Tag Archives: Law of attraction

Grace (Ask and it shall be given, Part 4)

Confession: I, like roughly 9.9 out of 10 of you, suffer from feelings of unworthiness. Thankfully, I also believe in grace. It’s because of grace that I ultimately rarely let such feelings run the show. (There’s a reason why people always talk about saving graces.) I’ve had good reason to count the extraordinary blessings of my life in recent weeks, and I’d like to share some of them with you. Sorry if it sounds like bragging. I assure you, it’s nothing more than overwhelming gratitude. It’s a short (very short) list of some the past month’s gifts, and a story about how these gifts are helping me heal the feelings of unworthiness.

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I’ve spoken before about my love for Elizabeth Gilbert, and for my 40th birthday, I decided to try to see her again at an event. After a very quick search, I saw she was going to be one of the speakers at one of my favorite places ever (the Omega Institute), just ten days after my birthday. Done, and done!

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I also learned she’d be visiting DC one week after the Omega Institute retreat, to promote her new book Big Magic. Obviously, I bought a ticket for that, too, just for good measure.

The weekend of the retreat arrived, and two minutes after I checked in at Omega, I ran into one of its co-founders, a personal beloved hero, Elizabeth Lesser. I was tongue-tied and in hindsight feel silly and shallow (see how easily the self-berating happens?) that all I did was ask for this photo. Thank goodness I did also remember to tell her I love her and that it was an honor to be there.

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Saturday morning Liz Gilbert took the stage. It lived up to every expectation. One of my favorite quotes from her talk was, “No creative act can take place until you stand in the arrogance of your belonging … against the terrorist inside your head that says, ‘Who do you think you are?'”

Later on … can you believe it? I ran into her and got to give her a hug and snap this photo!

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It then seemed like an embarrassment of riches that I’d be seeing her again in DC just one week later. That week, my mother was coming into town, and I decided to try to take her with me. I felt that if I at least shared it with her, then I would feel more deserving. But the event was four days away, my husband was headed to Morocco, and we didn’t have a babysitter. It would have felt pretty lousy to go by myself and leave Mami behind, but even if I tried changing my ticket to her name, I doubted she’d go by herself. And by then I really wanted her to go. My first step was to go online and see if there were tickets left. There were, and I bought her one. (Later that same day I looked again out of curiosity: Sold out!) You know what else? I found a sitter just two days before! So, Mami and I went.

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And she was as inspired and energized by Liz Gilbert’s talk as I knew she would be. My heart swelled with gratitude that things had fallen into place so perfectly.

One of my two favorite quotes from that evening was, “You need magical, mystical thinking to do creative things because it’s an absolutely irrational thing to do.” That I possess such weird and irrational ways of thinking is without a doubt one my graces in this life.

The other one was, “When someone tells you they are brutally honest, it’s rarely about real honesty; they’re asking for permission to be brutal to you.” Holy crap. I’d never thought of that before, but it’s true. I can’t stand snark disguised as sophistication; you know … that person with a mean streak who tells you you can’t take a joke? Oof. Steer clear, folks, steer clear. I know I do!

But my favorite moment of the evening came when a cancer survivor got up to speak, and offered Elizabeth an engraved bracelet (sadly I forget what word(s) it was engraved with) as a gift. Elizabeth accepted the gift, and said something like this: “I used to say no to these types of things. Then I realized, they are grace, and I don’t want to stop the unfolding of grace.” Boom. Wow. A few minutes later, Elizabeth gave the bracelet to another cancer survivor who stood up to speak. I cried.

And there it is: Grace. If nothing else, grace is what definitively inspires me to overcome thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. Because it’s not about me. None of this is about me. It’s about something so much bigger than me.

I’m not really sure how to stop the cycle for myself. The script of unworthiness seems so deeply and irrevocably embedded in me, it’s like my constant annoying companion. It happened just a few nights ago when I visited a book club as the guest author. The awesome women who asked the read my manuscript described it with words like “page-turner … a great sense of place … deeply-developed characters … ” and most importantly said, “don’t give up, you’ve got something good here.” I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t spend most of the drive home telling myself they were just being nice. Two days later, the night after some details for a new family project in the works for 2016 (which will likely involve stamps on our passports and shedding a few lbs in preparation) began to fall into place –I’m not exaggerating– thoughts of undeserving ‘who-am-I’s kept me awake for hours.

But I have now amended my script from ‘who am I to receive such gifts?’ to ‘who am I to stop them?’ Who am I to stop grace? Who the hell is anyone to dare mess with the ever unfolding poetry and dance that is grace? That’s what your “friend” is doing when s/he wants to be brutally “honest” or tells you you can’t take a “joke.” It’s what I’m doing when I dwell on feeling undeserving. Why don’t we stop the cycle, or at least turn it around? It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s about keeping grace in motion. Seeing Liz Gilbert for my 40th birthday taught me this. Grace begets grace. Love begets love. And what the world needs is love.

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Ask and it shall be given. Part 2, Oprah and Alanis.

In 2012 and 2013, my sister Laura and I attended a conference in DC hosted by the publisher Hay House, called I Can Do It. It is an annual event in different cities worldwide that features authors like Brian Weiss, Christiane Northrup, and Gregg Braden. It has been a fantastic time, not to mention an awesome opportunity for Laura and me to have girl time together, away from our husbands and kids for an entire weekend! We’ve resolved to make this, or at least something like it, an annual tradition.
Laura and I. My first photo with Brian Weiss. One of my favorite Power Point slides, by Gregg Braden.

A few weeks after last year’s I Can Do ItI learned that there had been another conference–which I had just missed–in which Alanis Morissette and Elizabeth Gilbert had both been among the speakers. Hang on, what do you mean I could go somewhere and listen to Alanis Morissette and Elizabeth Gilbert speak? Don’t ask me why this thought had never occurred to me before, but it hadn’t.

Now I was on a mission. And I said to my husband, “Next year, I will not go to I Can Do It. I am saving our money … I need to go to this other conference!” I started checking in regularly, but neither Alanis nor Elizabeth appeared as one of the confirmed speakers this year.

This didn’t faze me. And I somehow knew that if seeing these fabulous women in person was a possibility, 2014 was the year when that would happen. Was this rational thinking? Perhaps not. Listen, some somedays don’t need to happen this year. Some day I will go to Paris again–not this year, and that’s okay. But the distant unknown future is not the place for all of my somedays. Where’s the point in that? I don’t dream in abstract wouldn’t-it-be-nice terms. Uh-uh. So I kept my eyes open for something–anything.

Then in January, a brochure from the Omega Institute arrived at our house, announcing the following workshop.

Shut the front door. My heart started racing; it seemed too good to be true! My husband was in Indonesia for work that entire week, and I emailed him immediately. “Honey, we need to talk!” Within 24 hours, I had booked the weekend.

In the weeks leading up, I wasn’t certain what to expect. James Van Praagh appeared as the lead teacher, and I started to wonder whether Alanis would be there the entire weekend, or maybe just for one of the sessions. (I like James, but my love for Alanis runs deep, and has done for years–I dedicated a blog post to her a few months ago.)

Friday night arrives, and there they both were!

There she is! And there’s James!

And so it was, a weekend with James and Alanis. She wasn’t just physically there for the entire workshop. She was present, warm, funny, real. James was humble, emotional, very available and easy to talk to, and also funny. Together, their chemistry was fantastic. And the group in attendance was made up of individuals who were all kinds of awesome.

We talked about creativity and art. Harnessing the lousy feelings in life and redirecting them creatively. Meditation and prayer. Children and parenting. Finding strength rather than weakness in our unique sensitivities. Giving ourselves permission to truly exercise our self-expression. Getting over what other people think of us. There was also dancing both Saturday and Sunday…I danced with Alanis Morissette.

You know when the reality is even better than anything you could have dreamed? That. The words that best capture what it felt like for me are, “May I always remember what this feels like!” I thought that over and over again during the weekend. I’d wanted a lecture with Alanis Morissette. What I got was an entire weekend, in an intimate setting, discussing art, love, spirituality, and healing, along with the incredible James Van Praagh, too. And it had only been six months since I dreamed it!

When my husband asked me as I came home Sunday night, “So how was it?!” I burst into tears. For days, I cried happy tears every time I talked about it. I honestly still can’t believe it all really happened, and I sit in awe as I write this blog post.

James and Alanis created a Facebook page for the event, and these photos were posted on there. I’ve circled myself in red.

It was kind of like my Oprah Show moment, back in 2009. I had dialed the number you were supposed to call for getting seats at a taping of an Oprah Show countless times. Late one night, I submitted a form for last minute tickets online, thinking, “What the hell, it’s worth a shot.” It only took a few days…

Now, here’s something that only Oprah fans will likely get: When you come home one day and see Harpo Studios among the missed calls on your caller i.d., you know something special is happening. They left a message, with a number for me to call back! This was a Monday, and they had tickets available for a taping that Thursday. I can’t remember exactly what I said. It was probably something like, “yes, God yes, hell yes!” And get this. I was able to use frequent flyer miles, and only paid around $25 for the round-trip ticket. Also? My classes that semester were Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays; I flew to Chicago Wednesday evening, sat at a taping of the Oprah Show Thursday morning, flew back, and was back in class Friday morning. Never missed a minute of work!

Holy mother of all clichés. Wait for it, ’cause you know it’s coming: Dreams come true, man. This sh*t is real! And I don’t think I am any better or prettier or more interesting or deserving than anyone. I do, however, dare to dream big, like my parents taught me.
These are my go-to moments. Whenever I feel lousy, I think of the miracle that all my loved ones are well and healthy, and I revisit the wonder of what’s possible when I give myself permission to really dream it.
So instead of the I Can Do It conference, guess where Laura and I are spending our sisters’ weekend this year? See photo below. One of the speakers scheduled to be there? Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m telling you … !
(You can read Part 1 of Ask and it shall be given here.)
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