A Curse

2019-07-04 17.51.11

“I feel I must be cursed.”

This was said months ago by one I care about, but who chose a few years ago to take a different path to feel more comfortable with his life.

I feel I must be cursed.

Brambles.

Unable to see through them or identify the things that hurt and tangle us as we try a different route. Or even to continue on the route we thought we were on.

It feels like every way is blocked even tho our path and purpose seem to be just on the other side of the thicket.

I get it.

We all do, because we all have moments like this.

Dark coming on, not enough to sustain us as we continue on our way, not knowing if we’ll get “there” — wherever “there” was supposed to be. Running out of resources and time, or vice versa. The things we need now— love, security, joy, means, pennies— running on empty and no signs that say “Food, Gas, Replenishment, 1 mile” or “It’s going to Be Okay, 5 miles” in sight.

And it’s always easier to feel burdened by a curse, something laid on from outside, than to sit quietly with the horror that maybe I brought it on myself, as I have, even if just from a simple, honest mistake. A mis-take, an error in the grasping of a circumstance I face in this moment.

I’ve felt that often, too, in these last few years, months, days. Looking forever behind me for the moment I took the turn that led to, as T.S.Eliot described for all of us in the 20th century: The Waste Land:

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief.

And the dry stone no sound of water…

 

Thank you T.S. Eliot. That is as close as I’ve ever read to how being cursed feels. A blockage put on us from outside ourselves, with a mysterious power, which dismantles our own light-force. Nothing we try to do to help ourselves works, for we can only see a heap of broken images…

…Until the moment we realize that maybe we are standing in merely a shadow at noon. Something we can step out of, if only we pick up a foot to test if the line between shadow and light is really impossible to breach. Maybe tip a toe first to see if it hurts, this line seemingly as impenetrable as a thicket.

I looked up “curse,” being me. I wondered about its etymology, its origin, its history, because when you understand where a word comes from, you can often understand the weight it also carries with it, as burden or as power. For nothing earthly is more powerful than words. They inspire. They kill. They darken others when of anger or hate. They enlighten when of love, with others, our selves, or our world.

“Curse” has no known source as a word. My faithful go-to Origins, by Eric Partridge, traces it back to Old English where it disappears into the swamp “o.o.o.”—of obscure origins—but he offers some guesses.

On one hand “curse” might come from a very old French, meaning to anger (coroz), which itself evolved from very old Latin corruptus, or corrumpere. Yes, akin to corrupt, which in itself carries the heavy weight of having broken up morally—or ruptured from—our light-filled self. Alas, no outer thing to blame here, no curse to reverse with a spell. It’s all inner struggle, these thick brambles that block seeing our way forward from this moment.

There is another possibility, Partridge notes, from a more modern (ok, just Middle) Latin. Perhaps a “curse” is a course, “a series of prayers, especially prayers of imprecation,” meaning we pray repeatedly against someone, certainly praying against ourselves in the process.

In either case, to feel accursed means we have ruptured with our light, our life force, our sense of mission and purpose while on earth. Worse perhaps we repeatedly pray words against ourselves in the process for a mis-take, something we didn’t intend to seize or take (or do?) but which hurts nonetheless.

No wonder brambles feel to be on every side.

The good news is that if we can pray at all in our dark despair, we can also choose to pray— to ask, to request, to woo—that which we seek to light us up inside. We can earnestly seek to mend our rupture within ourselves, so that in asking for direction, for the circumstances of our bramble to get better, we, too, are wooed back into the light of the stardust from which we began our journey. We can ask repeatedly that we be wooed back into love and loving our short time of life.

… I was neither

Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,

Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

For this is essential to living the life, the path, the purpose for which we are here and now

If you only had one prayer left—one last request—in this world, what would it be?

Be that now.

 

 

 

 

Being Alive

What does being alive feel like? Are you alive right now?

Silly question, yes, as if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this, of course.

But the important question is what else wouldn’t you be doing?

 No, this is not going to be one of those morose ‘Wanted a life, ‘live or dead’’ posts which encourages you to be reckless or, worse, ruthless, with your time, your heart, your responsibilities, your health, or most importantly, those you love, while in pursuit of your dreams.

It’s more tender than that, I hope.

It’s about what ‘alive’ feels like and how to fit feeling it into more moments, like the yummy jelly that, when one slathers it on a little too generously, a little too joyfully, a little too delightedly, it squishes out the sides of the peanut butter sandwich. That kind of feeling alive, licking it off, smiling at the ‘mistake’ and the utter sweetness of this moment overflowing with just a little more than is judged ‘necessary.’

That kind of alive.

 

There are a lot of “last looks” in my life right now. Those times when one looks and knows that it will be irretrievably different the next time.

Like the ‘last look’ at the ocean the night before flying home to a land-locked desert.

Or a last look at a garden in October.

 

Last night, I walked circles in my yard, accompanying a beloved companion who is in her last hours and moments alive here on Earth and is feeling restless. We walked through snow, through heavy snowflakes on the wind during a Spring storm, through star-studded night when the clouds suddenly lifted, through cold wind filled with frozen blossoms from our trees, and then slowly back into our warm house, only to repeat the journey every hour or so in the wee hours of the morning till dawn when she finally rested.

I was tired, yes, but she was more so. She knows her time is near; it’s obvious to all of us. So I couldn’t begrudge the time spent with her doing exactly as she pleased, or the cold night. It was full of ‘alive’ things to feel, to smell, to notice, to feel, I say again.

Instead I wondered what I’d do if, like her, I had the luxury of such knowing that life is lived moment to moment, not in years or in business cycles, just moment to moment living. (We all do have that luxury.)

Would I too stop and breathe deeply, aware of the depth of cold flowing inside my chest? Would I mind or marvel at the snowflakes thick on my eyelashes?

In watching her, I was shown how to be alive in this moment, for actually the snowflakes were cloaking my lashes as well, but I was observing, not necessarily feeling. I was observing her, alive, rather than feeling the wonder as well; I was feeling the cold under my coat and the sadness of the moment. She, beyond care for such things as time, simply lived the moment fully. It was then, in realizing this, that I too began to feel the wonder of the moment and the fullness of ‘alive’ and what it means, breathing cold air and seeing through cloaked flakes with her, nearby, together.

So are you alive? As you read this, Is there something sensual that awakens in you to the experience of just right now?

What does this have to do with being one’s best in this moment, or on one’s life path, or of feeling here for a purpose and a heart-filled task to do?

 

Everything, I think.

 I can’t say it was my purpose to be in outside in the night with her trapsing through ever more snow, hour by hour, but there is no one else to be so or to do it. It is just us and this time and this place. So no doubt it is my purpose and no doubt in memory it will be my honor, a call out of dense blank sleep to be at my best rather than cranky about the cold wind or the hour.

 

We are each called to moments in which to be alive, whether alone or with someone or something else, in which to feel a heart-full of love and gratitude, wonder and awe.

This is one now.

Blessings on you as you live it.

 Elizabeth Darby

 

 

 

Joy is the Essence of Success

Joy is the essence of  Success…

My teabag tag on this cold winter’s night.

Don’t you love gifts like this?  It is a winter’s night when the snow has melted slightly and turned to black ice, the moon grows full, and it is a deep cold. The frosted air and all its various contributions — the musky fox who darted through the yard a bit ago, car exhaust, someone’s passing cigarette smoke, the dog who has recently over eaten, and now a sweetly scented cup of spicy tea — clings close to the ground to join into a soupy, heady moment in which to be aware of life passing by.

And yet, this is just it . . . and thus the gift of a moment in time no matter the moment:

When one feels a success, one feels joyful.

When one is joyful, one is a success.

 

Yes, it’s that simple.

 

When do you feel joy?

 

When do you feel a success?

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to remember to feel either or both of these during many moments of each day or on a cold, winter’s night?

For feeling each or both is, in fact, a moment’s choice.

Choose it now and take a deep breath! If in this moment, you are able to connect to heartfelt joy, you are a success. And, if in this moment, you choose to feel a success — you are here doing good work, after all, right? Being your shining best in this moment? — then you feel joyful.

Round and round it goes, success to joy to success to joy…

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately. It seems there are so many recipes to achieve it and so many encouragements in the world to define and attain it. There was even an entire TED radio hour on it on a recent NPR show (good to listen to! Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/25/240777690/success ).

 

When I first heard this show several weeks ago, I scribbled notes immediately as I took issue with so much of what was discussed, for it seemed there was something missing from many of the definitions of success explored in that assembly of speakers.

And what I felt was missing was simply this:

Heart.  Shine,  Soul.

A sense of Being You, On Task and On Purpose.

A sense of being here to do specifically what you are here to do . . . And doing that.

Call it living one’s shine and using one’s gifts for this world.

Although we try to measure success in so many outward ways, as the Ted Radio Hour on NPR explored, the real measure of success is exactly what my teabag reminds me tonight:

Joy.

 

And that, simply, is what I hope any of you feel after working through my book or in working with me one-on-one.

Joy and Success: You are being You at your best and deepest heart-level.

I thank you, at the end of this year in this season of returning light and cold nights, for your joy, for your heartfelt connection in reading my thoughts, here or in my book, or even just for smiling after looking at my work here. Your many likes, nice comments and follows make me feel joyful and have helped to make Here You Begin, a tiny book of good intentions in a sea of self-help gurus, what I feel to be a success.

And so I thank you again!

If I were to define success, for any one of us, you know it would be this:

To feel that you are here, shining, doing your work, on purpose and on task, using your unique combo of talents and heart for this world and in this world.

And that makes everyone around us — as well as you and me— full of joy.

Thank you for daring to shine in whatever moment is before you in your life in this moment, right now.

Blessings!

Elizabeth Darby

Box of Life

It’s Advent. It’s the time of darker days leading to light.

It’s the time of year to quietly give away all of that  —

That

You know, the stuff sitting around — inside — which clutters the windowsill and prevents our shine from pouring out — whether through our eyes from our souls or from our heart/hearth and home into the dusk of shorter days of this time of our year.

And so, with longer nights, we are often faced with longer hours to look at the clutter of our hearts, souls, and living space.

So here’s is a little fill-in-the-blank for your soul:

Quickly, without looking really, fill in the following:

The real reason I can’t live this very moment, no matter how dark or busy or scheduled,

in joy, abundance, peace, poise, and power are:

1) _____________

2) _____________________

3) _________________________________

4) ____________________________________

5) ______________________________________

You might find a lot of name-calling when you fill in the blanks:

They didn’t, He refused, She said…

Name the “They” in your Life, or the He or the She’s that have somehow become crowded in with you in that clutter.

There’s not much space for the answers.

The reason is I want you to write really, really small…

Because these ‘reasons’ are making you live really, really small…

Now then put these  ‘reasons’ for living small in a plain cardboard box.the box of life

Why?

Better to do it outside yourself rather than keep that box of small-life inside, no?

Now, what to do with it?  Obviously it’s nothing of you— your best you shining and full of light of a life on task and on purpose — that wants to be handed on, given away, or wrapped into a nasty surprise for others…

No, this is a present for your self. You’ve put all your feelings of small and reasons for living any further moment of your life in a small way into this box.

Time for transformation:

Now go through your little list and change the pronoun to “I”…

In doing so, you’ve transformed your box of ‘reasons for living small’ to a box of choices for living your life fully, by realizing the ‘reason’ is a personal one:

If a She didn’t love you, you’ve transformed it to “I don’t love me”;

If a He let you down, you’ve transformed it into “I let me down”;

 If They won’t accept you, or believe in you, or support you,  you’ve transformed it into

“I won’t accept me, or support me, or believe in me”…

Open your box, look at your reasons for living small, as if in a box, and change them into

‘I … “  but also add:

“But now I can…’

The magic of this present to yourself is you can end each of your ‘living small’ pinchy reasons by this magic of the season incantation:

‘But now I can… support me, believe in me, love me, be reliable to me…

 — with light, love, and heart and soul and light—

 now I can.”

And as you do, you are letting the light —

of your soul and your being,

your shine,

and the infinite energy of the Universe which animates you into life,

moment to moment, breath to breath —

Into your personal Box of Life, clearing darkness,

allowing the light to flow in, out and into this moment of your life-time  here.

No open box can hold the light, after all..

Now you can radiate shine and leave that smallness behind.

And now you can choose:

Live now, in this moment, no matter how busy, scheduled, or dark,

shining and feeling it from inside.

You are choosing to live On Task and On Purpose, shining brightly,

beaming out of your Box of Life.

Choose light, choose love, choose abundance, choose joy,

choose using your unique talent,

and see what happens… now!

The light is soon returning to us; Life is here now.

Blessings on your day

and thank you to each and everyone who has honored me with

a moment of their time spent reading and writing to me his year!

Elizabeth Darby

You Have a Choice

You have a choice, right in this moment.

“Choose not to worry.”

Ernst Holmes wrote this as his second of recommendations to live well.

“Worry is an acquired habit. . . . You didn’t worry when you were a child. . . .  Loose [the past] and let it go and look forward to the future with hope. Build up a great idea of yourself the way you would like to be and work toward it, knowing that God is your partner and friend, and wills you to be happy. Think, feel, and live this.”

How much of  worry — anyone’s worry — is fear?

Most of it, it would seem. Fear of what’s to come; fear of what has been; fear for won’t be or will be that isn’t wanted…. worry is fear of those things out of our control, moment to moment.

And as the proverbial truth reminds us, worrying is akin to praying for what we don’t want, keeping it present and with us, a fear shadowing our every step.

Unfortunately worry also defines our steps — was that a stumble? A wrong path? Am I in danger? Will I fall or flail?…

So how can we choose to not worry, to live like children of light again, when worry trips us so? It seems almost to easy to say just let it go and look to a future with hope” when the shadows are marring our view.

The answer is in the action of it:  to choose to Work.  Holmes suggests the sure way: To envision a great idea of yourself and then work — work toward it, work in the moment, lean into idea.

It seems to me there are two working ways into the light from the shadow of worry, as actions take us out of the land of internal shadow.  Use either one, as the magic is in the work of working toward your vision, knowing you are not alone in it:

Here’s the first:

People don’t know this, but I’m really, really good at:

_______________________________________

________________________________________

 

. . . And I like doing these things.

 

Here’s why:

In feeling — leaning into — why you love doing what you’re really good at, you begin the work of building into the vision of you as you wish to become. Even just feeling that great idea of you, and then working toward it, seems to loose the worries, moment by moment.

Here’s another way to loose those worries:

I care deeply about

___________________________

___________________________

and I’m good at …

___________________________

___________________________

So clearly the World needs me to put these together

in this way as my work while I’m here:

_________________________________

_________________________________

Finding a purpose — your purpose — in the world and actively leaning into it, moment by moment, brings light into the shadows that plague us in the worries and fears. Focusing on what we care deeply about strengthens us, as acting On Task and On Purpose, we find we are working, in light and shining light out.

Action looses the worries and the fears — the choice is yours to take it.

Walk, no Act, in light and with blessings today…

Elizabeth Darby

What a Success!

How do you define Success?

How do you define your success?

Is it how you define success for someone else?

If you have moola-$ and no health, is that a success?

What if you have health and no moola-$, is that a success for you? Today? Now? In this moment of your life or for all time?

If someone else you have deemed “a success” has moola-$ and oh-by-the-way a little later on, you read headlines of his or her living (enduring) in a state of no health (whether addictions, self-destructions, or tragic illnesses), is that Success?

Does that life-experience still count as being in the “What a Success” category — in your estimation?

If you have plenty of moola-$ and no family, is that Success?

Repeat the question for those you esteem: If they have “plenty” but alas did you hear/read about their family… do you still consider Success to be in the equation by your definition?

If you feel “What a Success” about your life’s daily journey thus far … and yet no paparazzi are on your curb, is that Success?

After all, we wouldn’t know about the Success of those we esteem if it weren’t for the paparazzi capturing it for us, would we? And that makes them a … Success?

So “What a Success!!” really quickly gets  down to what you desire, what you want to experience, the costs of trading one success for another.

How do you define success as a Whole Life experience? Because like life insurance, you either buy the Whole Life or you buy the Term insurance — and be assured that they cost very differently and the return is very different.

Defining for you — only you — “What a Success” means also gets down to being willing to admit that what we esteem in others and how we define their Success we may — or may not — want to apply to our own lives.

Maybe this will help: A question from my book and workshops:

To Live Each Day I need*:

1) ___________________________

2) ___________________________

3) ___________________________

4) ___________________________

5) ___________________________

I might want these things:

____________________

____________________

____________________

But I really Need:

____________________________________________

*Need vs Want. Things you Need are things your Soul can’t live without.

The things you need might vary from the basics of a roof over your head to food on your plate. Needs might also include a big sky overhead, peace and quiet, or urban verve, or the connection of a family or a home-refuge nearby, or to be as far way from family as possible!  Among the Wants might be the kind of roof and how big a roof you want it to be and the quantity of the food on your plate.

Needs might include health to enjoy your life successes, large and small, like the energy to join in with the laughter of a loved one, rather than collapsing into a coma at night or feeling irritated at the humor — What are they so happy about?

Needs might also include Time — like having time to lovingly dry your child’s tears on any given moment of a day… (What did you have him or her for, if not to be available when s/he needs you?)

However, both Needs and Wants however defined will end up driving your life, your hours spent, your joy in your moments while here, and ultimately how you define Success in your time spent here on Earth.

Too often the Wants take over.

So Be Clear.

It’s what you need that will keep your Work true to You. . . 

And in being true to You and your definition of Success, your Work will be created more easily and joyfully….

If you are meeting your needs and are clear on how you define your Success, then it’s your paparazzi moment, if so desired:

Take a photo right now, even if only in your mind’s perfect camera, and frame it…

What a Success!

Blessings on your successful day, wherever in the world you are and however you define it!

Elizabeth Darby

New Year, New You, New Spirit, New Life, New Work

Ten minutes with yourself, for ten days . . .and a new path starts.

Everything is new at the turn of the calendar, isn’t it?

We have high hopes, clean slates, shiny new pages to fill in of a year yet to come . . .

Yet perhaps there is an aching of the heart or spirit that still lingers underneath all that gloss of the Holidays.

It is the ache of doubt, either of self or of life itself. Like the still-unwrapped present under the tree that you know contains the fruitcake sent by someone who cares, but doesn’t really know You or your likes or hopes or dreams, you want to open this coming year and feel, well, delicious about the prospects rather than disappointed.

Will this year be different?

When.

Will I feel more joyous?

When.

Will I have work?

When.

Will I have more life? Or more joy in life? Or more work I love in each day of this life-time here?

When.

When will I feel I’m on task, here on purpose, being something that is shiny from within rather than merely doing something to cover over the circles under they eyes from all these When’s that creep through me at night?

The way through a forest of Whens is through answering the questions about yourself that call you to being True — to You —  from your heart and spirit, but also from the child hiding inside of you, aching for you to turn on the light and Listen!!

Take a risk:  Ask yourself what you are Not in this moment.

Then ask that small child within what would take for it to readily to pick up and go with you on the year’s adventure ahead, hand in hand?

Saying Not me is an act of clearing the decks; now saying

I’m here, I’m listening,

is the start to beginning to be You.

There are a few new questions on the Question of the Moment page to help you get started on your New Year, New You and Your Life and Work. Here You Begin . . .

Joyous New Year to You!

Elizabeth Darby