About three weeks ago, I had been reading a wonderful book, "The Language of Miracles" about animal and spirit communication. I woke up during the middle of the night and felt, for the first time since their deaths, the powerful presence of my mother, my father, and my dog, Gracie, all around me. I was so moved that I burst out in tears, which is unlike me.
I have been under an immense amount of stress on my job and in my relationship. I was disapointed in myself for falling into the same trap that so many of us do, feeling stuck and as though I had no choice (when in reality, that is never the case). I really needed a change of scenery, and moreover, I knew I needed to make some serious changes in my life in order to feel joyful again, and to continue what I feel is my life path as an artist-writer-speaker-healer, rather than continuing to get caught up in others' conflict, drama, and negativity (not my crisis, not my monkeys, as they say). I had also been indulging in counter-productive strategies to cope, rather than supportive activities such as walking, yoga or eating right which would nourish my body and spirit. Nothing like night after night of mindless television, high-fat charcuterie plates and chardonnay to dull the pain, right?
The morning after my "family reunion", I packed an overnight bag and climbed into my car, and sat in my driveway for a time, contemplating where I might go. I could head north to wine country, down the coast to Half Moon Bay or Monterey, or east to Nevada City or Murphy's, all beloved destinations.
I "called in" my parents, and my guides, and my dog, and God and said, "Listen, I need something really big. I need your support, I need help, I'm depressed, I can't break out of these negative patterns, and I'm stuck. I don't need no stinking butterflies, or dimes, or whatever other symbols you usually show me. Mom and dad, PLEASE show me something big today!"
I headed north on 80 and at the fork, chose to continue north, stopping briefly at a tiny house in Richmond, where my family lived for a short time when I was a child. Again, I connected with my parents and sincerely asked for their help.
I decided to drive to Calistoga and maybe get a massage or mud bath at the lovely Indian Springs. That would be comforting and relaxing - help me destress. But my parents had other things in mind! Once out of radio range, I dug around my glove box and found a CD on "The Yoga of Work". Hmm, I didn't remember ever buying it and was surprised to find it there. I popped it in and the speaker discussed using Buddhist and other similar principles in the workplace to create harmony and productivity, all things my father used to teach me as a young professional and that I had somehow lost sight of the last couple of years.
The speaker went on to discuss the principle of "Wu Wei", the allowing of things to happen (to increase productivity), rather than forcing them to happen (out of the need to control or out of fear). I had always been highly successful developing, growing, and managing social service programs using this principle. Wu Wei also happened to be the name of my father's boat that he lived aboard for many years before his passing..."Hi dad!", I yelled out loud.
After a couple of hours of meandering through Napa I ended up climbing a steep, lush and windy hillside. I continued for many miles, stopping to collect rocks and to photograph the lovely wineries nestled in the hillside. The weather was dramatic. Heavy dark clouds with bright sunrays peaking through, making the grass and wild mustard plants turn "day-glow" green and yellow.
Eventually, I dead-ended at a retreat center with beautiful grounds including a labrynth, a forgiveness garden, and mineral springs. The energy was nothing short of mystical and magical. I got out of my car to see if I might get a room for the night, but could find no staff on the premises, so I wandered around the property until I ran into a woman who had just completed a week-long intensive retreat there.
She asked me if I knew anything about the center and I said I didn't. She proceeded to explain that the "Hoffman Process" is an intensive residential retreat, where you confront and explore your relationships with your parents to identify and break the negative patterns you developed as a child in reaction to, or in identification with, them. Whoa! As she continued speaking, she was describing the very conversation I'd been having with myself all the way to the center over the last two hours, as I reflected on my relationships with my parents, and mused how I was "working for my father and married to my mother"... She talked about the negative and self-defeating patterns we create as survival tools as children, and how hard it is to break them as adults when they're no longer needed (bingo). The Hoffman Process is designed to help us end that cycle, break the negative relationship patterns and self-defeating behaviors, to move forward in our lives and fulfill our potential. I was nothing short of astonished (and grateful, and relieved, and actually kind of giddy). Here was the something BIG I needed and had asked for. (By now you know that I believe synchronicity is God's way of speaking to us, not to mention my prayer had been literally answered.)
The student tracked down a staff person who gave me some program materials. I registered immediately and am going on retreat starting next weekend. I have spent hours watching You Tube testimonials, researching the website, reading books, completing their "thousand page" questionnaire, and even googling the board of directors and advisory board members (after all, I'm still a healthy skeptic and didn't want to land in some kind of crazy cult, ha). I was pleased to see that some of my "role models" such as the author and psychic Sonia Choquette, were on the advisory board. I've followed Sonia for years, heard her speak, read all her books, and basically have aspired to BE as much like her as possible, so finding her on the company letterhead was very comforting and another little sign that this was the right choice for me.
There couldn't have been a worse time to take off of work, but then there never has been a good time in the two years I've been with my agency. I had become burned out, depressed, overwhelmed, and a resentful pleaser. None of these are in alignment with who I am or how I want to operate in the world, or what I teach. I asked for the time off, knowing that if it was denied, I would need to leave or find another way to get the week off - I was that unhappy and this was that important to me.
Fortunately, I got the time off, and am now anticipating this pivotal and life-changing opportunity.