Bankruptcy IS..... A State of Mind

I am in the process of writing a book about bankruptcy... and  what it really means as a state of being, a state of mind. I have well concluded over the years I have lived on this planet that bankruptcy, as we have come to think about it in both environmental and financial terms, is the evidential trail of personal dissolution, insolvency, overdraft and the absence of flow in our lives, at much higher orders of thinking. We would not ever consciously intend to live bankrupt lives, yet that is how most of us, the world over, are living. We choose to turn away from the evidence of our choices, so indoctrinated have we become to not that... anything but that. Shame and the fear of shame will keep us in denial, in avoidance, in hiding and feeling inauthentic. We are the frauds we loath. Truth is, by the time a bankrupt person chooses to declare and own the lie she has been living ad nauseam, that she might save her sanity and finally own the clarity of her own thinking, the truth of the lie has been present for a very long time. Modelling is our greatest teacher. I learned by example to turn away from the obvious; self-distraction was key.

So, what follows, below, has been extrapolated from my writing that is in process... and it became a speech  which I delivered at MoMondays Ottawa in October of 2017.

I allow that I am a creative force; I also allow that I take risks. And the one thing that I know is that I have actualized some pretty amazing ideas over the course of my life... not all of them with pretty results. As a creative force, some of those things have been downright messy. AND they are mine to celebrate and to learn from. It all gets down to choice and one's belief about her inalienable right to choose. The best way to negotiate risk is through experience. Sometimes, we leverage our own; sometimes, we leverage that of others. No matter what, our self-education is key. 

My speech:

I am 71 years old. At age 62, I declared bankruptcy. When I arrived at that decision, I had carried a huge burden of crippling debt for six years. I felt old, outraged and resentful. I felt scared, tired and  ashamed. I felt a failure. I denied that to myself, making my feelings about it all even worse. At 62 years old, thoughts about not having enough and being able to look after myself at this senior age felt like a betrayal, a punch to my stomach. I blamed others for this result and I blamed myself. I worried about the impact to my husband. Would we lose everything we had built together and the land he had grown up on?

It was easy to default to the story of what happened. Really, who cares? I could tell you that it was a business failure. I could tell you that it was in Southern California. I could tell you that I had already had eighteen years of experience in Ottawa with the same business. I could tell you that I had done the research, calculated the numbers, drawn up a business plan well accepted by the bank, and applied for a United States VISA to live and work in the USA. I hired a California lawyer to educate me and to facilitate whatever was required to move forward. I was familiar with Southern California and I had already launched a community there which was growing. Even though I believed I had prepared myself, I was about to step into the biggest mess of my life.

I drove 5 days across country from Ottawa to Long Beach, arriving at the end of July, 2002. I was to have access to my new studio on August 15. When I arrived at the of July, I discovered, to my horror, that the ground for the building had not yet been broken. I had planned for an October opening to be ready for Christmas sales. My plans and my calculations were now hugely compromised. Anxiety took over and depression set in.

From there, everything that could go wrong, did. There were multiple mistakes and delays that took months to be rectified. I chose to live a pretty sparse life to respect funds; still, the delays blew out my plans and the financial numbers blew up, more than doubling my well researched estimates. I had to get further financing. I was horrified, terrified, outraged and resentful. I wanted revenge and I talked about a lawsuit; my lawyer talked me out of it. Nine months passed before I was given the keys to the space. Nine months, the length of a pregnancy. And during that time, my sprit was in collapse, my emotions were in the toilet, and my body was in unrelenting pain.

With myriad setbacks, I closed the studio doors only nine months later. Think of it as two very difficult pregnancies, one after the other. My husband flew to California, packed up my vehicle and drove me home to Canada. While I count myself as a spiritual person, not a religious one, the metaphors of finally arriving home to safe haven on Easter Sunday, only two hours after the sun had risen, was not lost on me. A resurrection, it seemed, was at hand.

It was the gravity of my own fear that got me. It felt cellular. For six long years I carried the weight of that financial burden, barely tolerating the emotional abuses of creditors' agents seeking to meet quota through the unsuccessful collection of outstanding debt. I had nothing left to give. It was brutal and it was punishing. Like attracts like, so the worse it got, the worse it got. I was absent of breath, trapped between a rock and a hard place.

It was not until 2007 that a friend pointed out to me that I was not breathing, maybe never had. No breath, no life. I realized, then, that fear, anxiety and high alert had been my life-long standing drivers for living. It meant that I had lived a life of bankruptcy as the metaphor for my own disconnect. It meant that I had spent my life feeling sorry for myself, unrecognized.

So, I share with you that bankruptcy IS a state of mind. Fear gets more fear. Joy gets more joy. Not good, bad, right, wrong, these vibrating electrical signals create a currency of consciousness. These electrical signatures are without morality. They just ARE. It really is a question of whether one chooses to reclaim and own the bad, the good, the ugly and the beautiful... all at the same time. Try as I might to tenaciously hold onto an opposite - meaning a seemingly more elegant - perspective, more and more I know that resisting the truth of my own experience, in the absence of inhaling and exhaling, will bankrupt my life.

I define bankruptcy as the disconnect of my body from my soul; the overdraft of joy through fear. By the time the overdraft showed up in my bank account and in my health, it seeds had been germinating for a very, very long time. Likely for generations. Truth is, these days, I have an easy - and a simple - solution. I purposely inhale and exhale so that I can actually hear myself breathe. I consciously choose to let go. And, I choose to remember that I have not been without success in my life. 

Ultimately, I gave myself permission to choose something different. That was in 2007, when I chose to take the first real breath of my life and let my body stop shutting down my intuition and its signals. By 2008, I made the appointment to see a bankruptcy trustee. The power of paradox cannot be overstated, here: choosing to step fully into the declaration of what I had always feared would be held as the most abominable shame, simply dissolved the shame of it all, rendering it no longer a truth in my life. Truly, acting on that decision changed my state of being and my state of mind that day.

The day I signed the the bankruptcy papers was a cold, bleak, grey Tuesday in early December. I called it Freedom Tuesday. The streets were empty as I entered the trustee's office. When I arrived outside, three hours later, the sun was out, the day had warmed up a bit, and people were happily milling in the streets on their lunch breaks. A veil had lifted. I could feel, hear and see evidence of a vitality starting to percolate. I could feel the air in my lungs. I would live. I had finally stopped feeling sorry for myself.

The only way to the other side of anything is in it and through it. It has taken me all of my 71 years to fully grok and get on board with that. Honestly, it really is the path of least resistance.

Living really is as simple as this: take a breath and exhale, own what you know and THAT you know... and choose.


A Matter of Opinion...

It's 2017 and it's July. The last time I opened up this blog was is February. Wow, my state of being has leaped since then! How many times have I told myself that I had nothing of value to say? So this blog, of course, would see no activity. LOL, who really gets to determine that value? At the end of the day..... fast forward to ME!

Lots of things are moving in my world, not the least of which is my desire to simply BE and LIVE as a process that knows the certainty of grace AND the grace of certainly, as core, as essential, to my world. I know that I am creating all of the time. I know that  my unique way of moving, authentically, through an externally created reality is, without exception, projected from an internal world view that lives its truth inside my body.... conscious or unconscious, comfortable or uncomfortable... and EITHER owned and claimed, inhaled or exhaled, as a good thing OR intellectually denied/avoided, as culturally inexpedient.  My body will never deny it's truth; my intellect, however, will; I am the only one who can reframe that for myself. Only when the intellect allows the body to know what it knows... and what it does not know it does not know... can we ever really know the full magic that we are. 

Truth, owned and claimed, inhaled and exhaled, invites comfort's expansion into more of itself and discomfort's release of itself. Hey, 'discomfort', you are now free to leave your what you thought was your entitlement, your real estate, behind. Whose original opinion did you choose to rely upon, anyway? Was it ever naturally yours?

Truth, denied and avoided, sees breathing shortened, curtailed and, ultimately, stopped; When we chose, heels dug into the earth for dear life, to die to be right... well, we invite discomfort to always, in all ways, find it's traction, there. Ultimately, that traction, can dissolve into quick sand.

So, what does an opinion have to do with any of this?  Well, here are some questions to ask:

How do I authentically feel, inside, about what I am hearing? What gets triggered in my body? Am I breathing? When I own the truth of my feelings about it all, do i insist on adding extra locks to an area, where there is no door in site? Alternatively, can I allow myself to see that a door does exist... and that it can open to reveal another possibility? 

There is an old expression that 'opinions are like assholes; everybody's got one'. We can laugh. Still, that anatomical construct is an essential resource to our body's physiological functioning. Truly, the body is the final frontier of expression; it is evidence of the cutting edge of our thinking. Without that orifice, can you imagine how you'd be feeling, how you'd be thinking? How connected would you feel to the essence  - the space, movement and flow - of whom you  really are?

Short, plain and simple, I have, just today, come to view 'opinion' - my own or anybody's opinion about anything - as either a resource to live my life or not. In considering a resource, I'll either feel good about it or I won't; it will authentically support me or it won't. Like any resource, an opinion - created or adapted - is always in line for the choosing; for me, it's got to feel 'right', inside, in order for me to authentically engage and invest. How much of what we invest in at the grocery store, for an example, is simply a matter of opinion? My point is that my universe is a quantum and abundant store of everything, including opinions, like them or not. We get to choose and we have the right to change our minds, again and again, and again. Will we?

So, in this moment, will I choose only that which will congruently satisfy all logical levels of my expression from my highest intention for being here, at this time, to what I ultimately actualize, right here, right now? Or will I default to another's opinion, as more valued than what my 'gut' instinct tells me is true and 'right' for my world?

Territories and maps are not the same thing. There can be many maps for a single territory; designing it is a matter of perspective, a matter of interpretation. It seems we have forgotten, even before we started our earthly life journeys, that maps do not - and were never intended to - define whom we are. They are an opinion, a resource, only - based on personal experience - of 'best' suggestions to navigate our worlds. There can be as many maps as their are opinions as there are people, asking whatever questions they are choosing to ask. Following them - or not - is a personal choice.

The following is what I found myself sharing in an email today with another; this is what propelled me to engage my blog after such a long time away from it; this is valuable to me to share: 

'I agree. What I have learned over the years is that, in conversation, while people, generally, may use the same words and phrasing, those words and phrasing never mean the same thing to each individual. Perspectives and interpretations are always unique to the individual. As such - and at the end of the day - I guess they can only be considered opinions, at best. And, those opinions quickly become ‘law’ in a world that knows fear as its only fuel by which to choose. It takes committed mindfulness, awareness and courage to not fall prey to the cultural conditioning of it all. Thanks for the reminder.'

Reality Check!

Hmmm..... I read this post, immediately below, on Linkedin, today. It felt jarring and it got me thinking.

'NO AUTHORITY IS HIGHER THAN REALITY. Truth isn't a matter of your personal viewpoint. Learn to see things as they really are, not as you imagine they are. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it. No matter what you believe, it never changes the facts. If they are there, the facts always speak for themselves. The truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of people. If sixty million people say a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing. The sky is no less blue because the blind man does not see it.'

Here was my written comment. now, added to, with further personal insight...

Interesting point of view! The pre-supposition, here, is that 'reality' IS the existing authority. Whose reality? Your's, mine or the collective's? I hold that each person must decide that - meaning define reality - for herself, if she is to live a meaningful and self-sustaining life, joyously, on her own terms. Cultural conditioning assumes certain defaults to collective thinking, intended - like it or not, agree with me or not - to keep us captive to the expectations of status quo thinking. Status quo thinking is what fuels compliance and coma; this means looking outside of ourselves for answers that are rarely relevant to our uniquely, one-of-a-kind lives. Compliance to external dictates has become collectively habitual and expected to majority mind-share; fear is the big stick that drives it. Lots of judgement, conditioning and conclusion; psychological entrapment. Compliance to collective mind-share kills creativity; it renders us powerless to dream beyond our unconscious limitations that, in truth, are only ours because we have mindlessly defaulted to conclusions of others, who have done the same, ad nauseam, through aeons of history, habit and habituation. Both literally and metaphorically, we have forgotten how to breathe on our own. I think that we are in dire need of a pattern interrupt. Breathing IS good!

In summary, the one thing I know is that no one can be 'right' for me about what I hold as 'right' and true for myself. In the same way, neither can I be 'right' for another about what she holds as 'right' and true for herself. My reality is MY reality. Yours is YOURS. In my experience, most of us have metaphorically died, time and time again, to be 'right' about others, so they cannot be 'right' for themselves. We live polarized lives. It is exhausting and it is sad. Still, dying to be 'right' about 'it' all, we still go there, attempting to bring some order to that which we do not understand. So, I ask you, What is there to understand? 

How could our lives be different, if we were to simply take a breath, let go and let god? Your willing choice to become your own next moment for the big exhale in/of your life, will become your next expansive inspiration, oxygenating an an already emerging future; it can't not be that way; metaphorically - and, indeed, in the most literal of terms - THAT, biochemically, is how we breathe ourselves; the exhale invites the next inhale. THAT is how we create our personal realities.  

It takes courage to interrupt what we think we know for certain, without question. It takes practice, too.... sustained practice to STOP capitulating to cultural expectation as the default and  prescription for how we 'should' be living. Collective reality need not know traction in our lives, unless we consciously choose that. Truth is, I know that I AM living in this world; I also know that I AM not of it. I have chosen to live this way, awake and aware. I also know that you can choose that, too. 

STOP and take a breath, remembering to fully exhale. It really IS that simple.

Thanks for reading!

Till next time...


Choosing Amnesia

On one of our regular road trips in the last couple of years, a friend presented me with this hypothesis (as we were entertaining Siri’s back roads travel advice, yet overriding this form of artificial intelligence by organic impulse/intuition): Sheila, if you had found yourself with amnesia and had had to set out to re-create your life, how would it have been different and what would you have created? I said to her, That’s a hard one; I have no reference points for that. And, she reminded me that THAT was the point. Amnesia has no reference points. And so, I knew immediately, what my life would have looked like. 

No reference points. Like the back roads we were travelling on, we had no historical reference points to guide our choices for where we were driving; what we knew in each moment, however, was an intention. We were taking an unknown - yet intuitively known - route and choosing the turns, by feel and by deep and internal knowing… leaving Siri scrambling to catch up to us. 

Since that conversation with my friend, I have discovered that embracing the metaphor of amnesia is the great invitation to me to get out of my own way. My experience of the life that I am creating for my Self knows much more ease now. 

So, I ask you, What would your life feel like, sound like, look like, if you were to authentically live your life, in this breath, with no past, no historical reference points? 

If it is true that life does not happen to us; instead, we happen to life (courtesy of Aristotle via Dr. Wayne Dyer?), then what, simply in the very moment of your choosing, could you imagine, design and create for your world, the one you authentically choose to live in… and BE not of? 

What would you let yourself really know about your Self in this ever changing space? Whom would you become? 


The Sheer Grace

Our beliefs are the gatekeepers to our thoughts; our thoughts become our things, our realities, our lives. For our realities to transform, a continuing pattern interrupt to how we are thinking about our lives and our living is essential. It demands knowing that, not only do we have choice, a very different choice is critical to our evolution and to our well being. When we consciously choose to take time to actively inhale our lives into the very cells of our bodies/our beings and to authentically exhale our unique experiences into our worlds, we magically invite the collapse of all that we have ever held as true in our realities about who and what we are as human beings; lies inculcated as truth, yet incontestably untrue. We ARE NOT our bodies.

Breathe first and breath again... and again.... and again. Air moves. How can it not? When our beliefs are transformed, by way of our choosing, first and always, to breathe, we can easily arrive at that personal place where we know we can change our minds... and, truth be told, already have. As we change our minds, our thoughts alter themselves...spontaneously. As our thoughts alter, then reality - as we each experience it - looks, sounds and feels very different.

Consciously choose to consciously breathe! Can change really be that simple? Is that all it really takes?

The purpose of our lives is not - and never has been - to hold our breath; to remain immoveable. Who we have come to be was never intended to be static. The question then becomes: What energy, space and consciousness can we each become to BE the space, the movement and the flow - the sheer grace - we  already ARE... now awakened and continually awakening to a new possibility?