"What am I doing?" is the most frequent question I ask as I let go of my most recent job and relationship. The answer always comes back the same: "You are being true to yourself. You are living your Truth."
But I am falling into nothing. "This is crazy," I say to myself. "No job, no security, saving good-bye to someone who loves me, whom I love."
Then my inner voice pipes in. "I am not at peace. There is something different that I need." It is up to me to find out what that is.
In the process of letting go of all that is no longer me, I am becoming an expert at grieving, at saying "good-bye" to the old me. So many tears, so much grief. It feels like industrial strength let go. It is not pretty and it is not much fun, either. Maybe I should take some steps to create a new life right now.
"Okay, let's get a spiffy new job. Resumes, resumes, resumes. Kick 'em out there. You're qualified. You can do any number of things really, really well. You can get some big, important job and do something even bigger and more important for the world. Yahoo, go for it, girl!"
Nothing happens. Nothing. Another big pep talk. "Kick out more resumes." Crank, Crank, Crank, nothing, I look at the bulletin board over my work desk. Leads, leads, and more leads, all leading nowhere.
"STOP! Enough already. It's not happening. My life is not happening."
It doesn't seem to matter what I do right now. Doing and doing and more doing has only led to a pile of doo-doo. It's just not happening. Maybe I am not supposed to be working right now. I've worked very hard for a long time. Perhaps it's time to just stop. Stop everything.
I decide to try an experiment. For the next two weeks, I am only going to do what I feel "pulled" to do. I'll just tune in to Spirit and listen to my Self. I will follow my intuition and only do what I feel moved to do in every moment.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
So I listen.
In the morning I wake up, shower, and eat some breakfast. "Okay, Self. What now?" I tune in. "Drum. Go hit some drums." I have sixteen drums that keep me happily occupied for the next hour.
"What now?" Sadness washes over me. I need to sit and cry. Let out some of the spillover. After all, I am saying good-bye to something very precious. Me ----- the old me.
For the next hour, I let the tears fall. I pound the bed. I grab a teddy bear and hide under the pillow. I keep breathing and the breath pushes the emotions out. My emotions are very fluid. I let out whatever feelings are in me, a combination of anger, grief, and sadness, and maybe a touch of fear, and then I relax.
Okay, that took up a good chunk of time and I released a lot of the build-up. "What now?" I keep listening and following the moment. "Silk. Go play with silk." I go off to paint something.
Afterwards, I eat some lunch and am ready for the afternoon. "What now?"
"Sit. Do nothing."
I sit. And do nothing.
"Listen, just listen and be. No need to go anywhere, or do anything. Just be." I sit for a long time. Just breathing, just listening, just being.
Following Intuitive Flow
For two weeks, I keep following my intuitive flow. I'm only doing what I want to be doing in each moment, but I am still not a happy camper. What is going on in my mind?
Chatter. Confusion. I am getting caught in my train of thought. It sounds something like, "Maybe I'm supposed to move out of the area. Maybe I'm supposed to be down in Campbell." I have friends there and already feel like a part of the community. "But I don't want to be one and a half hour from where I am now."
Then I tell myself something big and important. It's so important that I'm going to capitalize it:
"QUIT FUTURE-FEARING. It's not happening now. Be in this moment. If you're supposed to move to Campbell, you'll move to Campbell when it's time -- but that's not happening in this moment. Be in this moment. You don't have to worry about moving. It's not happening now. Just be in this moment happening right now."
I start to settle into a deeper place of quiet in my soul, and each day begins to feel more and more like a living meditation.
I try to catch myself every time I start future-fearing about work, money, relationships, or moving, and focus back on the present.
So here I am in the present moment, deciding what I want to happen now. Right now. In this now.
What To Do Now?
I start playing with some materials. Feathers, fur, stones. I start arranging the feathers on a giant straw fishing tray, splashes of iridescent blue, shimmering purples, shrieking reds, brilliant orange-golds, and soft browns.
My friend Debi has given me all these exquisite feathers. She works with birds from all over the world. When she cleans their pens, she picks up the feathers that have molted. She works in silence, and this routine has become her daily meditation.
I think about how a feather falls off a bird. The bird simply molts when it's time to molt. There is no pain involved. It just lets go of something it no longer needs when it's time to let go. Like the leaves of an autumn maple, the feathers fall off gently, easily, as part of a natural cycle. Why do I make it so hard for myself when I know it is my time to let go?
I keep working. The fur. The beautiful fur. I don't believe in hurting or killing animals for their fur. The furs I use come from ratty, fifty-year-old coats, recycled from flea market stalls. I see it as a way of honoring the fur-beings from the past.
The tiny, round, smooth stones. Gray, jade, burnt red, ochre, tan. Picked up by a friend's uncle who enjoyed walking on the beach in meditation. Given to me after the uncle died. Stored in an onyx box. I've had them for ten years. Their time is now.
I Work in Meditation. Silently. Listening.
I work in meditation. Silently. Listening. Fur, feathers, stone, straw, and glue. I find a comb of my grandmother's, a beautiful golden hair comb with a tiny pink flower at its center. It wants to join the piece as well.
I pour the stones onto the fishing tray. A penny tumbles out and wedges itself between the stones. The part that sticks out reads, "In God We Trust." I decide to keep it there.
I spend hours in silent meditation working on it. The eye of a peacock feather graces its center. I finish the piece and I am pleased. Its title comes to me. It is, "The Mandala of Being." Mandala -- the circle that connects all. Every bit of it done in meditation. The collecting of the feathers and stones, the arrangement of the materials on the fishing tray.
I'm proud of it. I want to show it off. I want to put it up on one of my walls. I hold it up in every possible location and it doesn't look right anywhere. I stop. I listen. Maybe this piece is meant for somebody else.
My friend Debi who gave me the feathers sees it. She falls into the piece -- figuratively, not literally. It takes her. I give it to her. I let go.
Decision by decision, I see how my path is unfolding organically. In spite of all the uncertainty surrounding my life's purpose, career, finances, relationships -- and all those other uncertainties which make one's parents wish you had only listened to them and taken that civil service position years ago, so now you wouldn't have to worry -- this path is leading me somewhere.
It is up to me to listen and follow. Will someone please hand me my trail mix? I am stepping into the present moment.
Steps to Happiness NOW!
1. If you have a problem, eat at a Chinese restaurant
Imagine shrinking your biggest problem into a Chinese food take-out box. Sometimes I imagine shrinking ex-lovers into the box. I pretend they're munchkin-sized and have little itsy bitsy voices. Even when they scream, "Help. Let me out of here," I can go about my day with greater focus and ease, knowing that although I still need to deal with the situation, it's no longer bigger than I am.
2. Realize God moonlights as a sanitation engineer
When problems persist, they rot. Someone's got to take out the garbage. Sometimes, God, Higher Power, or whatever you might want to call it, intervenes on our behalf, catalyzing us to let go of what we no longer need -- whether we want to or not. This intervention is often perceived as a crisis, however the intent is always to teach us something we need to learn.
3. Breathe through your nose and hang on by your toes
Have you ever noticed when you're in the midst of one major life crisis, another one usually joins it? Then another one and another one, until you've got crises multiplying faster than rabbits? At some point you may feel so overwhelmed you begin to doubt the existence of God, or that if there is a God, this God really cares about you. Have faith.
4. Sometimes, you have to give time, time (courtesy of my friend, Kristan Leatherman)
During tough times you may feel like you're not going to make it. If you feel like you're dying inside or it gets so bad you feel like exiting the planet, hold on. A part of you is dying -- that's the good news. Some old part of yourself is leaving so that a new, more empowered and happier part can emerge.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. ©2002.
Crappy to Happy: Small Steps to Big Happiness NOW!
by Randy Peyser.
What if your happiness has nothing to do with the outer circumstances of your life? What if it was something you just started feeling more and more in each moment regardless of your daily drama?" Author and performer Randy Peyser poses these questions in her first book, Crappy to Happy. With bold storytelling, transformative humor, and her signature "comic interventions", Peyser offers a selection of personal stories about how she created greater happiness in her own life. She shares clues for achieving a place of authenticity, "a happier Now." Arranged in five parts, Crappy to Happy helps us learn to be true to ourselves, manage life's challenges, heal relationships, develop a spiritual life, and give to others.
About the Author
Randy Peyser is the former editor-in-chief of Catalyst, a national new age magazine. She has a one-woman show in San Francisco called Crappy to Happy, during which she finds herself arrested by the "Thought Police" for being a prisoner of her own thoughts, spins 'The Wheel of Faulting" and dances the "Chakra-Chanting-Cha-Cha."