I used to be in the closet about my spirituality. I felt the need to hide how I felt about otherworldly things. Afraid people would think I was weird. What a relief it was when all that I was drawn to was being talked about openly as the eighties moved into the nineties. Subjects that had been relegated to the shadows were brought into the light. As we moved as a group into the 1990’s, a great awakening was going on and continues to be in play to this day. A massive group of seekers were looking for a new way to function, a new way to open up to our authentic selves. We were ready to embrace new ideas and were open to things beyond our present understanding of how things worked.
Oprah made a conscious choice to focus on the positive, to be open to new concepts, to bring new ideas before the American public. Her own awakening was then reflected out on her show as she changed the tenor of what she offered. She became a springboard for those of us hungry to learn new ways of being, to embrace our personal version of spirituality and sacred weirdness.
At a time in my life when I felt lost and undone, my sister-in-law Chris handed me Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach early one Spring. After reading several pages in March, I decided to go back and start at January 1 until I caught up to the present day. Oprah had Sarah on her show several times as this book became a literary phenomena. Sarah showed me how to appreciate what I had one day at a time. I was able to teach myself to shift the focus about what I didn’t have, or what wasn’t working, and look at all that was amazing and wonderful in my life. She used the seasons to flavor her musings and awaken her own authenticity and helped millions of us find our own. She led us out of the wilderness, one day at a time. She introduced us to the Gratitude Journal. She said doing it was non-negotiable. Using this tool began to change my perception of what my life looked like. Simple Abundance changed my life, on every level. Gratitude is a part of my daily ritual now.
Another important aspect about my journey has been acceptance of where others are on their journey. I don’t judge the space someone else is in anymore. Whether I like their behavior or not, whether I like their words or not, I understand that we are all on our own personal journey and are exactly where we are supposed to be in this moment. I do move away from people, though, who are negative and want to pull me into their abyss. I also move away from those who have yet to deal with their issues. We all have them, whatever form those issues take, and they can rule us until we do the work. Insecurity has sabotaged more than one relationship. It isn’t easy, doing the work and poking around in all of those internal dark corners, but the results are magnificent. Inner strength comes from knowing who you are, even the aspects of your personality that fall into the negative category. Making peace with the past is very healing. You learn that perfection doesn’t exist. Knowing who you are, warts and all, and accepting yourself, brings stableness and strength.
It can be hard to let go of deep hurts from our past. Some like to hold on to their old stories, even though they no longer serve them. When they are ready, they will embrace a new story, about empowerment and inner strength. Learning to bless those who have hurt us and let them go empowers us. Until you can do that, you are bound to the past and left powerless.
As I sat by the Tuolomne River, I entered into another realm of consciousness. As my sister Linda and I drove back to Los Angeles, we traveled down the center of California. Linda had brought a printout of my astrology chart from a disc she had bought. These were early days but my sister had found an astrology program. She also brought an astrology book so I could read about the aspects that were active in my chart. I was fascinated. Reading from the book sparked a life long interest in Astrology. On our way home, I found another tool that has helped me to navigate my life from that day to this.
Astrology is very complicated; nothing like a two line horoscope in the newspaper. It is very personal, like your very own map to be used to navigate your life. It continues to be an important part of my life now, twenty-five years later. An astrologer told me in my thirties that one of my life lessons was to learn to be autonomous. I asked him what that meant. “To be free of the good opinion of others,” he said. When I got home, I looked it up. The dictionary said “self-governing.”
It was good advice, but it took me years to fully understand what he meant. I was the classic good girl, trying not to rock the boat, or create a fuss, or offer a contradictory opinion. Swallowing my own words and feelings, thinking I wouldn’t be liked if I said something someone else didn’t want to hear. Now I know that just because you say yes or let people use you as a doormat doesn’t mean they will like you anyway. Just because you keep silent doesn’t mean they will like you any more or any less. Oprah calls it the ‘disease to please.’ The great thing about coming into your own is that the friends you have that are still there know who you are and love you anyway. Being the authentic version of who you are is as good as it gets. The other thing that is true ~ if you suppress who you are, YOU won’t like YOU very much.
I had to reclaim a large part of me that was lost to a violent act when I was quite young. It has been a long journey but I can honestly say that those moments that changed everything no longer hold sway over me. My past has been dealt with, and vanquished to a place where it can’t hurt me any longer.
Now my life is so fully integrated, I can no longer separate myself from the woman others see and the one I know inside. We are one and the same. Some people like me, some people don’t. I’m fine with that. Finally, I have autonomy. I am free of the good opinion of others. It is an amazing space to inhabit. That Astrologer would be so proud of me today. Warts and all.