Life is not so much about “Mission Accomplished,” as it is “Mission Accepted.” It is an Invitation to Dance. Loosen up a little. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from trying.

“I had hoped to end this book on a triumphant note… Unfortunately, such a tale, while possibly uplifting and feel-good, would have to be filed in the fiction aisles. For much of the writing of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts I continued to relapse: bingeing and lying, shamed and hollow.” – Dr. Gabor Maté.

Dr. Maté goes on to say that it wasn’t until recently that he would clean up his act. But rather than shout, “Mission Accomplished!” He says, “Mission Accepted” would be more accurate (reference: Dr. Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, p 349).

As I read this, I realised this sounds so much like me. And what a relief.

I, too, was hoping to end my book on a triumphant note, a “Happily Ever After”. I’m thinking when life starts to fall smoothly into place, and when every little dream and desires are fulfilled, and everything is in the order of perfection, THEN I’ll be happy. THEN I’ll have something to shout about.

As we all know (and yet, how often we forget), life doesn’t quite work out like that. If we go by that definition, we’ll end up waiting our whole lives.

We are not called to Perfection. We are called to WHOLENESS. And that means, we’re not just called to live the Good Life, but a life that is made of the Not-So-Good, as well. Wisdom, is born of Pain. It’s how we learn, it’s how we grow. And for most of us, it’s the only time we’d ever learn or grow! We need the darkness, as much as the light. It’s what makes us WHOLE and complete.

I am reminded of this, when I read Dr. Mate’s bold and honest statement.

I am reminded that instead of my “triumphant note”, I’ve progressed, and regressed, one step forward, two steps back… then step up again.

Doesn’t it sound like a dance?

Two steps forward, three steps back,

One step forward, then another, and back again.

Then forth, then back, and back and forth we go, twirling around in this dance of life.

A friend once shared his observation, “You’re going in circles!” And he meant it as a friendly warning, to bring to my awareness my life’s pattern.

There was a time where I feared my own regressions and mistakes. But I’ve come to the point where I recognise something else, besides fear.

The two steps back keeps me humble and compassionate. The one step forward again, fills me with Faith, Hope, and Love, giving me strength for the long journey ahead.

Perhaps, this is the reason why out of the 6 books I had hoped to purchase recently, 2 of my orders were cancelled by the bookstore. I felt a mix of disappointment and amusement. Both the books that happened to be unavailable were, ‘The Dance of the Dissident Daughter’ by Sue Monk Kidd and ‘The Dance’ by Oriah. Is it mere coincidence that both titles with the words ‘dance’ in it were not making it’s way to me? It could be.

But I know that I didn’t specifically select these books for the theme on dancing. I merely wanted to complete my collection of Sue Monk Kidd’s memoirs, and Oriah’s series of books. So I ordered whatever I didn’t have.

Today, I’m beginning to see that this incident is not a sign that my invitation to the dance of life has been cancelled! Rather, it is an Invitation. It is drawing me to the word Dance, as I yearn to be whole.

In a dance, and in dancing, it’s important to maintain a certain tension (arm tension, core tension), and yet, to be graceful, we are to loosen up.

This is not an easy thing to do. One seems to be the opposite of the other!

I remember going to a Tango Open Day, to watch my friend dance. The instructor, in the hopes of recruiting new students, began drawing the audience, one by one, to the dance floor. I was chewing bubblegum, to hide that I was feeling terrified! I was hoping she wouldn’t pick me, but she did, and I did what I could, and was pretty happy with myself by the end of it.

Moments later, that silly smile from conquering my fear would be wiped off my face. Apparently, the instructor had whispered into the ears of the guy she pulled to dance after me, and said, “You’re a better dancer than that girl. She’s so stiff, she can’t dance… But you, you’re a natural.”

I had thought of enrolling in her class. As you can imagine, when said guy relayed the information to me, I was crushed, and never saw her again.

I should’ve known that what happened that night, speaks volumes about the instructor, too. She looked so beautiful and elegant for her old age, with her grey-white hair slicked back into a bun. And her movements were as fluid as any sweet young things. But even at that age, she had not grown comfortable in her own skin. If she was, she would’ve recognised my stiffness as a sign of discomfort, and saw a young girl with no confidence.

If she was sure in herself, she would’ve taken that opportunity to speak words of encouragement, leading me to bring out the dancer in me.

Everyone can dance.

But she didn’t believe that. And I didn’t believe that. She needed to cling to her superiority. And I was too busy clinging to my inferiority. I think we both could learn how to Loosen Up a little.

I watched the Tango Scene in the Scent of a Woman last week. The blind man, Frank Slade, asked Donna to dance. Donna’s response is natural. She speaks for most of us when she said, “Ah, I think I’d be a little afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Afraid of making a mistake.”

“No mistakes in the tango, darling. Not like life… If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, you just tango on. Why don’t you try?” Slade is persistent in his invitation, “You’ll try it?” Donna responds with courage, daring to make a silly mistake. “All right. I’ll give it a try.”

The Hope, is in the trying. Remember, Life is not so much “Mission Accomplished,” as it is “Mission Accepted.” It is an Invitation to Dance… Loosen Up. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from trying.

Love,

Mish.

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

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“Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.” – Gerald G. May, ‘Addiction & Grace’

On the seventh day of this month, we took a long walk to our destination. On our way there, we encountered a stray, of the human kind.

From afar, I was struck by his skin, smeared in black, and the way his torn t-shirt was draped to the side like a monk’s orange robe.

The scowl on his face and the way he was striding forth commands you to get out of his way.

Even so, a part of me wanted to stop him and to speak with him. But I traced his right bared arm to his hand, clenched tightly around a bottle of liquor, now empty. I feared he could hit me with it.

So I stood aside, he stalked right by, and the sudden stench of sewage overpowered the air, trailing his misery.

STRAY
I slipped my hand into the hand of the one I was walking with, and held on tight.

“Why, are you scared? Do you fear that man?” he asked.

No. I was looking for comfort. I was thinking about how tightly that man was holding on to his bottle. An empty bottle. It was his lifeline. His only way of numbing his pain. I feel pity for him… his outer condition is a reflection of his inner condition, and it’s clear he’s in a very, very bad state…

Google defines Pity as “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the sufferings and misfortunes of others.” I believe this feeling of sorrow and compassion can only arise from having once recognised ourselves, in them.

I remember only too well, a time in my life when I, too, felt lost and “homeless”. In my time of wandering, I identified with the beggars and the strays on the streets. It was a humbling time of transitioning, where I was brought to my knees by the awareness of my own ‘drunken stupor’ from my various addictions.

I was a human in need of grace.

“Grace is the invisible advocate of freedom and the absolute expression of perfect love.

…grace seeks us but will not control us. Saint Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. If our hands are full, they are full of the things to which we are addicted.

And not only our hands, but also our hearts, minds and attention are clogged with addiction. Our addictions fill up the spaces within us, spaces where grace might flow…

…we may not be able to make our hands completely empty in order to receive the gifts of grace, but we can choose whether to relax our hands a little or to keep clenching them ever more tightly.

…simply relaxing one’s hands may seem too passive. As we shall see, however, this simple choice may be the greatest kind of struggle any human being can face, and it may call forth the greatest courage and dedication…

…We may go through a great deal of humbling, if not outright humiliation, before we come to this simplicity of hope. We do not like admitting defeat, and we will struggle valiantly, even foolishly, to prove that we can master our destinies.

God, in whose image we are made, instills in us the capacity for relentless tenacity, an assertiveness that complements our yearning hunger for God. But most of us overdo it; our spirit of assertiveness quickly becomes a spirit of pride.

We will never really turn to God in loving openness as long as we are handling things well enough by ourselves. And it is precisely our most powerful addictions that cause us to defeat ourselves, that bring us to the rock bottom realization that we cannot finally master everything.

Thus, although in one sense addiction is the enemy of grace, it can also be a powerful channel for the flow of grace.

Addiction can be, and often is, the thing that brings us to our knees.

…it is possible that at some point in our journey with addiction and grace, we might even come to see addiction as a kind of gift.

…Addictions teaches us not to be too proud. Sooner or later, addiction will prove to us that we are not gods.

Then we will realize that we are our own worst enemies; we cannot beat ourselves. At that point, when we have exhausted all the available false repositories for our hope, it is possible that we will turn to God with a true sense of who we are, with an integrity that is both humble and confident, with a dignity that knows itself because it has met its limits.

Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.

But it is there, irrevocably. Like freedom, hope is a child of grace, and grace cannot be stopped. I refer once more to Saint Paul, a man who, I am convinced, understood addiction: “Hope will not be denied, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” – Gerald G.May, ‘Addiction & Grace’.

Love,

Mish.

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Constant Love – Does it exist?

Do you think, these words in the song ‘Come What May’, reflect the kind of love you have known, or is it a song of a Higher Love, the kind you have yet to know? Do you think, this Love that is spoken of, is reserved for the lucky few, or don’t you think, you are worthy of it too? But more than a question of worthiness (for it was never a question of worthiness), don’t you think, this is the secret cry of every single person on earth? To have a taste of what Kari Jobe describes as “So faithful, So constant, So loving, and So true?” A Love that stays… Come What May?

Open your ears. Listen anew. 
Open your mind. Perceive anew. 
Open your heart. Receive anew.

I open my journal today
and it’s 12 November 12.

“As soon as I closed the door to my room after getting home from work, I collapsed into sobs of tears. Couldn’t stop crying…

…and yet,

“Come what may,
come what may,
I will Love you,
until the end of time”
kept playing in my head.

It’s that Moulin Rouge song again… How annoying. I don’t know WHY I’m hearing it. It’s been ringing in my head in the Silent Retreat (28 October 12 – 7 November 12). Now I’m hearing it again. But as soon as I wondered WHY, it became so clear.

The pain of Abandonment (to leave completely and finally)… just when I am healing from that, now, we have to deal with a possibility of another bigger Abandonment.

But this Song is saying, “Come what may, come what may, I will love you…”

“Until my dying days,”
says the song.

“Until the end of time,”
I heard.

“Until eternity, always,”
I felt.

The tears stopped at that realization. I felt spoken to. All is quiet within now. I can go downstairs and have dinner and cheer X up. We’ll watch ‘The Constant Garderner’ (since we both haven’t seen it and she’s seen the Iron Lady).” – 12.11.12

Has a song been ringing in your head / heart lately? Is it in the total opposite direction of what you’re feeling / going through? For example, you’re in a time of deep grieving, but there’s an annoying, ‘sappy romantic song’ (like Moulin Rouge ‘Come What May’!) that’s been ringing in your head, and it’s NOT a reflection of how you feel? Perhaps then, it’s an indication of an Invitation from the Song of Songs. It’s a gift, from a Higher Love, beckoning you to Listen. Listen to the words in the song.

…does it speak to you?

No matter what we are going through, there’s a Constant Love that’s journeying with us, every step of the way. Just take the time to Pause, Listen. Soak it in. Receive. Relax… Are you Listening? It’s going to be okay.

Love,

Mish.

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Love Is Allowing Yourself To Feel

Originally posted on 28.06.12:

“We must not numb our pain.

When in sorrow, sorrow.

When in anger, anger.

FEEL IT.

It’s the only way to go through it.” Paul said to me, as we were discussing the problem of alcoholism in Finland.

His main language is Finnish. So when he speaks in English, it’s very simple. But I get it. And I love it. It comes out sounding like a poem.

Paul is saying we must go through the process of whatever it is we’re feeling. So when we’re in sorrow, then allow ourselves to be in sorrow.

Having spent many years working in a rehab for alcoholics in Helsinki, he’s seen how desperately people try to numb their pain, instead of dealing with the root of that pain. In the end, the only thing they create is a bigger mess, ruining their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

…I feel like I can relate to them.

For over a decade, I’ve tried to numb my pain through many ways.

It has led to many addictions that can be a whole blog post by itself.

The past one year and a half, I’ve been learning that there are better, healthier and more effective ways to deal with pain. Today, I’m just going to focus on one: Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel.

I’ve been having a hard time processing my feelings the last couple of days / weeks / months. Here I am, learning about love and sharing what I learn on The Love Culture. But I am highly aware, too, that these whole other spectrum of “dark” emotions are well and alive and brewing in me.

Anger

Grief

Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Fear

They’re not there all the time. At least not on the surface. But when it’s triggered, the rawness of the pain and the way I crumble, surprises me.

Seeing the way that I am when I’m in pain–and being made aware that I’m not much different from the person causing me pain when I’m hurt–just left me feeling absolutely lost in my own darkness. 

And then someone comes my way today, to remind me of my goodness and help me see the Light, within and without. I feel loved, supported and cared for. And it’s bringing me release. Which got me wondering…

Could this be the reason why we hold on to our hurt?

Is it a cry to be loved?

I believe the answer is, Yes.

This question and answer have, in the past, allowed me to let go of the need for justice or to set things right–at least, not in the heat of the moment. Understanding that both the perpetrator of pain and the one in pain is both crying out for the same thing–to be loved–frees me to open up my hands to receive the Love that I need from God, others and myself, to heal, instead of keeping it clenched in a fist of fury, ready to retaliate.

But this time around, I’m feeling conflicted.

Here I am, talking about love and compassion on The Love Culture, but I wasn’t feeling very loving or compassionate at the moment towards the source of my pain. I felt disgusted instead. And I felt bad for feeling this.

Then a friend comes along and gives me this reassurance:

“Dont ever be afraid to feel “negative” feelings.

They are just signals, not the be-alls and end-alls.

In the great silence of which you understand, there is the unfolding of His greatness and love, which can NEVER be taken away by our feelings.” – TW

I felt grateful for this reminder.

His permission (yes, we don’t need ‘permission’ so to speak, but when we’re stuck and unable to move, it helps to have someone say “IT’S OKAY, GO AHEAD”) to feel without condemnation, allowed me to navigate my way through this, by trying to understand,

“What are my “negative” feelings signalling?”

That I need Healing.

That I need more Love.

Both of which I can choose to receive in prayer, even in this time of pain.

What is your pain telling you? What are your “negative” feelings signalling? May your permission to feel, and your courage to face your darkness, give you the Understanding to Love and Be Loved.

Love,

Mish

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Love Is Allowing Yourself To Feel

“We must not numb our pain.

When in sorrow, sorrow.

When in anger, anger.

FEEL IT.

It’s the only way to go through it.” Paul said to me, as we were discussing the problem of alcoholism in Finland.

His main language is Finnish. So when he speaks in English, it’s very simple. But I get it. And I love it. It comes out sounding like a poem.

Paul is saying we must go through the process of whatever it is we’re feeling. So when we’re in sorrow, then allow ourselves to be in sorrow.

Having spent many years working in a rehab for alcoholics in Helsinki, he’s seen how desperately people try to numb their pain, instead of dealing with the root of that pain. In the end, the only thing they create is a bigger mess, ruining their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

…I feel like I can relate to them.

For over a decade, I’ve tried to numb my pain through many ways.

It has led to many addictions that can be a whole blog post by itself.

The past one year and a half, I’ve been learning that there are better, healthier and more effective ways to deal with pain. Today, I’m just going to focus on one: Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel.

I’ve been having a hard time processing my feelings the last couple of days / weeks / months. Here I am, learning about love and sharing what I learn on The Love Culture. But I am highly aware, too, that these whole other spectrum of “dark” emotions are well and alive and brewing in me.

Anger

Grief

Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Fear

They’re not there all the time. At least not on the surface. But when it’s triggered, the rawness of the pain and the way I crumble, surprises me.

Seeing the way that I am when I’m in pain–and being made aware that I’m not much different from the person causing me pain when I’m hurt–just left me feeling absolutely lost in my own darkness. 

And then someone comes my way today, to remind me of my goodness and help me see the Light, within and without. I feel loved, supported and cared for. And it’s bringing me release. Which got me wondering…

Could this be the reason why we hold on to our hurt?

Is it a cry to be loved?

I believe the answer is, Yes.

This question and answer have, in the past, allowed me to let go of the need for justice or to set things right–at least, not in the heat of the moment. Understanding that both the perpetrator of pain and the one in pain is both crying out for the same thing–to be loved–frees me to open up my hands to receive the Love that I need from God, others and myself, to heal, instead of keeping it clenched in a fist of fury, ready to retaliate.

But this time around, I’m feeling conflicted.

Here I am, talking about love and compassion on The Love Culture, but I wasn’t feeling very loving or compassionate at the moment towards the source of my pain. I felt disgusted instead. And I felt bad for feeling this.

Then a friend comes along and gives me this reassurance:

“Dont ever be afraid to feel “negative” feelings.

They are just signals, not the be-alls and end-alls.

In the great silence of which you understand, there is the unfolding of His greatness and love, which can NEVER be taken away by our feelings.” – TW

I felt grateful for this reminder.

His permission (yes, we don’t need ‘permission’ so to speak, but when we’re stuck and unable to move, it helps to have someone say “IT’S OKAY, GO AHEAD”) to feel without condemnation, allowed me to navigate my way through this, by trying to understand,

“What are my “negative” feelings signalling?”

That I need Healing.

That I need more Love.

Both of which I can choose to receive in prayer, even in this time of pain.

What is your pain telling you? What are your “negative” feelings signalling? May your permission to feel, and your courage to face your darkness, give you the Understanding to Love and Be Loved.

Love,

Mish

****

Michelle Tan is the Founder of The Love Culture ‎~ Inspiring A Loving Way Of Living. https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Her mission is to make space for Faith, Hope & LOVE through her writings, clothing line ROX/STA http://www.roxstastudio.com & music.