’ve been contemplating the concept of embodiment for a few weeks now, but this is the first time I’ve seen it attached to callings.

What is calling to you? What do you feel called to do, to be, to experience? Often, we don’t hear any calls, but from experience I know that the calling is always there and it’s only through slowing down and turning down the volume of a busy life, that we can hear that voice calling to us.

May we make listening to that voice a priority.

Here’s the excerpt.

“To know God without being God-like is like trying to swim without entering water.” -Orest Bedrij

Underneath all we are taught, there is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable, and in listening to that flicker of spirit, we often find deep healing. This is the voice of embodiment calling us to live our lives like sheet music played, and it often speaks to us briefly in moments of deep crisis. Sometimes it is so faint we mistake its whisper for wind through leaves. But taking it into the heart of our pain, it can often open the paralysis of our lives.

This brings to mind the story of a young divinity student who was stricken with polio, and from somewhere deep within him came an unlikely voice calling him to, of all things, dance. So, with great difficulty, he quit divinity school and began to dance, and slowly and miraculously, he not only regained the use of his legs, but went on to become one of the fathers of modern dance.

This is the story of Ted Shawn, and it is compelling for us to realize that studying God did not heal him. Embodying God did. The fact of Ted Shawn’s miracle shows us that Dance, in all its forms, is Theology lived. This leads us all to the inescapable act of living out what is kept in, of daring to breathe in muscle and bone what we know and feel and believe – again and again.

Whatever crisis we face, there is this voice of embodiment that speaks beneath our pain ever so quickly, and if we can hear it and believe it, it will show us a way to be reborn. The courage to hear and embody opens us to a startling secret, that the best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.

Mark Nepo

Passion is a State of Love, and Hunger

I’ve always considered myself a passionate person (not just in a romantic way; more passionate about life than anything), and here in the U.S. my passion was not always accepted, especially around intellectuals. So, I used to be reluctant to show that part of me, or even use the word because of the criticism. A “friend” once even told me he thought that passion was “tacky.”

Sigh.

Anyhow, I just adore this definition of the word because it’s precisely how I try to live these days: with the right balance of love for life and a good appetite for it as well.

the-way-of-passion

Why I Write + Share So Much + Do What I Do

[dt_highlight color=””]“There’s always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.”- Graham Greene. [/dt_highlight]

I was nine. My stepfather was an alcoholic, and my mother was his depressed, codependent servant. When he was drunk, he touched me and made me touch him, and I felt fractured to pieces each time. Some days I would rock into a ball and cry myself to sleep, listening to my mother wailing as he hit her. He would turn the volume on the radio all the way up and would snap at anyone who dared to turn it down… I wondered if the neighbors could hear me crying or my mother screaming through the loud music.

Mariela, age 10, in Cuba.

This is that courageous child, at age 10, in Cuba.

That was my life, one cloudy day after the next, until I started to breathe words and learned, like many before and after me, to escape my reality that way. Reading the works of other writers (including Graham Greene himself, Jules Verne, and Anne Frank), about their loneliness, their joy, their suffering, and their adventures, I found solace. I was no longer alone crawled into a ball, crying. I was experiencing the world through their books. These things didn’t happen just to me; other people struggled too, even survived worst things. I still get emotional, thinking of the determination and generosity of those writers who locked themselves in rooms to create fascinating stories and touch that way the lives of strangers, like my nine-year-old self on a sheltered communist island. I feel deep grateful for their courage to put their work out there.

Reading those books, I was always fascinated by the characters’ internal universes and learned a lot about how they dealt with emotion.

And so, I began to write, in my journal, to release the pain but also to understand what was happening inside me and how exactly I felt about any given situation. To this day, like Faulkner once said, “I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”

So yes, I write about my inner experiences to understand.

[dt_highlight color=””]But most importantly, I share my personal stories of both struggle and bliss in order to pay it forward, in the hope others don’t feel so alone in their spiritual journeys and that they, too, feel it’s safe to open up and share their perspective, their unique powerful expressions.[/dt_highlight]

I know my story is the story of every other writer out there; countless others have been saved by reading and writing too. But I don’t have another story, and as cliché as it may be, the story of that nine year old fuels me to do what I do.

Once upon a time I didn’t share my writing about my struggles because I was ashamed of them, because they were too similar to other stories out there, because I worried constantly about “what people would think.”

AND, I wouldn’t write about my Bliss because I didn’t want others to feel “less than,” or think I was bragging, or tag me as a crazy hippie.

Living with purpose requires you to become vulnerable, to put yourself out there at the risk of being judged. You need to be more concerned with being your authentic self than with being well-liked.

And that’s why I write. That’s why I share. And that’s why I, respectfully, do not care about what others think; their opinions kept me paralyzed for too long.

I, also, no longer seek external approval. I do what I do because I have to, because the core of my being needs to, because I believe this is my service to humanity/what I came here to give, not because I need the appreciation of others.

Byron Katie expresses my feelings on this perfectly, saying:

[dt_highlight color=””]If I had a prayer, it would be this: ‘God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation.‘”[/dt_highlight]

Amen!

Now, it’s your turn. Why do you do what you do?

The Artist’s Way – Basic Principles

I’m getting ready to start The Artist Way program again. I started a good 15 years ago (I hope I still have the book somewhere) and I’m super excited. I’m in a much better place now.

The Artist Way is a “twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.”

Below are the book’s  Basic Principles:

  • Creativity is the natural order of life. life is energy: pure creative energy
  • There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life – including ourselves
  • When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
  • We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves
  • Creativity is god’s gift to us. using our creativity is our gift back to god.
  • The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
  • When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to god: good orderly direction.
  • As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  • It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  • Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move towards our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

Book: A Desire to Inspire

For most of my life I’ve been on a journey of self discovery. I remember that as early as 11 or 12  I would take any silly personality test I could get my hands on, looking to answer questions such as “Who am I?” “Why was I born?” “How can I help make the world a better place?”

Over the last week, I’ve been digging deep with the help of the book “Desire to Inspire.” I’ve written dozens and dozens of pages, answering many of the questions the book suggested… easy peasy questions like:

  • What is the unique impact I have in others?
  • What does my heart wants?
  • What inspires me the most?
  • What was I born to do?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • What is my essence?
  • What are my special gifts to this world?
  • What must I do?
  • What do I want to offer?
  • What is the biggest dream of my life?

I highly recommend the book for those who, like me, have a Desire to Inspire others.