Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ring of Fire

So for the last couple of days I’ve been sitting with my fear. This is a process I first discovered in Martha Beck’s book Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny. She calls it the ring of fire. It’s a process beyond story, beyond the mind. As many people have pointed out to me, “feelings just want to be felt”.

I’m wrestling with the fear of becoming visible, of becoming the magnificent woman that I truly am. This fear has been holding me back from building One Big Umbrella, from writing my show, from being vulnerable around people I care about or want to impress. This lives in my body as a feeling that it’s dangerous to do this. This makes sense on an unconscious level as we’re tribal animals and somewhere in our dna are memories of being separated from the tribe for being different.

But in truth it’s dangerous to stay where I am, to continue to play it safe, to be the “good girl”. I have gifts to bring to the world. I know this to be true as I continue to sort out what those gifts are. I know I can do this. I know it’s possible. I have so many people in my life who do live in this way.

So as Martha puts it, the only way out is through.

One thing I have discovered is while I feel fear, it’s not terror. That tells me I’ve made progress, that a lot of my behaviour is just a pattern I developed when I was running from fear. I still sometimes hear an inner voice that says “I’m scared” but I don’t hear it as often and it’s not as emphatic. I just say to it now “It’s ok to be scared” and I send it love.

Fear has its uses. When we’re in physical danger it prepares our body to deal with the threat. The problem is that it doesn’t differentiate from the now and from the stories we have in our head.

I no longer try to slay the dragon. I’m hoping we can happily co-exist. Imagine what this world would be like if everyone was able to do that.

The first time I plunged into the Ring of Fire was when a co-worker I was really interested in started dating someone who worked with us. I couldn’t avoid them and it hurt just to look at him. Then I read Steering by Starlight and decided to lean in. Boy, was it painful - and useful. I saw where I had let myself down by not asking for what I wanted. I saw the story I was telling myself about not being attractive enough to the men I wanted. I relived a lot of past heartbreak. And I emerged stronger and more confident in myself.

Thank you, Martha Beck, for being a guide on my journey, and for this book in particular. I would probably be even further along my journey if I hadn’t resisted doing the exercises. But I am still plunging in.

If you’re struggling to find meaning in your life, or if you have a strong desire to change it, check the book out. Just click on the link.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Leaving Jon Stewart

Last night I watched Jon Stewart's last Daily Show.

I fell in love with him after September 11th. He delivered an opening monologue, the one posted below. It was a heartfelt, honest piece where he shared his grieving with us and his continued belief in the good of humanity and his hope it wouldn't change his country. I don't remember how I even found it as I didn't watch the show at the time but he touched me and moved me and I wasn't the same.

In the intervening years the show at times has been a life-saver, especially when I moved back in with my parents, who are in thrall with Fox News. I could laugh at the things that were infuriating me and feel there was a kindred spirit out there. But my favourite moments were when Jon let his indignation show, or when he grieved with us as another tragedy came our way.

Last night was typical Jon - honouring all the people who made the show the success it is. And he did have one final message for us before it was all done. But what has stayed with me was when Stephen Colbert, speaking on behalf of all who had been touched by working with him, thanked him.

“We owe you because we learned from you. We learned from you how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You were infuriatingly good at your job... All of us who were lucky enough to work with you...are better at our jobs because we got to watch you do yours. And we are better people for having know you. You are a great artist and a good man.”

I want people to be able to say this about me. So it's time to get good at my job.

I also really admire how Colbert did this. He knew the right things to do to force him to listen and knew just how far to go before Jon would completely lose it and when he reaches that point, he references an old segment he did on the show to mix laughter in with tears.

In the planned part of the segment, Colbert likens Jon to Frodo, another person who came to wield power but who never asked for it. Jon can be too self-effacing but he's a great example of how one sets out to be the best they can be, and the world follows. The analogy is apt. And inspiring.