My alchemy of life…
In my last blog, I talked about inclusion and how shifting our mindset to include everyone will change the world. Everyone has a gift to share and being open to others ideas, opens us up to so many possibilities. It is difficult to know what will work, and “my way or the highway” closes out possibilities and potential. The future is not about things. The future is about shifting to a consideration of all ideas, gifts and experiences.
I learned about the power of inclusion when I was teaching challenged learners in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Noticing that these students were segregated and isolated from their peers just seemed wrong. Passion overtook traditionalism and the creation of inclusion programs became my mission. I was not always liked or accepted for doing this thing called inclusion but it was the fair and just way to integrate them in the mainstream classrooms. What a difference it made in their academic progress and social skills and the acceptance of their peers. Today, more than 60 percent of all students with disabilities spend 80 percent or more of their school day in regular classrooms, alongside their non-disabled peers. Inclusion works.
When I rewired from teaching and chose to travel the world, I found people of all cultures, religions and other orientations including me, which made me feel welcome. Having a group of people in my hometown to share my experiences was delightful, especially the eighty and ninety-year-young women who refer to me as a “vagabond.”
Whenever I returned to Cleveland, I would spend a day or two visiting with my aunt. We went shopping, fixed issues in her apartment, and always ended the day having dinner in the dining room of the independent living facility in which she resides. The friends she tootles around with especially at dinnertime would delight in calling me a vagabond or wanderer. They truly loved hearing my travel stories and flipping through my photos. Likewise I enjoyed hearing their travel stories and seeing pictures of their families. What a treat to be in their wisdom energy of giving, taking and being included in their dinner conversation.
What will it take to close the doors of our institutions for the elderly and move them back into society where they can share their incredible wisdom? As I peel the layers of my former structure of knowing, I begin to question the structure of our institutions. The people of the Amazon don’t put their elderly away. The generations of a family live together sharing space physically, mentally, and emotionally. These aha moments are precious to me.
I refer to myself as a “woman of the world.” By tapping into my inner child, I have continually opened doors on my journey. By traveling solo and putting myself out there, I found the universe open up to me. I was amazed at the number of women who were traveling just as I was, exploring all the world has to offer. Incidentally, now that I am rooted in an apartment, I no longer bump up against other women of the world.
Energy works in amazing ways bringing people together. A person’s energy will match another like energy allowing the two energies to come together and create amazing things. Segregating people stops the natural flow of energy and creates a one-track thought process.
Energy also spirals out into the dark night. My intention evolved into clearing my past and brought the peeling of the onion layers right into my lap. I wanted to wash my skin to cleanse my soul. These two things—travel and clearings—informed one another in the energy field. They would be my alchemy of life, opening me up to the sweet surrender of all things possible in the world. I would be like a serpent shedding its skin. I was on an expedition to discover my true self, but I did not realize it at first.
What if I had allowed my dragons to keep me small? Dragons like shame, fear, or guilt. What if I chose not to push through what was scary? What if I chose not to take my unsatisfying life to a satisfying life? This was not part of my story. I consciously live with the knowing that whenever I have the option to try something new, I take it. Magical things happen when I follow what the Universe presents.
I am an adventurer. Without much nudging and prodding, I set out on the road exploring. Carl Jung referred to the opposite natures in every human being as “masculine” and “feminine.” My fully developed, protective, masculine side had served its purpose. Like a serpent sheds its skin, I would shed this perfectionist, competitive, analytical side of me by exploring any and all ways to expose and embody my feminine side. This would be my bliss. People including me in their communities and families made all the difference in the world.
The late Ted Andrews said in his book, Animal Speak, “The bear teaches us to go in and awaken the potentials inherent, the tree serves as a reminder that we must bring what we awaken out into the world and apply it—make our marks with it.”
In the first month of what would turn into my four-year journey traveling the world, I woke up at Sufi Camp one morning with something rubbing up against my tent. I began pushing on the side of the tent to nudge what I thought was the free-range cow I’d seen the night before. Warm and cozy in my sleeping bag, I did not want to climb out to open the flap. The animal soon left. Later that morning, a friend who was camping across the road from me told me a bear had come close to her tent then wandered over to mine. The bear had been awakening my potential! It was in that moment that I knew my sojourn was going to be a spiritual journey.
There is a great new story occurring now. A story that is absolutely essential in changing the mindset of human beings. Everyone and everything is a mirror of the self. We are one and I am enough. There is a power in me that no one can take away. It is exemplified by the Dalai Lama in his nonviolent ways, even in the face of extreme aggression. The Dalai Lama shows us what is possible through forgiveness, love and inclusion.
So, I have come to see that opening up to all possibilities—and there are many—gives me hope. There is more to life than an organized closet. The more I accumulate, the less I experience life. I have gone from a 2,200 square foot home to a 350 square foot apartment and I have everything I need.
I felt as though I had reached a threshold of the hero’s journey, where everything known is left behind, and I was venturing into an unknown realm where rules and limits are yet to be revealed. I was to learn many things on the journey but one of the most important was, “Everything is energy.” If everything is connected and everything is energy, when the coronavirus strikes on the other side of the world, we are affected. I believe people are seeing we are all connected and including everyone in the solution is of paramount importance.
How did we as a species get to this place in history? Why do we assume some people are better and more deserving than others? How did we come to see that what Mother Earth offers is merely a resource for our taking? Everyone deserves to be included in the best medical care, the best schools, etc.
I know my four-year journey impacted my values and morals, all the while opening my eyes to other ways of seeing the world. My journey continues to keep me in wonderment and a space of questioning all that is. I am a woman on a mission to help everyone reach their full potential while expressing their gifts in an inclusive society.
When audience members are in attendance for one of my talks, I always promise them a complementary copy of my award winning ebook, Step Up Step Out, Share Your Gifts and Be an Agent for Change. Help yourself to your copy!