Tag Archive 'acceptance'

Jul 01 2010

I Am Willing – Issue #54

My chemo and radiation treatments ended 3 weeks ago and tomorrow my doctor will examine me to see if the tumor is gone or still remains. The radiation continues to take effect 3 weeks after the treatment stops, so that’s why the wait.

This waiting period has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. I’ve found myself fully in the Now at times, and at other times in the future where I sometimes imagine the worst and sometimes imagine the best. It’s been difficult to think positive at times when I feel uncomfortable in my body, feeling my innards scorched by the radiation, feeling queasy and fatigued from chemo.

Right now I’m in a place of willingness – I am willing to be present with whatever comes up. I am willing to feel whatever feelings are here. I am willing to experience complete healing. I am willing to experience death. I am willing. What got me to this place was the realization that a part of me was NOT willing, a part of me was resisting and resenting.

Recently a friend of mine, who is very in touch with her light, has been exploring her shadows (those disowned parts of herself). She never thought she had shadows, so this is a new exploration for her. I started looking at how I see so clearly her shadows and her resistance to them, and I wondered if she was reflecting back to me something in myself that I’ve been resisting. As I told her, I believe that if it’s in your life then it’s in you. The people in our lives that push our buttons and stir our judgments are mirroring back to us our disowned parts. How nice of them! The goal is wholeness – owning all our parts makes us whole.

I told my friend that a strong indicator that someone is reflecting back to us our disowned feelings is if we feel victimized by them (anger is often cleverly disguised as “victim”). As I explored this in myself, I was not aware of feeling victimized by anybody in my life, but I affirmed, “I am willing to see my shadows. I am willing to see every part of me. I am willing to be whole.” Just then it came to me…I don’t feel victimized by any body in my life…just my OWN body. I realized there is a part of me that feels let down by my body, disappointed, sad, mad and scared. I did everything I could to be healthy, I ate well, took supplements, felt my feelings, connected with my spirit, loved myself and others, and yet I got cancer. Now I’ve been resisting taking supplements, thinking, what good did it do me? I’m seeing my cynicism, seeing that my surly Cynny persona has been operating from the shadows.

As I connect with the feeling of being betrayed by my body, I let myself cry and feel the disappointment and sadness, I let the emotions move through me, ventilating my feelings. I welcome my cynicism and disappointment and sadness to the party, I invite them out of the shadows into the light, and I feel lighter, I feel whole.

I’ve found that the best way to anchor myself in this place of wholeness, this place of openness and willingness to feel it all and be one with it all, is to ‘TAG’ myself. I created the acronym and practice over a year ago when I first discovered I had cancer. It goes like this:

TAG – Trust, Acceptance, & Gratitude

I TRUST that I am loved, guided and watched over. I trust that things happen for a reason. I trust that my life is purposeful. I trust that everything will work out.

I ACCEPT that this is what’s happening. It is what is. I breathe and allow it to be. This moment is perfect just as it is. I surrender to it. I become one with it.

I feel GRATITUDE for the many blessings in my life: my loving friends and family, my fellow journeyers (you) and learning buddies, my wonderful husband Tom. I am grateful for this opportunity to cultivate more awareness, love, trust, and wholeness in my life. I am grateful that I remember that this is what is most important to me.

I feel scared to hear what my doctor has to say tomorrow. But I am willing to be present, to breathe, feel my fear, and face whatever life presents to me. I am willing.

P.S.
It is the next day and I just got back from my exam. The doctor said that there is still something there and it’s about the same size that the last CT scan showed. The tumor shrunk to a quarter it’s original size, but apparently did not shrink any more in the remaining weeks of treatment. He said that there’s still a possibility that it could shrink more…or not. It could also grow back…or not. He suggested we wait and see and keep an eye on it. I don’t foresee any further treatment. So here I am, willing to be here one breath at a time. I think I’ll go have a good cry, eat some chocolate, and then TAG myself.

In Trust, Acceptance and Gratitude,
Jan

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Oct 02 2009

Swingin’ On A Star – Issue #28

My ego is a real swinger — it swings back and forth, like a monkey on a vine, swinging between bananas on one side and boa constrictors on the other. It goes something like this: “They love me, they hate me. I’m good, I’m bad. I did it right, I did it wrong. I am the best, I am the worst.” When I’m in my ‘Jane Goodall’ state of non-judgmental witnessing, I watch my swinging ego with an amused smile on my face.

A few weeks ago at my Toastmasters meeting, I participated with several others in something called Table Topics, which is a brief, impromptu speech. Afterwards, people voted on which speech they liked the best. I was sure that mine would win. I don’t usually think so, but that day I did. I even voted for myself, then fretted, “If everyone voted for mine, the vote counter is going to know I voted for myself! Oh, how embarrassing. I hope at least one other person got a vote.” When they called out the name of the winner…it wasn’t me. I took a humbling tumble to the other end of the spectrum and thought, “Maybe NOBODY voted for me!” Then my ego reassured itself, “At least no one will ever know…unless Blabbermouth writes about it in the newsletter!” Silly ego!

Our ego is like the elephant in the room — we all have one, but we try to pretend it’s not there. It is an inherent part of our humanness to swing on the ego pendulum between polarities. In Buddhism, these polarities are called the 8 worldly dharmas: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame. Attachment to one and resistance to the other is what keeps us stuck in suffering (and keeps the swinging in motion).

Did you watch the MTV Video Music Awards a few weeks ago? At the beginning of the show Kanye West was cheered whenever his name was mentioned…by the end of the show he was booed whenever his name came up. Within the course of a few hours he went from fame to disgrace, praise to blame, gain to loss, and pleasure to pain. He brought that on himself by jumping onto the stage and “stepping on a kitten”, as someone described it, by grabbing the mike away from the sweet teenage girl, Taylor Swift, (who was receiving her first VMA award), and saying Beyonce should’ve won. Kanye took a big dramatic ride on the ego swing! (Other notorious big “swingers” that come to mind are Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Baker, and Bill Clinton).

Having cancer has been quite a ride on the pendulum for me. Prior to the diagnoses, I was resisting my fear of illness, convincing myself I was protected by eating right, thinking right, living right – safe, right? Wrong!” Swing! I smashed head-on into my worst fear, Cancer!

What’s a human to do? Since suffering is caused by attachment to life being a certain way, and resistance to it being another way, I eventually came to a place of accepting the illness, even accepting the possibility of death. That was very liberating.

By observing and accepting our humanness, our swinging ego, our polarity dance, our attachments and resistances, we begin to be free of them. To swing through the air between polarities is human, to love our self anyway is divine. Witnessing ourselves, telling the truth on ourselves, shining the light on our ego with love and a sense of humor and affection, makes those ego swings become less extreme and begins to calm us. My husband Tom shared this quote with me recently: “My breath loves the rhythm of the truth.” I like that. I would add to that, “My breath loves the rhythm of acceptance.”

Acceptance of who we are and how it is relaxes and expands our energy and connects us with the spacious place of spirit, where there are no mistakes, no good or bad, no polarities; there is only Isness. In that expanded state, we are perfect just as we are, and we are right where we’re supposed to be. In that spacious state of being, we are swingin’ on a star, far beyond the limited, “either/or” thinking of ego, in a space of infinite possibilities.  As the song says:

Would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a…monkey,

(swinging between bananas and boa constrictors?)

 

All the monkeys aren’t in the zoo

Every day you meet quite a few

So you see it’s all up to you

You can be better than you are

You could be swingin’ on a star.

Have you had an honest, loving, accepting, affectionate talk with (and about) your ego lately? You could be swingin’ on a star!

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Sep 08 2009

There’s Gold In Them Thar ILLs! – Issue #26

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I read something remarkable the other day that moved me to tears.  Eighteen-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who was abducted by a predator at age eleven and held in captivity for over 4 years (he was found two years ago), wanted to share some of his insights about the experience with Jaycee Dugard, who was also abducted at age eleven and recently found after 18 years in captivity. He said in an interview:

“I realize this sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but you have to move on. You can’t dwell on the past. You have to keep looking toward the future and telling yourself that it’s going to be better than your past … I had a lot of built-up anger afterwards, which is normal. But this anger can take control of your life if you’re not careful. You’re angry about how unfair it is that this happened to you … Going to therapy really helped me get everything in order. One of the things that really helped me…is that we talked about how I could better myself from what happened to me, how could I use all those terrible, awful experiences I had, to grow and mature. I know it sounds crazy, but those experiences have made me a better person.

Wow! After all the horrors that he’d endured, this young man turned his victim’s journey into a hero’s journey by finding gold in his experience, finding the gift in his wound, and sharing this gift with others. He also freed himself from the captivity of his anger and bitterness. That is the ultimate freedom! And it is no small feat.

I know what it’s like to be a captive of resentment. It has been an ongoing teacher of mine. For years I was addicted to ‘stewing’, simmering in a soup opera of resentment, feeling victimized, wronged, and ripped off. Anyone who has ever been trapped in resentment knows what a powerful, addictive force it is. Hanging on to feeling wronged becomes more important than anything, more important than freedom from it, more important than love.

I vividly remember one day when I was about eighteen years old driving to work at the New London Submarine Base, stuck in traffic and stuck in a stew about my life, and singing, with tears and strong emotion, along to The Young Rascals song playing on the radio, People Gotta Be Free:

“All the world over so easy to see.

People everywhere just wanna be free.

Listen, please listen,

That’s the way it should be.

There’s peace in the valley,

People got to be free.”

I felt a deep longing to be FREE from the captivity of negativity and anger. I had started reading about how my thoughts and attitudes create my reality. The truth of that strongly resonated with me. I could see that it was my attitude that was creating my unhappiness. Nobody was Making me angry…I was responding with anger, and then dwelling in it, making myself stew, creating a negative attitude that made me a shit magnet, drawing to me more things to be resentful about. I realized that my resentment was far more destructive that anything anyone could ever do to me – I was only hurting myself. I set out on a lifelong quest to free myself from the confines of my negative attitude.

On this quest I eventually learned to become a “miner”: I discovered how to mine gold from my anger by seeing what is MINE, seeing my part in things, seeing how I was contributing to my own misery, seeing that I can choose to hang on to anger or let it go. I can choose to be a bitter person, or a better person because of my experiences. I can choose to dwell in the hell of The Heartbreak Hotel, or dwell in love. I can choose captivity or freedom. And I can choose to mine gold from any situation.

I’d like to share some keys to freedom that I’ve found along the way. When I notice myself feeling wronged and starting to spiral down into that sticky, stuck, stewing place, I do the following:

I witness myself - observing the physical feelings of resentment, such as a tightening of my body, shallow breath, eyes narrowed, lips pursed. Becoming aware of the contractive prison of my body enclosing me, and realizing that I am doing that to myself, helps me to take a breath and begin to shift into a more expanded place.

I accept that it is what it is. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is an example of that: taking a deep breath…accepting…there’s nothing I can do about it…it happened…it is what is.

I allow and align with the feeling. I tell myself, “Yes, this sucks. I understand how you would feel upset. Let yourself feel it fully.” My hard stance begins to melt, allowing me to feel the sadness that lies underneath the anger.

I generate loving kindness towards myself – talking to myself with compassion, like talking to a wounded child, verbally hugging myself. “I’m sorry this happened. I know this is hard for you. I’m here for you. I love you.”

Finally, I mine gold from the experience - learning from it and owning what is mine; and then, seeing how it has made me a better person, a stronger person, a more empowered person.

All this results in FREEDOM, with the added bonus of some gold nuggets in your pockets to share with others. There’s gold in them thar ills and there’s plenty for everyone! Just think, if Shawn Hornbeck can find the gold in his experience, then anyone can.

Have you ever been held captive by your resentment? What are ways you have freed yourself from that captivity?  What is the gold that you mined from the experience? When we’re able to do that, as the Young Rascals sang:

“There’ll be shouting from the mountains on out to the sea,

No two ways about it, people have to be free.

Oh what a feelin’s just come over me.

Enough to move a mountain, make a blind man see.

Everybody’s dancin’, come on let’s go see,

Peace in the valley, now they want to be free.”

    In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Mar 25 2009

Mr. Toad’s Wild Elevator Ride! 3/25/09 Newsletter #5

A friend said to me recently, “You are on Mr. Toad’s wild ride, and you’re managing to enjoy the scenery.” That made me smile. It has been a wild ride, but I’m experiencing it more like a wild elevator ride that goes up and down and every floor has a different view. The bottom floor is a limited ego’s eye view; the top floor is an expansive eagle’s eye view.

Sometimes my elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top; but when it does I can see the big picture. I can see how everything fits together perfectly. I can see how I am connected to it all.

When my buttons are pushed I often descend to the lower floors. Going down……..Thump! On the bottom floor there is worry, what ifs, whys, regrets, blame, danger, drama, duality, me versus them. On the bottom floor I am in the thick of it all.

Yesterday my elevator plummeted to the bottom floor. My sister told me she was examined by her gynecologist this week, who was concerned about some unusual bleeding. The doctor right then and there in the office took a sample from her uterus to biopsy, just like that! Her doctor said under her breath that that is what my doctor should have done over a year ago when the abnormalities first came to his attention.

When I hear this I am stunned! My elevator crashes to the bottom floor! Whys and what ifs rush in – Why didn’t my doctor biopsy mine a year ago? (They did ultrasounds instead, which showed an apparently benign polyp, so nothing else was done.) What if it has spread? What if I have to suffer through chemo and radiation (or worse) because they didn’t do the biopsy right away?

A flood of tears and fears and old pain bodies enter the scene saying, “The world is unsafe, people can’t be trusted, I am in danger!” Anger rages on board. “They should’ve done it differently!” A girl named Sue stomps in, pumping her fist, chanting, “Sue, sue, sue the incompetents!” The elevator is getting very crowded!

Fortunately there is room for one more…my Compassionate Witness. She holds the space for everyone who shows up. She encourages good ventilation by saying, “It’s ok to feel angry, sad and scared. Let yourself feel it. Feel it deeply. I will hold you.” She does not try to tell me, “This moment is perfect just as it is.” This is not a time or place for that. This is a time to Be where I’m at, in the thick of it, feeling it fully, shining the light of awareness on it. (I know from experience that if I try to rise above my feelings, that just positions me better for them to bite me in the butt!)

These feelings deserve to be heard and honored. If they are not, then they take up permanent residence on the bottom floor, spinning round and round in ain’t it awful stories like a dog chasing its tale of woe. My elevator was stuck on the bottom floor for many years – until my Compassionate Witness came to live with me.

When I rest and release in this spacious loving awareness, I am naturally elevated to a higher perspective. Going up……I begin to get glimpses of how I collaborated with how it was done and the decisions that were made; I had been happy to minimize the abnormality and make it all go away. I can also see my doctor more clearly as someone who was caring and concerned, not a bad person out to hurt me.

My elevator ascends higher and I can see how on the lower floors my mind’s tendency is to seize on the what should’ve beens of the past and what ifs of the future. From this elevated vantage point I am aware that there is only Now, and right Now I am fine. I am more than fine. I am experiencing a treasure of learning and inspiration, as well as the great joy of writing and sharing my experience. If this had been nipped in the bud a year ago would I be having such a rich, full-bloomed experience now?

I am seeing how it is perfect that this is bringing up my pain bodies; on the lower floors they are a torment, but elevated in awareness they become pain buddies, here to help me heal deeply imprinted fear and trust issues.

I can see that this is the healing that is most important; healing the belief that the world is unfriendly and I am its victim; loosening my ego’s tenacious grip on feeling wronged; learning to forgive and let it go. As James Ray (The Secret teacher) says, true forgiveness is being able to say, “Thank you for giving me this experience.”

Right now, as I am peacefully perched on the top floor, I can see how it all fits together. Now I can hear and let in these words, “This moment is perfect just as it is.” From this higher view I see and know that I am One with it all. It is my movie.

I also know that I will continue to ride the elevator up and down; but with my Compassionate Witness along, I am enjoying the scenery. There is no good or bad, right or wrong experience; just being with it with curiosity, compassion and a willingness to learn from it all. That always elevates me to the top floor.

“Just go into the room and put one chair in the center.
Take the seat in the center of the room, open the door
and windows, and see who comes to visit.
You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors,
all kinds of temptations and stories, everything imaginable.
Your only job is to stay in your seat.
You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this—
wisdom and understanding will come.”
Achaan Chan

What is the view from your elevator right now? I hope that your Compassionate Witness is by your side helping you enjoy the scenery on your wild, wonderful, wisdom-gathering ride!

In Love,
Jan Jacobsen

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