Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What is Your Dharma?

I Was Born to Be a Teacher!

At the end of the school year, and while everyone is doing the countdown to summer, I'm a bit sad. Do you know why? I'm a teacher, and
I mean, what could be better than 
hanging out with kids all day?
(the grown-ups are okay, too, I guess . . . LOL!)
Good thing I teach summer school!

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 years while I was 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!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Brothers and Sisters . . . Oh, My!

Brother and Sister

Lulu has arrived--and she has been here for just one week. Teddy kind of likes her, but is a bit annoyed, in general . . . and I don't blame him.

He's been TOP DOG for over 2 years! Daddy's best (beast) friend, a super-great armpit sleeper! And a ball boy extraordinaire.

I think he's secretly happy she's here, even though she's a bit of a pain.

I wonder if that's how my brother felt about me.

I didn't really get my brother or connect with him until we were in college. We went to the same university--the U of MN--and he was a Lodger and I was a DG. We started school the same time even though he was a year older, because he went to Amsterdam for "grade 13" after he was heartbroken because he couldn't go to Carleton College. My parents couldn't afford it, and they made too much money for him to get scholarship money. But that's another story.

My point is, we don't really appreciate what is right in front of us, because we aren't present. We are planning the future, regretting the past, or hating on all the $#!t that we don't appreciate about life in general. We are generally numb, I believe, and I'm not excusing myself from it, either. 

I hope my kids, Max and Chloe, love each other as much as my brother and me did. They really don't even want to be in the same house right now, sadly.

They are really different from each other, and they don't see that as a cool thing. 

My brother and I were really different, too.

I didn't even get how much he meant to me, until my brother, Chris, died. How freakin' obvious is that? (You don't realize what you've got until it's gone . . .)

Sometimes, I feel like he dies every damn day like a throat-closing, choke, cry feeling. 

He was my best friend.

I hope Lulu and Ted are best friends. I think it's meant to be. ;)

Friday, June 23, 2017

fLy fRee aBovE thE sTorM!

“When it rains, most birds head for shelter; 
the Eagle is the only bird that,
in order to avoid the rain, 
starts flying above the cloud.”

I have been writing a little bit about breaking free from relationships that don't feel positive and that do not support our highest good. Sometimes, we keep friends around, even when we are uncomfortable for whatever reason--we give too much, we are criticized or told what to do, or we just can't be ourSelvesSometimes, we hang on just because we are afraid of being alone.

Someone is better than no one, right? If we are mean to ourselves, why shouldn't others be treat us in the same way, as well? We draw into our lives people who mirror how we treat ourselves. 

We really need courage to let go of these  unhealthy relationships. Only then can we make room for other relationships that are a better fit!

Have you ever noticed that the SAME stuff keeps showing up in your life until you learn your lesson ?!!!!? Funny how that works! Thanks You-niverse!

People treat us the way we allow ourselves to be treated (BTW--it's the same when you are grown up!...)! So, if you notice that you hang with people who aren't very nice to you, ask yourself, "Why?" 

MAybe they aren't your peoples, after all! 

They are a reflection of how you feel about you! So, what if you love yourself enough to rise above the storm--like an EaGle! 

fLy hiGh and fRee little cHickaDee!

Love U,
;) dana

Thursday, June 22, 2017

relation-SHIPS are journeys, not destinations!

The journey is the reward.
-Chinese Proverb

WeLL hELLo all fUn & fRee feLLow tRaVeLers--

As you know, I have been writing a lot lately about the delicate dance of relation-SHIP, and by relation-SHIP, I literally mean SHIP--like, as in relation-SHIPs are journeys, not destinations. 

Sometimes, travel is smooth and beautiful, and the water is crystal clear and the skies are baby blue. Whew!

Other times, waters are murky and tumultuous & filled with predators, and the sky is pitch black, rainy and thunderous--Scary!

Most of us have a destination in mind when we go on a journey, and this is often true of a relation-SHIP, as well. We have an idea of where we want it to go, and so often, we have OUR PLAN (destination) in mind . . . and we forget to really see and appreciate the person in front of us and we don't live authentically in our own skin.

This is also true when we meet someone and assume they have nothing to offer us. We never see the gifts they potentially could offer us in our life 'cuz we think we have it figured out before we even allow the relation-SHIP to develop.

I don't know about you, but some of the coolest journeys I have taken are just getting in the car and starting to drive--without knowing where I am going . . . OR (even better) . . . having a set destination and then getting lost or going on a detour and ending up somewhere even more amazing than I had ever imagined . . . (I'm sure you know where I'm secretly going with this by now!)

Relation-SHIPS are journeys, not destinations, and if we open ourselves to fully experiencing another person, while being authentic at the same time, the possibilities are endless! Hello!

For those of us who have ever chased a relationship, this notion can be a huge relief. Personally, I'd rather be my imperfect, crazy, awkward self--with someone who appreciates me for all of it--than try to be perfect with someone who constantly corrects me, criticizes me, and wants me to be different than who I am. Bye-bye!

When we open ourselves up authentically to others, we may be surprised where the journey, the relation-SHIP carries us. Where has an unexpected relation-SHIP taken you? Leave me a comment and let me know!

All Aboard!
Captain Dana

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

feeLs niCe 2 B, weLL, nICe!

This past 5 years has definitely been a time of facing my fears and choosing love over fear! Like, as in doing what's right for me (despite what other people say about it, how they judge me, and the stories they make up about mY TrUtH!)--even thought these are really stories I make up about what stories they are making up--know what I mean? (METASTORIES--you know: stories about stories!) Ha! I am not really sure why I keep worrying about others, but it keeps happening, so I must still need to work on that lesson. Thanks, You-niverse! (not ... jk . . . but I'm a bit sick and tired of it . . .).

Here's how fear has operated for me:
  • I used to try to be perfecKt so nobody would find fault with me
  • And, when people did find fault or criticize me, just deny it, or make an excuse for it, or kiss their butt enough to change their mind about how bad or wrong or stUpiD I was . . . (super InAuTheNtiC of me) . . . but it was how I survived . . . ;( BTW: I wonder why I allowed these people to hang around me in the first place when it felt like such crap). Can you relate? 
  • NOTE TO SELF: get these iCky tOXic people oUT! Send them off with loVE and comPAssIOn, but SHOW THEM THE freakin' DOOR!
  • DOUBLE NOTE TO SELF: get these iCky tOXic InnEr MEan self oUT! Send her off with loVE and comPAssIOn, but SHOW HER THE freakin' DOOR! 
Oh--wait--since this is all in my mind. . . maybe this is really about me? Hmnnn. . . .
What I'm learning, is that just 'cuz someone thinks or says something about me (even if it's ME, in my mind), doesn't mean it's automatically true! That includes the mean crappy crap I tell mEself! 

Also, I am learning to not even waste my EnergY defending mE(self) to these people (or ME) 'cuz it is drainingnot true, and the stuff people (and I) say and do to me isn't really about me, anyway.

Do you know that the way people treat and what they say @ you isn't ever really about you? It's about tHeM and who tHeY are and what stories they make up about You! Isn't that weird? 

Which means by default (scary thing to tell you, here, but I'm just being real . . .) the way yOu treat others (including yourself) is neVer about ThEm and wHo you are and WhAt storiEs you make up about them! It's all projection.

CraP on a sTicK!

My daughter was noodling (thinking) out loud in the car yesterday and she was telling me about some kids who talk "stuff" about her at camp--and she felt kinda bad. And I asked her if the stuff was true.

She said, "Nope." 

Then, I asked her this: "If someone told you your skin is purple, would you believe it?

She laughed and  said, "Of course not, 'cuz it's not true.

And I said, "Same thing. If you know it's not true, then it's not!

Then, she told me that some of the spiritual stuff I talk about is confusing for her--and, of course, I told her it's confusing to me, too! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

To be clear: setting boundaries around how others treat you is totally healthy (see above about showing them the door . . .). AS my biG bRo told me one morning (we both had recently "broken up" with some ickies in our lives and we were sharing our war stories . . . 'sup Christopher? I KNEW you'd be pleased!):


So, MEet you fears and follow your dreams, FFPps--one teeny tiny baby step at a time, and find pEaCE in what's right for you!

LoVe U to the mOOn and bacK!
;) dana