Does praying for something actually push it away from us? This terrifying question taunted me as I listened to Neale Donald Walsh’s “Conversations With God.” I’ve been praying my whole life. Whether it was a prayer I’ve been given as a child or my own melodramatic pleas, I consider my prayer relationship pretty strong. But (and picture a bolt of lightening and ominous thunder) I suddenly realized My prayers usually consist of me ASKING God for something.
“What’s wrong with that?” You may ask. “I ask God for things all the time. The health of my family. A flashy new car. Less cellulite on my fat upper thighs.” And that’s cool, except for the fact that the act of asking is a statement that it is not there.
“Uhhhhh. It’s NOT there. Have you seen my thighs? I haven’t worn shorts in five years.”
OK. Trust me, my thighs have cellulite, too. But stay with me on this one. I’m going to quote directly so I don’t mess it up. “You will not have that for which you ask, nor can you have anything you want.”
Have you ever noticed that whatever you’re going through at any given moment, life speaks to you with the exact message you need to hear? Whether you want the advice or not? I mean, for months now I’ve been hearing a small still voice during mediation saying, “Waking up at 5am would be helpful to your writing career.” To which I keep responding with a resounding, “Nope.” (OK. I managed to wake up at 7:45 this morning. And I only hit snooze once so if that’s not progress I don’t know what is!)
I’ll tell you why I HATE New Year’s resolutions. I never complete them. Not even a little bit. Statistically no one does. OK I didn’t actually look up any facts about this but come on, unless your resolution was brush your teeth every day, most people conveniently forget about their resolutions after the first 30 days. Or 5. And then that failure leaves me frustrated and ringing in another New Year crying while listening to Ed Sheeran and singing to my cat. Just kidding. I was crying because his love songs are so beautiful. And I didn’t sing to my cat. I danced with him.
And sitting here thinking about my life, as someone with no job, is not married or has any kids, you'd think I'd be freaking out about THAT. Nope, what I AM freaking out about is wrinkles. And bags under my eyes. And figuring out how I can possibly win the lottery to afford the $1,500 of filler I CLEARLY need.
It's been four days since I've been officially out of work. A huge amount of emotion has run through me. Strangely, I had many feelings of sadness due to leaving this job. Not because I love serving people at a restaurant. (or at my old place of work being their actual servant!) I think I mourned the loss of community. Now, every day I'm by myself. And while I definitely crave more alone time to be productive, I'll also miss being a part of something bigger than myself. Of course, this is the time to create something NEW to be a part of that is bigger than myself! But that leads me to my next fear... how do I do that???
I have received some very scary news. I’ve been laid off from my job. And since then there are a million thoughts running through my head. What’s going to happen to me? Why are my employers such jerks? Do I have a tent anywhere? Cuz it’s looking like I’ll be homeless.
Of course most of the scary thoughts that pop into my head are gross exaggerations, but it brings up a very valid point: how do we deal with anxiety and stressful situations without our heads exploding?
An author named Brad Warner wrote a book called It Came From Beyond Zen! The book cover is complete with cool Sci-Fi lettering and a Buddhist monk entangled by a green slimy monster with 7 eyes. The blurb about his book mentioned he uses humor to put classic Buddhist teaching into modern language. He also used to be in a punk rock band and wrote another book called Don't Be a Jerk. My kind of guy. I was sold. I mean clearly our life purposes are the same. Except for the part where he's an ordained Buddhist Zen monk and I'm a waitress. And the part he was in a punk rock band and I still struggle to get from a G chord to a C chord on my guitar. And he knows who Dogen was and I had no idea. OK. Enough. We both don't take meditation so seriously we wear Mala prayer beads to breakfast and drink boba tea while dissecting our own auras. Good enough for me.
Today is Day 21 of Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 day meditation challenge Desire and Destiny. Hallelujah!!! At the top of the meditation Deepak congratulated me for completing the 21 day challenge. (It's pre-recorded. He doesn't know it actually took me 45. But who's counting?) The centering thought of this very special mediation is, "My Destiny is joy." And it all focused on the idea that nothing is too extraordinary. If you can dream it, then you can do it. So go ahead, dream a bigger dream for yourself. I LOVED this meditation especially. I actually listened to it two days in a row because I was awaiting good news and expected to write you a jubilant conclusion to my meditation journey to prove that dreams really do come true.
Except when they don't.
And we're in the home stretch!!! Day 20 of Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 Day meditation challenge Desire and Destiny. I've learned a lot on the journey. #1: Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. #2: Sometimes it's OK not to hit every single deadline as long as you're making progress and enjoying yourself on the way. And #3: I need to learn social media and marketing because at this rate I'll grow my page slower than my grandma can figure out how to send an email. And that is SLOW.
But I really have learned a lot on this journey, along with my fair share of struggling. The biggest perk has been that the meditations give me a thought to focus on in the midst of my many emotional mood swings, peppered with anxiety and a dollup of depression.
But today let's focus on the centering thought of the day. "I play. I create. I succeed." Deepak explains that the more time we spend playing and "dancing through life like a child," the more creative and productive we will actually become. This is a HUGE message to me because I often feel anxiety whenever I take time off from trying to further my career. (Oh my God I'm 34. Practically dead. There's no time for FUN!!!!) In my head I'm wasting most of my life away working at the hotel so any little time off I should be working more on my career. But as the saying goes, "All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy." Or girl. If you must be politically correct. And it's true. Whenever I have a deadline, if I force creativity too much I just end up with one major writer's block. Or headache. Or stomachache because I stress eat.