I just got a rejection letter over a screenplay that I wrote that I really love. I think the story is interesting and one of the strongest things I've ever written. Whenever I get a rejection I always lose my grip on those feelings though. It's like they become sand and just fall through my fingers, and all I'm left holding is a grain of what was once a good, solid, and upbeat attitude about my writing. It always happens the same too, every time, after all these years. I get the letter, and there's that moment of just taking it in, of just going, "Okay, this is just one opinion. It's okay. I'm okay." And then there's the backlash, the feeling that I'm writing garbage and always will.
I'm trying something new where I channel those feelings into my writing. I have tried a lot of ways to process rejection quickly and effectively. Tapping, meditation, running, long walks, I've tried it all. It's kind of shocking to me I've never before put it into writing though. I just tried it and I enjoyed it. It felt like something good came from it, and like I really let it go. I felt like an alchemist, taking the feelings and transmuting them from one state to another. I don't think I could do this every time, because I don't want to write a book where a character is systematically rejected. But as it feels right, I will do this again.
I hope you are finding your own ways to navigate the ups and down of following your dreams. It's never a straight road, but sometimes you gotta get knocked on your back to take a moment and look up at the stars. Speaking of which, the sun is setting, and I'm going to take a walk soon and admire the stars. I can't control much, but I can control what I do now. So now I'm going to walk and admire the night sky.
photo copyright Steve Evans
"I still got a lot of livin' to do."
- my friend's 92 year old grandmother
I keep thinking of these words she said, and feeling inspired by them. I'm sure you can imagine the simplicity of her life. She can't move much. She spends most of her time alone. But life is still precious to her. She still finds value and fulfillment in each moment, each breath. At some point she realized, to be alive is special, and she's not letting go of that feeling. When she got it and how she got it I can't say. It's one of the mysterious gifts of growing old.
I've signed up for Cassandra Lyon's 100 day dance challenge and I'm really excited! The last time I joined a 100 day experience it was the happiness project, where you post something that made you happy every day on social media. It was an incredible experience and I loved how it changed my thinking and brought incredible gifts into my life. The thing that I really loved about it though was that it kept me motivated to focus on what felt good. No matter how much we tell ourselves to do something, sometimes we just need that extra motivation to make it a daily habit. So with this 100 day dance challenge I'm looking forward to being motivated and inspired to get up and be free and move for a few minutes, every day. This project starts November 4th and the cost to join is $47 (I discuss below what comes with enrolling), so you've got a week to think it over and sign up. As a bonus, there's also going to be two raffles during the dance challenge! The first is for a 1 hour coaching session with Cassandra ($150 value) and the the second is for a MONTH of coaching ($600 value)! Click here to go to the website, or keep reading for why I signed up:
I recently posted on here how important it is to listen to yourself. One of the best ways to feel more in touch with yourself is dancing! Dancing is a natural and fun form of meditation. If you don't enjoy sitting and focusing on your breathing, or you would like to expand your meditation practice, then I would suggest giving this dancing challenge from Cassandra a try. Dancing focuses your mind, brings you into your body, grounds you and gets you breathing deep. In addition, dancing gets your blood pumping and your heart working, so it's going to help improve circulation, detoxify, strengthen muscles and get you feeling good from the movement. There is a reason dancing is one of the most ancient forms of connecting to spirit. Not just in the sense of a higher power, but your own spirit, the life force that pulses through you and brings passion, positivty and ease and grace into your experiences.
In this blog I've talked a few times about how I used to be really depressed. That depression pushed me to find what would make me happy, to find what it meant to love myself, and to feel each day was a gift rather than a drudgery. I read books, explored spiritual teachings and made change after change, generally following my principle of one step at at time.
As I became happier and began to feel I was thriving in life and not just surviving I continued to listen to current spiritual teachers and read their books. Sometimes it was just because I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the insights and meditations. But other times I still needed it, like when I lived in Holland...
Or did I? I certainly thought I needed it. After all, I was depressed again, and I didn't know how to get myself out of it. So I started listening. Everyday. Sometimes to more than one a day.
There's a funny thing that happens when you continually listen to all these spiritual gurus. None of them actually call themselves gurus, that is way unhip in the spiritual world these days. But guru, by definition, is Sanskrit for "teacher" or "master." Many of these people will tell you they're masters in their field. Otherwise, why would you listen to them? Would you rather listen to someone who is a relationship and love master or someone who thinks their love life is a train wreck? And all, of course, will tell you they're teachers. Therefore, if they're masters and teachers, they are gurus. However, we've all become a bit turned off by the idea of a guru. It's in fact contradictory to what many of these modern masters want to tell us: that we're the master. We already know everything. We are born into this world all knowing.
So why then do we start listening to masters? Why does anyone seek out a spiritual teacher? I did it. And I enjoyed it. But what happened was, I started to rely on it. Every time I had a problem in my life I wanted to hear a radio show, I wanted to read a blog or a book. I wanted to hear what a master would say about what I was going through.
Essentially, I wanted someone else to tell me how to run my life. My desire to learn from someone who supposedly knew more than me was causing me to loose faith in myself. I was not in anyway stepping into mastery. I was just following the beat of someone else's drum.
This need to get my answers outside of myself continued to grow an empty feeling inside me. Especially because as I listened to these shows, they kept saying, "You already know everything! You were born healthy, abundant, all knowing, whole and complete!" But then... why am I listening? And why can't I stop? Why can't I just trust I know what I need in each moment?
This meditation technique takes only a few minutes, but it can help to release resistance, center you and bring in feelings of calm and well-being.
To do this, all you are going to do is breathe in and out and count.
On the first breath, breathe in for a count of one and out for a count of one.
On the second breath, breathe in for two and out for two.
On the third breath, breathe in for three and out for three.
Continue with this until you get to 10. Try to breathe into your heart and out from it with each breath.
Keep breathing. Keep going, until you get to 10. When you get to 10, do it again in reverse. Breathe in for 9 and out for 9, breathe in for 8 and out for 8 and so on, until you are back at one.
If you feel up to it, you can repeat the counting and breathing cycle again. If you felt a lot of heavy resistance pass during the breathing, imagine a bright white light in your heart at the end of the meditation. Let that light pulse through you, flowing to every corner with each beat of your heart.
After you may also have the desire to sit quiet and hear your inner guidance.
You can try breathing into your heart with a question. Ask yourself a question you've really been seeking an answer to, such as, "Why am I still stuck?" See the words going into your heart for a few breaths, maybe 3 or 4. Then sit quiet, don't force it, and wait for the answer to be softly whispered from your heart.
It might not be what you expect, and that's why this is a wonderful thing to do after the breathing exercise. Your mind will be quiet, you will be still, centered and ready to hear what your heart has to say. Whatever you hear, trust it is right for you.
It begins with a rumble and we're falling. Falling. Free falling to the ground. It's terrifying and exciting. Where will I go this time? How long will I get to stay?
I land on a leaf and each time I'm down it's always the same: it's like the first time. I feel so free and different here. I can feel the air on my edges, I can feel where I stop and the wind begins. I can feel that I am something, and small or not, I am real. I can feel that I am a solid part of this glorious world. There is no feeling like that moment you realize again what you are and what you are a part of.
Sometimes I feel like what I do here can be about numbers. I can see the number of people who like my Facebook page, how many come to this website daily, and how many like the blog posts I write. Although I create my website from my own experiences, I share my stories and journey for others, with the intention that it serves as a light on the path of someone who feels they are wandering around in darkness.
I really don't want to feel like I'm serving a number, but people, so today I'm just going to take a moment and say hello! Today I am reminding myself that someone real, someone important, someone walking their own path full of obstacles and highs and lows, is going to read this. I know sometimes we hesitate to send a message because we don't want to intrude or take up a person's time, but I am always excited and honored when one of my website visitors takes the time to message me. If you ever get the urge to comment or send a message and say hello please do!
People who connect with me here and on my page are like guests in my home, they've come for a reason, because of a feeling that we're spiritually connected, almost like a soul family, and that we're not doing this alone. We may never meet in person, but we have experiences, feelings and dreams that connect us. Knowing people come and share in this experience with me is something I feel gratitude for every day. When you come to my website there's going to be at least one other person looking at it (based on the website statistics I receive). And this is what truly humbles me. I cannot make it have a feeling of community, a feeling that you're not alone, by myself. It's you, and everyone else that comes by, that really does make it feel like my home, like a warm place where people gather and find a moment to just be.
And because you're important, and you're here and sharing in this journey with me, I'd like to do more than say hello. I'd like to share a virtual cup of coffee with you. This is kind of cheesy, I know, but I felt grumpy and down this morning so I'm in the mood for cheesy. If we were having coffee you'd ask how I'm doing. And I'd tell you - this morning I didn't feel motivated or very inspired. I haven't reached some goals I'm aiming for, and I felt down. I didn't feel what I'm doing is good enough. But this is why I have my mantra, one step at a time. So today my step isn't about writing or sending out pitches. It's just about getting my good feeling back. And that's enough. That's my step for today, and it's an important one.
And then I'd ask you. How are you doing? You don't have to actually tell me. But I would like you to take a moment to ask yourself how you're doing. What's going on in your life? Take a deep breath, and think about you for a second. Write your thoughts down in a journal, or just hold them in your heart for a moment, and then release them. Whatever you do just know someone cares, I care, and if I could meet you for coffee and ask in person I would. But for now, we've got this space, and I'm grateful you're here.
In trying to live our best life we often come across these singular lines of thought that are supposed to be the key to getting what we want. Some examples:
"The person at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."
There is just no way around it. If you want to be a writer then you must be persistent in your efforts and your ability to learn. You cannot positive-think yourself into gaining experience. You must take steps, and then more steps, and then many, many more. That might sound heavy, but if you're going for your dream you will find rewards and gifts with those steps. Is there anything worth having in this world that doesn't take persistence? What about being an artist, a doctor, or a restaurant owner? Or what about learning to love yourself so that you can be in a loving relationship? None of those things can be made manifest overnight. And I sincerely hope my doctor learned by persisting through medical school, rather than by using positive-think to just manifest a degree out of thin air.
I want to reiterate that positive-think and self-talk are essential to the process. Using the law of attraction can be very powerful and kind of shocking when you start paying attention to how it works, whether it be for or against you. Anyone going through medical school who constantly visualizes failure is eventually going to experience failure. I am only suggesting someone use the positive visualization tools WITH action steps. I use many various tools myself, my favorite being a gratitude journal. I also use the tool of meditation every day. But I never forget that this is about me growing and expanding as a person and taking steps that sometimes scare me, sometimes show me my weaknesses, but always lead to the next breakthrough.
Here are some more famous quotes about keeping going to keep you going:
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
- John Quincy Adams
Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering 'I will try again tomorrow'.
― Mary Anne Radmacher
I don't believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.
- Oprah Winfrey
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
- Calvin Coolidge
I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
- Steve Jobs
Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.
photo by Laura Bittner
Last night I did my first public reading of my work. I have another post on this I'll share soon, and how it's going overcoming my fear of public speaking. I wanted to share this short piece because it's the first thing I read last night. Even after I stood in a room full of people and spoke these words out loud, I still feel that twinge of anxiousness as I go to post this. There's always that feeling when you put your work out there, no matter how short the piece is, that hangs in the air around you. That feeling that you no longer have control, it's free, it's out there, and it's going to be what it is.
p.s. I wrote this when I was living in Holland. Okay, I'm done... I'm letting this go, let it go Melissa...
The No-Name Thing
I picked up the orange and looked at it.
To me, it wasn't an orange. It was a no-name thing. I was tired of names. Tired of labels. Since coming to my new country, labels had come to be everything. I had no idea how to tell so many new people who I was. So I let the labels be everything, and everything else faded away.
"American", "immigrant", "girlfriend", and "unemployed", were the most common ones.
As someone who went through a long and dark depression, I am always hopeful that the fact that I came through it will help others to know they can too.
As long as you see any changes you want in life as being a one step at a time process, you can get anywhere you can imagine.
Sometimes you feel yourself sliding down, and you want to stop it before it gets out of hand, so these things listed can be preemptive. Or, if you already are in a pit, please know that I admire you for reading this at all and wanting to take that first step. I was once where you are, and although I can't walk this path for you, I can at least show you some sign posts that helped me find my way.
You might choose one that really feels right at this time, or you may try each one, maybe one per day, until you find what you need at this time. The important thing is to do what you can and to know you're doing the best you can.
1 - Move your physical body
Your inclination will be towards immobility.
However, the more you stay put the more you will feel nothing ever changes. Not only does exercise release endorphins, but it helps you to remember two things: change is possible and you have innate strength.
If you can make your muscles grow and become strong, you can do the same with your mind also. Exercising your body will lay a foundation, a core belief, that will prepare you to do things that exercise and retrain your mind.
There's no need to start by going to the gym and running miles on the treadmill and pumping weights . Start by taking small walks. Taking daily walks is a habit I developed years ago that always brings me feelings of healing, clarity and rejuvenation. If I'm angry and upset, I take a walk. If I'm feeling uninspired, I take it walk. It gets your blood pumping, getting that crucial fresh oxygen all throughout your system.
Crying and walking can be one of the best ways to release. It will clear your mind, help you to focus, and also just give you something new to look at. The importance of changing your perspective cannot be understated.
In the same way you couldn't walk across the country in one day, you can't cross the landscape of depression in one day. But you can do it, and you can start by reminding yourself you are capable of movement.
And if you can't walk, because of the weather or a physical restriction, try moving stuff in your house. Move some picture frames. Put a lamp somewhere else. Anything that feels like movement is the key here.
2 - Shift your focus
Energy goes where attention flows. If you no longer want to be where you are (depressed or in some kind of funk) it's going to require you taking your focus off of it.
Not all at once. But bit by bit, try putting your focus on where you want to go, and let energy start building there.
It's okay if you spend most of your day thinking, Life sucks and so do I. This isn't about judging where you are or what you're feeling. It's not about hiding from your thoughts, or telling yourself negative thoughts are bad. It's about making a conscious choice to build NEW thoughts and feelings, which will start small, until eventually they are the majority. Once you reach that new momentum, whenever that may be, you'll find you no longer have to force yourself to shift your focus. Your energy will be flowing that way on its own.
One of my favorite ways to do this is with a gratitude journal. Sit down and write down what you're grateful for. Or write down the things that went right the day before, the things you enjoyed. Nothing is too small for this, and in fact, this will help you to appreciate the small things. Keep a journal ONLY for these thoughts. Put everything else in a different notebook. It's crucial you have one book for happy and grateful thoughts.
Over time, those few sentences you managed to get down each day will add up. You will start to see your book filling. You can go back and read past entries when you need a boost. This will increase your momentum, and in a time that's right for you, your attention will start to shift away from the dark thoughts and more to the positive ones.
3 - Breathe Deep
Shallow breathing is not just a symptom of stress, but a cause of it.
Take a moment to take some deep breaths in and out.
Do you feel a tightness in your chest? If so, it may help to meditate and breathe deep. Meditation is a great way to practice deep, focused breathing while also relaxing.
If you have never meditated before, you might want to try the Calm App. It's one of the tools I use myself, and it will guide you through the meditation process step by step.
4 - Get Some Indoor Plants
Having plants around is proven to alleviate stress, increase positive feelings, increase health, and boost productivity.
Part of it is the fresh oxygen right there around you. Being surrounded by the color green also helps people think of good health and healing.
One of the best things about having some flowers or a little bush around is that you have something to care for besides yourself. Each time you water your plant, for just that moment, you shift your focus to something else.
If you're not into plants, try getting a small fish. A fish or any type of animal is great because it helps you to feel love and gratitude, two essential components to getting to your feel-good place.
5 - Visualize
Use the power of your imagination to see yourself where you want to be.
For a few minutes every day, see yourself waking up happy and excited for the day. Ask yourself how it feels. Who do you talk to? What do you do first thing in the morning?
Taking a few minutes to do this, and to truly feel into the sights, sounds, and sensations, is not the same as spending all day in escapist thoughts. This is not the same as daydreaming and having your thoughts wander. Scientists have been learning so much lately about how visualizing can have the same effect as actually experiencing the thing.
In other words, if you tell you're brain that you're happy and see yourself doing it, your brain will believe you. It doesn't know the difference. Shifting our feelings is sometimes as simple as convincinging ourselves of a new reality before it happens. And you can do that.
If I said imagine a red fire truck, could you do that? Yes? Great! Then you can visualize. And if this feels like too big of a leap, don't be afraid to look for outside inspiration. Look at magazines of places you want to go and feel yourself there. Look at music concerts you want to attend and feel the music pulsing within you.
You will get the most out of this if you really hold your focus and consciously choose what each second of the vision feels like. Choose to see what you're wearing, how you hold your posture, what foods you eat, and so on. It might be hard to do this for more than a minute at first, but if you can do it for 5 minutes a day, you'll notice changes start to show up in your life.
6 - Create Variety
You have a routine, and with this routine comes the expectation that nothing will change.
By breaking routine, you will break the habitual thinking that has gotten you stuck. In order to get new thoughts flowing, and therefore new feelings, you must get into the energy of new people, places and things.
Not wanting to see new people? I get that too. But you can always take a solitary hike in nature. Or grab some paint and just paint for the hell of it. Anything other than what you would consider usual or habitual for you.
One of the best books I read on this is Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand their brain, brain chemistry, and the power of change. It's one of my personal favorites.
Pick one thing to change today. Anything at all. Do you always turn left to go to work? Turn right, and drive that extra block. Do you have coffee every morning before you leave? Grab a cup on the way, and step into a cafe you've never been to before.
When you feel ready, choose another step. Keep going until you can't even remember what your old routine was.
7 - Accept How You Feel
Positive thinking is definitely a current trend, and it can sometimes have a backhanded affect on those really struggling with negative feelings.
When we keep hearing "Think positive!" and then fail at it, we heap more feelings of self-doubt and failure upon ourselves. This one has been such a huge factor for me that I wrote an entire post on it. There Are No Wrong Feelings dives deeper into accepting where we are with full love and self-compassion.
If you don't feel positive then you don't.
The key here is staying open to the knowing that one day you will.
Don't feel you have to think and be positive today, because you are where you are. Just set the intention that you will do the above things until you are there. Remind yourself you're doing the best you can, and that you're committed to taking these steps. Each step is important.
You'll get there when you get there. This isn't a race. This is about you finding happiness for you.