What’s Your Tipping Point?

“What is your tipping point?”

Years ago, a friend posed this question to me when I was going through a particularly challenging time.  In other words, he was asking me, “How much are you willing to put up with before you make a change?

I’ve always seen life as a hero’s journey, an adventure filled with great challenges and great joys.  It’s not the challenges that defines us, but how we act when facing them.  Do we run?  Tackle them head on?  Or wait to be rescued?  In the end, we all want to live happily ever after, with meaning, joy, health, and security.  Right?  I know I do!

When the negative outweighs the positive in our relationships, careers, or other aspects of life, it’s time to ask “What is my tipping point?  How much will I tolerate before I say ‘enough’?”

The particularly challenging time I faced all those years ago was an unhealthy relationship.  I had spent months trying to “fix it” alone.  He wasn’t going to be what I needed and I couldn’t make him.  The tipping point was the realization that the only thing I could change was me.  Was I willing to put up with his behavior or was I going to walk?  With clarity I saw that failure wasn’t in leaving the bad relationship; failure would be staying where I was crying more than I was smiling.   Ending it took immense courage and strength but proved I loved myself enough to rescue my Self, be the heroine in my own story.

Fast forward several years and the next big obstacle on my life’s journey was a career that was in conflict with everything I value and hold sacred.  It started out small, as many problems do, easy to dismiss as just a bad day or an isolated incident.  Then, the problem grew.  It was harder to ignore but the positive still outweighed the negative so I stayed.  It started to impact my life mentally and emotionally through worry, stress, and dread.  It affected me spiritually, compromising my principals and integrity but still I held on, thinking “It could be worse.”  And finally, because I ignored all of the warning signs, the Universe said, “Ok, Susan, I’ll get your attention with this!!” and I suffered physically- chest pains, insomnia, nausea, lowered immune system…  That was my tipping point.  I felt something powerful awaken in my Soul and I knew I had enough.  My health and well-being had to be the priority.

I resigned from public education in June of this year for reasons that could fill a book, not a blog post.  Suffice it to say that it took everything I have inside of me to make this leap of faith.  I was terrified to leave but more terrified of what would happen if I stayed.   Every aspect of my life has improved since making this decision- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Calling it a “leap of faith” is an oversimplification.  It was a leap of faith based on intuition, intellect, and imagination.  And if I can do it, you can, too!!

So why am I sharing something so deeply personal on such a public platform?

For years, I’ve been leading women’s spirit circles, workshops, and Red Tents with the intention to celebrate, honor, empower, support, and awaken the authentic Self in each woman and girl who attends my events.  How can I continue this purposeful work if I’m not willing to celebrate, honor, empower, support, and awaken my own authentic Self?  In other words, I need to walk my talk and come from a place of knowing.  Otherwise, I’m a fraud and a hypocrite, and that’s not an option for me.

Reaching the tipping point and choosing to change is empowering and scary at the same time.  I know.  But I also know this… people don’t regret leaving bad situations.  They regret staying.  So when intuition says “You’ve reached your tipping point”, honor that still, small voice inside and take the leap of faith… faith in your Self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My First Kirtan

Music unites people in a way that no other form of communication can.  The rhythms & emotions cross all racial, ethnic, religious, & political lines & I wholeheartedly celebrate that!

“One Love” gets it.   This 4-person band uses kirtans to repeatedly chant names for the Divine that cross all faiths.  The night I attended their performance, I soon learned it wasn’t a “performance” at all.  The band & audience members joined to chant various names for Source, including Espiritu de Dios, Allah, Krishna, Sita, Ram, Red Tara, Ganesha, Kali, & Sarasvati.  One Love believes that “each repetition of the Name is a sip of that sweet nectar that is the Divine Presence.  The interesting paradox is that through chanting the Names, we deepen into the experience of the Nameless.”

Before joining their global ecstatic chant last weekend, I did a little research to find out “kirtan” is call & response chanting.  It is a Sanskrit word meaning communicate, celebrate, & praise.  These hymns or mantras are accompanied by a variety of instruments from guitars to drums & flutes.  I found it sublime.

My personal favorite was a chant inspired by a Navajo prayer…

Beauty before me

Beauty behind me

Beauty beneath me

Beauty above me

Beauty beside me

And all around me

Beauty encircles me with love.

I loved being in the company of like-minded individuals who value the interconnectedness of all things & respect spiritual traditions from cultures around the world.  For a couple of magical hours that night, we deepened our connection to the Divine & one another.  It was a profoundly beautiful & unifying experience.

Please check out One Love’s website… http://onelovechant.com

Create- For the Spiritual Journey

A dear friend’s mother passed away recently, leaving her a variety of art supplies that she had no idea how to use.  “Bring them over.  We’ll have lunch & an art date”, I suggested.  So, we enjoyed a delicious lunch on my deck & opened the wooden box that had 2 velvet-lined drawers cradling charcoal, watercolor pencils, & drawing pencils in neat rows.  My friend is a very talented musician but hadn’t done much sketching.  “What do I do with all of these?”, she asked perplexed.  I thought for a moment.  Where to begin?  I’ve had countless art courses & workshops over the years, even majoring in Fine Art in college & enjoying a career in graphic design for several years.  Do I discuss perspective?  Line?  Composition?  Hmm… I made up my mind as to the most important quality of art & gave her my advice.

“PLAY.”

“Pick a pencil & see what it can do.  Scribble with it.  Smudge it.  Splash water on it.  Don’t worry about what it looks like.  Just create for the sake of creating.”

We had the best time!  Creating without self-criticizing is so liberating!!  This collage, titled “Create”, represents our burning need to be a part of creation in some way, shape, or form from creating new life to giving birth to new ideas.  Creating is yet another way to connect to something greater than ourselves & leave a legacy for those who follow.  I am a co-creator with the Divine, affecting my life & the lives of those around me.  So are you.

Create: celebrate your role as co-creator in your life.

This is the 8th collage in my series of 12 for the spiritual journey.  How are these pieces impacting you?  Please share your thoughts.  I’d also like to hear your ideas of what I should do with them when I’m finished.  I’ve considered making a calendar, notecards, or prints.  Any other suggestions?

 

Dance- For the Spiritual Journey

Dance is the 3rd collage of 12 that I’m creating “For the Spiritual Journey”.  It’s a component that is part of some faiths but absent from others.  Rather than symbolize one particular religion or specific dance form, I chose to create a dancer who loves life & celebrates her connectedness to all things.  Her joy lifts her off the ground & stretches her beyond the edges of the paper.  She is Divine.

Dance- a way to connect to the Source of All

I’m fascinated by the way our spiritual paths are similar & respectful of the ways they differ.  Dervishes in the Sufi tradition whirl to reach a state of religious ecstasy.  Buddhist monks & Hindu priestesses may dance as part of a sacred ritual.  Pagans may dance around a fire or Maypole to celebrate important days on the Wheel of the Year.  Jews celebrate marriage, a sacred rite of passage, with dancing.  Some Christian faiths see dance as a way to praise their God.  My religious upbringing neither prohibited dancing, as some do, nor was it part of our spiritual practice either.  Even now, though my spiritual journey has taken me far from the faith of my family, I don’t dance to connect to what is greater than I.  I tend to follow a more contemplative, quiet path & that’s ok, too.  So many paths ultimately leading to the same thing.  Beautiful!!

If you are interested in learning more about how people express their faith through dance, check out some of the videos on YouTube.  Even if you’ve never seen dance as spiritual, perhaps you will now.  Blessings to you all!

Prayer- For the Spiritual Journey

When I was 12, I firmly rejected the faith of my childhood.  God in the clouds– white beard & white gown, casting judgment on poor sinners didn’t resonate with my spirit.  That God was “out there” & separate from me; an impossibility because I deeply believe (even at age 12) that the Divine is in me, too.

When I asked myself, “What is God?”, my child Self gave such a sweet explanation that it has stayed in my heart ever since.  The Divine is a big bowl of cookie dough.  While the bowl of dough is bigger than me, I am a cookie & thereby part of the dough, part of something greater than my Self.  Each living thing is a cookie, unique from any other.  I have to laugh remembering this simplistic definition but honestly, I haven’t come up with one better in all these years 🙂

Since I began my spiritual journey, I’ve visited a number of churches, temples, & synagogues around the world from the United States to Europe to the Middle East.  Here’s a secret… no matter the faith, we all pray.  Our forms of prayer are as different as we are– standing, sitting, kneeling, facing east, facing a cross, hands folded, hands raised, eyes closed, eyes to the sky, quietly, loudly, alone, in a group– all is prayer.  And what is prayer?  Our way to connect to the Divine in a way that feels right to us.

This collage, the second in my “For the Spiritual Journey” series, is simply titled Prayer.

As unique as we are