Thursday, April 26, 2012
When my Mr. W and I were on our honeymoon last year in Italy, my suitcase was stolen on the third-to-last day of the trip. We were traveling by train from Salerno to Rome and as Mr. W chucked my bag onto the community luggage rack, a little voice inside me said, "You shouldn't leave it there."
I ignored it and walked the length of the train car to our assigned seats. Again, I felt uneasy but told myself I was just overreacting. I have a tendency to worry about my bags when I travel. In fact, I purposely packed only two carry-ons for our two-week trip because I didn't want to lose my luggage on the flight.
When we reached our train stop and the suitcase was gone, (after panic and tears) I began to wonder whether I had manifested the thievery with my own worrisome energy or if my intuition had been trying to direct me and I had ignored it.
What I realize now is that it could have been both.
You can manifest crummy things in your life but your intuition will almost always swoop in and try to rectify the situation.
I experienced the same thing when I was dating Mr. Redflags.
Sure, I attracted him into my life as I did every other person I'd ever dated. But when my intuition said, "This isn't right: proceed with caution," I should have listened to it instead of just rolling over and crying in my manifesting bed.
Most of us won't put out positive juju 100% of the time, which means we have to rely on our instincts to assess what we attract and guide us on whether it's smart to move closer—or run for the hills.
Heed those little voices inside your head. Pay attention to those twinges in your belly. However you've managed to make your manifesting bed, those little alarms will wake you up and save you if the house ever catches on fire.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
When I was a kid, I had the Top Gun game for Nintendo and the hardest task on the entire thing was when you had to hook your fighter jet up to the refueling plane.
You had to be going just the right speed and be at just the right altitude to get the fuel nozzle to align perfectly with your tank. Being a Nintendo addict at the time, I of course mastered how to do it—but it took total concentration every time.
I often think of that game when I'm daydreaming about the things I want out of life.
According to the manifesting world, in order to actually get the things I'm dreaming about, I have to align myself with them. I have to believe—and actually see—that I am worthy and capable of making the dreams reality. I have to act as though they're already in-process. This can be challenging when you have no idea how or when you're going to make something happen (like the dream of living on a vineyard).
Sometimes you just have to fake it 'til you make it.
Whatever you're aligning your thoughts, energy, focus and self with, you'll attract toward you. It helps me to think of whatever I want as that refueling plane—I literally imagine it locking into place with me and filling me with what I need to keep on flying.
What are you aligning yourself with right now?
Lots of things tempted me to believe I had found my Mr. Wonderful on our first date. His dreamy brown eyes and wavy brown hair epitomized the look I found most attractive. His dry wit and sharp intellect made him both entertaining and sexy. And his good Midwestern manners seemed more refined and alluring than those of guys I had dated in the past.
The thing that really almost sent me over the edge, however, was when our server was walking us to our table and asked, "First date?"
Mr. W said, without missing a beat, "No, we've been married five years."
Part of me wanted to stop right then and there and ask Dr.-Seuss-style, "Are YOU my husband?" but I knew I had to resist thinking this was THE guy until I knew him better (even though we'd been getting to know each other for five whole weeks already.)
There are really no downsides to going slow in relationships.
Accurately assessing a situation before jumping into it with both feet can save so much heartache in the long run, and after all the heartache I'd had that year, I was definitely down with taking the cautious route.
Mr. W and I had a great first date. I even adhered to my no-kiss rule and left him wanting more. We went out the following week and then twice the week after that, learning new things about each other during every encounter.
When I was with Mr. Redflags, he dropped the L-bomb on me after about six weeks. This was scary but fit perfectly with the dramatic nature of the relationship. I told Mr. W I loved him after six months and he didn't say it back for several weeks after that.
I tease him about it now, but also appreciate how seriously he took those words. For him, love was not something to be handled lightly.
The restrained pace of our relationship is one of the things I believe made it so strong.
Not to say I wasn't totally antsy for Mr. W to want to spend his life with me after I realized he was the man of my dreams. I may have dropped a few hints (and some tears) between the time I knew we were headed in a forever direction and the time he actually proposed.
But it all worked out and on March 19, 2011—three and a half years after our first date—we were married.
And it was the best day.
After breaking up with the cheating Mr. Redflags, I made a vow to never again rush in, settle, ignore my intuition, or let myself feel diminished in a relationship. Even though I could recognize our affair for the mess it was, I still struggled in the months after we parted. I felt raw and betrayed and knew that I needed to take back control over my happiness.
So I made plans to climb a mountain with friends.
Something incredibly transformative took place inside me as I trained for our 17-mile hike up Half Dome in Yosemite. It was as though the strength developing in my body spread right to my recuperating heart and sense of self. Everything began feeling surer and more agile.
A couple weeks before our trip up the mountain, I signed up again for online dating and agreed to be set up with someone who worked at my company. Even though Mr. Redflags had hurt me tremendously, I didn't feel scared to get back into the swing of dating. I took full responsibility for how things had turned out with him and I knew my intuition would help me prevent that from ever happening again.
Accepting responsibility for your part in a situation is really empowering. It means you have a choice about whether you'll allow something like it to take place again. It means you're not a victim.
The best part of this time was that I finally felt like I knew 100% what I deserved and had this amazing sense of certainty that I was going to get it.
It was like my worst relationship experience had given me the awareness I needed to find my best one. I was feeling choosier than ever—but thanks to my Wonderful List, collage, decoded dating patterns and defined deal-breakers, I was totally clear on whom I was seeking. I felt confident I would be able to distinguish right-fit from wrong-fit in terms of the men I met.
About a week before I climbed Half Dome, the man who would become my husband contacted me online. It took me 15 days to write him back. I was going slow with the guy I'd met at work, had been chatting with another nice guy online and wasn't sure I wanted to complicate things with a third prospect. But after I wrote him back and he replied, I was pretty instantly intrigued.
My gut had a good feeling, but I kept my pace cautionary.
Mr. Wonderful-to-be wrote me an email just about every day. We talked about Half Dome and a big hike he'd done in Canada a few years prior. We traded stories about family and music and our favorite HGTV shows. He told me he had a trip to Italy planned with a friend and would like to take me out when he returned.
I think we talked on the phone only once before he left for his two-week vacation. I was so excited when he came home because it meant we finally would get to meet face-to-face. It had been five whole weeks since I first responded to his email.
On November 11, 2007, he took me out for fondue. I hope it was the last first date I'll ever have.
And Now, a Note about the Difference Between Wanting to Find Real-Deal Love and Just Wanting to Be Married
There was a period in my life when I'm pretty sure I wanted a husband-slot filler more than I wanted someone who was actually the right fit for me. Conditioning and expectations from society, family and friends had convinced me that I HAD to get married before a certain age or I was a complete failure of a human being. And I don't think I was the only one feeling that way.
Many of us grow up putting more emphasis on finding a willing mate than discovering a wonderful match.
But we all know what can happen when one rushes into marriage, thank you very much Kim Kardashian.
The thing that saved me was when my therapist had me do an exercise aimed at making peace with the idea of never getting married. He instructed me to write about what my life would be like if I stayed single forever.
From a manifesting perspective, my fear that I would never get married blasted out to the Universe and only worked to perpetuate my singleness. The Universe doesn't hear "I want" or "I don't want," it just picks up on what your focus is and runs with it. So "alone," "never married," and "single forever" were the vibe I was continually projecting, even though it wasn't all what I wanted.
When I sat down to write about an eternity of singlehood, I cried my eyes out the entire time. And it's funny because the thing that made me the most mournful was not the thought of being deprived of a partner but the thought of never dancing with my father at my wedding. Hello, poorly skewed emphasis.
But after I completed the exercise, it was like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Suddenly I could see with extreme clarity how much importance I'd been putting on walking down the aisle rather than finding a sustaining, reciprocal love.
I was looking to fill a hole. Not find real happiness.
Playing out the worst-case scenario can be a really powerful way to shut down fear.
What I learned from doing my own worst-case was that I would still be me; I would still go on to have a fulfilling life and travel and spend time with people I loved; I would still have a family around me; I would not wither and die alone. I would be ABSOLUTELY FINE.
How liberating is it to know that WE are all we really need?
Shedding my slot-filling mentality was just another step that moved me closer to finding my Mr. Wonderful.
Are you letting fears hold you back from peace and forward movement?
In the midst of my mess with Mr. Redflags, I decided to start seeing a therapist—at the time because I thought it would help me repair my relationship.
What it did instead was completely change the way I saw myself.
Sitting on a couch having someone point out the real way I was talking about (and to) myself was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've ever had. My doctor would catch me in a statement and say, "Listen to yourself. What you are saying here is not true."
What are you regularly saying to yourself that's not true?
One of the lies I let get me down was that I was boring and unworldly. Mr. Redflags had lived in Germany and traveled all over Europe and had tale after tale of adventure. Coupled with the memories of a childhood that didn't include air travel, my self-comparisons to Redflags made me think I was totally inadequate in the life experience department.
Completely a lie.
As my therapist pointed out, I had been to Europe twice, hitting 3 different countries. I was continually trying to plan fun outings with friends. I sought out adventure—even if it wasn't always on a grand scale. With his help, I started telling a different story about myself, inwardly and outwardly. And that helped me see me for the person I really was: someone who deserved happiness.
Going to counseling had so many benefits, it would probably take me hours to list them all.
I am wholeheartedly convinced that every person on earth could benefit from chatting with a therapist once a week. It really does help you unravel all the tangles that have tripped you up in the past and get to the core of who you are.
If you're considering it, I highly recommend forging ahead. I truly believe it was some of the best money I've ever spent—and I don't think I'd be where I am today without it.
I met Mr. Redflags at a point in my online dating journey when I was desperate to spend time with someone who was outgoing and self-assured. I may have even said, "I just want someone confident," before we had our first date. Darn that "just" word. I already knew what could happen when I used it the wrong way...
At the close of our second date, Mr. Redflags launched into a big speech about how I was the girl he'd been waiting for his entire life and that he wanted me to take down my online profile and date him exclusively. It was only our SECOND DATE. And it wasn't like we'd been having a big 'ole email love affair for months leading up to that.
My gut told me something was fishy. Either he was trying to get me in bed or he was a relationship addict who didn't really care about getting to know who I was at all—he just needed a warm body to fill the role of girlfriend. Maybe it was both.
But my hopeful head said, "Well, maybe this is the way it's supposed to be. Maybe this is right." So I ignored the pit in my stomach and agreed to make a go of things.
A couple weeks later, the gut again went into overdrive. After holding my hands across the table at a sushi restaurant and telling me he promised to give me a life of adventure if I stayed with him forever, Mr. Redflags disappeared. At least for a night.
I thought it was strange to not hear from him, given our exclusivity talk and his vow to give me an action-packed life. My stomach felt twitchy.
The next day when he explained that he'd been out to dinner "tying up some loose ends with a girl he'd been sort of dating before me," my gut punched my kidney and yelled GET OUT!
But I ignored it.
I ignored it over and over again. For fourteen months. Through highly suspect behavior. Through my own feelings of wavering attraction. Through fight after fight. A move in and a move out. A half-hearted confession I didn't recognize as such at the time.
And then, in July 2007, I found out that Mr. Redflags had cheated on me with his (married) ex-girlfriend from college and there was a baby and a potential paternity test mixed into the equation.
The night I hacked into his email and discovered the news was not my proudest moment. But it was the justification I'd been needing for over a year.
My trusty tummy had been right all along.
Intuition doesn't lie. It doesn't have an ulterior motive. It is a manifestation of our most genuine instincts. A gift.
Mr. Redflags' and my relationship officially ended a few days later after I'd processed what I had seen and told him I knew everything.
From that moment on, I promised my gut I'd never again discount its warnings. And it has never once let me down.
A friend of mine had started investigating the Law of Attraction and, knowing that I was a fan of all things manifesty, suggested that in addition to my List I should try making a "man collage" as part of my effort to find the right guy. Always up for a night of crafting (wine and Sex and the City included), I took the idea and ran with it.
I used the Wonderful List I'd made more than a year prior to guide me as I scoured magazines looking for images that epitomized my Mr. Wonderful. Thankfully, the List was still totally accurate, so it provided the perfect foundation.
My final collage product was a work of art. When I looked at it, I really felt like there had to be a guy out there who matched it.
Certain that I could now find the man who my collage represented, I signed up for online dating (again) a couple months later—just weeks before my 30th birthday.
I was doing pretty well using my List and collage as inspiration. I went out with about ten different guys in two months (including an ex-professional ice skater, a "waterfall hunter" and the Vice Mayor of a neighboring town...no joke). And then I got bamboozled.
I found someone who, on the outside, seemed to match my collage pretty darn well. But inside, he was an arsenal of red flags.
Never ignore the red flags. They will always come back to bite you.
Thanks to Mr. Redflags, my next lesson from the Universe was all about trusting intuition and recognizing that actions speak louder than words.
Although I was blissfully happy at my job, I was still struggling in my love life.
I'd signed up for online dating in an effort to expand my horizons, but pulled my profile offline after going out with five different guys who didn't really do it for me. I'd foolishly explored rekindling a relationship with my college boyfriend, ignoring all the traits that I knew didn't match my Wonderful List, and—not surprisingly—that flopped after a few weeks, too.
I had strayed from what I really wanted in a relationship and was letting myself spiral into a "just-want" mentality.
In fact, on a particularly desperate day I found myself saying to my best friend, "I just want to find a hot guy for the summer."
And like it always does, the Universe said: DONE.
I met my fling through my best friend's husband on a sort of random trip to the beach, wherein The Fling was recovering from knee surgery and my friend's husband was trying to be nice and get him out of the house. The Fling was a coworker who was living in LA until September, then moving to New York City to begin working in the company's east coast office. At first when he asked me out, I used his move as an excuse to try to turn him down, but he assured me he'd be visiting often and that I should really give him a chance.
His persistence, coupled with his big white teeth and dreamy, wavy brown hair, did me in.
I caved and agreed to a date.
My friend had warned me that The Fling was known as being a heart-breaker. He was also younger than me and didn't actually own a set of dishes. He was very offended when I teased him for serving me wine in a coffee mug. But he was the incarnate of what I had asked for: Just a hot guy for the summer.
My JUST was like a big fat roadblock that was preventing me from actually moving forward to what I DID want: A sustaining, wonderful love with a well-rounded man who also happened to be hot and brilliant and myriad other things.
Instead, I settled for Flingy McWavyhair who was not only NOT my List Man, but also leaving my side of the country—which was totally counter to what I was really looking for. Of course, when he did what hot young summer lovers do and told me he couldn't handle the long-distance thing, I was completely broken-hearted.
I had to learn the hard way:
1. Don't go asking the Universe for something unless you explicitly want that exact thing.
2. If you settle for something less than what you actually want, there's a good change it'll end in frustration and/or heartbreak.
Unfortunately, it took me a few more tries to actually retain and benefit from the knowledge these lessons imparted, but eventually it all sunk in.
And thankfully, so did genuine happiness.
My 29th birthday was right around the corner, I was single (and sad about it) and I was almost completely miserable in my job. My super-zen boss was on her way out of the company, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
I needed to make a change immediately.
So I emailed an old freelance contact and tried to set up an escape route. I had a finite amount of money saved and knew if I could supplement it with freelance writing work, I'd be able to get by for a couple of months. Of course, I also dreamed that the freelance gigs would explode and I could turn that into my next career.
I quit my downer of a job and felt like a bird who'd been freed from her cage.
Because I had made a List describing the dream man I wanted to find in life, I decided to also make a dream job list.
One of the first steps in manifesting your desires is getting clear on what you want.
I wrote it all down in my journal and then financial fear and worry took over as I scrambled to make ends meet doing writing projects and taking a job as a nanny.
By the time April hit, I was down to my last few hundred dollars. My birthday is in April and I was so tired of being stressed that I decided to turn it into a month of worry-free celebration. I made peace with the idea of getting another job (I decided to apply at a coffee house to fill in the gaps between writing jobs) and I opened myself back up to enjoying life.
I let go and let the Universe take over.
After a particularly positive and magical day spent at, of all places, Disneyland, I came home to find three messages from different recruiters looking to fill semi-permanent copywriting positions.
One of these was at Yahoo!, a company that had long appealed to me. I had friends who worked there, it was close to home, and I was fairly certain the pay would be good.
When I went in for the interview, I immediately liked the people on the team. "Smart, fun coworkers" was one of the top priorities on my Wonderful Job List. Then I found out the salary and was bowled over—it was more than twice what I had been making at my previous job.
All my instincts pointed to GO and I felt so certain that not only would the job be an ideal fit for me, I would be an ideal fit for it.
They hired me the next day on a three-month contract. After that, another contract was extended, followed by a fulltime permanent position and six years of pretty consistent joy over working for the company.
I don't think it's coincidence that a job with all my criteria came to me as soon as I started allowing the Universe to handle things. Allowing is a huge part of manifesting.
The unexpected benefit of getting into this new job was that it put me in a place where I was happier in my life—and that made me more attractive in the dating world. Double score.
My biggest concern at 28 was finding a boyfriend so I could fall wildly in love and get married. My parents had gotten married at 18 and 21. My older siblings were both married. My close cousin was married. Many of my friends were getting married. I felt like it was my time to join the ranks of the wedded.
Looking back, I can see that my priorities were askew (the marrying part may have been carrying more weight than the actual lifelong partner part) but that's a topic for another post.
In addition to giving me a copy of the book Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting, my spiritually-attuned boss encouraged me to make a list of the things I was seeking in a man.
We've all made that list before, haven't we? If I dug around, I could probably find a draft of it that I compiled in 6th grade.
The difference with this list was that I had some relationship experience to inform it. In fact, I was still nursing some heartache over a guy I'd met on Christmas Eve the year before and I'd be lying if I said I didn't include a lot of his traits on my revised List. He was perfect on paper, or maybe he fit my paper perfectly. It's sort of a chicken vs. egg conundrum on who came first—him or those traits I adored.
Sadly, the relationship was lacking a crucial element, which hindsight showed me was ingrained in my own underdeveloped self-esteem and overall unhappiness (mostly with my job).
But back to the List...
I wrote one. And then another one a few months later. And then a friend loaned me some Tony Robbins CDs to listen to and I went through a larger exercise of identifying my dream mate and my worst-nightmare mate. By the time all was said and done, I had a superbly detailed Mr. Wonderful List that still rings true today.
That List was the beginning architecture I used to build the life—and love—I wanted to have. As I dated different guys over the years that followed, I could always go back to it to remind myself who I was really looking for.
In a way, that List held me accountable. Without it, I don't know if I would've found my husband three years later.
We are all manifesting our destinies, all the time.
I was working in a job I didn't love for pay that didn't get me too far in the world, but I had a wonderful boss who would call me into her office each afternoon and regale me with her stories of spiritual discovery. She was calm, but energetic, with a soothing allure that made me want to be around her and learn all the life lessons she had to teach.
As I expressed interest in her knowledge of the power of positive thinking—and feeling—she began to bring articles and books for me to comb through at work. Finally, she brought me the one that opened my eyes to what manifesting was:
Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
This was before Oprah had introduced the world to The Secret, so the prospect of using emotional energy to generate physical results was something I'd never really heard of before.
But once I started reading, I was hooked.
I loved the idea that I was in control of my life's direction. That I could create self-fulfilling prophecies and turn my dreams into reality just by putting out megawatt positive juju.
I felt like I'd unlocked the mysteries of the cosmos.
I guess that's why Rhonda Byrne titled her book The Secret.