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Posts Tagged ‘challenge’


Earlier this week I learned the very unpleasant tidbit of information that a former colleague of mine had betrayed my trust, and that this had in turn contributed to my losing my job. Was I livid? You better believe it. Did I want to immediately lash out and confront this person? Affirmative. I have always prided myself on being someone that doesn’t take crap from anyone, someone who is able to stand up for herself and fight back. “Nobody better mess with Jeannie Page!” had been a life-long credo…

Thankfully I had been on my way to yoga class when I got this news. Furious from the news, feeling absolutely betrayed by someone I had trusted, and completely keyed up as a result, I knew that I had to calm myself and meditate on the issue. Once on the mat, I began to breathe deeply. As I moved through the poses I focused deeply on the issue at hand. What was the right response? Would I email this person, tell them that I knew what they had done, and essentially tell them off? Here it was 4 months later since I’d lost my job. Would there be any point to confronting this person? Would it help me in any way?

Well, my main purpose with starting this blog was to write about life’s challenges, with the intention of approaching them from a more enlightened space. I immediately recognized that I was faced with an opportunity to do just that. I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation long enough to know all too well about the human ego. I knew immediately that my response of anger, my desire to retaliate, was an entirely natural human response… but that it was in fact a response of the ego. My ego had been wronged and my ego wanted revenge. But what would that accomplish? It really didn’t matter WHAT or WHOM had contributed to me losing my job. The fact of the matter was that I had already lost the job and there was no turning back.

I knew there was only one right answer, one enlightened answer. The answer was to do nothing, to say nothing, and to simply rise above it. Now this certainly would leave my ego feeling entirely unsatisfied, but I recognized that the way to truly have strength in this situation was to walk away from it and move beyond it. I had to be stronger than my ego. But beyond that, I also recognized that I had an opportunity to take this to a place of even higher vibration: a place of gratitude. You see, I actually owe this person a “thank you”, for they have helped to liberate me from the chains of corporate oppression and to release me from a very unhealthy situation. They have allowed me to make a much-needed shift in my life and to align with my true path, a path of higher awareness, conscious creation and {hopefully!} inspirational writing.

So, how am I going to react? I am simply sending thoughts of gratitude.

And I say to you, that if you find yourself in my position, and having been betrayed or frankly screwed over by someone…stop and think for a minute. Find the silver lining in the situation, look for the good that has come from it (or that WILL come from it!), and instead of seeking revenge, send them thoughts of gratitude.

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Today a dear friend of mine sent me the following quote:

If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.”

I don’t know who said that quote, other than to say that it came from a Chinese Fortune Cookie: the little nuggets of wisdom that they are.

I’m not sure if this friend intended it, or if it was “accidental,” but it was poignantly timed with an idea that I had posted earlier in the day, about the fact that the Wheel of Fortune is always turning. I wanted to get across the idea that although we may have tough times, that seem hard to bear, that during those times we are simply at the bottom of the wheel; and as the wheel is perpetually turning, it does mean that we will inevitably, in a matter of time, be back up at the top of the wheel again, experiencing good times. The rainbow will follow the rain.

The responses that I got to this message really made me think. While I intended it to be an inspirational message of hope, it occurred to me that there are a couple of ways that we can choose to look at this metaphor, and most of us have been on both sides of this coin: We can of course see that as the wheel spins, that there will always be hard times, and we can fear, even dread those times. But the other way that we can choose to view it, is that even those hard times are a gift: that without those low times, we cannot fully appreciate the high times. And instead of fearing them, we can embrace them for the wisdom and growth… and perspective… that they bring us.

Through my own experiences, I have come to fully believe that the pain and sorrow that we feel in our lives, is directly proportionate to the joy and elation that we are capable of feeling; meaning that if you experience the lows, viscerally, then you will experience the highs that much more ecstatically. This has been my experience throughout my life. For that reason, I am grateful, truly, for all of the pain and hard times that I have had in my life, for I know that out of those times comes an ever greater and more powerful capacity for joy.

In the type of yoga that I practice, which is based on Tantric philosophy, we talk a lot about the darkness and the light, and the idea that you cannot have one without the other. You cannot experience light without experiencing the darkness that comes before it. And so we practice embracing both sides, the dark and the light, the yin and the yang, the Shiva and Shakti energy.

When I opened my email and read the quote about the rainbow, it solidified this idea for me. If we do not live through and tolerate the rain, we would never be able to experience the rainbow. I don’t know about you, but even if it means living through the rain, the metaphorical hard times, the bottom of the Wheel of Fortune, I am not willing to give up the rainbow…

A special thank you to Jules for being my inspiration today.

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We as humans can be such a stubborn race. We often think that we know what is best for us, and have a tendency to obstinately stick to a path which may not actually be the right one for us.  Our own complex nature is further complicated by the fact that society teaches us to never give up, to set goals and to never veer away from those goals, no matter what. But what if those goals are in fact not the right goals for us? What if that which we think is best for us is actually not? What if that which we are pursuing is only a result of societal conditioning and not based on what our heart or spirit actually desires? What if the Universe actually knows better than we do?

It has been my experience that whatever the scenario, there are signs all around us, and within us, which can help us to decipher if we are in fact on the correct course. For one, is our own internal guidance. We’ve all had that pit in our stomach, that awful feeling of tension that something just doesn’t feel right. Thankfully that is one of our body’s most obvious “warning” signals. In times of trouble or in situations where we might be headed down the wrong path, the gut can kick in and give us that knot feeling. But how many of us have ignored that feeling and found a way to talk ourselves out if it meaning anything?

I have learned first hand that to ignore that gut feeling is a mistake. Now, with experience and with 20/20 hindsight, I am able to see that every time that I had that gut feeling, it was my body, my spirit, trying to warn me against something that was not right for me: whether it was a relationship, a job, or another type of decision. Of course, as I’m a stubborn human, in most instances I ignored the gut, and in all of those situations I blindly stumbled  further into situations that were not right for me, that were not aligned with my higher purpose, and I found myself in more difficult and complex situations that in turn took longer and messier manners by which to extricate myself.

In addition to our own internal guidance, the Universe is also constantly giving us signs and indications of which way to go, which way to turn, which path to follow. Most of us are completely oblivious to those signs and even those of us that are aware of them, are often too cynical ourselves to believe or to trust that they mean anything. I’ve learned that to ignore such signs is a huge missed opportunity.

Life is not meant to be difficult. Of course there are always difficult and painful experiences in life, for all people, as that is part of being human and all difficult experiences are opportunities for growth. But overall, life should be good, it should be joyful. We’ve all heard the phrase “go with the flow.” It is true that in those times when we are able to let go and “go with the flow” that life tends to flow more freely and easily. We are not met with as many obstacles. I’m sure you can all point to examples of this in your own lives, when you found yourself aligned on the right path and life seemed to just go…smoothly.

Alternatively, when we are being too stubborn to go with the flow, when instead we are trying to swim upstream, life is hard. We are met with constant obstacles and challenges, nothing seems to go our way, no matter how hard we try. So it is of course in our nature to try harder, and we dig in deeper, having been taught to never give up. The problem with doing that, is that because we are already swimming upstream, by digging in deeper and being stubborn, we are only creating a stronger current to have to swim against. We are only making our situation more difficult. In these situations the Universe is trying to give us the message that we are pursuing the wrong path, that we need to let go and go with the current.

There are many clear examples of this in my own life. The most compelling for me, were my years living in Los Angeles. I spent two years living in LA, and because I dearly loved the climate, the scenery and the spiritual connection I felt with LA, I tried desperately to make my life there work. But no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t working out. First off I had moved there to fight for a man I loved, only to be left rejected and heartbroken. I found myself in a brand new city where I had virtually no friends. I couldn’t find work for months on end, and then when I finally did find work, I was laid off only to find myself out of work for another extended period. I applied for so many jobs, and as a master of networking, I worked my network to the bone. I constantly met people for lunch, set up informational interviews, hosted my own MeetUp group in order to meet people and network, I got myself out there. But nothing seemed to come through for me, and not only on the professional front, but also on the dating front. I tried and tried, I fought and I toiled to make my life work in LA, but nothing seemed to give.

On many occasions I thought to myself that clearly things weren’t working out, that clearly I wasn’t meant to stay in LA, and that I should move to San Francisco. But I was stubborn. I wanted to stay in LA and I was determined to make it work. I dug in my heels and continued to fight to stay in Los Angeles. I was going to make it work, damn it!

It wasn’t until June of 2009 that things began to change for me. That month I went on a yoga retreat to Peru, with a group of yogis from the San Francisco area. Upon hearing my story, none of them could understand why I was staying in LA and they all encouraged me to move to San Francisco. When I returned home from Peru, I thought long and hard about what they had said. After two years of fighting, it was clear to me that things were not working out in Los Angeles (for whatever reason that was greater than my mere mortal understanding), so I decided to take the chance on San Francisco.

On August 1, 2009 I moved to San Francisco for a 1-month trial, to see what would happen. Five days later a job offer literally fell in my lap and the next thing I knew I was packing up my apartment in Los Angeles and was moving to San Francisco. It was a complete whirlwind. My life changed, dramatically, overnight. The shift was so sudden, that I realized immediately the poignancy of the event. I realized that it was the moment that I had STOPPED fighting, stopped being stubborn and digging in my heels about staying in Los Angeles, and it was the moment that I opened myself up to the idea of something else, that everything began to flow for me. I could literally see the image of myself paddling like crazy against the current, and then in the instant that I surrender, the boat turns around and I start to ride the current downstream. No more fighting, no more kicking and screaming.

There are two morals to this story: The first is that even though we may think we know what is best for us, we may very well be wrong. If we only open ourselves up to it, the Universe may have something very different, and even better than we can imagine,  in store for us.  The second is that we are guided, by both our own spirit and other Universal forces. The signs are all around us and within us. And the minute we start paying attention to those signs, and the minute we stop trying to swim upstream and instead go with the flow, that is when life will truly begin to flow freely.

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photo by Cornell University Library, via PhotoRee

We’ve all had friends or loved ones that we can see headed for the proverbial “train-wreck:” When the person in question is so deeply entrenched in their own drama that they are blinded to what others can objectively see from the outside. So what do you do in this situation? How do you help someone that has gotten so far off the tracks? It’s not an easy answer.

But, we’ve all been there, now haven’t we? How many of us have dated the guy that we insisted up and down was the “one,” when all of our friends can see that it is a toxic and unhealthy relationship? Or how many of us have been stuck in an unhappy job situation, but found a million ways to justify why it’s the best thing for our career, despite our friends telling us to move on? We’ve all been there. Probably too often to count. I would like to think that we learn from these scenarios and that with increased wisdom we can avoid repeating the same patterns again in the future. Some of us do, some of us don’t. Some of us need to repeat it again and again until we finally learn the lesson!

So I come back to my original question. If you are the onlooking friend, watching someone agonize through an unhealthy situation, and they do not want to hear what others can see so clearly, what do you do? I have learned this the hard way- the best answer is “nothing.” The simple answer is that they are not yet ready to hear it. Now I’m of course not saying that you shouldn’t intervene if someone is ready to jump off a bridge! Nothing that literal! I’m talking more about the emotional life dramas in which we all get wrapped up. If there is one thing I have learned through years of challenging experiences, it is that we all have to learn these lessons for ourselves. 100 friends could tell me I’m with the wrong guy, and they could all be 100% right, but it doesn’t matter. If I’m not ready to admit that to myself, nothing that anyone can say or do will convince me of that fact. I can only come to that conclusion in my own time.

It is also my belief that we are all on this Earth to learn different lessons, that when we incarnated into this life, we chose key challenges throughout our life, to help us grow and evolve as souls. If there is any truth to that, then that means that each experience, no matter how painful or difficult, is invaluable and not to be missed. And as much as none of us want to deal with pain or strife in our lives, it is the most valuable tool for learning. I have a favorite saying that a wise person once said to me: “the only way out is through.” To truly learn the lessons that we were put on this Earth to learn, we must walk our own paths, we must walk through whatever trials and tribulations are set before us.

So if you have a friend or loved one that you see headed for a “train-wreck,” step back and allow them to experience their Karma, to walk through and into their own learning. Send them light and love, knowing that you will be there for them when they get to the other end of the tunnel.

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