let go

BE YOUR AWESOME SELF

Something happened to me this week, that's actually happened to me many, many times before. I normally keep my big mouth shut about these kind of things, not wanting to name names, call people out or embarrass anyone. But the outcome of this latest situation was so good, so positive that I've decided to share the story with you!

So here's the thing, when you do anything in the public eye, especially if you do it at a level that some folks might consider "successful" or original - your work, your website, your writing, your creative "stuff" is probably going to get noticed. Now, it's super cool when people see your stuff and it moves them, lights them up, and inspires them in turn to create their OWN original stuff!

But, you know what's not so soothing? When those same people like your work, your website, your offering, your idea - SO MUCH, that they go ahead and decide to steal it. Now, I know we're all linked as one conscious mind and we exist in some sort of primordial creative soup, so nothing is truly original, blah, blah, blah - I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about when someone checks out your website and verbatim steals your shit right off of it! They blatantly "borrow" snippets of your layout, your text, your language, your workshop. Sometimes they can be so bold as to copy the whole kit and kaboodle! (Which is what happened in this latest instance.)

I don't know why people do this. Maybe they're afraid they don't have any good ideas of their own. Maybe they're lazy and figure, well she's already being successful at it, why reinvent the wheel? Maybe they secretly hope nobody will notice. Maybe they think that I won't find out.

But, I know a lot of people so this stuff has a funny way of making it's way back to me. You'd be amazed at how many times over the years, I've been told or discovered that someone had lifted my stuff. Now, as a writer (and especially one who's also married to a professional musician/singer/songwriter) we take intellectual property, copyright and Trademark stuff very seriously. So when faced with this kind of blatant stealing, I am not at all impressed.

However, I do my best to respond to the situation from a place of love instead of fear.

THIS IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. 

When this kind of thing happens, the Lawrence kid in me has no interest in being nice. So at first, I get pissed and think ALL kinds of unloving thoughts. Things that if I said them out loud they might actually revoke my "yogi" card. So I let that Lawrence kid part of me say what she needs to say, in private, for a few minutes and then I get down to the business of forgiveness. Once I let the wave of anger move through me -  I try to get back to the greater question of how can I approach this situation with kindness, compassion and the greatest outcome for all in mind?

THE ANSWER VARIES.

Sometimes, I just let the trespass go. If they're a chronic offender, it's just not worth the time and energy to say something to someone when I know they're going to flat out deny it, because they aren't able or willing to see or admit that they do this kind of thing habitually. Also, if they need to be a follower all the time - if they don't trust their own Divine Inspiration then on some level, they're already suffering.

Sometimes, I reach out and try to be subtle and very gentle and approach it with kid gloves, because I don't think that their intention was to be malicious. They were perhaps just clumsy or ignorant of their own fear and made a bad subconscious choice.

Sometimes, like this latest incident, I take a more direct approach. I pick up the phone and very nicely but firmly say something like, "Hey, I know we've never met and I'm sorry our relationship is starting out this way but seriously, what the f*ck? I mean you totally stole all of this content off of my website!" Now granted - it's not the funnest phone call to make - but in this case, it REALLY needed to be done.

A lot of times, especially in the spiritual community, we get super sensitive about calling people out on their shit. I mean, someone will act like a total colossal asshole and then we'll all tip toe around it because we don't want to come across as being all "judgy" or "lacking compassion" or God forbid, not being "yogic".

This lack of not wanting to call a spade a spade, this fear of being confrontational and choosing to turn a blind eye instead is kind of like a version of Spiritual Bypassing.

The truth is, you can point out a pattern or habit and bring it to someone's attention in a firm but kind way. You can say, "I see you doing this and it's not OK, it's hurtful to yourself and others." You can say, "I'm not going to let you get away with this because I know you're capable of so much more."

SOMETIME'S THE MOST LOVING THING YOU CAN SAY TO SOMEONE IS, "NO"!

So that's what I did. I picked up the phone and laid it out for the person. And you know what? We ended up having a great conversation! They totally admitted what they'd done, sincerely apologized and promised to remove the page from their website immediately.

As we talked, as the person explained why they did it and what was going on with them, I said, "Look, all this stuff you're telling me about yourself - all this stuff that makes you YOU - this right here, is YOUR website copy!" We had a good laugh and I said, "God/Spirit did not make you so that you could be more like me - you're here to share your own unique gifts and talents. You're not supposed to be like me. You're not supposed to sound like me. You're supposed to be like you and shine your light in your own way. The world doesn't need another Karen Kenney.  What they need is the best you!"

YOUR JOB IS JUST TO BE YOUR OWN AWESOME SELF!

be yourself (2)
be yourself (2)

As I said those words out loud, it took me back to a time about 20 years ago, when I was talking with an older, wiser woman. She asked me, "So, what to do you want to do with your life?" And I said, "I want to be the next Marianne Williamson!" and she paused, looked me in the eye, smiled and said, "Why don't you just be the first Karen Kenney."

I'VE NEVER FORGOTTEN THAT MOMENT.

You know, there's an old Jewish story about a great Hasidic master named Zusha who lay crying on his deathbed. His students asked him, "Why are you so sad? You have a been a great man and have done so many wonderful deeds. Your place in heaven is assured!"

Zusha replied, "I'm afraid. Because when I get to heaven, I know God's not going to ask me why weren't you more like Moses? Or, Why weren't you more like King David? God will ask, 'Zusha, why weren't you more like Zusha?' And then what will I say?!"

So I extend this now to you. How do you want to serve the world? What has God/Spirit/Loving Life Force/The Muse put in your heart and mind to create? We each have our assignments. We each were given our own special abilities and strengths. We are all meant to be receptive vessels for Divine Inspiration to flow through.

You don't have to copy another person. You don't have to be afraid that you aren't enough or there isn't enough. This is an abundant Universe! You don't have to compete and compare and try to fit in! The world doesn't need half-hearted attempts at you being like the other guy. What the world needs is beautiful YOU!

YOUR BALCONY PEOPLE

Two weeks ago, I had the true pleasure of spending 5 days of intensive writing and training with these amazing women: Sylvie, Kathleen, Regina, Jodi, (Kasha - Suzanne's mom and our yummy snack provider), Katie, Dulcie, Suzanne and Minton! (Plus Jeff, our amazing photographer and memory maker!) These beautiful women are not only fierce and fearless writers, they're also a powerhouse group of performers, speakers, artists, coaches, editors and workshop leaders.

It was an honor to learn, explore and dive deep with each of them under the compassionate and mindful tutelage of Author, Book Shaman and Literary Visionary, Suzanne Kingsbury, who's the founder of the Gateless Gate Methodology that we were studying. I'm proud to say that not only have I made some new lifelong friends and gathered new tools for my craft, but I'm now also a certified Gateless Gate Writing Teacher! (Weekly Writing Salons coming soon! Yay!)

Salon
Salon

The reason why I'm telling you all this, is because two months ago I wrote a piece called "Finding Your Spiritual Team" and somewhere in there, I talked about the people you choose to surround yourself with. You might refer to them as your friends, your group, your pack, your crew, your people or your tribe. These are the folks that totally get you, love you and support your dreams and they're a super important part of your journey.

Now, if you're lucky - nestled amongst all this sweet goodness of your beloved tribe (kind of like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack's box) - you'll also have a few of what I call, your "Balcony People".

Balcony People are the friends, family members and sweeties that are totally crazy about you! The enthusiastic cheerleaders that would stand up in the balcony at your gig, show, book reading, music recital, sports game, Ironman race, wedding, play or performance (you get the picture) - and swing their jackets over their head and make a total ruckus on your behalf. They're the friends that would hoot and holler and stomp their feet and call out to you how awesome you are. Not afraid to tell anyone that'll listen, all the things they LOVE about you!

They're the ones that adore you, edify you, celebrate you and cheer you on! And these aren't the one handed, polite, air clappers trying to look oh' so cool either - these are the "Where the Wild Things Are" aren't afraid to make a total feckin' rumpus kind of people! And once you have these folks in your corner, once you know that they've got your back - your life will never be the same.

unnamed-2
unnamed-2

Because they are the ones that aren't competing or comparing, they aren't jealous or insecure, they're not trying to steal your ideas or tear you down, they're not afraid of how bright you shine - they're the ones that have done their own deep work, the ones that have faced their own shadows side and remembered to turn on the light! They're the ones that know how to Forgive Their Humanity & Stand in Their Divinity.

And this allows them to recognize the spiritual power within you too and hold the vision of you at your highest - so when you do go out into the world and create something that is good, beautiful, authentic and sacred - they can't help but recognize it for what it is and cheer -Woohoooo! They get the gift of edifying others and the joy of making a rumpus and putting some loving energy behind someone else's vision, accomplishments and dreams. They understand the theory of sympathetic joy and practice it whenever they can. Knowing that since we're all One - whenever another person rises up, they automatically take the rest of us with them! So their buoyancy lifts you up too and in this way we're all reflecting the light and helping each other find our way home. And if enough of us actually do this - miracles can happen!

This kind of holy magic is what I got to experience during my Gateless Teacher Training and these kick-ass women now have their very own special section up in my balcony! (and they sure as shit can count on me being up in theirs!) Knowing that they're there, that they see me, honor me and love me - makes all the difference in the world.

My motto for the Gateless Experience is this: "If you're lucky, you get it before you die."

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY

Get-out-of-your-own-way1
Get-out-of-your-own-way1

I was hanging out with a few friends and we got to talking about our goals and dreams. We each shared what we hoped to create over the next few years. Part of my vision included: finish writing my book and getting it published, teaching more workshops, creating a Yoga & Writing retreat, offering more Yoga Teacher Training modules at various studios and one day presenting at places like Kripalu, Omega and Esalen. And then I jokingly told my friends, I also wanted to put together a 30 Day Online Mentoring Program called: "How to Get the F*ck Out of Your Own Way".

After we finished laughing, I realized it's actually kind of a good idea - so stay tuned. But seriously, here's my point, it occurred to me a while ago that in order to realize my own dreams and bring forth anything helpful or authentic into this world, "I" actually needed to get out of the way, so something much greater than me could come through.

In order for me to create something genuine - whether it was writing a story, putting together a yoga workshop or organizing a retreat, the best thing I could do was keep the "I" to a minimum. I've figured out, after much trial and error, that many of the obstacles I’ve encountered in my life, happened when there was too much I (Ego) thinking going on. Rather than try to figure out what "I" needed to do - I had to start asking God/Spirit what it wanted me to do.

Truth is, even though it's possible that I might have some innate gifts, an occasional decent idea and plenty of good intentions - it's actually Spirit that helps me to create the best stuff and get shit done. It's the mysterious Divine that powers my creativity and births any goodness that I hope to cultivate in this lifetime. This energy, this fierce force of Love is something that moves THROUGH me, like electricity through a light or water through a hose. I'm just the vessel - a vehicle used for delivery - but you can bet your sweet ass that I'm not the Source.

It became clear to me that if I really wanted to help myself and others - so we could discover our purpose and be of use to humanity - then I had to find ways to tap into my Source. I'm a lover of the mystical, but I'm also super practical. So I needed to figure out some down-to-earth ways to not only consistently access this abundant stream of Providence and miracles that was trying to flow my way, but I also needed to remain vulnerable, open and receptive to it.

This would require building both my physical and my spiritual muscles - so I could hold the space of the unknown and learn how to trust the ideas, intuition and inspiration that came through from Spirit - which I happen to call God & "My Team". And then, on top of all that, I had to have the guts, hardiness and courage to apply the guidance that I received to my ordinary daily life.

I was smart enough to know that if I truly wanted to cultivate change within myself and in the world, I had to take the time to sit my ass down, get quiet and establish a daily, conscious connection to Spirit. What was a little harder for me to wrap my head around was that in order for anything to truly happen, I also had to be willing to SURRENDER. In yoga, this practice is called Ishvara Pranidhana.

To the Ego mind, surrendering to God and practicing humility is kind of like getting a death threat. You're basically admitting that your way of doing things isn't working, you don't really have a feckin' clue and that you just might need some help. You're acknowledging that you're pretty sure there's a better way and you currently don't know what it is. To the Ego, this thinking is blasphemy!

It wasn't just enough for me to practice postures, read yoga books, pray, meditate or repeat my mantra - I also had to let go and take my hands off the wheel. I had to take a leap of faith, turn my life over and let Divine Intelligence, which is sure as shit smarter than me, take the lead. I finally grasped that I couldn't just trust Spirit with some areas of my life - I had to turn over the whole kit and kaboodle. My writing, my business, my finances, my hopes and dreams, my creativity, my health, my judgments, my fears, I mean - EVERYTHING - had to placed on the altar, so it could be altered.

Let-Go-Let-God
Let-Go-Let-God

It was time for me to stop relying on my own wits, my own plans, my own strength. As long as I relied on those human things alone - I would effort, I would struggle and I would suffer. As long as I insisted on relying on "me", I would be afraid. I finally understood (thick headed Irish kid that I am) that when I let go and got "the F*ck out of the way", what remained was God. When I subtracted myself from the equation, what was revealed was Divine Intelligence. The source of wisdom and eternal LOVE that always exists beyond the scope of my limited human body and mind.

I think so many of us have forgotten who we are or what we are. We suffer from some sort of spiritual amnesia. We've lost sight of the truth of ourselves and we can't find our way home. But, when we consistently make time for spiritual connection - gradually but inevitably - we start to remove all the blocks we've built against the awareness of God's love and holy presence. When we practice stillness and get quiet - we can learn to access the power of Grace and intuition that's within us all the time and let the false and the fear fall away. In this way, we learn to ask the Beloved to reveal his plan for us and to be in charge our thoughts, words and actions. And so it is that I start my day - each and every single one of them - with this ACIM inspired prayer:

Dear God/Spirit,

Please have me go where You would have me go.

Please have me do what You would have me do.

Please have me say what You would have me say, and to whom.

Please use me, please use me, please use me.

Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done.

So each morning starts with me putting my Spiritual Team in charge and on the job. Anytime I start to get fearful, annoyed or suffer in any way - I know it's because my Ego has tried to start driving the bus! Ha! My only job is to keep letting go, keep getting out of the way and keep allowing Love to lead me. I hope you've been letting your own Divine Intelligence lead you too!