Posted by: susanideus | April 25, 2010

Trusting my Instincts

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”~ Golda Meir

I spent most of today baking, something I enjoy greatly–making delicious fresh healthier snacks for my family. I’ve been told I’m a good cook–and I believe I am. Most of the time, I use a recipe only as a base from which to start, a platform for experimentation and discovery. I know how dough is supposed to look and feel. I know what a sauce should look like at different stages. Why then did I hesitate today, not once but twice, to follow my instincts to make a correction to a new recipe idea? Why did I not, as my daughter Johanna asked me, trust my gut? One batch of scones looked like it needed more flour–it did in fact–and I ended up with some tasty snacks that look like muffin tops but I did not end up with scones, which was the intent of the whole exercise.  I made a batch of bread that I thought probably needed more yeast due to the flour combinations I used–and it did. So I have a dense cheese bread that’s OK but it is not the light chewy loaf I was trying to make.

Why did I not act on my instincts? I knew what to do, what was needed. I get so frustrated with myself! And that was just bread…

It’s a much bigger problem when I ignore my intuition in regard to the life I want to be leading. Have I become so numbed by the insecurities of the past few years that I no longer want to venture out into the unknown for fear of failing or of not living up to someone’s expectations or of being disappointed, that I’ve decided to rely only on cold hard facts? If I don’t feel, I can’t get hurt. If I don’t think, I won’t get slapped down. If I don’t venture out, at least I won’t get further behind. Can I no longer step out in faith? Finances have been hard. Life hasn’t been a bed of roses. Work is a deep dark pit. But I’m not dead yet for goodness’ sakes, and none of the above are likely to cause my demise. They do cause me to pause and think and ponder and ruminate and stew and…do nothing to make it all better. There is nothing like a constant dose of cold hard facts, just the facts please, to lull one into a state of  paralysis, of inaction, of perceived “safety”. But, is this living?

Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness. ~Shakti Gawain

I’m not dead but my spirit is dying. I profess to be a writer, to wanting to write more than anything else. I know I can write, and there have been those kind folk who agree with me. That much is not bragging. I am aware of that God-given ability I have.  I am an intelligent and reasonable person, so it would serve no purpose to demur and pretend the ability isn’t there. However, it is that reasonable-ness that gives me so much trouble. As in…writing doesn’t help pay the bills. As in…how can you expect to retire just on Social Security? As in… you’re too old to begin a new career and hope to succeed before you die. As in…what makes you think your work is so special?  As in…what if nothing you write is ever published? As in…what if no one ever reads your work? What if, what if, what if????

If I lack the instinct to fix a batch of scones, when I know good and well how to fix it, how in the world can I hope to follow my instincts on becoming a full-time writer?

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. ~Albert Einstein

I suppose society does this, but I know for sure I’ve done it to myself. When I am being honest with myself, way down in that gut Johanna says I should trust, I know that all of the practical logic and and all of the dire prognostications and the damned what-ifs don’t, or shouldn’t, matter at all. I write because I must write. If none of it is ever seen by another eye, if it never produces one bloody cent of income, if I must live as simply as a church mouse to write, that’s OK. Really it is. Every intuitive sense I have tells me that. I have got to find a way to silence the nay-saying part of me.

I have to decide what it’s worth to me, how much I am willing to give up, how truly basically I am willing to live. No one can make those choices for me. (It might be good if Harold goes along with me, but he’s in fact my truest cheerleader.)  Can I live in less than a showplace? Can I do without the latest technology at the moment it comes out, can I give up the impulsive buying of stuff, even–I can hardly write this–books? What if, horrors, I had to go to a laundromat? What if the air conditioning was less than adequate? What if we had to live uninsured until our social security kicked in at 65? What if we had to be a one-car family? No fast food, no eating out. What if we weren’t in the best neighborhood? What if we didn’t have cable TV and constant high-speed Internet? What if I had to rely on an outside source–library or wi-fi spot–to connect to the Internet? Could I give up my iPhone? How basic am I willing to go? How far can I get from my comfort zone? Can I rely on faith, step out in faith, and trust?

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda

I need to find me again. I have spent so long trying to be whatever it is that I’ve thought other people wanted me to be. Why was “being me” never enough? Was that my fault or theirs, whoever they are? I need to reconnect with whatever it is that is vital, whatever it is that is life, whatever it is that is me being the very best me I can be. I am not finding it here, now,  in this place.

If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. ~Rollo May

That’s true. What I have felt of late is that I have not been true to myself. No matter how badly world circumstances have bandied me about, only I can truly betray myself. Only I can refuse to care for, to recognize, to celebrate, to make a way for me, the essential me. No artifice, no facades, no masks, no walls. No excuses! That’s the hardest part. Being honest at the nitty-gritty level. Make my choices, accept the responsibility. Accept for once that I am not as all powerful as I think I need to be, always in charge, and just be… Make it happen, or always wonder what might have been. Can I do that? Can I trust my instincts? Am I brave enough? Can I say along with the inimitable Dr Seuss:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.–Dr. Seuss

I’ve always been such a people-pleaser. I always want other people to like me. In the process, I’ve kind of last touch with me. Is it selfish to want to be me, no matter what others think? Actually, isn’t being me the healthier, saner alternative? Where does one draw the line between self-care and self-centeredness?

To be nobody-but-yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.–e. e. cummings

I don’t relish the thought of fighting for what I want. It would be much easier to surrender and just fall into that perfect place and set of circumstances, but hey…that’s just not going to happen, is it?  I need to stand up for what I know is best, to give in to that sense of intuition that serves me so well when I let it, to have confidence that I can make the right choices. If I am true to myself and faithful to the will of the God I follow, I will end up in the right place for me. I am who I am, the one who was created by God to be just me, a unique individual. There is a line in an old Amy Grant song that says  “All I ever have to be is what You’ve made me” (Music & Lyrics, Gary Chapman) You know what, that’s more than just pretty good! Why should I not strive for that?

I have some thinking to do, some choices to make, some attitudes to change. They’re all mine to do with as I will. With much thought and prayer, I will continue on my journey of discovery, of getting back to the Susan I know is out there somewhere. I think she’s worth finding.

How are you going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued? Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are. ~Anne Lamott (in Starting Over)



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Responses

  1. I think she’s worth finding too and I know she will be a wonderful person at least in my eyes. If others see her differently, I don’t really care – I will like her just the way she is when you do find her. [Notice I said WHEN, not IF]

  2. Thanks, my friend. I find myself more and more tired & discouraged here. Neither Harold or I are really happy. And you know I don’t mean happy in a frou-frou, gotta be entertained & laughing kind of happy. I mean contented and at peace. Surely there is more to life than this. I know you know where I’m coming from. *HUGS*

  3. Just like your gift of baking, you have a gift of self-reflection. If you burned a loaf of bread, would you stop baking? No. So why stop writing because you are not yet paid? Write! Create! And as you do, you will feel better, begin to believe and then succeed!
    I have spent a lifetime doing what I thought others wanted me to do. Now I am alone. The lesson? Be true to yourself first. Not in a selfish way, but in a loving way. I do count. So do you.
    Thanks for the reflections….they are very familiar!

    • Thanks for your response. I don’t plan to stop writing-ever! I’m learning bit by bit that if what I do is healthy for me and pleasing to God, that’s the way I go.

  4. You express so well the complex feelings that accompany change, especially in your questions. Not knowing is scary.

    Years ago, I heard a lot of sermons about the Israelites’ captivity–“By the waters of Babylon we sat and wept…”–being a story about sin. Then about fifteen years ago, a Methodist minister speaking on the same text said it’s really a story about starting over; that we start over because of death, divorce, job loss, a myriad of circumstances; that the marriages that periodically start over are probably the strongest; and that starting over can be painful but that it’s necessary for humans to grow and thrive. I’ve leaned on his words for a long time; if they’re any help to you, I gladly pass them along.

  5. I like the part about thriving. I’m not right now. I know that sometimes it takes re-planting and even more painful at the time, some pruning. I’m at that point now–whatever it takes. Glad to know I have friends like you to lend support.

  6. Many of us must be tapping into the collective unconscious and realizing we have a purpose. We each one have our journey our quest for the grail (our Self). What has brought me the greatest peace has been the realization that there is a Power, an Essence, a Creator who knows what is best for the ALL. I can not know what is best for anyone else, so I pray, “God’s Will” in my life and the lives of all whom I love. This brings me the peace that passes understanding. I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing, and God will continue to show me the path and the steps that I should take as long as I stay in the unconditional love and light of our Creator. Other than that I haven’t exactly worked it all out. 🙂 Love you dear Susan, and I encourage you to just allow yourself to be and you are a success already. Allow your Self to feel this. This is an excellent paper musing about your life.

    • Helen, you know me well, I think. My faith had been faltering and I wasn’t trusting but rather trying to be in charge myself. So, how did that work for me? Not! It seems the more I let go, not just of control, but of the worldly expectations and restrictions, I find more peace, and more pieces of myself. I knew that if I didn’t change my focus soon, I was going to be one of the worldly cynics–and that is not what I want for my life. As I seek to know His will, I am being shown the next steps to takes, even if some are baby steps, but that’s OK. I read a book JUST ENOUGH LIGHT FOR THE STEP I’M ON–that’s where I am, and for now it’s enough. I’ll get there, I know.Thank you for your encouragement, and for your kind words about my writing.

  7. Ah, Sid. This post is so filled with wisdom and so timely for my own circumstance as well. You have much to share as you step out and use this gift of writing that God has given you. Warm hugs, my friend.

    • Linda, that your empathy with my struggle means a lot. I know how much you want to be the Linda who is free on that Canadian prairie, just as I want to find myself again in the desert and the mountains of my beloved New Mexico. We can be fellow travelers on this journey to reconnect with self. Can’t think of a better companion. You’ll be in my prayers just as I know I’m in yours.

  8. Love the quotes

  9. Thanks, Pat. Sometimes I use quotes for extra emphasis, sometimes for a starting point. Mostly, I just love sharing what I’ve found to be useful wisdom.

  10. Nice to read about this things, I also like useful wisdom of life.

    • Suzan, Thanks for stopping by. I’m g;ad you found something you liked here. We can all use life wisdom, to be sure! Hope to see you again!


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