Spiritual Hottie turned 1 this May – yay!!! – and SHe turned 1 year and 1 month this June – yay + 1/12 yay!!! I deeply appreciate that you’ve shared my journey with me. Without you, I would’ve not written 45 blog posts. Without you, I would’ve not had the pleasure to read and reply to more than 90 comments. Many-many thanks!!!
My very first blog post was about the five lessons I learned on my journey to bodacious enlightenment. I got lots of great comments on the blog and on FB, so here are another five insights from the past year:
#6. Forgive before being asked for forgiveness. (*** Watch a video blog ***)
I could write pages and pages on what others have said or done to me that wasn’t fair. Or haven’t said or done for me even if I deserved it. Can you relate?
For a long time I held a grudge against a girl whose name was also Janna. She transferred into my high school in our junior year. Not only did she mess up my one-of-a-kind-name-status in my class by becoming the “other Janna,” she also became the “other woman” in the life of my school sweetheart, who eventually married her. A double blow for a teenager’s fragile heart and even more fragile self-esteem.
Years later I figured that I’d better forgive her along with another woman who had an affair with my now ex-husband even before these women – or my exes for that matter – asked me for forgiveness. Seriously, we may never cross each other’s paths. We may not be able to find the right words even if we do. Now what? Shall I be caught forever between yesterday and tomorrow waiting for an apology? Shall I be stuck in a neutral position not being able to reverse or drive forward? Who’s the driver of my life after all?
Let’s be clear, I am not doing this for their benefit or on their behalf. I have my own life to live. But now looking at these two relationships, I’m immensely grateful for where I am, where I am not, and for what they taught me, including forgiving before being asked for forgiveness.
#7. Strengthen your happiness muscle.
When I feel like the color deep blue, my now looks hopeless, my future promises nothing but more of the same, and my past, well, my past is the “new and improved” version of a torture chamber delivered just in time for this special occasion. Why is it that I can’t think of any happy moments exactly when they need them the most? That’s because my brain is preoccupied with other thoughts. But if I have a chance to read about my happy moments, I can remind myself that I have had them, and that I can experience them again. To help myself, I started keeping a special notebook just for happy, fun, and funny memories. The more powerful, vivid, and remarkable, the better. You know, the bad-mood-buster types that make us smile every time we re-read them.
One of my most favorite memories of the past year was my Mom’s face showing both surprise and happiness when she saw me among the audience at her amateur theater play. The play was about Purim, and why it’s considered to be the time of miracles for Jewish people. I showed up unannounced with a huge bouquet of spring flowers. My Mom’s precious reaction “This is my daughter from America! She came for my performance!” and her sweet tears were totally worth the long journey.
Recording, writing, and reading our happy memories are like hitting the mental gym to build up our happiness muscles. The muscles that we can engage to catch ourselves from falling down into deep mental holes.
#8. Regrets will come unless…
Some time ago I read a wonderful article written by a nurse who worked in a nursing home with dying people. As you can imagine, the life’s top regrets shared by the people facing own imminent mortality were not about buying a new car, working extra hours, or having more and hotter sex. They were about not living a meaningful, happy, and courageous life according to one’s own dreams.
What prevents us from doing exactly that today? At the bottom, I think, it’s the fear of failure in own or others’ eyes. Do I need to wait until my deathbed to discover this? Certainly not! So I say, feel the fear and do it anyway. Find people who will support you and take that small step toward your dream. Now.
#9. Connect with the vulnerable self within and with those of others.
In a recent writing workshop our instructor asked us to explore the concept of conflict. Our task was to find within and act out a wide range of emotions stirred by a conflict. Working in pairs, we shouted, cried, begged, stomped our feet, kept indignant silence, and silenced our partners. I paid close attention to how others played out their emotions. I also found something about myself.
Conflict. Avoiding, creating, participating, reproducing it million times. It came as a surprise how comfortable it was to play the roles, how intimately I knew the lines. In fact, the word “surprise” was an understatement because I always thought of myself as a peacemaker, a diplomat, female incarnation of the Dalai Lama himself… okay, that may be a stretch. 😉
During one exercise, I was looking in my partner’s eyes when I saw two large mirrors in which every single detail of me was shown and remembered. I thought then, “People with whom we have close, intimate, day-to-day interactions are our mirrors not only in the physical sense. Conflicts are the reflections within ourselves.” Was I trying to over-intellectualize this? Perhaps. Perhaps, it was my unconscious reaction when I didn’t know how to react.
Why to fake? Is it to hide my vulnerability, that soft, tender, sensitive part of self? But looking at Vicky’s expressive eyes I saw that she also had the vulnerable self. And I wanted to connect with it. To drop the pretense, to leave behind the words that couldn’t convey everything anyway, to let go of the need to be in control.
#10. Dance with yourself.
I remember my first dance. Do you?
The dim lights. The slow music. The words that exist only for the two of us: “I hold you in my arms, and you’re beautiful.”
The first touch of your fingers on my bare skin that sent to a flock of butterflies all over. I rise on my toes to be and to feel closer to you.
“How can you be so intimate, so gentle, so loving?” I ask. We turn slowly around.
My head tilts to the right shoulder. Your lips touch my hand. I realize that I am in your power. But so are you in mine.
“I hold you in my arms, and you’re beautiful.” I hold my breath to prolong the moment. I don’t want the air filled with you to be let out.
“Talk to me, talk to me in your breaths,” you tell me in the most kind voice I’ve ever heard. We swirl more.
“How can I be so loved? I thought… I thought…,” my voice breaks, “I don’t deserve so much love from anyone, not even from you.” You don’t reply. You just hold me closer. Your hands are on me, and mine on you.
We gently rock to the right and to the left, to the right and to the left in the space that belongs just to the two of us. The music fades. But we still stand in each other’s loving embrace.
Do you remember your first dance? I do. Because I had it with my own soul.
Dance with yourself. You’ll be surprised what comes up.