The bliss of surrender

The bliss of surrender

There’s so much I don’t know right now.

My life seems to be in a state of suspended animation, waiting for clarity on any number of things … the direction our country is heading, how long this pandemic will have an impact, the long-term implications of social distancing, online learning and high unemployment, the ongoing social disruption, what my life will look like next year … 2020 has been a lot.

And it’s getting to me.

My normally productive self struggles to meet deadlines. My generally organized brain takes large chunks of time to process routine information. I’m uninspired to try new things, hesitant to do the things I usually do with ease, reluctant to imagine next week, next month, let alone next year.

So I surrender.

Not in the “I’ve lost and surrender to you” way, but in a true sense of surrender, allowing the unknown to present itself in its own good time.

Not forcing it, not demanding answers, but standing in surrender, with grace, to what may come. Waiting for clarity, for inspiration, for direction.

As I wait, I accept that I’m not as productive, organized or inspired as I’ve been in the past. Is it gone for good, or is this just a by-product of our current lives and times? In my surrender, I realize it doesn’t matter.

There is a reason I’m feeling this way, although that reason is shrouded in fog at the moment. There is something for me to learn through this experience, although the lesson is hazy.

Maybe it’s enough that I’ve learned I can’t know everything, plan everything, be in charge of everything. Maybe it’s enough to have a certain amount of faith that the understanding will come when I’m ready for it.

Meanwhile, I pledge to myself that I’ll accept the external unknowns, and my own personal questions. For now, it’s okay not to know, not to understand, not to predict or control.

I surrender … and it feels right.

Carol Pearson is the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life and the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series.

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in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm

It hit sooner than was supposed to, and stronger than predicted. From the first tornado warnings around 8:15 Monday night, life become surreal.

Anxiety turned to awe for me around midnight as the eye of Isaias moved overhead; we went outside to experience the incredible sense of peace and wholeness of the center of the hurricane, like we had somehow landed on the moon.

We were shocked the next day as reports came in from the beach side of the island, hit by a wildly powerful storm surge. Hubby and I were lucky; minor damage, one tree down, the expected branches and debris to clean up. So many others … lucky to be alive.

Later that day, I sat in the driveway in the shade, gulping water, realizing my head hadn’t really stopped spinning since 8 p.m. the night before. Trying to catch myself, I reminded myself that I know the rules. I know what to do … in any situation … to regain my balance and move ahead from a better place.

And I couldn’t remember even my first rule. It took me a good 30-45 seconds to calm my head enough to recall Rule #1: Get to Source.

Once I remember it, I had to laugh. I spent another 30 seconds breathing and connecting to source, as the other rules started falling into line … Listen to your heart (#2) … Feel then decide (#3) … etc.

I’ve always tended to be a disaster junkie. I’m morbidly fascinated by the “hows” of a natural disaster. And there were plenty of hows to figure out with this mess.

How did that boat end up in that lawn by the walkway?

How did six miles of beautiful dunes and beach grasses simply vanish?

How did that Winnebago end up nearly submerged in that ditch?

I spent the last few days trying to absorb the hows, and it only made things worse. I ate too much; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t focus on work. All of this was like a smashing finale to the ongoing stress of the past year or so.

Then my friend Amy, author of 10 Little Rules for Mermaids, mentioned Little River Band, and I watched the video to Cool Change. You know the one, with the leaping dolphins and sparkling sea … and finally the tears came … quietly, not sobbing, but just falling, emptying my heart of what it had been trying to process.

Feel, then decide. I finally decided it was okay to feel what I was feeling, and also decided it was okay to move on to another feeling. So I’m on to Rule #4: Focus on kindness and love.

It is swarming around here … strangers pitching in to help; neighbors checking in; the police and fire and water rescue and town officials dropping everything to be here for all of us, with grit and good humor and grace.

So I’ll stay here for a while yet … focusing on kindness and love, adding to it as I can (hubby is at the grocery store right now buying baking supplies so I can make cookies for the National Guard troops who are here to help). It’s not much, but kindness and love really is everything now.

There will be time yet to Act as If (#5), and name my fears (#6). The storm was a forced purge for many here (#7), but yes, we’ll all find and celebrate moments of beauty (#8) and create new rituals (#9). It’s enough right now to stay focused, and continue to be grateful (#10) in every moment.

Be well

Carol Pearson is the founder of 10 Little Rules and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She reminds us all to remember Rule 4 — Focus on kindness & love

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Random kindness

Random kindness

“Practice random acts of kindness.”

It’s a great mantra, and it’s spurred some beautiful moments. Yet there’s a difference between “practicing” those acts on occasion, and being a truly kind person.

Case in point — Hubby and I backed our golf cart up to the outside edge of the local outdoor concert Friday night. We were tucked in between an empty silver pickup and a large green bush, with a nice little green grass spot between us and big log beam that served as the border of the park. We set up our beach chairs, unwrapped our BLTs, popped the lid on a frosty adult beverage and kicked back to the enjoy the show.

It’s the summer of COVID-19, so people were for the large part being respectful of distances and setting up their chairs on the sunny lawn in front of the band shell spaced apart from other groups. Still, being tucked in our shady grove under a palm tree, with no one walking by or coming near, was pretty great.

Eventually the owner of the pickup came by, folded down the tailgate and jumped up to enjoy the show too. I shot him a smile and said a quick “hey;” back to enjoying the music.

Eventually I had to make the short trek to the community trash bin so get rid of our supper trash. Grabbing hold of the edge, I did a little involuntary “eww,” thinking of all the hands that had just done the same.

As I walked the 20 paces or so back to the cart, I said to John, “Dang, forget the hand-sani.”

I wiped off my hands with what I had around, and sat back down. Meanwhile, silver truck guy walked toward his cab, shooting us a quick smile. He came back holding out his hand sanitizer, saying simply “I overheard you saying you forgot yours.”

I gratefully held out my hands and offered up what felt like a beaming smile, saying “Thank you for being a kind person!”

The gel was hot from sitting in the North Carolina summer heat, and the warmth spread from my hands to my soul.

There’s been a lot of ugly online lately, and in person. And it seems to spread like a virus when we’re exposed to it. I’ve been struggling with my mental state for weeks now.

This one moment — this simple act of human kindness — reminder me that good still exists. It’s rampant, in fact.

As I settled back to enjoy the rest of the show, the band launched into Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

Indeed.

Carol Pearson is the founder of 10 Little Rules and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She reminds us all to remember Rule 4: Focus on kindness & love

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the bliss of choosing joy

the bliss of choosing joy

“Choose joy,” they said.

But how can I choose joy when all this is happening?

“It will happen with or without you,” I heard.

Then I heard the question: “In this moment, are you well? Safe? Secure?”

I am, answered I.

“Choose joy.”

But … there are so many with less, so many hurting, fighting, shouting, screaming, blowing things up and tearing things down.

“When they cross your path,” I heard, “you’ll know what to do.”

I’m gently letting myself off  the hook for the state of the entire planet. I am not, however, letting myself off the hook, gently or otherwise, for the state of my own experience. I realize that the world “out there” mirrors what’s going on in my stressed heart, my tired soul, my overly-worried brain.

This I can, must control.

“Choose joy.”

In order to do this, I must set the ego aside, the need to be right, to be heard, to matter.

I listen.

I look out the window, watching the muhly grass rustle in the slight breeze, near the succulent garden growing without thought to what the other plants are doing, not a care.

The knot in my stomach begins to loosen and let go. The frantic concern over what to do next ebbs. My heart slows down just a bit, enough to hear the break of silence.

Joy might still be elusive, but at the very least in this moment is seems … possible.

Choose joy.

Turn the rest off.

When the world next crosses your path, you’ll know what to do.

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the bliss of an answer

the bliss of an answer

I remember it clearly; the moment I realized this virus making headlines was going to disrupt “life as we know it.” I was standing in the kitchen of my little beach house and asked myself, “Is this the last carefree day I’ll have?”

I had no idea.

The last three months are hard to put into words. Yes, there has been sadness, and anxiety. Too much some days. There was brain fog. Days when it seemed impossible to focus. And there’s been anger, frustration and a sense of disbelief at what I see happening in our country.

And stress baking … soooo much stress baking. It’s how I cope.

This week, there’s been hope. Clarity. A new understand that I’ve only been paying lip service to what I called “my priorities” in the past.

My priorities have become crystalized. So much just simply doesn’t matter all that much in light of what is now obviously important. A life decision last week brought with it such calm, such a sureness of heart, that it’s clear to me I’d only be riding the surface of what I said mattered all along.

And the Universe is answering in grand style, as it tends to do when my stated intentions match my heart’s desire and my physical actions.

This week I realized my ease is returning. That day back in March wasn’t my last carefree day. Yes, there’s still mountains of uncertainty, but life is all about that, yes?

Our certainty comes at the intersection of what we think, what we say, what we do and what we desire. This is where ease lives, the flow we’re seeking.

At this intersection we find the grace and the courage and the strength to move head and face tomorrow.

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Meet the Author – Amy Hege Atwell

Meet the Author – Amy Hege Atwell

Having spent most of her adult life climbing the commercial retail ladder, author Amy Atwell dreamed of one day leaving the corporate world to run her own store The Painted Mermaid.  The arrival of her son, at age 43 gave her the confidence to just that.  A series of unexpected events put her magical world in jeopardy and send her down an unexpected path of self awareness, personal growth and enlightenment.  Her book 10 Little Rules for Mermaids was an important part of that journey.

Presently living through the shelter at home days of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 with her young son, Amy looks forward to returning to her loves of ‘picking’, ‘making’, merchandising and celebrating life with her shoppers and friends at The Painted Mermaid.  Until then, her love of cooking, writing, reading, yoga, great phone banter with friends, and most of all quality, one on one time with the 8 year old love of her life keep her safe, grounded, and hopeful.  

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the bliss of owning your story

the bliss of owning your story

“He can call you anything he likes. That doesn’t make it true.”

Those words pulled me up short. Spoken by a friend during a really rough time in my life, they drilled deeply into my soul.

Our story is so often conflated with other people’s stories about us that it’s easy to forget we are in charge of how we feel about ourselves, our lives.

I’d been telling myself various versions of other people’s stories about me for years, taking on their criticism and a side order of guilt.

“He can call you anything he likes. That doesn’t make it true.”

It only makes it true if I believe it, if I own it. This idea is one of the reasons why I founded 10 Little Rules … not just to publish my own book, but to give other authors a chance to tell their own story. In their words, not the words of anyone else.

It’s been an incredible journey these past nine years, and today we launch our next book into the world — 10 Little Rules for Mermaids, written by Amy Hege Atwell, owner of The Painted Mermaid in Southport, NC.

On the surface, it’s absolutely delightful. And just like a mermaid, it dives suddenly and gracefully into hidden depths, re-emerging drenched in sparkles.

I’m proud to be associated with this book. It’s fun (and lord knows we could us a bit of fun these days) and it is empowering. As Amy said last week:

“I found myself a little – something – about the combination of all the world wide stuff happening and the timing as it relates a rollout, and quite frankly I have decided this is indeed the time to heavily promote ALL of our books. Not so much because of the hope and sunshine they offer, but the EMPOWERMENT. What better timing to show women in particular what they CAN do to drive strength and change within themselves and therefore the world. “

So today we launch pre-orders on this beautiful, soulful book, and I hope it does help … make you smile, make you think, make you feel a bit stronger about your own story and owning it with pride.

Namaste, Mermaids!

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the bliss of the silver lining

the bliss of the silver lining

There’s a vision board above my desk, with my hopes, wishes and desires for the year 2020. When I made it I was full of enthusiasm for a new year, and had several conversations with friends about what an amazing year it was going to be.

Everyone felt it … there was something in the air … somehow 2020 felt “different” from the start. The possibilities were endless.

It’s different, alright.

Early April, I considered taking my vision board off the wall, knowing the year I expected and hoped for was not in the cards. No graduation trips, no girls weekend in the spring with my three girls, no wedding shower for my oldest and her fiance, maybe even no big wedding in the fall. My excitement for 2020 was replaced with sadness and loss.

Then I took a closer look, and realized the only thing that changed was the “hows.”

In the vision board workshop I hosted in January, we discussed the key element of envisioning, then manifesting, the life you truly desire; it’s letting go of “how” your desires will manifest, and let the Universe and its brilliant serendipity figure that out.

Our job, instead of planning each how along the way, is to set the intention for our desires, let it go, then take whatever inspired action moves into our awareness. This goes for the physical things we want, as well as the spiritual and emotional.

This is hard enough to do in a “normal” year. We have a set understanding of “how” things are supposed to happen. You want a new job? You update your resume, scour the job sites, ask your network. Reasonable — yet what if you took that intention of finding a new job with you wherever you went, even to the Farmer’s Market, say, where you meet someone and strike up a conversation that leads to a mention of someone looking for your exact skill set?

Never in a million years would you have put “Go to Farmer’s Market” on your to-do list for finding a job … yet how often does this kind of serendipity happen?

So back to my vision board — I was someone convinced that my vision for the year was totally upended by the pandemic. Then I took a closer look …

  • closer connection with my husband? That was certainly happening.
  • more connection with family? My daughters and I are closer than ever, never hesitating to jump on FaceTime when we need to an extra dose of love, and keeping up a daily stream of texts; our extended family has Zoom chats every Saturday night.
  • the guest room redecorated and ready for company? Just about complete, including a new paint-by-number done as “stress therapy”
  • more faith? Faith has been my touchstone during the last few months, in a way I’ve never felt it before.
  • a clean and organized home? Well, the year’s not over yet …

It’s been an astonishing thing to learn these lessons. Even with my surface level awareness of letting go of the hows, the reality comes as a shock. I would never wish for the situation the world is facing today … yet I realize it doesn’t spell the end of our dreaming, our desires for ourselves and the ones we love.

Maybe this is what my grandmother said when she always searched for silver linings in her challenging life. She wasn’t in denial; she simply had faith.

I’ve learnt it is entirely possibly to be grateful and sad at the same time; happy and sorrowful; strong at heart yet anxious; looking forward to the future while struggling with the present.

It is entirely possible that I just may get the year I envisioned after all …

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