So often we look outside ourselves to find out who we truly are on the inside. We look for gurus, models, mentors, more experienced or more self-confident people who have more guts than we do to tell us what we need to do to get life right. Oprah Winfrey, Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and other popular gurus are put on pedestals, and yet, they are simply people who have stopped asking for permission to be who they are and now use their power to influence our decisions on how to live.
I do this a lot. I keep looking for the right book to tell me how to go forward-what to do next-how to tell my story. I recently spoke with a book editor/publisher who said-“stop listening to everyone else. You have a story. Only you will know how to tell it.”
Spell the word guru, and you have Gee You Are You. The greatest gurus point you back to yourself. Although there are billions of people, there is only one you and yet we are all connected. Sometimes it is helpful to seek advice or ask for guidance along the journey, because of this connectedness we sometimes need an outside opinion. But then it is important to do an inner check and see if it fits for us. Eventually, you have to listen to your inner voice. That’s the key.
I used to teach this in my yoga classes. I never wanted to be looked at as a guru or all-wise teacher. I taught what I wanted to learn-what I needed to hear. I had followed someone as my guru, and it almost took me took me away from the life I think ( I hope) – do you hear the self-doubt?) I was meant to lead.
I just finished listening to an audio version of the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
In this book, Siddhartha lives a very full life with many teachers as he quests for his deepest answers. Finally he realizes the answer lies within himself.
Authenticity is hard to find when there are so many of us influenced by outside sources. I loved a little cartoon I saw recently where the first cell is beginning to divide, and now there are almost two and the one nucleus, the center of the cell, says to the other – It’s not you. It’s me. Who is it then? Is it Oprah or you? Is it you or your guru? Who are you? Pretend for a moment that there is no guide. There is no Oprah. There is no role model. There is no textbook. There is no Bible. There is nothing but you left to guide you.
This is a scary thought but also one that can free you to be yourself. I think we all have an inner Jiminy Cricket or Holy Spirit that guides us. We just need to make room for quiet time, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Then listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
Do you have the inner intelligence to move forward and know what to do next? What would you do if the world were up to you? What would you do if no one could tell you what to do? Who are you all by yourself? What would happen if we believed in ourselves and simply followed our hearts and our inner guide?
I feel like I am at a precipice. I am almost ready to tell you my story.
The problem is we don’t know how to listen or who to listen to anymore? I imagine myself waking up and just listening to my own voice and yet I am so full of everyone else’s thoughts and all the books and magazines and helpful hints I read.
I am listening and slowly finding my own voice. The hints I write for you come from my own life and experience.
Why can’t I just think of that or this? Why do I need someone else to tell me something that is right in front of my face?
And so it is with you-take the hints but see what fits in your life. Who are you and who are you meant to be?
It’s self-doubt. We grow up not believing in our own personal power. Our parents often tell us how to be, what to believe in and how to behave. As children, we look to them for advice and approval. We are human beings after all, and we need others to confirm who we are. We look at others for approval.
It is difficult to finally grow up and get in touch with the decision maker in you. I grew up very different than the way my own life has evolved. I hardly could tell my children how to to be or what to believe in. I was growing up with them. I had lost my parent’s approval long ago. As years went on I think they respected my inner growth.
As we grow up we continue to seek advice from books and approval from others. There comes a time when you need to stop reading, seeking, and asking and start believing in your own inner wisdom.
I teach what I want to learn.
You have the power to simply Be YOURSELF!
And so I hope you enjoy the me that shares more and more of my deeper self and story.
What are your self doubts and how do you boost your confidence?
What is the self you imagined and how different is that from the self you are living today?
What are three things you heard your own inner voice telling your self?
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”
Friendship is an art. We are born into families but we must cultivate our friends. A true friend is priceless- someone you can call when you are confused, have a problem, or when you are excited and want to celebrate. Sometimes we need a friend to listen and not fix our problems or advise us with the best solution. Yet, how many people have someone in their life who will listen and love unconditionally without an ulterior motive; without asking for anything in return; someone whose own spirit is lifted by allowing you to share your dreams, worries, fears, confusion, anger, and other emotions.
This is rare in today’s society because we are in a hurry and listening takes time. It is also difficult these days because much of our communication is lost in texting, e-mail, facebook, and lack of self-awareness and mindfulness. How can we understand what someone else is feeling if we never take the time to understand our own inner world? Make friends with yourself first and you will be able to open your heart to others.
Like doctors, we want to give our friend a solution. Often we don’t want a solution; we just want to talk it out. A true healer will listen until they don’t exist so the other person can come up with their own solution, but this takes time.
There was a time when I went to a doctor and I said to him, “You know, Doctor, I think there is an emotional component to this and I really want to heal at a deeper level.” He looked at me with a sense of helplessness, and said, “Well, get up on the table and let me listen to your heart.” After putting the cold stethoscope on my chest, he proclaimed, “You are just fine.” Isn’t that funny? Would he really take the time to listen to my heart and soul and mind? No, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he doesn’t have time. Listening to someone’s feelings and emotions is difficult. We quickly want to solve the problem, hurry the pain away, and heal the person. We can’t expect our doctors to be our friends, but if we had more friends we might not need as many doctors.
You may have a “ton of friends,” but how many of your friendships are open and unreserved allowing you both to expose your soul and unleash your feelings and emotions without fear. You are fortunate if among the multitudes of people you know, you have one or two trusting friends who will be there for you even when they don’t understand you.
Cultivating friendship takes time and thought and the ability to give and to forgive. It is the desire to want to be in a relationship with another human being for no other reason than the healing energy of knowing you can count on that person and they can count on you in life when it is challenging or when it is exciting. This kind of friendship is the best medicine.
I guess game meat is free of antibiotics and hormones
You never know who you are going to meet on an airplane. I’m one of those people who usually gets to know the person next to me. When I’m with Steve on one side in a three seated row there is always a stranger who shares our row with us.
I usually begin the conversation with “business or pleasure?” That clarifies the purpose of my seatmate’s trip to wherever we are going.
On our recent flight from CVG to Las Vegas Steve had the aisle seat (his consistent choice) and I had the middle (I actually prefer the window). We sat down wondering who was going to arrive to take the window seat and share the trip with us. About five minutes after we got settled a man came along and signaled that he had the window seat.
Not for me but open minded.
He was a very gentle man. I remember thinking how polite and timid he seemed. He smiled, took his seat and I proceeded to continue to read. But then I got the urge to get to know him.
I began, “Business or pleasure?” He said, “for me pleasure. I’m meeting my wife. She has been in meetings all week and we are going to have some time together. I’m really looking forward to it.” Curious, of course, I asked what her business was. He said she was an executive vice president for a company. Wow! She was a busy lady.
I asked what he did and he said they had two children and he stayed home with the children while they were growing up. They are now in college but he is the one who keeps the house in order. He stayed home. She went to work. I loved how he explained it-“It was in her DNA to climb a ladder and work in the corporate world. And he said it was in his DNA to be the nurturing parent who was home.
He was very quiet, balanced, and I could see that he could be very nurturing. I asked what prompted him to want to stay home. He told me that his own mother had left the family when he was 4 years old. He is the youngest of four and was the baby at the time. I asked if he had much contact with his mother growing up-“Nope-not interested. I was the bitter one. My siblings all stayed in contact with her until she died.” He said that growing up he was shifted from various homes of Aunts and Uncles and family friends. He was able to observe parenting styles and internalized what he thought was the best parenting.
I asked how old his children were-both in college now and doing well-a son and a daughter and they are very close. He and his wife are now in empty nest, but his wife still travels quite a bit. When the children were young they did gravitate to him more as their mother was working and traveling while they were growing up. She would get home at 8:00 many nights and often only home on weekends. They all appreciated their mother and made the best of their time together.
I wondered what he does now that the children are out of the house and his wife is often away. So of course I asked, “what are you doing for yourself now that you’re no longer raising children. He said “ I hunt.” Somehow this gentleman just didn’t fit the image of a hunter, and I thought of my own negative judgments about guns and hunting, but I hung with him.
“What do you hunt?” He said, “ rabbits, squirrel, deer, wild boar and bear.” I grew up with a father who hunted squirrel and rabbit and I can still remember the flavor, preferring the tasty dark meat of squirrel to the blander rabbit. I asked if he ate what he caught. He said, “ I eat everything I kill. It’s an honor thing.” I wondered about the bear. “ Yes, the bear, the boar and all of the game I catch.” He said he made steaks out of the bear meat. “It’s a little tough, but still tasty.” He also explained that he catches his larger game with a bow and arrow and only uses the gun for smaller game.
He told me how he got started hunting. He was 10 years old when his father got him his first gun and took him out to hunt. His father never touched a gun, other than to teach his son, realizing it was in his son’s DNA to hunt. He told me he has killed 73 deer since he started hunting.”
I asked what he did with the carcass. The story continued with interest. He said he freezes the carcass until he is ready to preserve and tan the hide. He is a taxidermist. I had never met a taxidermist. He explained the process. You pickle the hide, just like pickles; then you brush tanning solution on the inside of the hide which preserves it. He then wraps the hide around a form and creates a piece that looks like either the live animal as in squirrels and rabbits or he makes a cranium form, which is just the head. With the bear, he made a large rug with the head of the bear. He is well known for his work and sells his pieces. He has been commissioned to provide pieces for the Cincinnati Zoo, Aquarium and other museums.
He told me how he uses his garage to complete his work. Carcasses hang in the garage when they are first stripped and preparing to be frozen. I could only wonder what the neighbors thought. Of course I asked. He said he keeps the garage closed and there is a drape that encircles the carcasses. He keeps the forms and completed works in “his bedroom.”
Wondering what his wife and children thought about it all, of course I asked. He said his wife tolerates it and his children have never been interested in hunting. He is the only one who will eat the game meat.
I wondered how often he ate the meat. He said he ate meat every day and game meat three times a week. He was not particularly overweight, but I pictured the inside of his arteries and had to ask about his health and cholesterol. He put his thumb up about the cholesterol and explained that his doctor is also a hunter and they take the same statin drug.
What about exercise? “ Oh yes, I walk 3-5 miles a day with my father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s disease.” This opened up a whole other part of the story. Not only was this hunter, a nurturing father but he was now the main person looking after his father in law. He told me that although his wife has brothers, he was the only one who could take care of his “Dad.” He had the nurturing DNA and the psychological insight, the time and distance from childhood baggage that it takes to care for someone with dementia.
He told me how he gets his father in law to take a shower by telling him interesting places they will visit. When his father in law refuses to go to the doctor, he would say, “ Dad, I am so afraid to go to the doctor. Would you go with me? “ His father in law would then gladly oblige, arriving only to get his own examination. His father in law’s nutrition by marking the garbage cans with a napkin-noting that anything above the last napkin was eaten.
This gentle hunter, house husband, caregiver, nurturing parent had a quiet air about him. He seemed to have a spiritual essence and I shared this observation with him asking if he practiced any form of religion or spirituality. He said he was Catholic, but also very much enjoyed his sister’s mega church.
He still goes to Mass every Sunday because his father in law wants to go. He also takes his father in law to say the rosary three mornings a week. During Lent his father in law wanted to go to confession, so they went to church together. He told me that the priest who heard their confession had once been convicted and “sent away” for molesting a girl in a nearby park. My mind thought of the movie Spotlight. And yet they allowed him to hear their confession-“ I guess you have to forgive, “ he said. I then thought-Wow! I get it, but what about forgiving his mother. I did not say what I was thinking.
We talked a long time and I wanted to get back to my reading. I asked him what he liked to read. He said he read the Bible, and took his King James version out of his carry on bag. He also had a book on depression. He said he was reading it because of his father in law, noting that his “Dad” seemed more withdrawn and depressed lately. He was hoping to gain some insight on how to deal with his father in law’s mood swings.
My gentle hunter told me how he was looking so forward to this trip with his wife but was very concerned about his father in law. While away his wife’s brothers would be looking in on their Dad. He shared that when he got back to Ohio, it was probably getting close to having his father in law move in with him and his wife. “The wandering is a problem. He just walks off…”
I wondered how his wife felt about this-‘Oh, she is fine with it. I would be the one taking care of him.”
This man was a paradox-he obviously was a skilled huntsman, but also a gentle and nurturing soul. He ate bear, yet seemed as cuddly as a Teddy. I thought how fortunate his wife is to have him to take care of everything at home including her father. Yet he said he was very fortunate to have her as she is the financial provider and they have had a very good marriage. All he asks of her is to make and manage the money. He is the homemaker. They respect each other’s DNA and it works.
The gentle hunter told me his nickname-“Carcass.” It fits but Caress might even me better.
The last thing he said was that he was really looking forward to this trip and hoped his wife was okay with him staying the entire week. Somehow, that felt a little sad. I hoped she was looking as forward to seeing him as he was her.
All I can say is never judge a book until you’ve heard the whole story-the same with people. I am so glad I kept my vegetarian health values to myself and listened to a tender story.
Nice meeting you Carcass! Hope you had a great week in Vegas.
November 26 is the National Day of Listening. When I heard this I thought, " How wonderful, to have a day that reminds us to listen." The idea for this day originated in 2008 (to read more click here) and was meant to encourage us to listen to and record interviews with people we love. I have often thought of how I wished I had recorded my parents sharing stories from their lives. We never did get those recordings, so I hope some of you do.
If not today, sit down with the people you love, and listen to them tell you their stories or something from their life. It's amazing how much we miss when we continue to rush through our days without listening.
I am so much more relaxed and peaceful when I listen, and I always learn something.
So celebrate this day by listening, and preferably recording conversations that can have meaning for a long long time.