Control, Chaos and Trust

I hit that magical 60th birthday in July this year and, since my family tends to stay active until their 80s and 90s, figure I have at least 25 years of productive living in front of me. That recognition has birthed a couple questions that seem to run through my head a lot—“If not now, when?” and, with apologies to Mary Oliver, “What else do you want to do with this one wild and precious life?” Those questions have led me to thinking about the obstacles I continue to stumble over in my life. These are the personality traits and well-entrenched behavioral tendencies that ride herd on my dreams and plans, slowing them down, often to a standstill. For me they are self-doubt, fear, perfectionism, and an obdurate* tendency to want to tell the Universe how to run things. While I can claim some genetic predisposition to this last trait (family members, you know who you are) I think it has more to do with a fear that if I don’t stay on top of what is going on around me, bad stuff will happen. Those of you who know a bit about my life (http://drsusanmecca.com/dr-susan-mecca-bio/) know that this is both illogical and a bit comical. Given what has happened in my last decade alone, apparently I’m really bad at running things, the Universe isn’t listening, or the Universe dances to a much more complex set of variables than I am capable of understanding or orchestrating. I’m inclined to believe the latter. I also used to believe that playing Universe Hall Monitor would make me more love-worthy. Preventing potential crises seemed...

Three lessons my pet’s death taught me

Zelda graced our household for sixteen years, serving as protector, healer, companion, and role model. She was feline, all black, supremely sure of her worth, and had a Sicilian vendetta mentality about assaults on her dignity—especially by veterinarians. Last week, in the middle of a family crisis, Zelda let me know it was time to release her and let her proceed to the next adventure. I was, of course, out of town. I had known we were heading this direction for a while—the signs were there and my intuition told me it wouldn’t be long. I just wanted to make sure it all went “right.” You see, I had a plan and I was betting against the cosmic timer that I could ensure her a pain free death while still completing my “get it right” list. Zelda, true to her nature, listened to no one except herself. I loved that about her but her timing was lousy. I’ve learned, however, that tough times have their own schedule. You can argue with that schedule—as I have done–but it doesn’t do much good. I’ve also come to understand that life’s difficulties have the ability to bring perspective into our lives. Jolted out of our comfort zones and turned upside down, we can see things we might have missed or ignored before. Zelda’s death made me look at some things that I have a tendency to overlook or ignore. You can wait too long trying to make sure things go perfectly. If you read my last blog, “Just Say Yes,” you already know I have a bit of an issue with perfectionism....

Just Say Yes

Like Albert Einstein, I believe that the Universe is a friendly place, conspiring to help us at all times. What I struggle with is the difference between what I think the help should look like and what the Divine has in mind. I have the tiniest problem with wanting to give the Divine fairly detailed instructions about how things should go. You would think I might have overcome this small issue when Nick, my son, got cancer at 16. That certainly wasn’t the outcome I was writing over and over again while waiting for the results. But, as I’ve said before (mostly to myself), I think the Universe dances to a more complex set of variables than I can possibly imagine. One of the ways that I know I’ve made progress in trusting  God/The Divine/The Universe (insert the word that makes the most sense to you) is when I say “Yes” to the random opportunities that show up in my life–you know, the ones that I hadn’t planned. I did that several months ago when Vicky Townsend contacted me through Twitter and asked me to do a webinar with her on her program for TheCafeD (an Internet community of support for people going through divorce). Training is something that I’ve done for years, but a webinar? What was the Divine thinking? But, it was just random enough that I suspected that God might be behind the weirdness. So I gulped and said yes. It turned out just fine–not perfect. I said “yeah” a few too many times and struggled with technology a bit. But, all in all, it was pretty ok,...

Releasing the Cold Comfort of a Grudge

One of the traits I’ve worked hardest to release in my life is the tendency to harbor a grudge. Listening to my clients’ stories of wrongs done by childhood friends, mistreatment by bosses, and ancient family wounds that have never been healed, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t come easy to many people. Grudges, in fact, are often one of the first signals I receive from a client that there is psychological territory to be covered. Sticky and smelly, a grudge continues to mark the place of an earlier injury to ensure that it is not forgotten. The cost of resentment Lately, I’ve found myself looking at grudges in a different way for several reasons. Dr. Judith Orloff, author of “Positive Energy”, talks about all of the ways that we “pour out our stores of energy.” Her point is that our personal vitality has to be consciously managed or renewed and that anything that saps us of that is ultimately harmful. With less energy to squander now than I had earlier in my life, I find I am no longer willing take the time and energy a grudge seems to require for its maintenance. “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Malachy McCourt I was once privileged to work with a torture survivor who, at the age of 21 was imprisoned and tortured for the crime of marrying a man who was the political enemy of the government in charge. Repeatedly raped by some of the prison guards, she lost the baby she was carrying. The day before her slated execution, she escaped, aided...

Love yourself anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments Kent Keith wrote his paradoxical commandments in 1968 for a group of student leaders. It speaks to the decision that we can make every day to love people despite what they might or might not do. If you’ve never seen the original version, you can check it out here. Mother Theresa’s version of the Paradoxical Commandments, found posted on the wall of her room, is a powerful statement of the intentions that guided her life.   Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about the difference our spiritual and personal intentions and the actions we sometimes take. Gail shared the frustration she was feeling about a personal situation.   She had worked hard, really hard, to let a relationship go but still was not at peace with the outcome. Gail saw her struggle as lack of spiritual progress and–as I often do–was beating herself up it.   As I listened to her, I was struck with a thought. What if maybe, just maybe, our spiritual growth was less about the amount or speed of progress we made and more about our ability to love ourselves unconditionally—wherever we are on the path? What if the most important intention that we held on to was to love ourselves unconditionally? What if self love was the foundation of our personal and spiritual growth?   It seems to be a human paradox that we expect perfection of ourselves while lovingly accepting and forgiving others for mistakes that can far exceed our own. It was so easy to cherish Gail, even while she worked through her challenges. Why was it so hard to have compassion and love...

A Feather in My Path

  Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter? Joseph Campbell I believe that Spirit is all around us, not just in the brick and mortar buildings of our established religions. Consequently, I have looked for and found messages in the sudden appearance of animals, birds, numbers, friends, songs, and many other forms of Divine media. One symbol of encouragement that has meant the most to me is feathers. There is a Native American belief that finding a feather directly in front of you means that you are on your path—your actions are in alignment with your Divine spirit. More times than I can count, during those three years that my husband and son were so ill, I would look down and find a feather on my path. Although the rational, skeptical side of me (admittedly, rather a small part) could argue a number of reasons for the placement of the feather, there were times that no reasonable explanation could suffice to explain why, at that moment when I was in the most need, a large white feather, in the middle of a hot Dallas parking lot or in the midst of a busy shopping mall, would appear in front of me. Sometimes I picked the feathers up, other times I just gave thanks for the reminder that I was not alone, that God,the Universe, the Divine was with me on this journey, I was doing something right, and that I was loved. Watching for Signs Marci Shimoff, author of Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out and The Chicken Soup...
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