I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, but in writing from a male perspective in my current work-in-progress, I’ve thought a lot about it, interviewed a lot of vets and have tried to immerse myself in the world of Jake, my twenty-two-year-old Iraq war vet amputee who is back home in a small town in Texas trying to start his life anew. For weeks I was bothered not knowing who the antagonist of the book was until one day it clicked that it was Misery – basically the black cloud of bad shit that had happened to him all of his life and seemed to continue to be happening. I bring up Jake and Misery in this week’s Get Happy post because it’s important for us to remember to use our pain and sit with the discomfort in figuring out how we can resolve issues (buried and new) and also the importance of having a tribe. Your peeps.
So this week’s potpourri of happiness includes: a) the importance of feeling loved and secure to get through the tough times b) having a tribe of people who understand and let you be your authentic YOU and where you feel you BELONG and c) having the will to take the journey to authentic living for a passionate life.
I stumbled upon Sam Keen’s work and because I’m a jump in kind of girl, I ordered and am simultaneously reading three of his books: Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, To Love and Be Loved, and The Passionate Life. While each one is different, they share the foundation of the importance of knowing and loving yourself and sorting through the bullshit our culture and advertising and conditioning dole out. The central theme in his work is really understanding LOVE in all of its forms so that we can be better people and better lovers. From To Love… Elements of love: attention, desire, knowledge, sensuality, empathy, compassion, enjoyment, care, storytelling, repenting, self-love, commitment, co-creation, adoration, sexuality and enchantment.
In The Passionate Life, Keen gives us the history of sexuality along with the psychology and philosophy of love, desire and passion and encourages us to wake up to the trivialization of the erotic and only thinking it’s for “certain people” such as celebrities or people who look or dress a certain way. He also give us a roadmap for defining and overcoming the barriers to progress to higher levels of love. He describes our journey (which is circular, not linear) as Child, Rebel, Adult, Outlaw and Lover.
Probably my favorite thing about diving in to a subject is how all the parts begin coming together to seek my own clarity and I hope you’ll do that, too. When you open your eyes to really “see” then it seems as if what you are looking for is everywhere. The timing in reading these books and taking the Blushing Wild ecourse with a group of fascinating women online with our own personal wounds from the battle of living and loving and thrashing WHILE working on my novel and WHILE working on my own awakening has truly been powerful. Thing is, we can only make those choices ourselves. No one is standing over you saying, “Hey, you. Time to make a little progress in this whole life thing. Time to love a little more. Time to forgive yourself. Time to forgive others. Time to let go of what isn’t working. Time to get rid of the shame and guilt. Time to love a little more. Wait, I said already, right? So what are you still doing sitting there?”
Well, okay. I’ll be that person to tap you on the shoulder but it’s up to us to commit and go for it. While a lot of my work is cerebral and spiritual, I can see how it manifests in the real world with my interactions with others – whether that’s personal or professional. And people do notice our energy. Recently a retailer came up to me and told me I had a beautiful aura, that I was glowing, and that whatever I’m doing in life to keep doing it. Wow. I was stunned.
I don’t tell you that as a humble brag but that it served as a reminder for us to be aware of what energy we’re putting out there in the world. It was even more special because she talked about my aura and not my clothes or looks (though they are a reflection of mySelf, too.) Obviously she felt compelled to share that and I think it was important for me to receive it because as much as I seem confident, I am also full of doubt and questioning and unsure a lot of the time.
Question on our energy: Am I being negative? Am I bringing the past with me to the present? Am I being a good listener when others are talking? Am I being an active participant in the outcomes of my life or simply reactionary? Am I making assumptions or projections instead of accepting what is and feeling it? (All can be hard!) But her words gave me a gentle affirmation that I MUST be doing something right. That I’m on the right track. I’m living my passions. I’m figuring out what’s next and letting myself be vulnerable and open and receiving. I can be confident and scared at the same time. I can feel joy and pain at the same time. Life can be ambiguous and a mystery and yet still full of joy and opportunity.
Questions to ponder this week:
Who are my tribes? Do I need to remove myself from some and find new ones where I might feel more authentic?
What elements of love do I need to work on? How can I focus on them?
Am I good at empathizing with others – understanding or at least appreciating others’ differences whether that’s gender or lifestyle or opinions? How can I get better at “taking a walk in their shoes?”
Is Misery a part of your life? Where and how can you deal with her? (In my book she’s a Her. And trying to bury her won’t work, because she’ll still haunt you. Creepy, huh?)
What’s the fire in your belly?
As always, I’d like to close with encouraging you to Get Out and explore nature and include more adventure in your life for discovery and connection to something greater than ourselves. I’m thrilled that fall is here for football season and camping and the gorgeous fall landscape. Will share pictures and stories along the way. Here’s to happy, through the pain.