Today’s prompt (for the Best of 2009 blog challenge by Gwen Bell) is challenge: something that made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?
I set a challenge for myself each year. The challenge is meant to expand my being beyond its current edge. I say “being” because it’s more about the unfolding of my soul’s journey for me, than about a specific tangible goal. (And yes, every year I say I’m going to be fitter and healthier, along with everyone else who pledges that on January 1st)
When I set it, the challenge feels edgy or exciting (depending on the eyes of my perception) but as the year progresses, it reveals itself to be a synthesis of the monumental and the mundane; the sacred and the profane.
Here’s the thing about resolutions, intentions, and challenges: be willing to be surprised. That’s the nice way of saying “be careful what you pray for.”
The challenge I set for myself in 2009 and beyond (I’m now hearing Buzz Lightyear’s voice) is to make an ally of the unknown. I made a conscious decision to play in the Great Mystery. I tend to forget the play part all too often. So, life throws me a full range of opportunities to remember and this year was no different than any other in that respect.
In addition to naming a challenge, I pull Spirit Cards (by Joette Tizzone) on New Year’s Day. This year, I accidentally pulled two I AM cards along with the one I WILL card. The result was:
I AM abundance worthy
I WILL open
What I know about invocations is that powerful energies are brought into the space through word, sound, symbols and intention.
This year, I invoked opening to abundance, to knowing there is always enough. This brought on inquiries of what is enough; lessons of gratitude; challenges around receiving and patience.
I invoked knowing that I am worthy of this abundance for no other reason than because I was born. This brought on numerous dialogues between my ego and my soul. My internal board of directors went toe to toe around proving, earning, receiving, allowing.
I invoked the possibility that play will serve me in ways that struggle never has. (I can hear my mom’s voice commenting on how I always have to make things hard – you were right mom) This brought on further lessons in martyr archetype and helped me release any interest I have in looking like I am suffering more than others. I’m kind of over suffering. It’s so 2008.
I invoked the possibility that I will actually enjoy not knowing. What I mean is, not knowing in a way my logical mind can wrap itself around. Yet, knowing in a way my heart understands. I am choosing to read the signals of the world around me as feedback; be present and aware in the moment and work with rather than against the flow; to co-create with cosmos and the great river of life.
So it all sounds really good huh?
Well on the monumental level, the littlest things are pure magic to me; animal messengers, falling trees, chance encounters, heart connections.
On the mundane level I find myself challenged by what others would find perfectly common place.
I promised yesterday to tell the story of going to a concert alone. This was mundane on the surface and monumental in its impact on me. Here’s the story:
There is a song I love, that I first heard on a Trisha Yearwood CD “On a Bus to St Cloud.” I was searching for a performance of it on YouTube to share on Facebook and Twitter when I came across the performance by the actual songwriter herself, Gretchen Peters. So I tweeted about it and within an hour, I got a tweet from Gretchen saying she hoped to see me at her concert at a local venue two nights later. I had no idea she was playing here, but I could not resist this opportunity, which I took to be a flirt from the Universe to get out in the world even if I have to go alone. So I said yes I was coming.
It would have been so easy for me to back out. I was not accountable to anyone except Gretchen and that was only in my imagination. My soul egged me on. I had to go, to a new part of town and a new venue I’d never visited. I called ahead to get a sense of the seating arrangement and where to park. When the time came, I got dressed hoping to be dressed up enough and not overly so. Then I hopped in my van and took off singing loudly to steady my nerves.
I walked into the bar and everyone turned around and looked at me. Oh boy, feeling conspicuous already. I let my solar plexus lead the way as I went right up to someone who might point me in the right direction. The place was already pretty packed with groups of people enjoying drinks and dinner at cozy tables. I asked the ticket taker to show me a good seat. He showed me two tables in the darker corners of the back and side walls and one right up front. I took the one directly in front of the piano; one little table and three chairs. I sat in the middle chair. Maybe someone, someone handsome and single, would decide to join me. Uh huh…
Gretchen’s songs are stories. They are lovely, poignant, fun. They make me laugh and they make me cry. Sitting front and center, in the skirt-edges of the stage lights, alone, I was not comfortable crying, but so many of the songs reminded me of loss; loss of love and loss of my dad, that I had to reach into my purse for some Kleenex, despite rapid blinking. Sitting there, I was reminded of the many concerts I went to with my ex-husband. One thing I miss about him is his voice and the gentle strains from his guitar. So Gretchen’s beautiful voice and genuine presence scratched across a few of the scars on my heart and it hurt while it healed.
Click on the play button for this video and enjoy a bit of the “concert” for yourself. (For further info, please click through to YouTube)
When the concert was over, I saw an opportunity to go over and catch her as she stepped off the tiny stage. I wanted to thank her and to let her know that the “Twitter gal” had shown up. We spoke briefly. I was conscious of the fact that she had an agenda with others. I spontaneously hugged her and I could feel her grow rigid, but accepting. Then I left and headed toward my car as two bar patrons hopped on their Harleys and disappeared down a very quiet, very lonely Highway 9.
I was feeling embarrassed for my spontaneous hug. How could I behave as if we were so familiar? Performers just hate that don’t they? Gretchen has no idea the catalyst she was for me; the beginning of re-entering a world I’ve missed. She can’t know the way her tweet reached out to me as a personal invitation. I hugged her like she saved my life.
I drove home by a new unknown route, following my instincts, newly freed by my willingness to venture out alone, using the gift of a great internal compass. As I rounded a bend, I was greeted by a full moon rising in an ink washed sky, mysterious wisps of clouds suspended across its face. It was right out of a William Blake collection. That’s when I knew this seemingly innocuous challenge was truly a turning point for me. The opportunity presented itself and I accepted it. The moon smiled back. I’d walked right to my edge and over it.
I am abundance worthy
I will open
I am making an ally of the unknown
In 2010 you can forget about me making you my ally
I’m ratcheting this up a notch to full on lover!
Copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved