Answering the call to non-action is perhaps one of the most noble quests, yet interestingly, it isn’t very celebrated in our American society. I was surprised to discover how much happier and loving I felt when I took time to just sit with my thoughts and look out the window.
I achieved this mostly by going to bed early and getting up when no one else was awake to watch the sunrise. I also decided to let go of “my responsibilities” a bit. I used to hate my house out of order and every time my crew left their dirty socks, drinking glasses, and clothes all over the floor…I went through to pick them up. This somehow became a constant chore and I did it because the mess drove me crazy. It became clear rather quickly that I was the only person in our home who suffered from this tidiness affliction…I began to feel bitter about it. Then I noticed the less I did, the happier I was feeling. Now, I am not talking about sitting in front of the TV, or the computer, or scrolling through my phone. Just sitting there until I was so comfortable with the thoughts that came up that I had nothing to run away from…
This, to me, was a revelation of the highest order. I had spent so much of my life working like a maniac and maintaining perpetual busyness…just so I had no chance to stop and think. If I had, the floodgates would have opened and I would have felt I had lost all control.
Have you ever noticed that a time of rest or silence actually made you better at everything you do in life? What if rest and play really should be our highest priority? What if we could get all the necessary work done in a fraction of the time and with precision because we are happy and present? Is it possible our best ideas come from this place?
I had spent about a year sitting, meditating, praying, and reading books of high value. I got so charged up with so many ideas during that time (hence my website, teaching art club at my boys’ school, and all the many projects I have in the works) that I started to fall back into my old pattern: work like a maniac, be busy and emotionally inaccessible…and don’t take time to think.
Well, my friend, it’s time. I invite you to once again accept the call to non-action with me. Together perhaps we can hold each other accountable and remind each other about the things that are of the highest value in life. How beautiful it would be to find that balance between the two: action & non-action…each being essential to our growth and expansive beyond measure.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject…
After years of feverishly working to prove my self-worth and stroke my ego a series of calamities struck me…ultimately changing the course of my life forever. I call this “the Great Un-doing”, and it has been the focus of my days ever since. Before the Un-doing, I thought I had it all figured out: a cool job, a loving husband and family, perfect children, and a beautiful garden…what more could I want? I wasn’t aware of all that I was suppressing at the time…the fear, the anger, the sadness…my emotional addictions. My fear was reaching a point of near paralysis…I was afraid in and out of my home and in a constant state of survival (I attribute much of this behavior to raising children in a post-9-11 world). Eventually, my husband and I received the terrible news that my beloved father-in-law was sick and dying with ALS. Up to that point…he always seemed able to calm us down and assure us "everything will be OK". At that time, I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Dad passed within 9 months, he was a best friend to my husband and the patriarch of our family. We were destroyed. My husband wept and mourned deeply for years. It was a time of pain and challenges…all that seemed “perfect” was lost.
My cool job became stressful, my loving husband became unstable, my perfect children were not behaving, and my beautiful garden was a burden and a mess! I spiraled downward. I lost all control in my life! I thought how can we survive this time as a family without destroying the children? I abandoned myself to focus solely on the needs of others. I wanted the boys to think everything was OK, but it wasn't...all my anger and bitterness began to surface. It was 2011. That “11” marks the frown lines that formed on my face that year…a constant reminder.
I have been a lover of self-help and spiritual growth books since I was 20 years old. The ideas of taking responsibility for your life and not being a victim sounded like truth to me, although they always proved themselves impossible to maintain in daily practice (fast forward 20 years: I came to the realization that the missing link was a profound faith in God). These books got me through tough times up until the time of the Great Un-doing…in which I felt completely powerless. The stress started to manifest in my body…between years of paralyzing back pain, to vertigo, to acid reflux, to teeth grinding and jaw pain so intense it brought me to tears at night. I was an absolute mess! I forgot how to laugh. I scowled, mostly…those were dark times.
Fast forward to 2015. My parents brought me a cake for my birthday…as I paused I realized I had only one wish…"Peace". Before midnight on the evening of my birthday…that sincere wish started to manifest. I got a call from a dear old friend (who had no memory that it was my birthday) around 9PM, as we talked over the next hour or two…her story unfolded. She had been going through difficult times and had nearly died from internal bleeding…hospice had been called in and that was going to be the end. She told me that an “angel” had come to her and told her she was “not going to die at this time”, and gave her some specific instruction that seemed to help save her life. As she went on, she said that the “angel” never left and that she could see and have dialogue with them.
At about 11PM the conversation went like this:
Friend: “Jen, there is this heavy guy here who has been asking me to contact you”
Me: “a large man is with you and wants to talk to me?”
Friend: “Not large, deep. He is very deep”.
Me: “Do you mean my father-in-law?”
Friend: “YES! That’s it! He is jumping up and down and happy!”
Me: “This is crazy, you’re scaring me!”
Friend: “He said don’t worry about ____” (which was something personal that no one knew about and I am not going to share).
Me: “how could he know that? I don’t understand”
Friend: “He said he likes what you have done with your home”.
Friend: “He wants you to go to the mantle of your fireplace and place your hand on it”.
When I did, I got shivers rolling down my spine more powerfully than I have ever felt before…
Friend: “Aww, he is giving you a hug, he is so happy to be in contact with you, he has been trying for a long time.”
Me: “Should I get my husband?”
They said to go put my hand on my sleeping husband’s chest and as he woke:
Me: “I am talking to my friend who had a near death experience, now she can talk to angels, and I have been talking to your dad for the last hour”
Husband: “OK.” (Very slowly & without protest)
Me: “Do you want to talk with him?”
This continued on and on and into morning…asking and answering questions. This was the beginning of a new chapter…which was fear-inducing on an entirely different level. Now suddenly I am faced with the reality of an afterlife, with the presence of spirits…both loving and malicious, and my place in this new world. I drew many scary moments towards myself, because I had been in a pretty dark condition for several years…now I had a choice to make: Do I trust in God or live in fear forever?
I now have several years settling into a new mindset, and I have been quite steadfast in my spiritual pursuits. I have learned a few very important things in this time: