Stop Chasing Life, Start Living It!

Almost daily others are encouraging me to write and speak. It’s time to listen. This is the third of a 4-part blog series as I reflect on a big birthday in September 2018! If you missed them, here are the links to Part 1, “Lobsters Grow Vulnerably” https://maitrimeyer.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/lobsters-grow-vulnerably/ and Part 2, “What Color is a Chameleon?” https://maitrimeyer.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/what-color-is-a-chameleon/

 

Ever feel like you are constantly seeking, but never find what you are looking for? I’ve always been a dream chaser. With so many diverse skills it’s easy to fall in to this cycle. There is always something new to try. Or someone suggests I’d be good at something. Or there is a fabulous money-making idea. Or I am simply asked to help, and I can’t say, “No.”  It usually takes about a year or two for me to realize this isn’t what I want or should be doing. It doesn’t matter if I’m good at it. It doesn’t matter if there is tremendous opportunity to make money. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing it to help someone else out. Ultimately, these choices have ended up in disappointment, frustration, resentment, anger and failure.  Off I go, sometimes out of starvation and sometimes playfully to the next adventure.

Recently I purchased a digital marketing franchise. The traits of a successful digital marketing consultant and the business model was presented thoroughly. I matched all the traits, researched the company and the opportunity and evaluated it all against my current and goal lifestyles. It was a perfect match to replace my husband’s corporate income with a virtual income stream that can be sustained anywhere on the planet with an internet connection.  My dream of living as an expat was unfolding and this was the means to make it a reality. The dream chasing was back on!

I neglected to look at one key criterion: Will I like it?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which are the tactics marketers use to ensure their online assets are “findable” by Google.  CMS stands for Content Management System which is the administrative platform behind a website, so the average person can make changes without knowing html (hypertext markup language) code. SM stands for….. Social Media! Inbound Marketing, Social Selling and measurable ROAS (Return on Ad Spent) are now minimum requirements not innovative. See I know what digital marketing is! I’ve taken seminars and workshops on these topics, I can learn and sell these services, right?!  Sure, I can learn it and probably offer it, but again, DO I WANT TO?!

“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

This question has brought me to tears countless times starting at age five! I recently turn 50 and I’m determined to get clarity on how I can improve the planet with my God-given talents, make a living and enjoy what I’m doing!

Books like, Do what you love, the money will follow, The Zen and Art of Making a Living, Right LivelihoodCallings, and The Law of Divine Compensation always intrigue and then haunt me. Incredible insights, great reflection fodder, and ultimately they stir up incredible angst.

It’s time to follow the same advice I’m giving my kids…dabble, experiment, try everything you can in your 20’s until you find something that you love. As the old saying goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Here’s to dabbling in dreams playfully and being our authentic selves in the process with as little pain and suffering as possible.

No more chasing the utopian dream…just live it now!

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What color is a Chameleon?

Note: Almost daily others are encouraging me to write and speak. It’s time to listen. This is the second of a 4-part blog series as I reflect on a big birthday coming up in September! If you missed it, here is a link to Part 1, “Lobsters Grow Vulnerably.” 


If a chameleon was on a clear piece of glass with nothing under it, what color would it be?  The internet has lots of great articles on these amazing reptiles that can change colors in 20 seconds and see two directions at once, with their 360-degree arc of vision.

Human Colorful Chameleon

Metaphorically speaking, I have often referred to myself as a chameleon. I considered it a positive trait in my 20’s. In job interviews I often boasted that I had a chameleon-like ability to adapt to my surroundings and the people that I am with.  My examples went like this, “I am as comfortable in a board room with a 60-year old blue-haired Japanese male executive as I am at a honky-tonk bar with a bearded and tattooed Harley Davidson rider.”  This ability to adapt was very helpful in international business, while traveling to different countries, speaking different languages and fitting in to radically different cultures. My innate skill to pick up languages and accents was incredible, and frustrating! For example, I’d speak with a Southern accent after a short trip to Alabama, making my Wisconsin friends smirk upon my return.

Color Adaptability: Positive or Negative?

In my 30’s, a working mother of two kids continuously overwhelmed with life, I began questioning if my chameleon feature was truly a positive trait.  I reflected on the relationships I had been in personally and professionally and the diverse career roles I had held. It didn’t take long to recognize that who I was seemed to be dependent on where I was, who I was with and what I was doing.  I very proficiently did what others wanted and expected me to do or what they told me I’m good at, but always secretly wondered ‘Who am I really?’

The thought-provoking question was posed to me often, “What would you do, where would you go and who would you be with, if money was not an issue and you knew you would not fail?” For years, I pondered this question and created many visions and affirmations, attempting to manifest those envisioned ideal circumstances.

After the popular book and movie “The Secret” was brought to mainstream audiences, the remedial level of understanding and portrayal of these powerful principles frustrated lifelong spiritual practitioners. As Marianne Williamson often exclaims, “God is not your errand boy!” Just because you have the ability to manifest something, does not mean it is in your highest and best interest to do so!

Then I admitted it to myself. I too, was naively hoping I could create the utopian situation that would bring out the authentic me, and ultimate blissful, sustained happiness would result.

Wake-up Call: Authentic Self/Color

In 2007-2008, I went through a major life transformation that plunged me in to the unknown: Divorce!  After going in to a comma-like clinical depression for several months fighting for my mental health stability, I came out refreshed and ready to find my authentic self once and for all.  Pragmatically, I needed to quickly create an independent life to support myself and our kids.

The personal growth and transformation process propelled a significant spiritual awakening progression.  It was so significant, I came out on the other side truly feeling like a new person. So much so, it warranted a name change. Born Melissa Kaye Rowlands, married Melissa Kaye Meyer, divorced I was reborn and legally changed my name to Maitri Melissa Meyer. “Maitri” means “Friend” in Hindi. It is a Buddhist loving kindness meditation practice, also known as ‘metta’ in yoga practices. Pema Chodron has several videos that explain the concept of ‘maitri’ and loving kindness. This is my favorite short version.  Here is the summary I have condensed from her words:

“Unconditional joy comes about through some kind of intelligence in which we allow ourselves to see clearly what we do with great honesty, combined with a tremendous kindness and gentleness. This combination of honesty, or clear-seeing and kindness is the essence of maitri – unconditional friendship with ourselves.”

Once I began applying this principle fully in my life, abundance began to flow in ways I could not have planned for!

Limitless Opportunities/Colors

Remarried in my 40’s, I didn’t even consider changing my name to Maitri Melissa Heidenreich! These years have been focused primarily on preparing to be an empty nester. Finally, the time of freedom to truly go anywhere and do anything were upon me.

Haunted since age 5 by the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, answering it once and for all seemed pressing. I had no excuses of limited choices anymore. Eeekk, excuses were convenient!  For years I went in to my morning meditation and the conversation with God always went like this:

Me: “What am I to do? How am I to serve?  How am I to leverage my God-given talents to improve the planet?”

The answer was consistent and frustratingly simple, “Love.”

I’d ask for more clarity and I’d get an equally simple answer, “Serve lovingly.”

Still frustrated I’d ask, “BUT how? Where? Doing what? With whom? In what industry? In what role?”

Wow, my inner guide was concise, “Doesn’t matter.”

Color Doesn’t Matter

Turning 50 in September, my spiritual unfolding seems to be accelerating with more time and energy to focus inward.  I have treated myself to two life and career sabbaticals in the past 14 months. Ok, honestly, I collapsed under years of stress and my mind and body forced me to STOP! Finally, I’m going to figure out who I am, what will make me happy and what I am to do with my life I proclaimed.

Apparently, I am now ready to listen, because my inner guide finally provided more details:

“You are here solely to practice remaining connected to the One Source and remain filled with Love, so it oozes out in whatever you do, where ever you are and with whomever you are with. Just Love and serve and life will unfold perfectly with opportunities to practice being One.  The details do not matter!”

Immediately, the A Course in Miracles Workbook lessons 201-220 introductory phrases came to mind:

I am not a body, I am free.

For I am still as God created me.

All my physical life experiences and spiritual fodder started supporting this truth.  The sequel to the Course, A Course of Love took me through a life-changing process.  The book taught me to merge mind, body and spirit in to this one lifetime mission of being in Union with All that Is, while living in human form, having a plethora of human experiences.

This is an incredible time to embrace all my outer chameleon colors, while remaining peaceful in the Truth of who I am within, regardless of external circumstances.

Summary

As the Universe always does, moments after writing this blog article an email arrived with a short 4-minute video reinforcing and validating my epiphanies!  Enjoy this Morning Mentor video by Mary Morrissey on “Who you Really Are.”

And remember… What color is a chameleon? It doesn’t matter! That which it IS, never changes.

Lobsters Grow Vulnerably

Note: Almost daily others are encouraging me to write and speak. It’s time to listen. This is the first of a 4-part blog series as I reflect on a big birthday coming up in September!


All my mantras include questions at the end lately:

  • “If you aren’t stretching you aren’t growing” …but why does stretching need to be so painful?
  • “The only difference between fear and excitement is the breath…will I stop hyper-ventilating soon?
  • “My success is built in to the Divine Plan…Can I please get a copy of that plan?

I’ve shared with many my favorite video about how lobsters grow by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Responding To Stress – YouTube. I recently looked for it and found this video of an actual lobster shedding its tail!

Growing in several areas of our lives is obviously a phenomenon that we all experience. Recently I’ve been hit hard with several life changes and challenges (that are all normal and most were anticipated.) I find it fascinating that I tend to handle the life altering experiences calmer than I do the daily stress that builds and builds over time. Anyone else?

During my lifetime, I’ve been on my knees during the following traumatic experiences:

  • I have stared down the barrel of a tank, looked in the gunner’s eyes while my life flashed before me. He told the driver to keep going and I heard the shots while I was running away and learned later he killed 8 people after he let me live. That incident and nearly daily threats with guns in Togo, West Africa got me diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in the Peace Corps at age 23.
  • At age 24, my soul mate was shot and killed as a police officer in a training accident. His aorta was literally blown off the bottom of his heart. He died in his best friend’s arms (who was ironically the med flight nurse on duty that day.) Undiagnosed, but clinically depressed, I ran away to an ashram in the Berkshires to live a “Spiritual Lifestyle Training Program” for 3 months to grieve.
  • More recently, I collapsed during a divorce, struggled as a single mom, was unemployed multiple times during the recession and have had young family members diagnosed with serious medical issues.

These situations brought me to my knees and forced me to hand it over to a Higher Power! Although not always calm and graceful, there was an underlying sense of Divine Order in my heart.  Throughout each experience, I deeply knew eventually there would be positive ripples from the boulder that was just thrown in my calm pond.

Why am I not on my knees handing it over when the daily to do list is overwhelming me?  Instead, I try to organize and control everything and everyone around me. Then I overwork to complete exhaustion. These responses have landed me in the fetal position more times than I can count!

Nearing my half century birthday, I am committed to remembering to be grateful and grounded even (No, especially!), amid chaos. No more excuses for not doing the things I have learned over the years keep me grounded and centered:

  • Asking for support
  • Exercise
  • Yoga, prayer and meditation
  • Getting out in nature
  • Impeccable nutrition

This lobster has outgrown another shell. I’m a vulnerable blob of mush in the fetal position again. This time I cannot, and will not, be too busy to take care of myself. I’ve proven repeatedly that is not sustainable. This time I know taking a sabbatical behind a rock to keep me safe from external forces, while growing a larger more expansive shell is what needs to happen.  My gray hair trophies have proven I’ve done it before, I can do it this time. God-willing, I will grow a few more expansive shells before I’m cooked and buttered!

Reflections on New Beginnings & Callings

Crevice

Written by Maitri Meyer September 14, 2017

Summer Sabbatical: New Beginning

Few of us are gifted the opportunity to rest, reflect and reset. That is exactly what I did this summer in preparation for a new chapter in life. Recently, over only a 90-day period, I endured several of those major life stressors we read about on stress scale lists. I can’t even count how many times I listened to and sang along with Daniel Namod’s Everything New song, “Bring it on! Everything new; everything different; everything true. I am ready, for my next thing to do. Ohhh I know, it’s gonna be everything new.”

As part of the process I was forced to slow down enough to read more than the back of the Advil bottle to determine how many I can take without endangering my kidneys!

Two excellent books helped me examine how I could serve this planet in my second half of life. In case this is useful for others, I will share some of the key insights that were most helpful and the reflections that resulted in Actually DONE’s mission, vision and core values being formalized.

Discovering my Calling

Callings by Gregg Levoy
Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy

My dear friend, Gregg Levoy, describes the traditional calls – typically sounds – to worship or rituals in his book Callings, “The purpose of calls is to summon adherents away from their daily grinds to a new level of awareness, into a sacred frame of mind, into communion with that which is bigger than themselves.” Like the temple chimes, shamanic rattles and church bells our life events can awaken us to our inner callings. For me, becoming an empty nester, selling the family home, quitting a stable job and moving 1,500 miles from “home” provided the earth quaking gap between my former life and the need to create anew. It became deafeningly apparent I was to slow down, nurture my exhausted mind and body and reflect gently before any major decisions were made. It wasn’t long before the over-achiever’s guilt of not “doing enough” and the fear of realizing I’m formally unemployed set in. I became restless and almost panicked, thinking maybe I should just get another J-O-B.

Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson
Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson

Thankfully, I was listening to Marianne Williamson’s The Law of Divine Compensation on CD’s in my car.  She clearly differentiated a calling from a job, “A job is an exchange of energy in which you do a material task and someone provides money in exchange. A calling, however, is an organic field of energy that emerges from the deepest aspects of who you are.” “…a true calling puts you in a career zone that cannot be taken away.” “Your calling is what you would do whether you were paid to do it or not. Your calling is what you have to do in order to be happy. Your calling is what connects you to your deepest self, and to the rest of life around you.” Every time I got in the car, the stereo was speaking directly to me as it reminded me that jobs end, but callings cannot. What a relief to realize unemployment is impossible, there is always more service to provide the world.

Inspired even more to continue reading Callings, I really resonated when Gregg described the intellectual debate we experience while contemplating that which we feel destined to do, “Saying yes to the calls tends to place you on a path that half of yourself thinks doesn’t make a bit of sense, but the other half knows your life won’t make sense without.” He concludes, “Generally, people won’t pursue their callings until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so, but it’s appalling how high a threshold people have for this quality of pain.”

Examples of the physical and emotional pain I had been feeling for over 25 years flooded my consciousness and I knew it was time to make a radical and intentional change. I reflected silently for days on my favorite quote from the entire book, “When we give off nothing but busy signals, calls simply don’t get through. Get off the line once in a while.” Boy had I been guilty of hogging the line for years, perhaps stemming from being one of 3 teenage girls back in the single land line era.

Once the exhaustion brain fog dissipated, I was more determined than ever to leverage my talents to improve the planet.  My personal motto became, “Improve the planet, one action at a time!” Matthew Fox theologian says, “If you get cut off from your passion, then where’s your compassion going to come from?” I have always been very clear my top passion areas include: Sustainability, holistic health and personal growth. I also knew I wanted to help positive impact organizations working in these three areas to accomplish their missions. The best way I could do that is to be a resource any time they have a gap in expertise or bandwidth and jump in on a project by project basis.

Actually DONE Business Formation

With my calling and passion areas solidified, I was fully equipped to develop my new business’ vision, mission and core values:

  • Actually DONE’s vision is to proudly serve over 100 environmental, health and spiritual organizations worldwide to complete their mission-critical projects.
  • Actually DONE’s mission is to leverage our professionals’ skills to propel positive impact organizations forward to improve the planet, one project at a time!
  • Actually DONE’s core values in priority order are: Honesty, reliability and integrity.

As how to how to get that actually done, I referred to Marianne’s Divine Compensation book once again where she lists the four rules for miraculous work creation: 1. Be positive. 2. Send love. 3. Have fun. 4. Kick ass.

With that, I leave you with a reflective prayer from my beloved Course in Miracles, “Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to whom?”

…and what is YOURS to do?  Please, let us know!