Thursday, January 24, 2013

RIP...hard to do when you're alive

Most of us are in turbo mode...doing doing doing going going going all the time. When it comes to rest, at least for me, I sometimes have a hard time with it. Especially when it beckons at inconvenient times. For example, yesterday I set out to tackle a huge list of to-do's. But in the morning I found myself feeling kind of sick and lightheaded. I was all dressed and ready to go out the door, jacket on, boots on, bag packed. And then, something told me to open up my laptop and do just a few emails. So I did, in my jacket and boots. And when I was done I was exhausted. So then something told me to take a break and rest. And so I did. I thought I'd do this for only an hour and then take off. But then something told me to just let myself have the rest of the day off. So I watched netflix and took a nap.  I was about 80% okay with this.  I knew that my body was signaling to chill out.  And pulled some fancy trick moves to lure me into a day of rest that clearly my mind wasn't set on doing. I proceeded into the day with caution....suspicious and ready to judge in a flash: "are you being lazy?" "are you just shying away from what needs to get done?" A higher knowing, a delicate knowing kept on.  Today's posts demonstrate to me a flood of creative juice that was restored from yesterday. I've been meaning to blog for a while...and doing nothing yesterday filled up my tank.... even though I was keeping a watch-out for this rest stuff to be a ploy.  Resting in peace is not really encouraged in our "being-productive-and-fast-like-machines-society" but it works to keep us most alive.

Losing All My Confidence in Taco Shop

It's now been about 3.5 months since I moved to San Francisco so the space is emerging for me to reflect on the (unexpected) shock of landing on the West Coast.

When Ilya and I decided to move it all happened fast...we packed up our lives in six weeks. I thought we'd just transplant and I'd continue my life and business where I left off. No problem.

Instead I arrived in California and woke up the next morning feeling so disoriented that I wanted to jump out of my body.

Looking through the stacks of boxes I could see life outside my window. People going to work... cars zooming by. The day was sunny and I felt mocked by its beauty. I felt like double crap...because everything else seemed to shine.

There was no food in the fridge. Seamless in San Francisco isn't as seamless as it is in New York (uhhh, delivery charge and it takes an hour!). I was hungry. And I had to go out for food. I had to face streets unknown, grocery aisles anew, and people from a different land.

I thought to myself, "Stella, step out, explore! Find a new place to eat." And then, I thought, "Fuck you. I don't want to explore. Why is this feeling so difficult. Shouldn't this be exciting?!"

I spotted a taco place that looked cool. It was lunch time. I walked in and it was buzzing. Mexican women authoritatively commanded one to report their order fast. Start-up dudes waited in line, elbowing each other, laughing, talking about selling their third business for lots of zeros. Sports were on one tv, news on the other. It seemed so loud, so busy (hellooo, spoken from a woman who lived 6 blocks from Times Square). Everyone seemed in on a way of being that I was not.

Suddenly I felt like the new girl. I felt like I was 9 again, and just moved to New Jersey from Texas. Everyone and everything felt intimidating. I didn't know what kind of tacos I wanted! I didn't want to sit by myself! I didn't want to watch sports!

"What's happening to me?" I panicked. "Come on Stella - are you seriously afraid to sit down here? Who are you Stella? What's wrong with you?" I turned around and left quickly. I got some takeout next door and practically ran home to cry.

That instance wasn't about the taco shop, it wasn't about California, it wasn't about my confidence. It was about being in the process of releasing all that I knew and saying, "welcome," to the unknown packaged in way I would have never consciously asked for but actually had been asking for all along. I was experiencing pure creation and at the beginning of a new adventure.

To be continued...

Nothing is Something Continued ...Epiphany from a Cabbie Part 1

As some of you may know I recently moved from NYC to San Francisco. Both cities are brilliant in their own ways. The cab system in San Francisco, not being one of them.

That said, I experienced total grace in the back seat of two cabs the day before yesterday, so maybe there is light in this transit situation. This is Part 1 of my cab story epiphanies.

Cab dude #1: So what do you do?
Stella: I create fun experiences for people at work so they can be happier
Cab dude #1: Oh, that's nice. You should do something for the Yellow Cab company.
Stella: I'd love that. I'm sure it's a stressful job doing what you do.
Cab dude #1: My job, not at all.
Stella thinking: Ohhh. Unexpected answer. Don't assUme, Stellaaaah!
Stella: Really, tell me more about that.
Cab dude #1: It's actually really easy to make people happy. For example, when I hear it's someone's birthday or anniversary, I'll just offer them a ride for free. It's unbelievable how much happiness this gives them. An 87 year old woman once told me this was the nicest thing anyone has every done for her. She started to cry.
Stella: Wow.
Stella feeling: Love, oneness, gratitude for being in this moment and receiving this story.
Cab dude #1: Yeah, so it's easy to make a difference in someone's day just with something small.
Stella: You are changing lives in your cab everyday. What a blessing.
Cab dude #1: One time I left a club, feeling I was feeling generous, you know. It was really cold that night and a homeless guy approached me asking for change. He's a black guy but his hands were blue. I told him, here's $100, go buy some gloves. Three years later I come out of that club, again, and he sees me, "Hey, I remember gave that $100. That night was the best night of my life...I got a hotel room and three big macs...Look what I have now...that was an important night for me." He showed me his small business, he washes cars outside of the club. So you see a little thing I think is not a big deal...really changed that guy's life. It's amazing.
Stella: You can certainly changed my day with your story. Thank you for sharing. Do you mind if I share this with others?

Your Nothing is Something

The other morning, as happens many days and moments, my love, my partner in life, showered me with appreciation. We were in the middle of getting ready over breakfast. He caught me as I was cleaning off the countertop and said, "I'm so grateful for the space you create for me, I wouldn't be who I was without your support, you are amazing." I heard the words. I thanked him and looked at him and felt/thought, "wow, it's amazing that you feel this. I'm so grateful to have someone who has the capacity to appreciate in this way and also see me for someone I don't always see myself as." And then I continued to clear kitchen.

I didn't totally ingest or integrate his words - I just observed them. In fact, beyond appreciating him for saying them, at that moment, in between making coffee and cleaning off the countertop, I pretty much shrugged at the content of what he was saying.

I didn't know what he was really referencing...I felt I didn't deserve such heartfelt showering of appreciation. Especially since I was behind on groceries, hadn't done my hair in while, and was a bit grumpalicious recently. What do I really do I thought that's so special?

What I realized was that it's not about what I do, it's about what I am. And I forgot that. So here's what I recently remembered in my bones and in my heart (even though I've known it in my head for a while)...

  • Just because you're not "doing anything" that feels hard or looks like effort doesn't mean it's not valuable or life changing. 
  • The biggest gift you can offer people is being present. Fully listening to them. Not anticipating your thoughts. Being with them without judgement or naming or labeling something. This profoundly simple experience of just being, the act of doing nothing, is something.
  • It's something only in that it offers a sense of freedom and light to those in your presence and this world. And this access to something beyond the mind, the chatterbox raceway of thoughts, the collision of past and future ruminations, this peace is divine.
And so I realized, after two ivy league degrees, some decent accomplishments in business, and tons of pushing and preparation and hard work...that my biggest gift to the world is not what I know or do but is my surrendering to the moment and being still.  

Take that to your next meeting. Or dinner with your love. Or as you sit in your car. Or as you wash the dishes. Know that you are divine and beyond enough and worth praise beyond words for being just as you are.