The Untethered Soul

I've been reading this book, called "The Untethered Soul", by Michael A. Singer.  This book came to me by way of Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com).  She is one of my spiritual "teachers" though we have never met.  In a recent email, she recommended this book as one of her top three.  I had no idea who Michael Singer was, or thought I didn't.  But then, of course, as soon as I looked him up, I recognized having watched him on one of Oprah's Super Soul Sessions.  

Today also happens to be Mother's Day.  I lost my mom in December of 2004, the 21st to be exact.  I miss her terribly, of course.  But she was also an incredible gift to me.  After reading, Chapter 13 in this book, entitled "Far, Far Beyond", I understand better what I mean when I say she was a gift.  Not just in her life, but also in her death.  This is not an easy conclusion for me to come to, and it has taken me years of internal work to be able to step back and objectively see her life in this way.  

What my mother's death did for me was send me out in the beyond.  Everything I thought I knew simply fell apart and I knew nothing would or could ever be the same again.  If she had not left, I am not sure I would have become the person I am today because I had no choice.  All the things that used to work didn't anymore, and I had to reconfigure my entire life.  If she were still here, I am truly not sure that would have happened. 

Michael Singer says, "Going beyond means going beyond the borders of the cage.  There should be no cage.  The soul is infinite.  It is free to expand everywhere.  It is free to experience all of life. This can only happen when you are willing to face reality without mental boundaries.  If you still have barriers, and you know what they are because you hit them every day, you must be willing to go beyond them.  Otherwise you remain within your cage.  And remember, decorating your cage with beautiful experiences, fond memories and great dreams is not the same as going beyond.  A cage by any other name is still a cage."  

I had the good fortune to spend a month in Ireland in January of 2015.  One of my destinations was the Cliffs of Moher.  Absolutely breathtaking, hundreds of meters above a sheer drop to the Atlantic ocean.  I am not terribly fond of heights, but my desire to walk the path on the cliff overcame the need to be safe.  At one point, the path looked like it swung dangerously out over the ocean and I knew I would fall to certain death.  So I stopped and had a talk with myself.  I assured myself that we would be okay, that I would take one step at a time, and that if the path became too dangerous I would turn back.  And then I reminded myself that this was what I had come to Ireland for and I refused to let my own fear define my experience.  As I approached the point in the path, it was much wider than I had first believed and I proceeded to walk the entire southern length of the cliffs.  That little tower you see in the distance,  I walked all the way there and all the way back.  On my trek back I welcomed the incredible views of the ocean instead of being afraid of them because I went beyond my edges, in a very literal sense, and came face to face with a beauty I had only imagined and seen in picture.  Now I had actually lived one of my dreams!  To walk the Cliffs of Moher.

I don't know why it takes an event like that for some of us.  It forced me to come directly into contact with a whole lot of things I never expected to deal with.  I also became a person I don't ever think I would have without first the solid foundation of her love, and then her leaving.  The truth is I still feel her with me and still talk to her.  Even now, 13 years later, I still want to tell her things and then remember I have to do it in a different way.  It is a spiritual relationship now, rather than a physical one.  I often have dreams where I am looking for her and cannot find her.  But the truth is, she lives on, just in a different way.  

Michael Singer also says, "Eventually you will realize that it cannot actually hurt you to go beyond your psychological limits.  If you are willing to just stand at the edge and keep walking you will go beyond.  You used to pull back when it got uncomfortable.  Now you relax and go past that point.  That is all it takes to go beyond...you realize that you will always be fine.  Nothing can ever bother you except your edges, and now you know what to do with them.  You end up loving your edges because they point your way to freedom.  All you have to do is constantly relax and lean into them.  Then one day, when you least expect it, you fall through into the infinite.  That is what it means to go beyond."

His words touched something in my soul and it all came tumbling together and I teared up.  I understood, maybe for even the first time, how her death taught me as much as her life.  I was forced to confront my edges, pushed to the very limits and then beyond what I thought I could ever imagine.  And as I sit here, typing, with her pictures on my desk, I miss her and at the same time I am so, so grateful to her.  She gave me everything I would need to navigate this life.  I love you Mom.  

 

 

 

Samhain

I am not entirely sure what this blog will end up being about.  I just know I haven't written in 3 weeks and I am itching to do so now.  This happens to me when I am taking on something new.  I use the majority of my energy learning new things, so sometimes the other things in my life (writing) suffer.   Once I've got it sorted out, then I get back to a more normal routine.  In this case, it happens to be a new job, working at Voicebox in SE Portland.  If you have no idea what Voicebox is, take a peek at our site.  A "private-suite" karaoke lounge, the only one of its' kind in our fair city.  I make reservations over the phone for people to come in and sing their hearts out in the privacy of their own rooms.  We also have a full bar, and tasty food options.  Pretty cool.  For the first time in maybe my whole entire life, I am working at jobs I enjoy.  

For a long, long time, I didn't realize you could create a life you love.  I didn't realize I had the choice to make my life exactly as I wanted it.  I took what was offered, having little in the way of knowledge about who I was and what my heart desired.  It's taken some time.  Years, honestly, for me to figure this out.  I still don't have it totally figured out, but I've got a lot of it figured out.  At least some of the parts of what I want to spend my life doing.  

Tomorrow, for the first time in over a year, I will be working an 8-hour day.  That in itself is something for me to celebrate.  I technically work three jobs, part-time.  Lyft, Uber and now Voicebox.  I tend to count Lyft and Uber as the same job though.  So in truth it is only two.  And then there's the writing.  That is not something I have figured out how to monetize.  Once I get my Voicebox training and schedule down, and my driving schedule down, I will shift my focus to what my writing career is going to look like.  I don't know if I can ever go back to a 40-hour work week.  I love this freedom too much.

We all have dreams.  Some of us figure out we can live our dreams, and some are buried deep, and some rise to the surface by an unexpected turn this way or that.  Whatever the case, the last year has been incredible for me.  And I intend my life to keep going in this trajectory, upwards.  Maybe not in the ways you think.  Not in terms of promotions, or a fancier car, or a bigger place.  But in the ways that count to me.  Finishing my books.  Working on my original music.  Refinishing furniture.  Taking more photographs.  Traveling to even more places.  

I learned recently, from Felicity Hayes-McCoy, that for pagan Celts, November 1st was the beginning of their year, Samhain.  Felicity is the writer of "House on an Irish Hillside", a book I picked up at a bookstore in Dingle while I was in Ireland.  I was lucky enough to get a signed copy!  Samhain is still the Irish word for November, and the pagan Celts started their new year in winter, rather than spring, as "their world-view celebrated dark times, recognising that life itself comes from darkness and a dormant seed." Our Halloween "is an echo of the ancient Celtic belief that on Oíche Shaman (Samhain or Halloween Night as we know it) the spirits of the dead returned to the homes they'd once lived in. People believed that - provided the living recognised and respected their ancestors' presence - the dead would protect them. So each year the dead were welcomed with food, fires, music and dancing. That way they they wouldn't get offended. And get nasty."  

Samhain is a time of transition, and this time of year I always seem to be in that transition period. This year, I started a new job, and I will be on the move again.  I've spent the better part of this year living in NE Portland, renting a room from a long-time friend of my family.  Now, I will be relocating to Sellwood, in the SE part of Portland, and renting a room from good friends of mine.  


It's been an interesting journey over the last year.  I have revisited a lot of the places where old wounds needed to be healed.  Kind of like a do-over for me.  It's like all of the circles are closing, healing over.  NE is where my parents lived, where I spent my teenage and young adult years.  I'm not going to go into all the stories, but this and many other locations held painful memories for me, and now they have been replaced with good memories. I went back to Montana to see my Dad.  I went back to work for a company that let me go some years ago.  I guess perhaps Sellwood is my last "do-over".  I am very excited about this new chapter in my life.  And, many of the most important things and people in my life are in that area of town.   So here's to the transition times, to Samhain, to death and rebirth and the life that comes from a darkness and the dormant seeds within us all.  Perhaps next year I will celebrate Samhain in Ireland.  

Trust That Shit.

No blog for nearly 3 weeks.  Ugh.  Why do I do this to myself?  I have all sorts of justifiable reasons but they all boil down to excuses.  In an effort to get myself back on track, this week, for 7 days, I intend to write a blog post every day after I write my morning pages.  Morning pages equals input, or talking to myself.  Blogging equals an output, talking to you.  I am great at input, but could stand to improve at output.  After 7 days, I will evaluate and see how this is working and go from there.  

A year ago this month I decided to take a huge chance and leave the "security" of the job I had held for the last 4 years.  I jumped into a situation where my employment was only guaranteed through the summer, but I asked for enough money to tide me over until I found something else.  I took the leap and never looked back.  I was sick of living life on someone else's terms and so I decided to cast off fear and go for it.  And you know what? That summer contract job lasted through the end of the year and allowed me to do some pretty cool stuff.  

In January I went to Ireland for a MONTH, and fulfilled one of my life-long dreams, staying in a cottage in another country for an extended-period of time.  I bought a camera and started getting into photography.  I took a road trip to from here to Idaho to Vegas, San Diego and the Palm Springs area with my best friend and her mom.  I took a road trip to San Francisco with my brother, and then flew down and had a weekend in wine country where we explored all kinds of wineries in Calistoga.  After I came back from Ireland, I was fortunate to spend a few more days in the Bay area, then went on to the Palm Springs area again to spend a few weeks dog-sitting.

I learned to trust in God, the Universe, Source, the Creator, whatever name the driving force of the Universe goes by that I would be taken care of, and I have been.  It is a strange thing when you cast off fear and set your sails for lands unknown.  I now am pretty comfortable with the not-knowing part of things.  If I can see for the next few months, I'm good.  Forget five-year plans.  Well, I do have one item in my five-year plan list.  To buy a home in Ireland.  Yes, I loved it that much I want to be a part-time resident.  I'm not sure how to make it work, but it is an intention I hold in my heart so I believe it will come to pass.  Maybe not how I think, but it will.

Now I am getting back into working.  I only apply for jobs working places I like.  I decided I will never violate my own heart again and take a job just because.  It needs to be in an area I am interested in (writing, travel, photography, decor, etc.) or I will not do it.  My dream job would be working for Airbnb.  I did apply, but they do not need me.  Yet.  I will keep after it, and it will become a reality for me.  

For now, I onboarded myself with Lyft, and I am working part-time at a local Pier 1.  Lyft will give me the freedom to work when I want, and not be confined to a 5-day, 40-hour work week.  Working as a driver also gives me lots of opportunity to get to know people.  After all the driving I have done, I might as well get paid for it.  The same with Pier 1.  I am getting such valuable training in sales and marketing (skills I sorely need) and I am getting paid for it.  A side benefit is I get to sell pretty things all day long.  What better source of inspiration for a creative than to be surrounded with beauty in a work environment? These doors opened, so I walked through.  

I would love to be able to tell you a five-step plan for quitting your job and living the life of your dreams.  But everyone is different.  And there is really only one step I can give you.  Trust.  Trust in yourself to know what is best for you, and be honest with yourself about your dreams.  Make a decision and then act on it.  Before the opportunity came up for me to work that contract job, I decided, whatever happened, I would quit my job by the five-year mark.  I had to give myself a year because I was scared to death to strike out on my own.  I wrote a resignation letter dated in the future, and wholly committed to quitting, no matter what.  No matter if I had a ton of money in the bank, no matter if I had zero.  And then trust the Universe will respond once you do that.  When it does, be ready, because it can be like a ripcord effect and you have to hold on tight.  

I have zero regrets about my decision.  Not even one.  It took me a long time, and I had to go through a lot of shit, but I understand now how to craft a life I love.  It took walking through fear to get to the other side and trust.  I still get scared, but I take a deep breath and proceed.  I remember a moment while walking the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland's West coast.  I came to a bend in the path and from far back, it looked like I would be stepping too far out on the edge of the Cliffs and I got scared and wanted to go back.  I have a slight fear of heights, you could say.  At 600-feet high, the Cliffs did not help with that.  But, I was living one of the moments I had only dreamed about and I would be damned if I would let fear have its' way.  So I didn't.  I made it all the way to the Southern tip of the cliffs and it was glorious.  

Trust.  It's that simple, and that hard.  Take that leap, and go for it.  My mom always used to tell me two things.  "You may never pass this way again", and "jump the fence".  Don't live on the other side of that fence, trust and jump it.  Magic awaits!





3 Things I Do Every Day to Keep My Shit Straight.

I posted a blog a few weeks ago, "7 things on my Shit List".  You can get it under the "Traveler" section of my site, www.jennaamundson.com.  Yes, I am referencing my own website.  But hey, I can do whatever I want, it is my page.  It was so well received I thought perhaps I would share 3 things I have now built into my daily routine that help me keep my shit straight.  Having lots of free time, that is important right now.

1.  Meditation. I recently completed a 21-day meditation program geared specifically toward writers via AWAI. I have been meditating morning and night, sleeping better and generally feeling more at peace within myself.  I'm starting another 21-day meditation challenge via Oprah and Deepak Chopra. This one just started today, called "Manifesting True Success".  You might even still be able to join, if you like.  I'm not a super meditator, or anything like that.  I feel like about 20 minutes regularly in the morning helps me keep my head straight for the rest of the day, helps me keep my energy to myself, and keeps me more sane than without it.

2.  Morning pages. I talk about these so frequently, it is kind of disgusting.  I thought someone might be asking, "exactly what are you talking about with these pages?"  Every single morning, I write three pages.  Well, maybe not every morning, sometimes I do miss them.  Or sometimes they turn into afternoon pages, or evening pages.  The point is, I am writing.  If you want to be a writer, you have to, well, write.  I use these as a check in with myself, somewhere I can bitch about things bothering me so no one else has to hear about it and a place to dream.  If I do not do these, my soul gets restless.  I have been doing them about a year now, all based on the recommendation of Julia Cameron, in "The Artist's Way".  That woman knows what she is talking about.  I do not feel right if I do not get them done.

3. Cuppa tea. I love coffee, but it does all sorts of strange things to me, so I opt instead for tea.  But not just any tea, Irish Breakfast tea, with a bit of milk and more than a bit of sugar.  This might have a tiny bit to do with spending a month in Ireland earlier this year.  A good, strong dose of black tea gets me going without so much jitter as coffee gives me.  And, most often no heartburn either.  My tummy tends to be a little sensitive, so I like to avoid it first thing.  Just works better for me.  

People are so interested in the process, trusting the process, and enjoying the process.  They want to know about your "process".  I am not sure who "they" are, but they must be out there somewhere.  I am not saying this is what you should do, or what would work for anyone else.  But, I know if I want to keep my shit straight and do more epic shit, this is part of my process.  





Keep Moving Forward.

Writer's Digest just emailed me to let me know my short story didn't win anything.  But this is not really about that.  It's been almost 2 weeks since I blogged, which is not acceptable for a writer, so I need to get a blog post published.  I have so much swirling around in my mind, always.  I do write every day, using morning pages, but that is not something I share with the public at large.  But the blog is.  So here I am.

My distant traveling adventures are over, at least for now.  My path is wide open as to what I want to do with myself.  I have lots of options, and sometimes that is the problem.  It is kind of frightening, but awesome at the same time.  I remember on my birthday, almost 2 years ago, I took the day off.  I imagined what my day would be like if I did not have to work a "full-time" job.  If I was a freelancer, and could set my own schedule for the day.  So now, here I am.

It is crazy when you get what you asked for.  A clear schedule, money in the bank, living in a place that inspires my creativity.  I have been very specific about crafting a life that would allow me to have the freedom to do what I love.  Part of what I love is traveling and taking pictures.  Bringing people pieces of the world they may never see.  Another part of that is writing.  Poems, books, short stories, novels.  

Sometimes I get scared of my own creativity.  Feeling like if I let the torrent flow, I may never get all of it, may never capture it all and it will all go to waste.  So sometimes I prefer to keep the faucet off.  What happens then is the pressure gets so great, I have to release some pressure.  So here I am today, sharing my thoughts, because I can do little else.

But here's one thing I do know - I can never go back.  No matter how difficult this present course could be, it is exactly what I want, what I have asked for.  And honestly, I have moments of difficulties, but never days, or even hours.  Moments, like clouds moving across the sky and blocking the sun.  A moment of darkness, but then it's gone.  

I don't know what the future holds.  How can any of us? But, the beauty of letting go of all my "certainty" is that I have become very comfortable with all that is seemingly so uncertain right now.  The fact of the matter is this - even those of us who think we are so certain in everything we are doing, there is NOTHING certain about anything.  Instead of being fearful about the future, I choose to look at it as an adventure, most of the time.  

I guess what this post is becoming about is embracing uncertainty.  Giving in to creativity.  Honoring yourself and the things that truly matter to you.  Quit honoring fear. While I was in Ireland, I was in a constant state of uncertainty.  I didn't know where things were, didn't know how to get around, couldn't have even explained where I was on a map at first.  But then, as I took each day moment by moment, my fear of the unknown evaporated.  All of a sudden, I was navigating around Ireland with nothing but a map and it was an amazing adventure!  I quit thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and instead would keep moving forward towards my destination.  One kilometer at a time. 

And so that's my lesson.  To myself, and to all of you.  Keep moving forward.  Whether it is one foot, one inch, one mile, one kilometer.  One tiny thing, no matter how small, can keep us on track.  When I would be driving in Ireland, I would pick my final destination, the route to get there, and what would be the very next place I needed to get to.  Once I got to that next place, I would pull over, figure out the next road I needed to take to the next destination.  And it was in this fashion I ended up driving almost 2000 miles in Ireland all by myself, and made it to all of my destinations without much mishap at all.  Everywhere I decided I wanted to go, I made it.  Kilometer by kilometer, village by village.  If I made a mistake, I simply backtracked and got on the right path.  But, I was still moving forward.  

So keep moving forward!  No matter how small the step, take it.  Even if it looks like you are going nowhere, you are.  And, eventually, you will find yourself on the top of that mountain, or at that beach, or in that job you want, or the relationship you dream about.  One small step at a time.