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.

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“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

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Life is an Invitation to Grow. Turn your Struggle into Strength, Pain into Gain.

Today, I am recommitted to turning my Struggle into Strength, and my Pain into Gain. I feel motivated as I regain the clarity that Life is an Invitation to Grow.

It took days and weeks and months of struggling to return to this point of awareness. For the longest time, I’ve been struggling with the question, “Why me?”

Why am I caught in a bad situation I can’t seem to walk away from, since “the situation” involves family? Why does the suffering never end, and why can’t things ever be “normal” for us? Why are we being stretched to the limit and challenged in the areas of Addiction?

It’s heartbreaking. But it’s undeniable we’ve also been pushed harder and deeper to higher and stronger levels of Growth we never would’ve gotten on our own, had there not been an urgent, painful, and pressing need to.

Meanwhile, as the wrestling with the Pain of my life continues, my friend, too, shared her struggle with the card she’s been dealt with in her life.

“Why do others have it so much easier? Why must I have it so much harder? Why do some people  get everything without even trying as hard? Why must I keep on waiting? How much longer? It’s not fair.”

I understand her pain. It’s true the world’s unfair. But though we can’t always choose what we’re given in life, we get to make the best out of what we’ve got. It is a powerful choice. And as of Sunday, it became clear again:

My battle ground is also my training ground.

I can make full use of this challenge I am up against to gain more awareness on the areas of Addiction. In time to come, this awareness will help me with my own personal Addictions, and countless more out there.

Our Awakening, awakens others. In this way, the Awakening continues.

But it begins with us stepping up to the plate. Daring to risk the fear and discomfort of “facing the dragon”, instead of running away from dealing with what may feel like the toughest, most miserable time of our lives.

What struggles are you up against this week? What challenges are finding its way to you? What pain are you forced to grapple with? Could it be Life’s Invitation for you to Grow? Whatever situation you find yourself stuck in, you still get to choose. Choose to grab hold of it until you learn something from it. Choose to grow even better from it.

Choose GROWTH. Choose Life. Chose You.

Love,
Mish

The Love Culture
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“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

“Addiction is always a poor substitute for love.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

Addiction is always a poor substitute for love. – Dr. Gabor Maté, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, p 259

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“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

“Our most painful emotions point to our greatest possibilities, to where our authentic nature is hidden.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“Once a student’s eyes are open, instructors appear everywhere. Everything can teach us. Our most painful emotions point to our greatest possibilities, to where our authentic nature is hidden.

People who we judge are our mirrors. People who judge us call forth our courage to respect our own truth.

Compassion for ourselves supports our compassion for others.

As we open to the truth within, we hold safe a space of healing for others. They may do the same for us.

Healing occurs in a sacred place located within us all: “When you know yourselves, then you will be known.” – Dr. Gabor Maté, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, p 421

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“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

“…no human being is ever beyond redemption.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“Not every story has a happy ending, … but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.

How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.” ― Dr. Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

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“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

“When you don’t know how to say no, your body will say it for you.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“When you don’t know how to say no, your body will say it for you.” – Dr. Gabor Maté. “When we have a symptom, or an illness, it’s not enough to say ‘How do I get rid of this? How do I wage a battle against this?’.

There’s another way to look at it.

…Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They’re actually yours. They’re specifically yours, designed specifically for you, by a part of you that loves you more than anything else.

The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. You’re not going in the right direction and there’s something pricking you on the side that says, ‘Look Here. This way.’

The part of you that loves you so much, that doesn’t want you to lose that chance, will go to extreme measures to wake you up. It will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen.

What else can it do? That’s its purpose.

…Most of the stress of human beings are emotional ones. And the biggest stress of all is trying to be who you’re not. 

So the maintenance of health really depends on knowing who you are, getting in touch with your body, getting in touch with your self, being mindful of all that, and honoring who you are.” 

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“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

In the wake of Violence, Anger, Death, Blood and Rage, how does GRACE fit in the picture? Does Grace even matter?!

I am wrestling with this question all day today.

In the wake of Violence, Anger, Death, Blood and Rage, how does GRACE fit in the picture? Does it even matter? How? Why?

Suddenly talking or thinking about Grace, Compassion, Kindness and Love in the midst of senseless violence and tragedies seems like a big fat joke. It’s like preaching that unicorns are real and that we’re living in a world of butterflies, bunnies and rainbows. Let’s talk JUSTICE!

I felt JUSTIFIED in feeling what I felt, liking what I liked on FB, thinking what I thought in private, and saying what I said in public. For me. the reactions of fear, anger and furious demonstrations against this act of violence is the Normal and Healthy thing to do! GRACE is irrelevant!

But to my growing annoyance, a still, calm, voice from within keeps stirring and nudging me on, to go deeper still, and find a place for Grace.

I had to wrestle back. But does GRACE even have a place in reality?!

YES.

Where? How?

YOU.

I was silenced for a while… as I am gradually reminded of my recent experience at a Silent Retreat in Chiang Mai. Free from the usual distractions and addictions-day after day, night after night-I was Awakening to my unconscious roots of Bitterness, Anger and Rage.

Our inner struggles were gently revealed, through meditation, Scriptures, prayers, journalling, dreams and personal Spiritual Direction sessions.

What I found most healing through these times of Awakening was the gentle experience of Grace. The feeling and knowing that my Darkness does not put out or put off the Light. But that Grace embraces ALL I AM.

In these times of Awareness, I was constantly reminded of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and how he was redeemed by Grace. There was so much Anger, Bitterness and Hate in him, and he is justified in feeling so. But he was given a way out of his pit of despair. He found a whole new life story.

“For I had come to hate this world
This world that always hated me

Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!
One word from him and I’d be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom,

…Another story must begin!” Valjean’s Soliloquy, Les Miserables.

I am reminded that the ones who would understand the Value of Grace in the midst of Violence, Anger, Death, Blood and Rage are the ones who have taken a long, hard look in the mirror and recognised the Violent, in themselves. The Killer, in themselves. The Rage and Anger, in themselves.

It is those who have seen and recognise that their true source of Pain, is the Pain within.

It is through the Awareness of our deepest darkness, that we understand how Grace–the unmerited Kindness, Compassion, Patience and Love extended to us while we’re stuck in this place–can redeem us again.

It is through the Awareness that we too have been a Source of Pain and cause others Pain, that we see where Grace has shown up for us and helped us to see, acknowledge, heal and grow through the pain.

“But the question is, how can people be with their pain?

Only if they sense some compassion from somebody. As another teacher says, only when Compassion is present will people allow themselves to see the truth,” Dr. Gabor Maté.  

It’s when Grace is present in spite of ourselves, that we will find the courage to see the truth of ourselves, and seek the help we need to heal, and grow for the better. There is a place for Grace in this world.

It is the path to Freedom.

And it begins with YOU.

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“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