Trusting The Influence Of Inherited Family Traumas

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Major life transitions are a funky thing, aren’t they? Oftentimes, we may find ourselves feeling as if we are a fish out of water. We do our best to adapt. We might feel as if we’re succeeding. We may feel as if we’re gasping for air, completely failing on our promise to be our most authentic self.

So many things come into play, too, to affect us: Money, relationship, employment, children, our own moods. Sometimes, we may find ourselves falling into a deep esoteric and existential funk. What to do? What is this quirky life about—really? Who are we—now?

My three favorite words: Don’t freak out.

It’s all part of the process—at least that is what I keep hearing. At times, I really believed it to be true. Lately, I have questioned the process (well, my process) more and more. Still … as an eternal optimist, onward I go as I find myself in the thick of things—emotionally, spiritually—here in Chicagoland.

The issue at hand: The best was to move through (and beyond) this current leg of my spiritual odyssey, which finds me living back in the home I grew up in. Lessons galore here, that is for sure, but ever since I arrived, it has felt as if a  thick, lingering blanket of uncertainty has been placed over me. Once, where there was a bright burning internal flame, now … there is barely a few sparks. When people speak, I hear murmurs—like those teachers in the “Charlie Brown” cartoons. I suppose this can happen when one returns to one’s family home and on some level, I’m irked: All that money I spent on therapy with that Jungian Therapist who fell asleep while listening to me … and I wind up just feeling like a troubled teen.

All.

Over.

Again?

How rude. I mean, how many chants does it take upon a California mountaintop to reach an ongoing state of Nirvana?

Endless amounts apparently. And maybe that “state” is only attainable beyond this life. (On a side note: I do think, that in my next life, I may take up residence in another galaxy. For starters, I’m pooped. I’m continually influenced by Mercury Retros and with four planets in Scorpio, The Donald, and brutal Saturn retros, what’s a beduffled Polish dude to do? So, yes, next lifetime: Another star system …. I pray there is good catering.)

Back to the issue at hand: Moving through times of major life transitions.

Here’s the thing: The beginning point of my journey began with a “sign.” After a job I held for 14 years was terminated during in a buyout, I was led to return to the midwest to write about my Polish family’s haunting WWII experience. And I did. I went on a kind of serendipitous ride—one that felt like a quirky magic carpet ride, in fact—and somehow, became a nomad.

It’s been going on three years now—this nomadicness—and my latest “return” back home has solidified something I suspected when I was writing about Polish refugees: That inherited family trauma, and epigenetics, is, in fact, a real thing. It’s a real “living thing, actually, and I have been experiencing it. Full time and in present time, although the “pain” began in the past.

What I also know is this: That I must be going through this in an effort to share it with people, and, hopefully, heal something that has been wanting to deeply play out from inside of me: my Polish family’s traumatic experience.

Let’s break it down:

Stalin’s men uproots and deports Polish family with nearly a million other Poles in Eastern Poland in the early 1940s. Polish family lives in labor camp for 18 months. “Get us out, get us out!” The Poles plead. Nobody listens. Upon release in the summer of 1941 (when Hitler attacked Russia and Stalin joined the Allied Forces), Polish family is released and wanders, like the Polish refugees they suddenly are, thousands of miles to—hopefully (they think), safety—all the way to Uzbekistan. After many months, Polish family is absorbed into a cluster of refugees being saved and evacuated by the Polish Army-in-Exile under Gen. Anders’ command, and taken out of Russia. Polish family arrives in Iran. Polish family is taken to refuge in British colonies sprouting orphanages for displaced people—in Tanzania, Africa. Polish family lives there for eight years, craving home and place. Polish family finally arrives in Chicago in 1950.

My journey: I get a sign to write about my Polish family. I resist. Ouch, I say. That will hurt. Can I just write about celebrities and TV instead? The signs keep coming. Finally, I agree. A pandora’s box is opened.

“At last!” I hear my grandmother, Jadwiga’s spirit, say, as I open the door in the living room of my mind. “We’ve been pounding on that damn thing for years.”

My Aunt Mary strolls inside and takes a seat. “Oh, I really love what you’ve done with the place!”

It’s the nicest thing anybody has ever said about the interior of my mind.

Polish guy listens to their tale. Polish guy feels their angst. Polish boy writes about it. Polish guy prays to move on from job—”get me out, get me out,” he pleads. (Or think he is pleading.) Polish guy loses job. Polish guy gets a sign to go back to Midwest. Polish guy goes. Polish guy lives off savings and 401k. Polish guy bops around, subletting one apartment after another, until book is published. Polish guy has stellar book launch and feels ethereal vibes at every book event. Polish guy gets an offer to watch olive tree farm in Maui. Polish guy goes. Ninety days later, Polish guy returns to Mainland. Polish guy falls into deep depression. Polish guy takes job in Palm Springs. Miracles and angst happen. Polish guy leaves Palm Springs a year later. Polish guy returns back to his family home. Polish guy becomes more depressed. Polish guy is tired of wandering. Polish guy contemplates the meaning of home. Polish guy wants to go home. Polish guy doesn’t know where that is.

My sense of what inherited family trauma and the epigenetic threads that may dwell within us, is this: When activated, particularly during times of stress or change, they act like a hologram. As if by magic, something is turned on. The hologram is awakened and the energy vibration of that particular hologram begins to play itself out—in the mind, psyche, and spirit—of the individual. It’s as if the “host’s” entire being is overtaken by this energetic thread.

For what purpose?

Perhaps that living thread needs to finally be dissipated and sent back into the ethers? Who knows? For me, perhaps all this nomadic wandering around and search for home needs to be played out so that something so deeply wounding from my family’s past—some energetic thread that was never really dealt with on any level—can, at last, find its transformative ta-da moment, and the curtain can gracefully fall, and the lights in the living theater can, gracefully, go dark.

One never knows. I don’t know. I was never good at math, but I can add this thing and that thing together, draw a line under it, and look at the final number.

Somehow, when I decided to write about my family, when I truly explored the brutal depths of their journey, I became a host to my family’s deep haunting trauma.

However, I need to remember something very important. They survived.

And I will, too.

 

 

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Universal Insurance (And Assurance)

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So there I was driving a and minding my own business …

… contemplating the Quantum Universe and time/space when, as if by David Lynch-ian magic, a deer appeared on the country road.

RIGHT. IN. FRONT. OF. ME.

I wasn’t going very fast and my attempts to fully brake were chuckled at by the Universe. I heard a THUMP. The deer and I locked eyes. I recognized her. Most likely from
another life, I later thought. There was something timeless there however—in her eyes. Something timeless and full of wisdom. How, we both must have thought, had we both met at this exact moment in time/space? Me .. traveling, randomly on a Wisconsin country road, a nomadic soul searching for his true physical home. She, a native creature adept at wandering. Here. There. Everywhere. The open expansive of prairie, of forests—these are the places she calls home.

Who knows with these sort of things. I can’t seem to escape a day without moments of deep reflection, lately. Every day brings another cycle of Where Am I? What Now? What’s This? If I had known several years ago that in writing my family’s memoir, I would have been thrust into a microcosmic—well, at times, macro, too—reenactment of their Polish refuge experience in the 1940s, I may changed careers entirely.

On the flipside: Who knew epigenetics and inherited family trauma could be so potent and juicy!

So, what I am left with is a recurring question: What lessons must I learn … while I wander; while I am a nomad?

Let’s start with the deer.

Fortunately, she wasn’t injured. Strong and versatile, after impact, I watched in slo-mo as she sprang into the forest on the other side of the road, taking some flying car parts with her. It could have been much worse. Dumbstruck, I kept one, sending out a blessing out to the creature, hoping that she wasn’t truly injured and she’d be okay; that she would heal.

Later, I did what any soul-searching, questioning recovering Polish Catholic boy who fled to Northern California to find himself would have done: I looked up the meaning of deer totem animal.

Here is what I found: “Deer spirit appearing in your life acts as a teacher of how to be gentle, determined and sure, even in difficult situations. Remember that a gentle soul is not a helpless one. Deer wisdom shows you how to use your great horns for defense. Deer may also challenge you to leave behind the safety of your grassy bedding for fresh horizons.”

Fresh horizons. Now, that I like. That I can hang onto. For what is a guy with labile mood disorder, somebody capable of mood swinging with reckless abandon, supposed to do when he finds himself living back in his family home, attempting to step into his Next Best Self, and feeling completely gutted by the industry that he spent so many years devoted to: Journalism and Media?

What happens when, during our life’s most curious and head-scratching transitions, we discover that no matter which direction we turn, none of those directions feels familiar? What happens when we realize that we may very well be lost in the maze of our own minds, attempting to figure a way out of it? What happens when God forces our hand and asks us to surrender and trust in the process?

Can we be patient enough to know that at some point, we WILL come up for air and realize that our “flight or fight” mechanism—our lovely amygdala or repitlian brain—has been working overtime?

In the game of surrender and trust, in the spiritual playing field where the baseball players are all Gods, can we surrender long enough and trust that something bigger than ourselves actually has our backs? Or, will we opt for trying to control the situation?

A few things I have learned over the last few years, since this spiritual endeavor began. 1) Sometimes, the greatest suffering arrives when we try to make something happen. 2) It may not be serving us to attempt to make sense of mystical experiences. By their very design, that absolutely defy logic.

With that in mind, one cannot rush the cycles of our own soul. Like nature itself, we will bloom when the timing is right. In the meantime, it’s best to pay attention to as many “signs” as possible. (And have good insurance, spiritual or otherwise.)

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Sand In The Hourglass Of ‘Trust’

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For many of us who seek a spiritual life, there comes a time when we realize that the life we once lived is no longer the one we must keep living.

We do the spiritual “work.” We walk the “path.” Heck. Sometimes, it may feel as if we really tripped along that path, tumbling down a ravine and scraping ourselves so badly. Yet we surprise ourself when we pick ourself up, dust ourself off, and venture forth … trusting, yet again, in something greater than ourself, and believing, intermittently, and gosh, as best we can, that we are indeed being guided on our journey.

We get additional spiritual clues: “Go this way. No, that way. Wait—over here. Follow the magical pennies on the ground. The blinking streetlamp above your head. The number 11:11 on the clock.”

We continue on. Maybe one day, we feel pulled to go in a direction that would find us sacrificing much more than we are comfortable sacrificing. And … still … we do so, only to find ourselves in the thick of a mystical journey and suddenly looking at the imaginary wristwatch on our arm and wondering: Isn’t this enough? Can I go back to the life I had and feel “comfortable” again?

I have experienced many nuances of all that over the last three years only to find myself asking a curious question that I already know the answer to: Is there a time limit to Trust?

Inevitably along any spiritual journey or, if we’re double winners, a truly mystical experience, the human side of us tends to doubt. We might question what we’ve gotten ourselves into, boldly following what we thought was our intuition—or a “sign from God.” We wonder if we’ve walked the path correctly and if we may ever arrive at the destination we thought would be on the other side. But in performing acts of Surrender and Trust with the Divine, the spiritual hourglass doesn’t ever really run out, does it?

Spirituality is not linear.

Mystical experiences cannot be explained or understood rationally. They just are.

If we trust the “signs” we are given; if we truly believe in what the Divine is whispering into the ears of our soul … and we really go for it … then how can we think we’re ever finished? Maybe the only thing we finished is bootcamp.

Three years ago, I left behind everything I knew. A longtime job ended. I had a memoir due. It was clear to me that it was time to move on from the vibrant Northern California community in which I had lived for nearly twenty-five years. My intuition told me to head back to the Midwest, finish a book about my Polish family, stay in Chicagoland to launch that book, and see what happens. What happened was that the book was released amidst a flurry of mystical acts: Random connections to strangers; special events planned; links to the Polish community; blessings from spiritual titans—who came “from nowhere”—for the book and the unforgotten histories of nearly a million Polish people who were deported to Siberian slave labor camps, which I wrote about in the book because my family miraculously survived the ordeal in the 1940s. I could not have orchestrated any of it—alone. Some power or powers greater than myself were working through me. However, by saying “Yes” to Surrender and Trust and affirming … “OK … I don’t understand the path I am being taken on and I have no guarantee of what will emerge, but I’ll do my part; start walking along this new path and I’ll keep paying attention and we’ll see what happens”… I was giving the Divine my thumbs up that I knew it had my back.

Other, more head-scratching events occurred too. Just when I thought I would return to California and return to a life I had known there, I was asked by a former colleague if I wanted to oversee an olive tree plantation on Maui for 90 days, which I wrote about extensively in this blog. Well, that certainly put a new spin on things. So, I said yes to that … and then things really changed. I unplugged from the world. I lived in the moment. I was bathed in native culture. I realized that there is never an endpoint to the game of Do More/Get More/Be More/KaChing.

When I returned to the Mainland nothing felt the same. I had become a different human. But I felt “off” swirling around in a society that was all about consumption. I wound up living with my Polish mother for a while before taking on another corporate job in California—in Palm Springs, where, I am sorry to say, there was more chatter about the unattractive and hard-to-remove cat lint on “those puffy new pillows” on the imported living room couch in the freshly renovated midcentury modern home people labored to keep in pristine condition than, say, discussions of spiritual growth and the state of humanity. After six weeks, my intuition told me to leave the job. It defied logic: “But I need to ‘make’ and income.”

So I trusted, yet again. I left. Other opportunities emerged without much effort on my part. I remained in Palm Springs for a while. I didn’t want to yet something stirred within: “Stay just a bit longer.” I did. A few months later a miracle arrived in the form of a medical treatment I needed and I one that I never saw coming; one that dramatically shifted my health for the better—all because two lesbian nurses fought with the insurance company to approve treatment. Clearly, I could not have orchestrated that either.

When I returned to Chicago about three months ago, that, too, defied logic. “What on Earth? Why? Again?” Once again, during another time of transition, I found myself residing with my 80-year-old Polish mother, a robust, spritely human who doesn’t take any crap from anybody. I thought I had returned to Chicago to get another job; to “make money”; to settle down—all the things that my Polish mother would have loved to see happen.

The Universe chuckled at that.

Trust me: There is nothing like having to camp out in your parents’ former bedroom; the same bedroom that witnessed the demise of their marriage. What I have learned in being back in the Midwest is that I was never brought back here to settle down or to find a “home.” (One gets intuitive hits when you feel you are in the right place—or not—and belong where you need to belong.) No. In many ways, I returned to do another kind of work: Inner work. It seems my teenage self had a gaggle of unresolved emotions—disappointment, sadness, grief—and from those places he had made a bevy of decisions about life before he hightailed it out of Chicago at the age of eighteen.

When I realized this, that proverbial lightbulb when on above my head. “What would happen,” I thought, “if I take a look at who I was as a teenager and study that me who was so, well, wounded, over my parents’ divorce and feeling misplaced in a world he didn’t know how to maneuver in? What would happen if I made that my job, for a while, instead of looking for jobs that I found absolutely no interest in?

What would happen if I realized that I had never stopped walking the path … that, in fact, I was still on it, and that I had been given the most remarkable opportunity to heal—and to heel—some emotional imbalances within me?

What would happen if simply allowed myself to Trust and to know that I didn’t need to be anywhere other than where I was, and that the hourglass of Trust may just be an illusion.

Because the sand inside that hourglass never runs out.

Until we do.

 

 

 

 

What Are You Looking At?

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I had a conversation with a dear friend the other day when the topic of “looking” came up. And then I wondered: How much time we spend looking for things?

We look for new napkins at Target. We look for just the right kind of meat at Costco that can be grilled on a back deck and served to people looking at the new napkins we spent so much time looking for at Target.

We look for mobile devices. We look for the right strollers to push several children around; children whose eyes look blankly into the screens of the mobile devices we made an event looking for.

We may spend a great deal of time looking at Donald Trump and what he is doing. We look at the news, if that’s what we’re still calling it these days. We look for jobs. We look for soul mates on dating Apps. We look for hookups.

We look. And we look. And we … look.

Everywhere—out there. And a lot, it seems. Is it out of balance?

I listened to a conversation the other day between four people. It lasted 10 minutes. All about looking for the right frozen fish to buy in bulk. I didn’t know what to do: Die a little inside …? Or cull from the wisdom of the I Ching, or, say, Martin Luther King Jr., or any quantum physicist, for that matter … and say something lively. Something other than dead frozen fish. Alas, the group I was with could have just found that annoying.

So I wonder: how much time do we really spend looking within?

That may sound cliché. Forgive me. For I have lived in Northern California for 25 years, so, who knows? I may have become a cliché myself at this point.

But I don’t think so. I must be wired in such a way that “looking within” seems to be par for the life course I am on. I just know that when I don’t look within; when I don’t check in with myself, Life, God, My Higher Power, The Universe—whatever we’re calling The Divine these days—will more than likely drag me down to my knees and force to go to the internal places that may not feel so comfortable.

Looking within may not be a repetitive occurrence when we’re feeling groovy (or think we are) and in the flow—with life, with yourself. With your job. With your relationships.

But sometimes, it’s tricky to stay in the deep places within yourself when we’re caught up in life and life circumstances.

And during times of uncertainty and transition … even more curious.

Which is why I am writing this.

I had a conversation with four different people at different moments over the past few weeks. Each one of them shared something similar—they could not stop crying. The tears …. They just kept flowing. For quite a while. No person in their lives had passed away. No one was ill. It was if they were taken over by waves of grief, the depths of which they could not fully understand.

True, the global collective is experiencing a kind of mass disorientation what with has unraveled in world politics. (If you walk into a steam room, you’ll feel the heat. Clearly, something unique is happening energetically around the globe.)

But what happens when we stop looking out there—at politics, our Smart Phones, the right Costco fish to purchase and barbecue? Let’s face it: there’s so much more juicy stuff happening inside of us. Well, aside from Maui, the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, Barcelona architecture, a lake in Minnesota and maybe some homemade food from your mamma. But you get the picture.

Yes, nature is sexy. It’s hard not to be in awe. But our internal worlds are sexy, too. And fascinating. Even the most haunting and uncomfortable parts.

After braving and shining through several years of life-threatening illnesses, leaving my Northern California community after my media company I worked for was bought out, and writing a haunting memoir about how my Polish family survived Stalin during the 1940s—with nary a pill-pop of Lexapro, I’ll have you know—The Universe spit me back out in the Midwest.

I was born and raised in Chicago. My Polish family moved to the quaint western suburb of Elmhurst. I like to call it The Land of Elm.

With limited funds (I cashed in my 401k to TRUST The Universe and follow the rose pedals it kept tossing onto my path for nearly three years) I now find myself in deep transition … moving from one delicious era of my professional and personal life and into another that has not introduced itself to me, or me to it. Occasional confusion, disorientation and meltdowns have occurred.

I mood. Therefore I swing.

On the flipside: I do appreciate how The Universe has co-orchestrated my current circumstances with me in such a way that the irony and haunting beauty of my will not be lost on me.

I’m living back home with my Polish mother and her husband.

More specifically, I am finding shelter in the bedroom where my parents’ marriage dissolved. Dear Lord. What has happened? I mean … I meditate and everything …

Needless to say, my subconscious seems to be thoroughly stoked to have returned to Ground Zero. In fact, it’s strongly suggesting that I maybe I didn’t fully look through all of the emotional windows of my past; that maybe I didn’t clean them enough. Hell, maybe I never replaced them.

Have I been keeping some of them shuttered?

Major clues revealed themselves after two months. Why, I wondered, was I recalling how I felt as a teenager after my parents’ divorce? Hadn’t I worked out all of my Mommy and Daddy issues in self-help groups or meditation? In yoga? therapy? (Is it a sign when your Jungian therapist falls asleep during your session? Please let me know.)

Well, I did what any befuddled middle-aged man-child who spent an enormant of time asking the Universe for signs his entire life only to find solace in the healing rooms of shamans who waved white sage over my auric field: I turned to food. Pizza seemed good. Several weeks and pounds later, it was time to change course.

Obviously, something inside of me wanted to heal. What would happen if I looked within? What would happen if I “sat” with some of the feelings that emerged from my current transition … and the feelings that were coming up from my teenage years?

Dear Lord—but this was so inconvenient. Couldn’t all these unsettling emotions just go away. Come back … when I’m feeling like I have my A-Game on? I mean … really. How rude.

So … I sat with it.

My parents divorced several months before my sixteen birthday. I joined forces with my older brother, who had moved out several years before the main event, and together, we moved my father into a third-floor apartment less than a mile away from the home that didn’t quite ever feel like home. My father wasn’t happy about the divorce or the fact that, after 23 years, my mother decided to act upon her gut feeling and dissolve a marriage that had been bumpy from the start. My father drank. My mother didn’t like that. My father didn’t like being uprooted. I didn’t like feeling as if I was in the middle of their storm. I felt vulnerable, afraid, and as if I had no control over life, their life, my life. A deep feeling of helplessness and disorientation sunk in.

What we didn’t realize as a family at the time was that my father’s alcoholism was a cry for help. We were more focused on (and rightly so) how abusive and disruptive the alcoholism was; how my father’s weekend Johnny Walker binges and the subsequent arguments they spawned between my parents, infected every energetic layer of our home. It became the place were two tragic marriages existed: One between my father and mother; the other between my father and his liquor.

The divorce agreement stipulated that my father was to see me on the weekends. But there was no protocol in place. At the time, I’m not sure why I took the initiative, but I did. I must have felt that disturbed me: I felt that if I didn’t take the initiative, my father wouldn’t. And what would that mean? What would have been the take away for the teenaged me?

So I planned everything. I always called my father to make arrangements—so that he could see me. I took us out to the movies. I suggested fun malls to visit or restaurants to dine in. I took my father to the bank to pay for his bills—including the child support check he always reluctantly handed me before I exited his dark blue Chevy Impala in front of the house we all used to survive in.

In many ways, I became my father’s parent. This was a curious position to be in when you’re 16.

After six months, my behavior changed. I felt sad and lonely whenever I left my father’s apartment. He didn’t talk kindly of my mother. Which surprised me at first. For the longest time, I thought my father loved my mother so deeply that he simply couldn’t get over her. But in time, I realized it was something much different: he was obsessed with her. Like his addiction to Johnny Walker, he needed a fix—not of her, really, but of a love he must have never received when he was a child. One figures these things out later. At the time, it was befuddling.

And so … our time together became all about him—and her. And her and him. There was no me to be found—there …. there were my father’s hurt and disappointment lived.

I began looking for an escape.

I had a cousin, my Godmother, Chris, in Phoenix. Perfect. I went to visit her for several weeks over the summer. I took Greyhound busses there during winter break. It was warm. Chris, her son, and her second husband were welcoming. They were kind. They liked me.

Was this my out?

One week, I forgot to call my father and arrange our weekend meeting. He didn’t call. The following week I had a thought: What would happen if I didn’t call? Nothing. Nothing happened. For an entire year. Until, at last, upon graduating from high school, he reached out and came to the ceremony.

Afterward, my brother and I went to dinner with our father at a Chinese restaurant. Everyone was privy to the fact that I had made plans to attend Arizona State University. I was leaving … everything … behind.

Over dinner, my father said something haunting: “I can’t believe you’re leaving me.” What an odd thing to say to a child. I had heard the same line delivered with the same dramatic inflection in an episode of “Dynasty.” After all, my father and I weren’t a couple. Or had we been? Had I stepped into the role of surrogate wife without knowing it?

I moved on. I attended Al-Anon. I went to therapy. I dove deep. I looked at and released a great deal of the anger and frustration I possessed as a teenager. I made peace with the events that occurred.

I looked “out there” …. and carved out a life for myself as an entertainment journalist. I wrote about other people. Told their stories.

But there was so much more of my own I may have been missing.

At my father’s funeral in 2004, I believed that I was at peace with everything. Maybe I was wrong. My current life transition has brought up many feelings I had as a teenager—fear, doubt, loneliness, isolation. Hadn’t I dealt with all that? Wasn’t I free and clear?

Not quite.

Having an opportunity to look at some of those events in my life—now—has given me a brand new perspective of who I was back then. I may have cleared any anger and resentment, but had I really dealt with the impact that some of those events triggered? More importantly, could I stop looking “out there” for a while longer, and look at the teenager inside of me who clearly is calling out for some attention.

And compassion.

And empathy.

What happens when we look at the aspects of ourselves that remain unsettled—the ones we may have kept shuttered. What happens when we actually make a decision to stop and pay less attention to the storm fronts brewing “out there?”

What happens when we just decide to bravely stand underneath the unpredictable emotional rainstorm that has been waiting to pour down over every fiber of our being …

Maybe it’s best to not hold an umbrella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Men Let Go And Surrender

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What happens when men are asked to surrender? As in … surrender their will to something greater than themselves?

I can hear the collective groan rising right now.

“Don’t I do that that everyday? With my wife? With my kids? With my boss? Am I even in control of this thing called my life?”

Actually, yes. You are. We are. We all are. Well, maybe we’re not. The only thing we may have control over, really, is our awareness of the fact that we really are not in control—at all.

What I am referring to is something much more spiritual—mystical even. And neither of those two things tend to make much logical sense because—and this may be News at 11!—one simply cannot make much logical sense out of a spiritual or mystical experience. By their very natures, these delicious things defy logic. And maybe that’s why we males out there might trip up.

I’ve written about this before but the topic is so fresh and juicy and up in my face, that I have been led to write about again. And let’s be clear: I am not just referring to men. We humans sometimes have a curious time “letting go” and trusting in something spiritual, even though we may claim to be spiritual creatures. But it is the male species, in particular, that I find fascinating because it’s clear that, culturally, males are asked to take charge, become leaders, be strong, think clearly and make everything “happen.” And, oh, wrap it up in a present with a bow on top of it, all the while, working 60 hours a week and barely checking in—with themselves.

With gay men, this might be a much different scenario, but I am not fully convinced. For if we’re not living a spiritual life, first and foremost, then, what the heck sort of life are we living?

A major life turning point happened to me five years ago when I was diagnosed with two life-threatening diseases. I’ll write this more in the future, however, that event, coupled with the fact that I felt the ghosts of my ancestors tugging on my heartstrings, forced me to make some major life decisions. During the entire summer of 2012, I opted to Louise Hay myself and become more healthy, even though I thought I had been. The illnesses forced me to go within even more—although, I’d been picking spiritual lint out of my navel and chanting on mountaintops and grunting and groaning and clutching crystals in Northern California for decades. I had a choice: I could surrender to what the Universe (My Higher Power, God, whatever you want to call it) was suggesting I do, which was to dive deep into the interior passageways of myself and look at my deepest fears of existence right in the face. Or … carry on like the burned-out, creatively spent, overworked journalist I had become, mostly for the sake of attaining status, “fame,” approval and career advancement.

What a carnival ride that was.

During that summer, I actually had conversations—with the inside of my body. I said: “Look, I know you guys are here. The doctors so boldly told me so. So … you can stay. You can go. Up to you. This is not a war. But you need to know something: I am going to send a good juicy flow of self-love into the interior of my being, and, well, it just may not be comfortable for you. You choose. Stay. Go. In the meantime, let’s learn something from each other.”

I suppose all those years doing Bikram Yoga helped me with this decision. There’s nothing like sweating your ass off for four to five days a week for more than a decade, to help you realize that maybe there’s some other powerful force at work in the world; and that we humans are simply the vessel for which life to move through.

I love how Deepak Chopra puts it: “You are not doing the breathing. Something is breathing YOU!”

My first major act of surrender to a will greater than me revolved around that health issue.

The second, which came like gangbusters around the same time, was stepping into writing a memoir about how my Polish family survived the brutal wrath of Stalin and his henchmen during the 1940s.

And it’s here where I love how The Universe played its cards … because, really, health issues are enough, but to chase it back with a haunting tale about a million Polish people, my family among them, being sent into a miserable life of Siberian slave labor and relying on their faith to pull them through it all, somehow, barely, managing to survive as they roamed around in homeless despair on four continents for nearly a decade is, well … it’s not as fun as a Saturday matinee. Trust me.

But I chose to lean into it all. Hell. I plunged deeply into it. I let go and said: “Alright—show me the way to go; show me the way through it.”

And when I did that, events and conditions I could not even have orchestrated on my own—things so profoundly surreal—occurred. Even when, a few years later, the newspaper I had been at the helm of for fourteen years, was bought out by another media enterprise and a many of us were let go, I was given yet another opportunity to trust even more.

It was as if I was being asked: “Look. You can leap right back into Corporate America, or you can finish the memoir, which is due in summer, dismantle your life in Santa Cruz, California, downsize, put your things in storage, and head to Wisconsin to finish the book where you are being given a temporary home—and unemployment.

Wisconsin?

No offense. But it was no Ritz Carlton … the kind of glossy things my ego had loved while interviewing celebrities for years.

Once again, I was being given an opportunity to surrender.

So, I did.

Sure, there was fear along the way. A lot of it. I felt as if my entire identity was being stripped away. I had left the comfortable confines of living in Northern California for twenty-five years and … I just had to trust that things were going to work out.

Truth be told: I believe that, for the most part, anybody who comes from a family who survived the war, especially those first-gen folks, has a more challenging time with surrender and trust. It’s just built-in to our DNA.

The events that followed after the book was completed also defy logic. Serendipitous occasions became the norm. Chance encounters multiplied. Connection to the Polish community in Chicago, where I eventually temporarily relocated, grew stronger. It felt as if something much more powerful than my human self was orchestrating it all. Perhaps this is what one calls “going with the flow.”

So, what I am saying: I don’t think it’s that we leave behind a life, as I was led to do. However, I believe that if we did do that … the net would appear after we leapt. I think this is message I felt led to share today: To encourage men to let go of something that just doesn’t feel right. And I mean, “right” … down to the core. It may be a feeling, a belief, something. It may even be a job. There’s a remarkable grace that occurs when we allow ourselves to lean into this act—even if it’s just a little bit.

In doing so, I now see, something greater than myself, was attempting to mold me into an even better man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotting The Handiwork Of God

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Sometimes, the only way to truly understand God’s handiwork is by catching a glimpse of it in the rearview mirror when we’re moving forward in a new direction.

I bring this up because lately, I have been realizing just how present and benevolent the Universe actually is. Why such deep fodder? Because I have been asked to once again place my foot on the gas pedal and head into yet another series of unknowns.

So there I was, mood swinging and wondering how I had arrived at a point in time where things were just not feeling quite right. And, quietly at first, I felt a nudge from the Heavens. It seemed to be telling me to leave California (again) and head back to my birth home of Chicago (again). I resisted.

The nudges continued. I resisted.

The nudges turned into a boxing match.

I began to pay attention.

So, this week, while sitting in a car packed to the brim with my belongings and having to rely on something like Trust rather than Trust Funds, I said, “I’m not sure where the money is Modern Day Journalism, but God is telling me to leave you for a bit and leap into something that I don’t even understand.

Yes. It was there in the car when, for a twenty-second interlude, which eventually lingered on through the day, that I realized just how remarkable the road was—back there in that thing called The Life I Have Been Living. For in that relaxed moment, I was able to be present to the remarkable splendor and grace that the Universe had been delivering in my life, and with life itself. All along.

But let’s be clear: We need to make a distinction here … for if we gaze into that rearview mirror too long, we also stand the risk of losing our footing in the present.

See my arm. It just shot up into the air. Because prior to this lovely moment of clarity, I spent quite a long time in that place … mostly wondering how to recreate an old version of me in the present. I get it. I had a fabulous twenty-five-year experience as a writer and editor in Northern California. When that ended, I decided to not re-enter the workforce immediately. Rather, I opted to finish a memoir, which revolved heavily around my Polish family. But when that ended, I wanted to leap right back into the old life I had. I wanted it to be waiting for me.

But it was gone.

Because that version of me was also gone.

Maybe that’s why it always felt like more than half of me wasn’t ready to place my foot on top of that proverbial gas pedal after the memoir experience was complete. Like a child, I kicked and screamed, and had far too many emotional fits of despair. At first I thought I was screaming back at God. But maybe it was me I was screaming back at. Perhaps a deeper part of myself was just really pissed at my overpowering will, which kept insisting that I had to be somewhere other than where I was, which was in a state of major life transition.

You see, sometimes God, The Universe—whatever you’d like to call it—will ask you to take the biggest leap of all by doing … nothing.

Well, at least nothing like the way you used to do it. This must be why, after fifteen years of Bikram Yoga, I understand more deeply why all my yoga teachers kept telling their students that the pose known as Savasana was the hardest post to teach. It’s also referred to as “the dead body pose,” and it’s biggest invitation to the yogi is simply to lie still. You see, sometimes we’re asked to take a reprieve from things and in the pausing, something wonderful occurs—grace. And it is in these lovely moments when we are able to discern whether it’s God who is nudging us, or if, in fact, we are the ones doing the pushing in our own lives.

I’d say the last three years of my own life are a testament to that. There were so many times when I insisted I had to move forward “professionally” … and that I had to go after another big job. And that I had to stay relevant in this crazy, borderline obnoxious, social media-driven world filled with frenzied and fragile egos. I thought, as many people do, that I had to produce more, be more, get more. But no, after twenty-five years of nonstop writing and emitting more energy and verve for the love of the craft, somewhere along the line, I must have drank the proverbial Kool-Aid through the sipppy-cups handed out by the masses. On some level, I must have believed that I had to be one of the cool kids in order to be accepted and relevant … in order to get ahead. If the cool kids weren’t looking and making assessments—about me—then, well, what was the point?

I had lost myself in the illusion. And a turning point was imminent.

For me, after twenty-five years constant creation, penning several books—two of which were published—and running a newspaper for a good fourteen of those years, I needed a break. We are not machines, after all. But I would have kept on going. The newspaper I had been running was taken over by a media enterprise that was very Putin-esque and took the best game plans from its Stalin playbook. People got canned. Others were imprisoned in their new cubicles. After my termination, I decided to finish that memoir about my Polish family and decided—or was forced to?—Trust that if I returned to the Midwest to do that, with little income and nothing but a modest 401k I cashed out, that things would be okay. I had to leave the comfort of my structured world and dive head first into the waters of the unknown.

So, let’s get back to the big question: What happens when we pause?

What happens when we stop “doing” things and simply … trust. What happens when we trust—it’s a verb, after all—that the Universe has our backs, and we actually go with it? Furthermore, what happens when we get a spiritual nudge to leave behind a life that we had been living, and which has been so structured, and follow the Divine somewhere else?

That’s what was being asked of me. I see that now. I had to stop by way of spiraling out like a comet. I was a “celebrity” in the town I lived—Santa Cruz. My picture was in the paper. People knew me. They wanted things from me. They wanted my attention and in turn, I got some attention. Sometimes a lot of it. I also became a journalist for national magazines. I wouldn’t say my ego was bloated, but it got puffy. It’s not hard to admit this. I didn’t go overboard and think I was “all that,” but I did begin to appreciate being the me that I was becoming … somebody of influence. I made a vow to focus on people doing good things in the world. I did that well.

But what happens when you are taken out of your comfort zones? What happens to the YOU who you think you are when you begin to cease doing the things that YOU have always done?

You become somebody else; somebody new—to yourself.

Before, during, and after the book was published, I experienced a great deal of grief. There was a lot of bliss, too—and magic and so many synchronistic occurrences that it was so blatantly obvious that the presence of God, and grace, was there. But I didn’t count on one necessary requirement. I didn’t realize I had to grieve.

I grieved the loss of deep loves—that remarkable era of rich bliss in which I thrived as a journalist; the purging of a family memoir from the annals of my psyche—truth be told, it felt as if I had projectile vomited a mess of inherited family traumas from the 1940s and Stalin’s brutal mass deportation of Polish people, which included my eight family members and whose cries for help seemed to be living on inside of me. I grieved the absence of a ninety-day thrust into a new dimension, when I had, serendipitously, been offered an opportunity to be a quasi caretaker of a grove filled with nearly three hundred baby olive trees on Maui, of all places, several months after said memoir was published. I grieved the loss of a life lived passionately. I felt lost, confused, hopeless, disoriented and displaced, all while living in quasi isolation in Palm Springs with contract work that didn’t quite feed my soul.

But lately—and here’s how lovely the Universe is—I have managed to catch those glimpses of the past in the rearview mirror. And smile.

Imagine what smiling does for something like grief?

Yes. Something had lifted. I was able to breathe and actually celebrate all that occurred in my life, and to be reminded that I was never alone, that I will never be alone, and that there is some truly phenomenal Loving Presence at work.

 

Fitting … because I embark on a new journey today. I drive across the country—back to Chicago. Back “home” where creative opportunities, some care for aging family members, and a new timeline seems to be awaiting me with open arms. I head into a new set of unknowns, into a new set of possibilities.

And maybe this time, whenever I pause at the stop sign along the shaded country road of life, I may just be able to take a moment and breathe it all in more deeply. Who knows? I may even notice some playful children at their lovely Lemonade or Kool-Aid stand on the corner. And if I do, I have the feeling this time if I drink some punch, it won’t be spiked.

 

 

When Passion Takes a Sabbatical

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In the beginning, we may not notice it. We venture forth with our various tasks. We participate in the things that fill our busy lives. But, maybe, something feels off.

Time passes. Oh my—we’ve grow tired. Exhausted, perhaps. We realize that so many of the things that we once felt excited about, things we would have tackled people over, or maybe even made a mad dash across the football fields in our minds to get to, suddenly, don’t quite have the allure that they once had.

If we’re creative beasts, we may recognize it sooner because creative people seem to be attuned to their senses. We might say: “Dear Lord—I’m a creative beast. I’ve always been a creative beast. Where did that beast go?

Into hiding?

Hibernation?

Where?

Yes. We begin to feel listless. We decide: “Well, this must be what burnout feels like.”  And then we might make a desperate attempt to eek out some kind of passion for something in the hopes of recapturing a feeling that no longer exists. Well … it’s more like the absence of it just haunts you … this ghost of what used to be Passion. You may grieve its loss. You may weep. You may even pray that God, The Universe—anybody—brings it back into your life.

But there we are—feeling that dark absence and all of the confusion that it brings. Like Emptiness. Like an uninvited relative arriving on your doorstep toting too much luggage, you realize that it has decided to stay.

For a while.

For a long, long, while.

When I embarked—or should I say … was pulled by the Gods—to write a memoir about my Polish family, I eventually put my entire life force into it. Somewhere during all of the research, it occurred to me that I wasn’t alone doing this work. No. For it felt as if there was a presence working alongside of me. Angels? God? My ancestors? I couldn’t tell. But the events that unfolded before, during and after the release of the book, could not have been orchestrated by me. Not all of them, anyway. There was too much serendipity involved and while I may be smart, I wasn’t that smart. Or savvy. Or enterprising. Besides, these events defied any logical understanding.

Oh, I did a tremendous amount footwork to make some things occur. Because the book was about my Polish family surviving Joseph Stalin’s terrible injustice to Polish people during the 1940s—he deported nearly 1 million of them, in fact—I wanted some of the book talks and events to actually feel like “events.” Rather serendipitously—a clear sign God is at work—I met men involved in reenactments of the General Anders’ Army during WWII. Anders was crucial to the evacuation of many Polish refugees from Russia, my family among them. So when he said yes to appear at a book event and discuss his organization’s work,  this, to me, felt quite remarkable.

It was even more remarkable that he brought several men with him—clad in 1940s army uniforms. Bayonets. Hats. Everything. To say it added nuance to the event is an understatement.

But so many other things occurred.

Randomly, I met a Polish woman named Donna, and her teenage son, Mark, at a Polish festival where I was handing out fliers for the book. I’ll never forget this: the woman emailed me and told me that she would like to help me. And help me she did. One of the book events was in early February of 2015, and when I asked Donna how she would like to help, she listed off a litany of things she had planned.

Reenactment of a Polish deportation scene.

Readings of a heartfelt poem.

A children’s choir?

The woman brought an entire squad of performers. It became a bona fide production—right there in a community room of a suburban Chicago library. It mirrored so much of what my book illuminated. All of the books sold.

It wasn’t a book event so much as it was a living, breathing mosaic that captured a time and place and a group of people that the history books had forgotten.

Around the same time, Donna agreed to help me with a vigil on the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the mass deportation of Polish people—Feb. 10, 2015. Of course, the idea like a daily newspaper tossed onto the porch of my mind—and from the Gods. Because with less than four weeks time, who the heck can organize a proper vigil? I was already feeling the warning signs of burnout and fatigue. I had moved across the country from the home I had in Northern California and immediately poured everything I had into the book. I cashed in 401ks, I drained my savings account. All I knew was that this story had to be told and for some reason, I was one of the people that had to share it. I simply had to reveal the unique survival story of my Grandmother Jadwiga, and how that brave woman managed to keep her children alive during a most horrific series of events.

After securing a wonderful space in Chicago, the Copernicus Center, I kept busy at social media, promoting the book and so much more. One day, I took a break from sending out invitations to members of the Polish community. I checked in with Donna. Again, I could not have orchestrated what this woman was doing. In just a few short days, she had arranged for two choirs to attend, a Polish dignitary to appear and a priest to offer a blessing prior to the event, and during a candlelight vigil we were planning on conducting.

A priest?

A man of the cloth?

I mean—really.

The day of event felt rather ethereal—as if the veils of time and space were so thin that, well—it felt as if this event was supposed to have happened so that it would offer a kind of grace to the people actually in the events that actually occurred.

If that sounds trippy, that’s because it is.

Let’s see if I can be more clear.

Science tells us that there is no time. No really. And, perhaps, that everything is occurring simultaneously. It occurred to me on that day, that the cosmic thread of my life, my family’s lives—perhaps even some of those people deported—had turned into a loop; that the two ends were meeting. Their timeline. My timeline. Suddenly connecting. Like we witnessed in the film “Interstellar.” But it was more than that. Perhaps these two points in “time” had met before. That the very event I was about to step into had already occurred—because, somehow, it was intended to hand off a baton of love and fortitude to the people who were about to suffer the worst kind of horror as they were being sent to Siberian slave labor camps in crowded boxcars.

So, what does this have to do with passion?

Well, imagine coming off of that realization and, say, trying to go back to balancing something like, uh, a checkbook?

My soul wasn’t having any part of it.

Afterward, and even today, I still hold a deep, deep sense of gratitude for everything that unfolded on the day of that remarkable vigil—more than 100 people showed up. But lately,  passion … well, for me, it seemed to have gone into a slumber for a while. Maybe. I spent many months trying to find it again. At times, I thought I had—lying there, unconscious, in the minefields of my emotionally war-torn psyche. (Fluctuating self-esteem and rides on mood swings have something to do with that.) My attempts to resucitate it failed. Was there no bringing Passion back into my life?

So, what happens to us when passion decides to take a vacation? Or, I should say: What happens when we think it has.

Can we be okay with the emptiness? Or do we scramble to make something all better again?

Can we actually allow something to heal within us?

Or, like crack addicts, do we feverish search for another hit?

Sometimes, bolting from those fits of discomfort—the ones that will make us do anything to revive ourselves, especially if we are creative—can work. More often than not, they don’t.

Why?

I can’t be totally certain, but it must be because passion cannot be manufactured. Passion is organic. It is grown from the fresh soil of our soul, the purity of our hearts. We cannot milk a dead cow. Try as we might. It simply does not work.

And so, what’s left in the wake of our dramatic “death of passion” and another kind of passion’s birth, or rebirth, is, simply, that awkward in-between place—Emptiness. And I propose, that if we allow ourselves to sit in the middle of that vast nothingness and be still, maybe we can either allow ourselves to feel something that needs to be felt—grief, hope, loss, joy. Something. Maybe this is Passion’s way of asking us to say “thank you” for allowing it to visit, and to know that we can be even more mindful the next time it returns.

I don’t know for sure.

But I do know that as time passes, and the intervals of passion come and go, that I am always asked to step deeper into the nothingness; or fall freely into the vast Emptiness. It’s as if I am being asked to take a chance on something.

And nothing.

And to see what arises next.

If I’m brave enough to do so.

 

 

 

 

Surrender and Trust

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When it comes to Surrender and Trust, is there ever really room for the visitor called Fear?

I suspect that the dynamic duo is accommodating. Oh, they might pull up a chair for Fear but I doubt that they will make it comfortable for Fear to stay for long durations. Why would they? They have work to do.

Let’s face it: to surrender, to trust … it’s work.

I am not necessarily talking blind trust. I am saying that when you are given a divine clue on a certain direction to go, and you choose to go on that path, there is a certain amount of risk, not to mention grit, involved. Especially if that path is unconventional. And especially if that path leads directly on a journey that you never suspected you would ever be embarking on in the first place.

Maybe we’ve all had interludes like this.

When the media outlet I had worked at for fourteen years in Santa Cruz, California, was bought out several years ago, and many of us had been laid off, there seemed to be few options available to me. The biggest one, the one that shined so brightly like a neon light, was to Trust.

I knew I had to finish the memoir about my Polish family, and it seemed that one place to do that was back in the Midwest, near my family, something I did not understand or even know how to step into fully. I had spent so many years as a writer and editor in Northern California. I had morphed into a deep, esoteric, navel-gazing, yoga-practicing, acupunctured, sensitive man-child—in the best way—who often sought out the services of shamans. I was fortunate enough to have a job that brought in income, but that income was hardly the kind of wealth I kept envisioning for myself, which was, well … some mansion somewhere, paid off, and a long Jesus-like/Last Supper table on which to write passionately for days. The truth of the matter was that, oftentimes, writers and editors are often grossly underpaid. I guess I had been, too. I eeked out a living yet was able to enjoy the perks of entertainment writing—attending free events, film openings, soirees. I worked at these functions, however, but it was still fun. And yet … there never seemed to be an excess of riches.

There always seemed to just be enough to get by.

I remember the weekend before we all get laid off from the publication. I sensed that I would be let go, even though I had been editor-in-chief and, in many ways, a community ambassador. I had been meditating quite regularly at the time and my intuition was sharpened. So, that weekend, I drove forty miles south to Carmel, parked in the parking lot of a monastery run by Carmelite nuns, and meditated.

I did this for most of the weekend.

I meditated on what I wanted to feel—which was prosperous, ten thousand dollars flush, and free. So … that I could finish the memoir with grace.

At the time, I felt the burnout from running the editorial arm of a publication for many years. I also felt a childlike confusion. I repeatedly watched ad reps and a publisher bring in considerable more income while we writers, the voices and heart of the publication, were never paid what we were worth. I have always been an optimistic person, but sometimes, it got me down—how strangely the scales were tipped in favor of people who didn’t seem to truly value or understand the creative process.

So, there I was … meditating in the parking lot of a monastery. I sensed strongly that it was a time not to feel “in lack” … Rather, that it was a time to focus on all good things. Abundance. Several times during the weekend, I went inside of the church. In the afternoons, through the gothic chambers, the angelic voices of Carmelite nuns emerged. Singing practice for Sunday masses, I assumed. It was as if the breath of God carried their harmonic voices into the chamber and I into the ethers of the Divine.

Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

I sat there. I just sat still. I just … allowed myself to feel abundant … as if there was enough.

More than enough.

All this while knowing in just forty-eight hours, I would be canned and there seemed to be no viable option to replace my job.  I knew I had to do everything in my power to finish the memoir and turn it into the publisher by summer, which was four months away.

As the nuns sang, I imagined what it would feel like if there was ten thousand dollars in my bank account—at that very moment. I imagined all sorts of scenarios, but mostly, I sat there and just focused on the feeling; the vibration, the essence of that sensation of having more than enough to sustain me for a while as I completed the book.

(In hindsight: I suppose when you have lived without a steady stream of resources for quite some time, ten thousand dollars may feel like a lot of money. I wonder what would have happened if I had envisioned and felt the essence of one-hundred thousand dollars. Or two. Or three. Or …?)

The point is … by some grace, the ten thousand dollars manifested itself within a day’s time. During my exit interview, I was handed several envelopes and one of them was for three month’s of severance pay. The other envelope contained a check for vacation time and my final hours of work.

Stunned, I returned to the cottage I had been renting in Santa Cruz and sat there looking at the checks, wondering what had just happened. I may have gotten down on my knees. I probably wept … before freaking out. Because when you spend so much time living in fear and lack, suddenly a plethora of abundance might seem like the death to the Old You—the one you sort of have grown used to … even if you are tiring of it.

Let’s be clear: the amount came to nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-eight dollars. Nearly ten thousand, and you know, what’s two bucks?

The fact of the matter is: I had been touched by grace.

I guess.

Look, there’s really no roadmap to how miracles work and let’s face it: trying to make sense of something mystical is simply a waste of precious time.

(But try as we might …)

Lately, I have been referring back to that moment. Actually, many times during the last three years, I referred back to it, because right after that, I had been thrust on an unpredictable journey of Surrender and Trust. Following my lay-off, I began a new cycle of living: nomadicness. It was for a purpose, after all—to get a book out; to show up and talk about Polish history in places far, far away from where I had been living.

And … to be sure, there were times when I felt exhausted. And in my heart, my search for something like home and place, and wondering when the cosmic rollercoaster ride I had been on, was going to finally allow me out of its compartment; seemed overwhelming. There were moments when I was consumed with Doubt; when Depression had me by the tail, rather than the other way around.

I did not know it at the time of that graceful occurrence that the few years ahead of me were going to completely foreign to me; that I would suddenly find myself not only producing a memoir and becoming a fierce advocate for the Polish refugees but that I would also be living back home with my mother in Chicago for a time—and on the eve of my fiftieth birthday to boot; that everything would become about the book and about revealing an underreported chapter of history; that life would turn into a mission of bringing justice not only to my family, but to the nearly one million Polish people who were deported by Stalin and sent to the Siberian labor camps. This was the mission du jour, and, like Groundhog Day, it kept repeating itself.

I also had no clue whatsoever that modern-day journalism would implode, writing and editing jobs would become far fewer than ever before.

In a way, I had become a latter day wandering Polish refugee, just as my family had—of course not with the external terrors. I was grateful yet often befuddled. I began wondering more about the ideas of home and place; about the essence of feeling rooted and being in communion with a vibrant community one could cherish and be of service to.

When all that you know—sanity included—is pulled out from underneath you, where does one go?

Good question.

In the absence of having a real home and following the cosmic threads that led me to live and work in the desert of Coachella Valley for an entire year—let’s face it, the desert has its allure, but Jesus only spent forty days there—the furniture The Universe kept asking me to sit on within its spacious living room was Surrender and Trust.

So I wondered: How often do we allow ourselves to sit there—long enough? Especially during times of transition? And especially during times when the You that you once were seems to be becoming a You that you may not quite be able to recognize or identify as, well, You.

Maybe not just yet.

Maybe because you are—I am—looking into the world through glasses worn by an old You; a You, that by default, still believes, and often insists, that You are running the show; that You are in charge.

Sometimes, I wonder if we think we are just giving the steering wheel over to God, The Universe, The Divine … but in actuality, we suddenly become the most obnoxious backseat driver.

Maybe this delays the time it takes to get where The Powers That Be want to take us.

Maybe, if we keep insisting that we do it “our way,” it just takes so much longer to get back “home.”

30 Days of Inspiration: Day 7

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Home. Where is it? What is it? Really.

Every since I began writing about my Polish family’s haunting tale of survival as homeless Polish refugees during the 1940s, I have pondering this idea.

By writing about their homelessness, I have been able to look at my idea of home and place, and, really, safety and … to a greater degree, how willing am I to do two things: 1) Trust that something divine is at working, flowing through me and from me and—this is juicy 2) Act upon that trust … which is a curious song and dance.

Needless to say, the last few years have been somewhat mystical and as the months go by, I feel myself pulled deeper into a mystical journey that has nothing to do with what the kind of life, and the kind of living, I thought I would be … LIVING.

More on all this as things emerge, but today, DAY 6 of my 30 Days of Inspiration Project found me rising early to welcome a longtime friend back into my life.

Peace.

 

 

30 Days of Inspiration: DAY 5

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What do you do when something unexpected happens?

You know, when you lose or misplace something. Or, perhaps, when the Universe sends you on a serendipitous journey on which you learn, little by little, more about the idea of home and place?

Lately, my journey has led me to create something inspiring every day. Take a look …