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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the link between fear and creativity

the link between fear and creativity

Creativity is less about talent and more about fear.

Yep, I’m going out on a limb here.  Time to have a serious talkin’ to … with ourselves.   

Not all fear is real.  And once we learn how to get out of our own way, our lives will be spectacular!

You’ve all seen the acronym FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. How many excuses do we need to justify not doing what we want to do?  Do these excuses come it from your M.F.T.P. (Mother, Father, Teacher, Preacher)?  You know these fears … Artists can’t make a real living.  You’re too old to write a book.  What if you fail?  What if people don’t like it?  Why can’t you be happy with what you have?  What makes you think anyone cares?  You’re too young.  You’re too old. 

Begone, excuses!  That was someone else telling you their fears.  And they were probably truly trying to help you.  But they are not you.  Their experiences are not yours.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how I feel about “whispers.”  They matter and they are important.

As I write in my book 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul, I was an artist, in my mind, when I was eight years old.  Where it came from, I do not know, but I found myself sketching and longing to take an art class.  There were no art classes available to me, and “being an artist” was foreign to my family and my situation.  So I just drew sometimes … because it felt good.  (The rest of the story is in my book …  and the ending may surprise you.) 

My point is this: It took me 40+ years to listen to those whispers.  I wouldn’t trade anything in my life, except that I could have included art and painting all along.  I thought I had to make a choice.  I thought creativity tapped you on the shoulder and selected you.  I never dreamed, until I retired and had the time to listen to my whispers, that I actually was an artist.  Maybe not the best trained or recognized artist, but I was sure happy.

What do you want to do?  What do you want to try? Listen. Listen. Those whispers may be warning you of something, and deserve to be heard.  They may also be trying to get your attention so you can go on a journey of self- discovery.

Aim up!

Rita

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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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Your Creativity LOVES Uncertainty

Your Creativity LOVES Uncertainty

We certainly have been pushed into a vortex of uncertainty.

This is good news for your creative soul.

Don’t look now, but your creativity wants to come out and play!  And all the old routines that we were forced into, either gladly or reluctantly, are gone for a while.  Like the kids’ practices, and events we didn’t really want to attend anyway. 

Take a deep breath and say hello to your whispers.

As we rush toward returning to the life we once had, let’s consider what things we truly want to take back with us.  We have some time to reflect and remember who we really are.  What is most important to us?   Why do we live the life we choose to live?

Whispers are not scary.  They can be messy, though.  Whispers are thoughts or ideas that keep popping into your head, and sometimes seem silly or weird.  Those whispers start out quietly and can turn into nudges.  If we ignore the nudges or signs, a crisis can absolutely make you pay attention.  It’s so much easier to listen to the whispers.  Your inner voice will only speak when you allow it the opportunity.  Your heart is speaking; let it be heard.

Your whispers are trying to tell you something, so let’s invite them in and have a little conversation.  You are always in control, so start asking “why?” and let the answers come, then ask again, until you can’t get to another answer.  Your whispers don’t always make sense, but give it some time and listen carefully … your world will open up and your clarity will be laser-like. 

I had a conversation today with a friend about how she can’t plan for her creativity.  It just doesn’t work.  She feels there has to be a real need for it and then her creativity just explodes.  I call this Inspired Action, and I talk about it in the introduction of my book 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul

No two snowflakes are alike.  We are all creative and we are all truly snowflakes. Until you convince yourself you ARE creative, it may take a forced or planned action to get you to shine your little light!   

There is a real need right now to listen to your whispers so you can fast track your joy.

I believe in you.  Aim up!

Rita

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