Ten Things to Remember to Live an Awesome Life

After I came home from California last month with my head full of the 12 permaculture principles and the 20 things I remembered while I was away, I read a list somewhere of 9 ways to live a great life. It was a compelling enough list that I wanted to remember the 9 things and try to incorporate them into my every day practice. I envisioned myself creating a journal and pasting the permaculture principles and my 20 things and this 9-point list into the front of it and reading all three lists each morning. But, I didn’t paste them into a journal. I don’t think I even read the list of 9 things more than once. And now, several weeks later, I cannot find the list nor can I remember where I read it! I’ve scoured my email inbox (I did not Star it in Gmail) and my Facebook Wall (I did not post it to share with my friends) and all the blogs I follow, and I absolutely cannot find the list. I cannot even remember if it was written by a woman or a man; there is no energy signature attached to the memory. It is very strange. All I remember is that I wanted to save it and read it every day and that I was impressed that it was a 9-point list, rather than a 10-point list, as this concision somehow added to its astuteness.

I let this memory-lapse really annoy me for about a day; then I decided that rather than worrying about it any further, I would write my own list of 9 things. So I did.

And I was pretty happy with it. But then it occurred to me that my list was in part based on an assumption that was not clearly stated anywhere and that was unacceptable, so, even though it might mean my list is slightly less awesome than the now-lost-to-me-forever 9-point list that someone else wrote, I added a 10th thing so I could include that assumption.

I do not claim that any of the things on this list are original to me. In fact, I am fairly certain this list is just a compilation of the best things I’ve heard or, more likely, read. I will refrain from expounding on each point. Other writers have already elucidated these points beautifully, so I will point you to them and let that suffice – with one exception. This entire blog is about learning how to do number 10 on the list, so more on that will definitely follow.

So here it is. I hope it speaks to you. Please let me know your thoughts, edits, or additions in the comments!

Holden Beach Sunrise 2009

Nine Ten Things to Remember to Live an Awesome Life:

1. You are not a body with a spirit. You are a spirit with a body.

2. You came to this planet – at this time, and this place, in this body, with this family – to learn how to love. (Yes, think Richard Bach here. Even better, think William McDonough’s Prime Directive: How do we love all the children, of all the species, for all time? Make answering that your life’s work and you will definitely live your most awesome life.)

3. All that is required of you in this lifetime is to be fully present with an open heart. You were born in this state, but it may take you all of your adult life to re-learn how to sustain it.

4. In order to maximize the opportunity you have been given to live, take care of your physical body daily. Eat real food, rest, sleep, MOVE!, laugh, and enjoy the company of other beings.

5. Happiness is essential to your own well-being and evolution, as well as to that of the planet’s. If you are not absolutely, 100% convinced that this is true, please visit Dreamsmith  and download and read Kelly Wagner’s free ebook, A Quantum Leap: the Dreamsmith guide to creating a life you love. (Kelly includes her own list of 7 Daily Practices for Creating  a Life You Love in this, too!)

6. Cultivate gratitude in your life in order to optimize your own happiness and effectiveness as well as the happiness and effectiveness of those with whom you interact.

7. Say “no” only if it leads to a more expansive “Yes!” This is slightly different wording than Samantha uses, but I think it clearly states my current thinking. Please take a moment now to visit Samantha Sweetwater’s blog and read her excellent post on this.

8. Do not waste energy comparing yourself to others. If shorthand helps, try, “Keep your eyes on your own paper” or “Stay on your own yoga mat.”

9. Live the life that only you can live.

10. Grow into the light.

20 Things I Remembered

On my most recent birthday, I flew to San Jose, California for a 9-day Regenerative Leadership and Permaculture Design course. I went to learn about permaculture. This was a word I first heard when I was a senior at the University of Michigan in an Eco-Philosophy course taught by Henryk Skolimowski, back in the spring of 1990. At the time, I had a faint idea that maybe it had something to do with farming the permafrost. But, of course, I was wrong. Still, all these years later, I had little idea what permaculture was, just some recurring sense that it was related to the things I am interested in. So, I decided to write a book about it in order to have a reason to dedicate myself to learning about it. Fifty pages into my novel, I flew off to learn about this topic that was calling me – and, I quickly realized that I was in exactly the right place at the right time. Permaculture was essentially a word that could be linked to every thought I’ve had since that Eco-Philososphy course with Henryk.

But even more surprising than finding that I was already at home with permaculture was some of the things I remembered while I was in California that I had long ago forgotten. I have mostly worked alone over the past nine years, with very little feedback on who I am or what I do and so it is always instructive for me to be immersed in a group for any period of time. On top of that, the course concluded with two days of facilitation by Samantha Sweetwater, who helped us know things through movement and meditation and reflection more than through direct instruction. Her smile and her energy were a true gift.

The following is a list of things I wrote to myself on the plane home the day after the course concluded. They are things I think I have known – at least on some level – before, but they are things that are also easily forgotten. I did not want to forget them again and so wrote them down as a permanent reminder. I have tried to have regular contact with this list in the month that I have been home so as to keep the ideas fresh in my mind.

The first thing on the list was remembered while we were meditating on a mountain in Los Altos in late afternoon, sitting on the ground in an oak grove. The light was golden, and it reminded me strongly of the light I photographed this Japonese Acacia tree at Versailles in in October. I need to thank Samantha for providing the meditation space for this memory to come to me, as well as my post-meditation partner Charolett Knapic who smiled and patiently asked, and re-asked, the question, “Why are you here?” while tears streamed down my face and I struggled to find the words to answer. I must also thank Danielle Koppel for the series of conversations several winters ago that led to the articulation of the idea that I am here to hold light. Without those conversations, this meditation might have led me somewhere else completely. And, of course, I must thank the trees, and the sunlight, and the mountain and all of the Life that dwells upon it.

Japones Acacia at Versailles, France

20 Things I Remembered While Sitting Amongst the Trees

at Hidden Villa in Mountain View California

February 25, 2013

1. I was born onto this planet at this time because I truly love this place and I want to be here to hold light and spark the transformation needed to preserve the abundance and diversity of life on this planet.

2. I came here to hold light. Therefore, my presence here is all that is required of me. To be here. To be open. To be present. To witness.

3. If I can learn how to BE HERE, perhaps that will be the support others need to be able to learn to be here, too.

4. I am a passionate, articulate, visual, integrated, multi-talented soul with plenty of time in which to create. My life is Yes. My life is Both-And.

5. I do not need to create the one, perfect project (life’s work) to be able to use all of my talents and passions. Because my life is Both-And, I can create a fulfilling, effective, wildly passionate and creative life by pursuing several projects that move me deeply. I may need to pursue these projects in a serial rather than a simultaneous manner in order to achieve excellence and effectiveness.

6. Excellence and effectiveness are two of the core values I want to embrace. These are not to be confused with Perfection, however, which is a brake rather than a catalyst.

7. Moving my body expressively – not just for exercise – is essential to my well-being. As with yoga, dance and creative, expressive movement clear chakras and energy centers and flow joy through my being.

8. A huge part of my knowing lives in my third chakra, at the top of my belly. It is crucial that I keep this chakra clear and open and moving energy.

9. In the past, I have used food inappropriately to numb my full awareness. The upshot has been that I have piled weight, fat, and poisons on top of my third chakra to limit its ability to respond to my environment and communicate important information to the other parts of me who have been driving the ship.

10. To keep all of my chakras, but especially my third, open and clear and fully capable, I must not only move expressively, but also eat a diet that supports the full well-being of my body.

11. I am ready to commit to dramatically reducing or eliminating the most poisonous foods in my diet. These include high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fatty foods, and animal flesh.

12. I am willing and able to commit to greatly reducing my consumption of cheese, eggs, and dairy products to improve my well-being, reduce the planetary impacts of cow and chicken production, and to support my ability to co-create with all beings on this planet.

13. If I hope to re-animate the world for others, I must also re-animate it for myself. One way to do this is to recognize each being I encounter and appreciate its being-ness and power. Therefore, I am cultivating a practice of gratitude for the food I eat.

14. If I truly hope to co-create a new reality with all of the world’s beings, it would be best if I adopted a completely vegan diet.

15. As I move through my days, it is important that I take time to speak to animals, plants, and water in joyful recognition of each being’s innate beauty, power, and intelligence.

16. I am in the process of deepening my energy healing practices and am filled with the intention to give Reiki to myself and my family daily, as well as to share it as fully as I am able with all whom I encounter.

17. I breathe into my life and experience an abundance of all that I need, especially an abundance of time and energy to create and experience in the most satisfying ways.

18. I am powerful. I can hold huge visions with integrity.

19. I am fully capable of creating anything and everything I imagine. Therefore, I will imagine and create excellent things and experiences.

20. I am enough. I am ready. I am beautiful because I am Life and Life is innately beautiful, enough, and always seeking and maximizing opportunity.

♥ ♥ ♥

Do any of those things resonate with you?

Can you create a space in which you can get enough distance from the pull of your every day life to remind yourself of who you truly are and what you need to remember? A few moments might be all you need.

Your Invitation to Join My New Project!

Recently, life has had an air of expansiveness. Have you felt it? The feeling that anything is possible; that there is enough time and enough energy to do the things that bring real joy and not just the satisfaction of crossing something off the almighty To-Do List. The feeling that ample resources have already been gathered and now there is an opening to actually begin doing the real work, not just preparing for it. Seriously, have you felt it? I hope you have! It is an exciting and delicious way to experience the world, and such a welcome relief from the worries and stresses and not-ready’s and overwhelming not-enoughs that can dominate life when we let it.

After several years of starting and stopping various projects of importance to me and surfing waves of manageable depression that rolled in along with feelings of inadequacy and “stuckness,” last July I was rear-ended in my car while I was stopped on the freeway trying to exit during evening, rush-hour traffic in Raleigh. It was the second time I had been rear-ended while stopped during my commute and it was the second car that was totaled as a result. It also turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Suddenly I found myself in the kind of depression that was so deep I couldn’t stop crying and I lived my days in dread of having to face even the most mundane of my life’s responsibilities. I got news from my doctor that I was heading rapidly toward diabetes and news from my husband that I had become nearly impossible to live with. I am fortunate enough to have health insurance, thanks to my hard-working (and patient and loving) husband, and in August, I began seeing a therapist who helped me begin to put things in perspective.

By mid-September, I was feeling much better, was taking better care of my health, and had become a pleasant person again. Almost as a reward, I received the Message from the Universe that I had been expecting to receive during the cross-country bike trip I did in 1998 and had despaired of ever receiving. It was an understated-though-profound message and it quietly and suddenly shifted my entire perception of life. It enabled me to rewrite the last chapter of my memoir, Your Mileage May Vary, so the book ends on what I feel is the authentic note on which I always felt it should end. (I posted the new, last chapter on the book’s website and you can read it here if you are interested.)

In October, Hans and I spent an exhilarating and exhausting ten days in Paris. It was our first trip outside of North America and it fired up our desire for more international travel. Despite the months of planning, neither of us was convinced the trip would actually happen. We spent many moments pinching ourselves and saying, “We’re in Paris!” It was a true perspective-shifting experience and it heightened my new feelings that anything was possible.

In November, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and got serious about writing the novel I had spent much of the year outlining. The main character in my novel is going to be someone who becomes deeply involved in Permaculture, which is the application of principles observed in nature to design in the human world. So, in December, when the Regenerative  Leadership Institute in California opened registration for its next Permaculture Certification course, I signed up, justifying the expense and the time away as necessary to the completion of the novel.

And that brings me almost up to the present. On my birthday last month, I was on a plane flying to San Jose, California for a nine-day certification course and just last Friday I received my Regenerative Leadership and Urban Permaculture Design certificate in the mail! Image

Considering that I did not truly know what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the course and had given myself permission to not finish and/or not get my certificate if it proved to be too much to handle, I was thrilled to receive the piece of paper in the mail. The permaculture course was an exciting experience, and one I’ll elaborate on in other posts, but I’m going to skip ahead now and tell you about the project I’m excited to be launching!

Starting today, I will be using this blog to write about my Personal Permaculture Experiment. I can see your eyes glazing over from here! I know that “permaculture” is not a familiar or obvious term, but I promise you it is an exciting one. So for my first permaculture project, I will be applying the permaculture principles to my own life and showing examples of how you might apply them in your life on a personal or community-level basis. I will also be blogging about my novel’s progress and, hopefully, also making more regular posts about the other things going on in my life.

I will be back here on Wednesday with a list of 20 Things I Remembered while I was on my permaculture retreat in California and again on Friday with a list of 10 Things to Remember to Live Your Most Awesome Life. Then, every Monday, I’ll be here discussing the exciting art of Permaculture!

Are you ready to take another road less traveled? If so, I’ll see you Wednesday!