Are you content? BE TERRIFIED!

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Sometimes we get stuck in our lives. No matter how gorgeous, titillating, and inspired they may be, eventually it all becomes normal; still really really good, but normal. That state of complacency, cruise-control I call it, is often confused with contentment. “Oh everything’s great. I’m content with my life.” If that’s you, be terrified.

I’ve lived in Bali for five years. From day one I was awestruck. Everything was like nothing I’d ever known, done, seen, heard, believed, before. I was drinking from the fire hydrant of life at just about the same gushing flow. Joy was my perpetual state followed close on its heels by deep, soul-satisfying gratitude. I dreamed big and the dreams that manifested were bigger. Bali met me on every plane of existence with abundance above and beyond imagining.

But like many romances, infatuation becomes lust, becomes admiration, becomes love, becomes commitment…and then if the fire is left untended it wanes to coals and burns out to cold, dead, ash.

I woke up one morning and felt the chill.

Bali was still Bali. I knew that. But something inside me had shifted and I didn’t feel her the way I had before. I’d become content, but in the wake of the intensity of joy, discovery, and amazement, contentment was a colorless place emitting the low-level hum of boredom.

There was nothing wrong. It’s very difficult to sort out what’s not right when there’s nothing wrong. I journaled, meditated, yoga’d, did everything I knew to do. But I was metaphorically at sea in a magnificent sailboat without a breath of wind. My father died. My first grandchild was born. Life crested and dipped like waves around me but I remained stagnant in their midst.

Then one day by divine chance, I stumbled upon a book with the dreadful title, A Happy Pocket Full of Money, by David Cameron Gikandi. Truth be told, I would have never picked that book off the shelf. But because of the serendipitous way it crossed my path, I read it. Buried in a paragraph on page 85, was the key that broke the code. Paraphrased it went something like this: A major reason why people lose their joy is because they cease to dream. Sometimes this happens when comfort is finally achieved, which isn’t a bad thing. But if you find yourself going down, re-examine your goals and mental images, for life is images of the mind expressed.

Bingo! Sirens went off. Five years ago my head had been filled with images: the kind of life I desired, the books I would write, the home I would live in, the friends I would have. Five years later, I HAD IT ALL. I had achieved comfort. But the place in my mind once filled with fantastic visions and outrageous dreams was now empty space and I was going down.

The author didn’t stop there. He went on to make the remarkable claim that 5000 dreams are better than 500. His premise is that you want to give Source plenty to work with.

So I’m imagining my list of 5000 dreams. I have three so far but they’re big ones. Meanwhile, I’ve recognized that in the wake of so much blessing an old belief system had crept back in, one that suggested I’d been given so much more than I deserved, how dare I dream of anything else? Where do these idiotic lies come from? And why was I paying so little attention? I knew better!

It didn’t take months, or weeks, or even days. Within hours of the juicy birth of new desires, the lights went on, the expectant sizzle of potential zinged through my veins, and lusty infatuation for everyone and everything made me giddy with joy. Never, ever again will I let my life get comfortably dreamless. Thank you, Mr. Gikandi.

~~~~~

“With our thoughts we make the world.”
– Buddha

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
– Walt Disney

“The empires of the future are empires of the mind.”
– Winston Churchill

“Where there is no vision the people perish.”
– Proverbs 29:18

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
– Alvin Toffler

“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.”
-George Lucas

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.”
– Napoleon Hill

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau 

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What’s the worst that can happen?

Are you passionate about your life? What exactly does that mean? Should I be? Passionate?

From where I stand, it looks like there are a scraggly few who can proclaim that they’re living the life of their dreams. Why is that? I can think of only two reasons: 1) They don’t know what they want, or 2) They’re afraid to do what it takes to have what they want.

Many, and I was one of these, live with their eyes on tomorrow. Tomorrow things will be better. That’s deadly. It keeps you from living in the present and it delays action indefinitely because, as they say, tomorrow never comes. For a very long time I didn’t know what I wanted. I was afraid to dig too deeply looking for it for fear I would see the truth of how miserable I really was.

And there’s something else. Some people fear that if they go for it, go all out and follow their dream, they’ll find out that it’s not what they wanted after all. That’s a scary enough thought to keep you stuck exactly where you are. So what it really boils down to is only one thing: fear.

I like the What’s the worst that can happen? game when confronting fears. So what if I follow my dream and find out it’s not what I really wanted? What’s the worst that can happen? What if I dig deeply for my truth and realize I’m miserable? Don’t I already know, on some level, that I’m miserable? What’s the worst that can happen?

Most fears are irrational. When they’re put to the What’s the worst that can happen? test, they lose their power because the worst that can happen is often quite manageable.

I’m not questioning anyone’s belief system, but in the absence of proof to the contrary, it appears that we get one shot at life on this amazing planet. We get one chance, a brief span of generally less than 100 years, to explore the grandeur of earth’s terrain, experience the cultures of people different from ourselves, delve into the mysteries of our existence, and eat snake for breakfast. (If you haven’t tried it, you must. It’s one of my favorites.)

And here’s the last test. Do you laugh every day? Not just a chuckle, titter, or giggle, but a belly laugh that makes your tear ducts overflow? If not, you need people like this in your life.


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You’ll find them when you find your joy, when at last you can say, “This is it! This is who I was meant to be. This is MY BIG, BEAUTIFUL, PASSIONATE LIFE!”

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Rumah Kita…way better than “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!”

If you haven’t seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I highly recommend it. That and four other movies helped me pass the 26 hours en-route to paradise. It is one of those heart-grabbing tales that touches truth with humor and sensitivity. The movie evoked tears and laughter, both in abundance.

And now I’m back! I’m living in the house of my dreams,  in the place of my dreams, doing what I love. (Pinch me!) When I first saw these rooms filled with light from the 8′ windows on three sides, my first thought was If I ever have the chance to rent this house I’d take it in a heartbeat. I inquired and my name was added to the bottom of a long list of “hopefuls.”  In early June, about a month after returning to Minnesota, I found out my name had, by some miracle, risen to the top of that list. I could have the house for 4 months starting mid-July but had to decide in 24 hours. Although I pretended to weigh the pros and cons, the decision had been made months earlier when I first walked through the door.

Here is my 10′ x 25′ balcony overlooking treetops and rooftops.

My breakfast is served here, on the balcony, by Ketut, my ‘house helper.’ Just so you can be completely envious, this house comes with staff. There is a house manager and a house helper. Pasek, the manager, takes care of the financial affairs of the property and shops for food and other necessary supplies. Ketut’s job is to take care of me. He prepares and serves my breakfast, cleans daily, and changes the bed and bath linens every three days. He keeps the house filled with fresh flowers…truly filled…and tends the gardens. When I want tea, or coffee, or a blended fruit drink I simply request it and it appears with Ketut, on a tray, along with another fragrant bouquet. I am already spoiled beyond recovery!

The night I arrived it was approaching 2:45 a.m. and I had told them to expect me between 1 and 1:30 a.m. But I no sooner stepped out of the taxi and Ketut was beside me, all smiles, in his grey hoodie sweatshirt. He hoisted my HEAVY suitcase over his shoulder and off we went, winding down the narrow path that leads to Rumah Kita, my beautiful new home. As I turned in at the gate I glanced up. The upstairs shined like a beacon. We walked up the staircase to the private entrance and opened the door. Every light in the house was on, the white tile floors were spotless and glistening. And flowers…the perfume of frangipani and blooms of unknown species wrapped me in fragrance and welcomed me in.

Ketut made sure I was comfortable, told me he would see me in the morning, and left me to unpack. Yes, I’d been up for about 28 hours straight by then, but there is something about unpacking that grounds me. When I finally peeled back the blue quilted comforter on the bed it was approaching 4 a.m. But all I could do was gaze in awe out the windows at shadowy palms and a sky full of stars and laugh and laugh and laugh. I was home.

As promised, Ketut appeared in the garden below about 7:30 (sunrise is 6:30 and the roosters and I were up at the crack of dawn!) “Would you like your breakfast?” he called up to me. My stomach had been rumbling for several hours by then…”Yes! Please!” He flashed a big smile…”What would you like?” Uh oh! I didn’t realize I might have options…”What are my choices?” I asked. Come to find out, I just have to let him know and I can have anything I want. I settled on fruit, omelet, and coffee, took my journal out to the balcony, and within moments breakfast (and more flowers) appeared before me.

I dined in sheer bliss listening to the Bali morning noises that I love. The house is near the river and overlooks banana palms, coconut palms, and a profusion of flowering bushes and trees. Some of the sounds are different from the chorus of the rice paddies that had become so familiar during my last stay. I love them all!

And I am intrigued by what I am beginning to call the ‘bliss factor.’ There have been times when there were one or two aspects of my life that brought me happiness. I learned to focus on those and if you asked, I would have told you that I was happy. There have been times of tremendous stress and pain but still there was happiness.  Here I experience something else. When I step off the plane and feel the warm softness of the air, see the brown faces and white smiles, my heart leaps into my throat. Tears well in my eyes. I feel a blinding shock of joy explode in my heart. It is a sensation I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I can only call it bliss. Some people meditate for years to achieve this altered state. I simply step off the plane.

From the edge of my balcony….Bali night.

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