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 …

30 Days of Inspiration: Day Four

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The idea behind this project was simple: Create something new for 30 days, mostly in video form. I wanted to see what would happen when creativity was stirred up, and then shared.

The other day I woke up and my mind immediately went into hyperdrive and the “Gotta do” list was unleashed.

“I gotta move on with my life … ”

“I gotta write more today …”

“I gotta move back to Maui …”

“I gotta get it together …”

There was more, but then I thought: Who is telling me all these “gotta do’s?”  Clearly, it was me, but what aspect of me? Certainly not a ME that was centered and still. Certainly not a me that was kind and compassionate. And certainly not a me that was patient.

So, right there, in my slightly manic state, I sat down and made a video. I think that became DAY TWO of this series. Immediately, my entire being shifted. By stepping into a playful place of possibility and creativity, I felt more at home with, well, me.

When we allow ourselves to play around in possibility, magic happens.

So … onward. Day Four. Enjoy. And send me some of your positive quotes and ideas to greg@gregarcher.com.

Peace.

30 Days of Inspiration: Day Three

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What would happen if you got out of the chair you’re sitting in and … just traveled a few hours away from “home?”

Welcome to DAY 3. #30di  A month of inspiration … in which, I head southwest and find a place I never really knew existed. Surprises? You bet.

Take a peek. Follow me @Greg_Archer

30 Days of Inspiration: Day 2

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The Tibetan Singing Bowl is back. (Seriously folks—get one at your local metaphysical bookstore. I’ve attended a gaggle of singing bowl meditations and they are, quite simply, emotionally luscious.)

In Day 2 of this 30-day video series, something new emerges … especially in the credit. It shows me that we can go from YELLOW to BLUE in a  blink of an eye (metaphorically).

Watch. You’ll see.