Sunday, February 23, 2014

What is Your Dharma?

I Was Born to Be a Teacher!


Last week I was at work for three nights until 8:30 doing conferences with my 8th graders and their parents, and guess what?
I LOVE IT!
I mean, what could be better than 
hanging out with kids all day?
(the grown-ups are okay, too, I guess . . . LOL!)

Honestly, I feel super lucky and blessed to have a job I love, and to tell the truth, teaching actually found me

Here's the super no-coincidence story:

Once upon a time in my twenties after college, I was in my room late at night reading a college course catalog (yes, I was working at a department store in the mall with a 4-year degree, living at home with my parents . . . and that's okay . . . I just didn't have a direction, or a focus, and I wasn't sure what to do with my life, hence the college course catalog). I turned a page open and vwah-lah (is that how you spell it?), out popped a section in the catalog for a teaching license program for English (which was my degree in college).

I was like WHOA! COOL! I could be a teacher! and looked farther down the page. I needed two letters of reference from college professors, a copy of my college transcript, an essay explaining my interest in the program, and a completed application form. Not a problem, really . . . but then I looked at the deadline: 
it was 
due the
very next day at 5:00 p.m.
I didn't know it until later, but this was one of the very first times I felt the Universe leveraging itself for me. I knew I was going to be a teacher after I saw this program, and I knew I was going to meet the deadline.  

I stayed up all might long writing my essay and filling out the application, and right away in the morning, I called two of my favorite professors the and asked for references THE VERY SAME DAY. They agreed! (of course) . . . 

That very afternoon (fewer than 24 hours since I had read about the program), I headed down to the University of Minnesota with my application; I picked up the references from my two professors; I went to the transcript office and got an authorized copy of my college grades; AND, I hand-delivered my entire application at (you guessed it!) around 4:55 p.m.

I made the deadline!

Anyway, that is the story of the beginning of my love affair with teaching. I feel so blessed to be a teacher and to have a job that I absolutely adore. Deepak Chopra, in his Seven Laws of Spiritual Success describes The Law of Dharma in this way:

"Everyone has a purpose in life . . . a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals."

Do you know people who absolutely love their jobs? They may be working and connecting with their dharma, a Sanskrit word that means "purpose in life."


What if, since you were born, you were encouraged to find your spirit, express your unique gifts in the world, and use those very same talents to serve others with your PURPOSE? What if someone told you that you were born with unique gifts that only YOU can express in this world . . . and that if you give with an attitude of service, you will be abundant, and you will never experience want. That's what happens when our calling (job) is in alignment with our spirit; that's why people leave corporate America (and the big bucks!) to find something more meaning-FULL!


Sometimes, I hear folks complain about their employment (btw, I don't mean those who are irked once in a while . . . I am talking about people who chronically complain about their miserable existence at work), and I wonder usually one of two things:
  • Why aren't they doing something they absolutely love that gives them energy?
  • or, Why don't they change their attitude, try to appreciate their job and stop feeding the cycle of yuckiness that probably creates their misery in the first place? I mean, just cuz' we don't love something doesn't mean we have to be uncomfortable, right? We bring our attitude to absolutely everything we experience.

Anyway, as  I write this, I know that loads of folks have to work to support their families--me, too! I would rather do something I love to support my family . . . that actually doesn't feel like work . . . and teaching is like that to me.

I know this might sound all spiritual hippie-dippie, but my experience is that when I focus on MAKING MONEY, I am pretty lost. When I focus on serving others, I feel much better, and the Universe sustains me beyond my wildest dreams. 

My students get how much I love my job (I show them and tell them everyday), and they also know that I get that my job is much much bigger than teaching 8th grade English in a middle school. To be honest, I've known for a long time that my dharma is bigger than teaching English . . . for example, being a role model for kids; being present for them in other ways (like, if adults aren't around for them, emotionally, physically, or psychologically); watching over them, socially, at school; and helping them learn how to be students; also, sometimes, just listening and checking in daily and throughout the week when I see them.

AnD (here it comes . . .), my caLL has gotten bigger, starting last year.

BACKSTORY: In all honesty, I have been a bit checked out at work in the past 3 years while I was going through a divorce and in transition with my family and my LIFE. A couple of years ago, I was coming out of the fog in so many ways, and I had the opportunity of having a student teacher--so, I had some time and space outside of my classroom.  During the same time, I began working with Mastin, and I became interested in blogging. It reminded me of journaling, actually, an activity I've done all my life.

When away for a weekend at my best friend's cabin, he showed me how Blogger works--and I wrote my first blog in about 30 minutes. It's like I was totally ready to write and put myself out there, and the right teacher appeared at the perfect moment. It was so easy and natural! Later, we came up with the name of my blog: funfreeMe, and showed me how and where to set up an LLC. Anyway, since then, I've had a tickling of something greater. MUCH GREATER. 


I didn't feel ready for IT (whatever it was), and Mastin told me that I can start anyway--that IT would unfold as a result of my starting the process. He also reminded me that we are never really ready, anyway, so I might as well just take a leap of faith and trust that the Uni-verse will lead and support me . . . I do know that whatever IT is, it has to be in synch with my dharma (purpose in life), aligned with my spirit, and of service for the benefit of others--- as Deepak Chopra writes.

After I 'fessed up that being nudged toward something different from traditional teaching has left me a bit apprehensive--not only 'cuz I'm not sure what IT is, but also because knowing WHAT THE DEAL IS, is always comforting. . . no surprises, right? That's how I've lived: safe, predictable, knowing the outcome.

Stepping into something different is kind of freaky, since many of us have gotten the message along the way that CHANGE IS SCARY. (Also, I'm 48 so that's freaky, too . . . ). On the other hand, why would life present us (you know, as in present, like a gift?) with opportunities if we weren't supposed to at least pay attention?

So--here's what might be trying to get my attention--btw, I'm not going to quit my amazing and fabulous teaching job; I just want to make sure I'm listening to the whisperings of the Uni-verse in case there is more to my dharma:
  • creating a business around the content of my blog
  • writing a book or an e-book
  • becoming a spiritual consultant
  • studying to become a kundalini yoga teacher--for kids!
  • creating & spiritual curriculum and/or teaching coursework about creative, empowered living
Weird, even writing these ideas down and sharing them is kind of SPOOKY! -- but part of me sharing what has been tapping me on the shoulder for the past year or so makes me accountable.

Has anything been TAP, TAP, TAP, TAPPING on your shoulder lately? Share your experience by leaving us your story in the comments!
Blessings,
Dana

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy You Year!

haPpy yOu yEaR!
Happy 2014, fun&freePps!

Good news! I was featured on THE DAILY LOVE this week as a guest blogger-ette! Check it out & leave a comment about the content and how it speaks to you~thanks so much in advance! Click here for my specific post: Dana's GuEst bLog.

So we've dropped a big story in the past couple of days, and now it's time to rock it to the present and the future! This is your year of creating and celebrating the life you desire-- welcome to 2013! You are aLIVE and yoUr fabulous existence began as a strand of DNA . . . amazing . . . huh? How do you live your life on purpose, with purpose

I am doing a lot of stuff right now to figure out them meaning of my LIFE('s) juiciest purpose, and when I get in touch with me, I can check in to what gives me a feeling of passion and what brings me to LIFE!

When I used to live from the OUTSIDE:IN, I worried a lot about what other people thought of me--I found myself reacting to life rather than responding to it. And while responding is a more powerful place than reacting, I still wasn't living life & loving (myself and others) as a powerful coCreator!

I beLIeVE it is my destiny (& yours, too) to be the most powerful and fabulous expression of me I can be! That is each of our highest calling.

So, are you living life small? Or, are you living LARGE and in CHARGE--bursting forward with pursuing the amazing creative aCtS that give you energy and passion?

Have you every thought that the world will be a better place if you sHaRe your amazing gifts with the You-niverse, with your fellow travelers--otherwise, why would you be here? What presence do you wish to leave as your own personal signature to our delicious and amazing existence?

That doesn't mean that life is easy, and there won't be challenges--as a matter of fact, the hard stuff is designed especially for us so we can learn and become even more amazing (I know it's hard to believe when your in the emotional and experiental crapper). Check out this Dr. Seuss vid called "Oh, The Places You'll Go" as a reminder of the awesome texture of LIFE!

Today, the first day of the NEW YEAR--I challenge you to do a bit of writing.
  • Make a list of at least 10 things, people, experiences, or opportunities that you are incredibly grateful for--be as specific and detailed as you can. Read the list out loud and at the end of each item, graciously feel the gratitude and say Thank you in your mind's eye.
  • Create another list of 5 things you desire to call in for this New Year--again, be very specific and write in the present tense. For example, I am earning an extra $1,000 each month, or, I run painlessly and freely each day. When this list is complete, read the list out loud, envision each desire fully with all of your senses-- and at the end of each item, graciously feel the gratitude and say Thank you, and so it is in your mind's eye. If you're really into it, you can create a vision board with the 5 things you's like to manifest--collect images, magazine snippets, drawings, whatever you like, and make a visual representation of each of your 5 desires that you can hang somewhere you'll see it every day.
  • Revisit your lists daily, and do the gratitude piece to close each process.

This is just on step to living your life as your BeSt sElF--remember that every juicy moment and hOLy interaction is created jUsT for you to reaCh youR hIghEsT poTentIaL! What are some of your desires in the new year? Leave a comment on the blog--we appreciate you sharing your experience!

You are large and in charge! LOL!
Blessings in the New Year!
Dana

Monday, December 30, 2013

We All Love a Good Story: How to Drop Yours!



A couple of weeks ago I was blogging about the made-up STORIES we create in our minds about what other people think? (cuz, you all know we can't crawl up inside people's heads or read their minds) . . . and that we can choose NOT to believe the stories?

And also, that we don't have to listen to our gross, yucky, mean inner (s)ELF?--we can tell him or her to shut the front door and take a hike (or, in a more loving fashion, we could send your (s)ELF on an all-expenses paid vacation to Bermuda!) 

What if . . . (mind boggling thought coming on . . . disregard in advance if too scary. . .) the stuff we make up about what EVERYBODY thinks about us is actually the same stuff that we FEAR everybody thinks about us---and the same stuff that our mean inner (s)ELF beats us over the head about? (so, it's all actually, really, and truly about how we feel about ourselves... sorry! I know cuz I've been there, believe me!)

So, like, for example, other people are, like, YOUR personal big huge movie screen--and YOU project the scary stuff YOU feel about YOURself on their screens and view it, and go, 

"OMG! THEY (note you are not focusing on yourself here) are sOsOsoSo mean (or rude, or ______ fill in the blank), I can't believe they (note you are not focusing on yourself here) would think that about me!"

Hmnnn. . . and Yike-eys! What if it's always about you? and the meaning you put onto the people and things that happen to you in your life?


CrAP, dAnA--SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY! . . . 

And that's the point. . . 
Go(o)D News and bAd nEws: You are in charge of you! You get to cReAtE yOuR liFe! Problem is, it's easier to blame others for what is going on, how we are feeling, and the general circumstances of our existence.
QUESTion: Would you rather be the hero(ine) of your own journey (in charge)? or, the victim (everybody does stuff TO you? ...so sad...)

Personally, I want to be the super sparkly heroine with the short yellow orange peel cape, the pink high-tops, and the yellow-dangly, multi-flowered tiara!

All bow down! nOw! (jK!)

lOvE and LuVe,
;) pRinCesS dAna
As I'm getting ready for the changeover into the New Year, I have been thinking about the one best gift I can give myself. As I was driving over to my besties house for dinner, what came up for me was this: giving up my stories.

People by nature are storytellers--and one of the things we love most, is to listen to a good story. We all remember the stories of our childhood--whether they are fairytales, family legends passed down from our grandparents, our favorite myths and legends, or classic tales of good and evil. Stories help us make sense of our complicated lives, our relationships, and of both our good and challenging experiences.

The thing is, when we are told stories, we pretty much know that they aren't true; they are fictional. But sometimes, a really amazing storyteller can engage us so fully, that we forget we're hearing a story because it seems so dang real. I mean, who doesn't love a good story?

Anyway, enter me, Dana: master storyteller

I have been telling myself stories my entire life--some good and empowering (especially when I was little and I thought I could rule the freakin' world!---you know, SUPER CAPITAL D-DANA), but many have also been critical, contemptuous, and disempowering (especially when I was living from the outside in and believed what others said and thought about me . . . and when I gave a lot of power to the media--all outside stuff). The latter stories have kept me small and fearful--you know, small lower-case d-dana.

When I look back on my life, I can chronicle the stages of stories I told myself; I won't bore you with the particulars, but let's just say that I have been telling my stories over and over (to myself and others) until they have become true--even if they started out as fiction. 

I have realized just in the past few years that my stories are, well, mine (OMG!)--and mostly FICTION. I mean, I am the one to assign meaning to the events and relationships in my life, and I get to choose the stories that operate and work for me. Which also means (thank GOD) that I get to drop the stories that don't work anymore.

And guess what? Some of my stories are getting so damn boring and old. I just can't listen to them anymore, and I can only imagine how sick and tired my friends are of the stories that keep me pissing & moaning in a completely pathetic victim role. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH (kind of like the teacher in Charlie Brown, right?). These stories have kept me in fear, and have prevented me from stepping outside my comfort zone into brave, passionate, and energatic ME. 

I mean, SHUT UP ALREADY!
So it's time to drop my stories. 

Here are some of the stories I've heard throughout my life (TOP SECRET: MOST OF THEM ARE MY OWN, LOL!):
  • my family was dysfunctional 
  • there's not enough money for that
  • the government controls everything
  • nobody likes me
  • I'm not smart enough
  • guys always treat me like crap
  • I didn't go to the right school
  • I'm not skinny enough
  • my parents never understood me
  • where's my stuff?
  • I don't have a partner
  • I was never pretty/handsome enough
  • I shouldn't have to work so hard
  • I don't have enough experience
  • there's no quality single people out there
  • my parents are embarrassing
  • I was supposed to be taken care of
  • I'm a single parent
  • I grew up in a small town
  • I don't have the right connections
  • someone is better than no one
  • I'm not one of the lucky ones
  • I'm screwed no matter what
Now, I could take any one of these statements and weave an intricate and detailed story around it--filling in all the characters, the setting, the conflict, and the plot (btw, these stories have a circular plot--as in, they always start over and end at the beginning again!). In general, I will say that the specifics don't matter, but the general storyline is what keeps coming back into our lives. 

AND GUESS WHAT?

We choose it cuz' we keep retelling it, and the more we keep the story alive, the more we draw back into our lives the same old story! Get it? We create our reality based on our story . . . which is  precisely  why  we need  to
            D
               R
                    O
                         P
the fear-based stories that no longer move us toward our biggest, juiciest, most-powerful selves!

I can tell I'm close to ready to drop a story when I start to get sick of hearing it myself, or when one of my besties asks, "When are you going to be done with THAT story?" In which case I might keep retelling it anyway, knowing the sails are ready to drop soon . . .

What are some of the stories that you are ready to drop? I challenge you to list 5 stories you are bored of hearing yourself tell (if you can't think of any, ask your closest chums . . . they'll have a list in no time!). I can't think of a better time than New Year's Eve to DROP our stories. When you think of your own life, what stories have you told yourself that have kept you in a place of paralysis, apathy, resentment, or fear? 

I'm not saying the stories are bad and/or wrong in any way . . . as a matter of fact, I thank many of my stories for sustaining me and keeping me safe when I didn't know when to turn or I didn't have anyone to talk to. But there comes a time when we must move past our stories and weave new, empowering tales.


While I believe these stories have a time and purpose in our lives, we all get to  place in our inner work when it's time to let go and rewrite our stories. SO, what next? This part may take some time, but don't bypass it--it may also get boring and repetitive (just like your story, get it?). You can either do this in writing, or with a tape recorder.
  1. First, look at your initial list of old stories. Choose the story that causes you the most pain or that keeps you the most paralyzed and/or stuck.
  2. Let a trusted friend know that you are doing this process; if you don't feel comfortable alone, have your friend stay with you while you undergo this process.
  3. Sit quietly and comfortably, and really become the character in your own story. What do you smell? What do you see? Who is with you? What do you experience? What words and phrases do you hear over and over again? What pain do you keep re-experiencing in this story?
  4. Light a candle, and get even more comfortable.
  5. Either write out your story on paper or tell your story into a tape recorder. Be as detailed and repetitive as you can--your story may be 3 pages or it may be 25, it may be 15 minutes or 2 hours--use your intuition as a guide; you will know when you are done.
  6. Do some reflection about what this story has cost you--in your relationships, in your values, in your lifestyle, your financial well-being, your work life, your family, and whatever else comes to mind. 
  7. Also reflect on how the story has sustained you and helped you survive and even thrive in the face of hardship. Remember, your story has served a purpose, or it would not be part of your experience. Thank your story for its place in your journey.
  8. Be kind to yourself throughout this process, and be grateful for your story.
  9. Either read your story to a trusted friend, or listen to the tape recording with a friend. Listen to it as many times as it takes to get to the point where you can no longer listen--until you can practically recite it word for word or you may even find yourself giggling! REMEMBER: it's fiction.
  10. When you feel a shift in your attachment to the story, do a ritual around letting go of the story. First, take ownership for your story, bless your story, and thank your story for serving you. If you wrote it out, you may want to burn the story, extinguish the candle, and take a cleansing bath. You'll know what to do.
  11. After you have completed this exercise, see how much lighter you feel; you may also feel sadness, or grief, or an "emptying" feeling. It's all good, and part of the process. 
You may feel inklings of your old story coming back from time to time--that's natural. Your story has been around for awhile. If that's the case, don't panic--you can simply notice the story's return, acknowledge it like a vaguely familiar face, wave to it briefly, and turn the other way.

It's time to exist in the present--What's your (new & improved) story going to be? You are the creator of your own story . . . and it's a hero(ine)'s journey . . .

Lots of Love!
Dana

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pay Attention to the Universe!


Today I meditated for the first time in a while, and the topic was gratitude for deep cosmic connections--these are the synchronicities that occur in our everyday lives that we can oftentimes miss if we are not present and paying attention. Here is the amazing and delicious reminder I received from the Universe (tut.com) the other day--as I read these statements (in black), here are the intuitive messages that were whispered to  me (those are in red, of course. . .)
*********************************************************************************
The Top 10 things about time and space, Dana Lynne,
that most people seem to forget...


10. You chose to be here and you knew what you were doing. So everything in my life is purposeful and I chose the events, circumstances, and relationships, too. Everything happens for a reason and there aren't any coincidences.  And, there must be a divine purpose for my existence on the planet at this time. Whew! That means I can relax into the resent and gently let go fear and anxiety.

9. There are no "tests" and you're not being judged. Oh, so I can relax and stop worrying that there's always a right answer? Maybe my harshest judge is myself, and I need to learn how to be more loving to me--Dana! p.s. If I do feel judged, it might be a projection of mine, and if another person judges me, it's not about me?

8. Everyone's doing their best, with what they know. That "everyone"includes me and others--so I can quit judging others (oops) and myself--but which also doesn't let me off the hook to stop behaviors that no longer serve me. Especially during the holidays when we spend more time with our loved ones, our issues and buttons become magnified, and I find myself projecting judgement onto others--this is how the Universe holds up a mirror to me for my own growth.

7. You already have whatever you're looking for. Reminds me to practice gratitude on a daily, even a momentary basis. I am so so blessed! I have everything I need. And, when I choose gratitude, I get more of the juicy stuff back from the Uni-verse.

6. You are of the Divine, pure God, and so is everyone else. We all lead a holy existence . . . each of our lives is a prayer (see red part on #1 for more info!)

5. Religion needs spirituality; spirituality does not need religion. Might mean that spirituality is bigger than religion? But I think many sacred practices comes from the rich traditions of many religions. What gets us in trouble, I think, is when we expect others to embrace the spiritual and religious constructs that we believe, or that there is only one right way to celebrate God/The Uni-verse (insert your semantic here!). Not super sure about this one; if you have any ideas, leave me a comment! 

4. You're naturally inclined to succeed - at everything you do. Reminds me of Chopra's law of least resistance--when I am in the flow of life and accepting what IS, I can choose actions to support my intentions and give attention to my heart's desires.

3. You happen to life, life does not happen to you. I am a co-creator--not a victim. I can choose to be empowered through conscious action; I am not a victim of circumstance . . . I can choose my actions and reactions to lIfE! 

2. Order, healing, and love belie every moment of chaos, pain, and fear. Everything happens for a reason, and learning is the key--otherwise I'll get the same lesson presented over and over . . . thanks, Uni-verse!

1. Following your heart is the best way to help others. I might have more peace & be better informed in life when I follow my gut and my heart rather than listen to the craziness that happens in my little bratty monkey mind. When I follow my heart, I can align my choices with my authentic, higher self, be truer to myself, and share my gifts with the world. This is the best way for my to serve others, which is the most important reason I am here (See #1). I am here for a reason, and only can serve my higher purpose (my dharma).
The truth shall set you free,
The Universe
© www.tut.com ®


When each of us takes steps toward our highest purpose and our heart's desires--all while serving others with our unique gifts, we can trust that all is well, and trust that the Uni-verse is creating the circumstances and relationships that will serve our highest good.

How do these reminders speak to you today? 
Love, 
Dana

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Message from the Uni-Verse!

Dear Ones--

Have you ever noticed that the right message from the Universe seems to arrive exactly when you need it? You can probably see the card I got this morning from one of my besties, Alana. I have been in a place, lately, that hasn't been--well, so Thanksgiving-ey (if that's a word, but you know what I mean . . .).

I feel really stressed and pressured by all of the expectations I put upon myself for the season (enter perfectionism ALERT)--decorating, shopping, wrapping, party-going, baking--and, not to mention everyday stuff like momming (another made up word) working, shoveling, teaching, washing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining . . .  and I'll stop there before I bore you too much with my story about my overwhelm.

So this morning I was relieved when I got to work; I opened a manila envelope with this message: 
YOU ARE
EXACTLY
WHERE YOU
SHOULD BE
YOU ARE DOING
EXACTLY
WHAT YOU SHOULD
BE DOING

I was relieved to get this reminder. The (not so) hidden message for me is this:
  • Your best is good enough.
  • You don't have to be perfect.
  • You have enough time.
  • All is well.
  • Breathe.
During this time of year, I often get caught up in running around like a crazy person . . . but in the next couple of days, I am going to try to jUsT bE instead of dO. Try to enjoy the relationships I have, and be grateful for the time well-spent with those I love. The gifts don't mean so much, after all. What I want to give most is my presence--I think that's the best present of all. What will you give this Thanksgiving?

Lots of Love!

Dana