Preserving The Moss

Do you find yourself stuck in the same patterns again and again?

There you are again….
procrastinating on completing your projects…
Getting to the end of the day exhausted with NOTHING done on your To Do List


Or even worse,
The gig you wanted falling through
The person who was supposed to hook you up going AWOL
Opening another rejection letter or email

It can be so disheartening!

And I imagine, you may be thinking,
This will NEVER change.  I will be STUCK in this pattern forever!

This can feel so discouraging and really take a toll on our inspiration, and our motivation.

You may be thinking,
There must be something wrong with me.
I’ll never make it.

I get it.  I remember bawling my eyes out when I blew a callback for Sister Act on Broadway.  I had wanted it SO bad, and at this point it was another in a looooong line of disappointments where at the final moment when I needed to deliver, I would choke. It was as if I couldn’t sing….I literally froze and when they went to test my range, all I heard in my head was,
“You can’t do this”

I was really believing I would always do this.
I was really believing I didn’t have what it takes to sing at that level.

And indeed, this belief kept me stuck.

Can you relate?

I would marvel at my friends who were booking their Broadway gigs, and just ask, from my absolute depths,
What am I missing?
What are they doing that I’m not?
And why the HECK can I not deliver when it matters most?
What is holding me back?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

I thought of you last weekend.

I was at a three day intensive up at Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills, the place where my whole Zen journey began six years ago, and where I was married last September.

The theme of the intensive?
Wholesome Action.

As part of the daily schedule, we do what is called Care Taking, which is typically an hour to 90 minutes of taking care of the monastery and grounds, doing various chores like
Gardening
Laundry
Cleaning
Kitchen prep

All of these activities are done as a way of taking care of the space that is taking care of US.  This is our giving back.  What’s most important about this process is, we do it in silence.  It becomes a meditation, so when we get distracted, we come back to the task at hand; back to what we are doing in the moment, and cultivating not only the single focus, but the appreciation for this very special and sacred place.

I was chosen to help out with Cemetery Duty and headed up the hill in the woods with five others, bringing buckets and pads for our knees.

Our care taking?
To preserve the moss.

I had never been to the Cemetery before, and was taken by the beautiful enormous altar, and the peaceful setting.  There were stone pathways, gravestones, and lots of moss…..except the moss was covered.

My job was to pick up the sticks and the pine needles that had fallen and were choking off the moss.  And there was a LOT…in fact the needles seemed to be everywhere.  So, I got down on the ground, and began to gather the needles.

According to Basic Biology.net
“Mosses play a vital role in being among the first colonizers of disturbed sites. They stabilize the soil surface, thereby reducing erosion, while at the same time reducing the evaporation of water, making more available for succeeding plants.”

They come to disturbed sites, stabilize, and make space for new growth.

Stabilize and make space for growth.

In the face of my divorce, my whole body felt like a disturbed site.  My heart was breaking deeper than I had ever experienced and I felt like my whole life was burning to the ground.  In this space, I asked for help, and it came.

I learned tools around my mind.
I learned how to let go.
I learned tools around self compassion.

I was able to look at each “needle”, each “stick” that had fallen over time, over years of these pattern; these needles and sticks that were essentially my beliefs.

And what I came to realize was that underneath all I had labeled as “bad” about myself was actually something good.  And it was innate.  This goodness wasn’t affected by my heartbreak, by my divorce, by all the rejections I had endured in my career….it wasn’t affected by all the times I choked when I wanted so desperately to sing my best, or wanted to hear YES.

It was my moss.
And it needed to be preserved.

In fact, at that point, I was 37 and realized I had never placed my attention there.

Perhaps this was why I felt stuck….

And when I placed my attention on my moss, I had a radical shift in my career, a complete resurgence and ended up building a global fan base.

I was doing care taking…for the first time.

What are your sticks?
What are you needles?

What have you allowed to fall and cover up your beautiful moss?

What have you believed is real and will always be the same?
Is this helping you to go Full Time with your passion?

What if you are whole and complete?
What if the answers are actually all there, you just need help uncovering them?

There at your disturbed site, is actually an ecosystem waiting to bring you back to life in the face of disappointment and rejection. It’s there to stabilize you and create new growth.

You are actually far more powerful than you know.

Take care.
Preserve your moss.

The Artist’s Practice

Can I get real ?  Overwhelm really sucks, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Overwhelm was like a one shot deal where you experience it, and then it never returns?

Because when Overwhelm sets in, everything pretty much STOPS.

That feeling of joy in your process? STOPS
Creative Flow? STOPS
Inspiration? STOPS
Receiving the reward you desire? STOPS

Your whole head swells in mass confusion to a point where the ONLY type of input seems to be solitaire on your smart phone or binge watching the latest Netflix original.

And in the aftermath, you hear that voice in your head saying,
You did it again…
You’ll never succeed
No one wants your Art anyway
You can’t handle the spotlight

And there we are right up against a HUGE wall with flashing lights saying,
YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH

And how does this feel?
Is this helpful?
How is this working for you?

As my Zen teacher said to me,
Overwhelm is a kind of insanity.

So, how do we get sane and get off the crazy merry-go-round?

 

I’ll share with you, I have been feeling Overwhelm very deeply lately.

In the past four weeks, I’ve moved out of my apartment, moved out of the city where I’ve lived for over 19 years, set up a home, gotten engaged, and went through buying a car for the first time in my life.

Just a FEW life changes at once!

To say I needed some quiet time is a massive understatement.

Why? Because I could feel myself shutting down……..

So, I spent last weekend completely unplugged at a retreat on Manifesting Compassion at Zen Mountain Monastery.

When my teacher looked at me and a whole room and said,
Overwhelm is a kind of insanity

I felt it.
Intimately.

I thought of all I had on my plate, all that was important to me right now,
My relationship with my man
My clients
My tribe
My new home
Planning my wedding
Starting to try for a family
Learning how to be a car owner and take care of it
My health
Yoga and dance
Finding a new network of friends in NJ

SO much…..have you ever looked at all that is on your plate and wanted to go running for the hills?
So, what’s the answer?
What do we do when it’s all there and ALL important?

Sitting there intently listening to my teacher, he summed it up beautifully,
Let things stand in their place, one step at a time.

Practice the ground you’re walking on.

I frantically wrote these words down in my journal, my pen moving as fast as it could to fill the page.

What did this mean for me?

 

After the teaching session, we had dinner and an hour of silence.  My fiance was helping out in the kitchen, so I decided to go for a walk outside.

There was a light snow on the ground, and a path of stone steps leading up into the trees.I felt restless, and started to climb.  When I reached the top of the path, I felt torn.  I wanted to sit down, but didn’t see a place, so I descended again to a bench at the foot of the path.

I felt like a world was swirling inside me…dark and unknown.
I stared at the rising mountain in front of me, and watched birds land in the trees, their evening calls floating across the grounds.

And I checked in, asking
What am I feeling?

And what arose was,
I feel detached.

Instantly, I felt relief.
I felt something loosen.  The overwhelm started to lessen.

I heard my teacher’s voice saying,
Suffering can only arise in the GAP.  Get inside it.  Let things stand in their place, one step at a time. Practice the ground you are walking on.

I had detached in the overwhelm because I didn’t know how to move forward. I had stopped.

I’ve been given everything I asked for; an incredible man, a home, a car…..but what was not fitting was ME. It was my overwhelm, my frustration. In truth, it was me actually LIVING it.

It was hearing everyone’s congratulations and feeling ashamed at my overwhelm.  Why wasn’t I happy and at ease??

There was NO way I could know WHAT I would feel at this point in my life with all these changes UNTIL I was IN it.

Practice the ground you are walking on.

The answer lies in where you are now.
The ground you are on NOW, not before.

The former me, the single New Yorker isn’t helpful here. I’m changing, and the WAY I move forward, and end the Overwhelm is to practice where I am NOW:

Practice being engaged
Practice being a new homeowner
Practice being a car owner
Practice being a NJ resident

Not from OUTSIDE, but INSIDE, in the now.

One step at a time, with each standing in its place.

I was detaching because I was trying to approach these changes from who I WAS.
What I forgot is that change is constant, and who I was yesterday is not who I am today. I am becoming with every new experience.

And I can take a moment, take a breath now, and relax the perfectionist that wants everything neat and tidy. I can just practice…that’s ALL. Just practice…..what a relief.

And this is where Compassion comes in.

Because we are all human. We all do this.  Welcome to the party!

Compassion is your answer to Overwhelm.
There’s a reason you are shutting down.  Most likely you are trying to do way too many things at once, and you probably believe it all has to be perfect.  It all has to look a certain way.

But as you grow, as you receive acclaim, you are changing.  You won’t know what it’s like until you get there. ALLOW for this.

Practice the ground you are walking on.

Because this is where you create.
Not yesterday.
Not tomorrow.

Here.

 

So, check in.
What are you feeling?
What are you detaching from?

And let each thing stand in it’s place, ONE step at a time.
Release the perfection and what you felt it was supposed to look like. Come back to a beginner’s mind. All you have to do is practice.

Allow for the miracle, and watch your Art soar.