Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You Can't Test Courage Cautiously - PTL Diaries Pt 4

Annie Dillard is one of my favorite writers. In fact, her memoir An American Childhood is my desert island book, after the scriptures. I read it over and over again and sometimes just pick it up at any page and start reading. The other night after dinner and Halloween shopping, one of my PTL dates and I ended up back in my living room reading aloud some of my favorite passages from Steve Martin and the aforementioned Annie Dillard masterpiece. I love it when spontaneous readings like this take place, especially on a date.

When I opened An American Childhood that night it fell open to one of my favorite chapters. As I read, I realized I was reading my mission statement, if not for Project True Love, then for life. I could try to paraphrase, but why do that? Here are the excerpts that winged off the page for me.

"I was running down the Penn Avenue sidewalk, revving up for an act of faith. I was conscious and self-conscious. I knew well that people could not fly--as well as anyone knows it--but I also knew the kicker: that, as the books put it, with faith all things are possible...."

"I ran the sidewalk full tilt. I waved my arms ever higher and faster; blood balled in my fingertips. I knew I was foolish. I knew I was too old really to believe in this as a child would, out of ignorance; instead I was experimenting as a scientist would, testing both the thing itself and the limits of my own courage in trying it miserably self-conscious in full view of the whole world. You can't test courage cautiously, so I ran hard and waved my arms hard, happy."
I love this. Anne and I are both scientists. When I first started Project True Love I got a few miffed comments from men who basically said, "Any man who would agree to be part of your science experiment has no self respect." To them, I have to say, that if anyone is being expirmented on, it is me. I am the scientist and the experiment, the observed and the observer. Of course I can't help observing them, too. And my observation is that the idea of me openly calling for many first dates or even calling it "Project True Love" triggers things in some men. Even one man who took me out last week called PTL "silly." I thought about that word for a while. Perhaps it is silly. But here is what Annie and I think about silliness:  

"Up ahead I saw a business suited pedestrian. He was coming stiffly toward me down the walk. Who could ever forget this first test, this stranger, this thin young man appalled? I banished the temptation to straighten up and walk right. He flattened himself against a brick wall as I passed flailing--although I had left him plenty of room. He had refused to meet my exultant eye. He looked away evidently embarrassed. How surprisingly easy it was to ignore him! What I was letting rip, in fact, was my willingness to look foolish, in his eyes and in my own. Having chosen this foolishness, I was a free being. How could the world ever stop me, how could I ever betray myself, if I was not afraid." 

I find it true that acts of faith often appear silly in the eyes of others and ourselves. Relationships and family are a faith-based work. It is not courage but faith that is the opposite of fear. So if a person is to take a "leap of faith" as the cliche goes, then why not leap with all the joy one has. After all, "What's a heart for?"
I always love the outtakes best.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Project True Love Diaries Part 3

Read parts 1 & 2 if missed 'em.

Last night I wrote a blog post with some details about Date # 2-6, with pictures and everything. And then this morning I didn't feel right about publishing it. I'm still not sure why. I think because it is not what I was supposed to share. I have been learning a lot lately about letting the Spirit guide my conversations and that when I am trying to say something and it's not coming out right or I forgot what I was saying, maybe that is a sign that I'm not supposed to share that, and I should go with what's coming. I have always noticed these dynamics in conversations, but thinking about it as the Spirit guiding the conversation never occurred to me till my friend Christi mentioned it. I guess blogging is also a sort of conversation.

So I am wondering what I am supposed to say about PTL, and I think it is just to share some of the spiritual insights I have learned. It has been a whirlwind of learnings. The first thing I learned is that there are plenty of good men. I knew this, but I relearned it again. Meeting them makes it less of a platitude. I learned to give everyone a chance and enjoy myself even if the man didn't seem like he was for me. Because it's just a first date, and as Tamara says, "he may have friends." 

I also started to observe myself and my thoughts on and after these dates, and I realized that I was telling myself a few stories that weren't true and that were limiting me. For example, one story I was telling myself was that certain kinds of men didn't see my value. But I realized that all men see my value, of every faith, ethnicity, profession, etc. Figuring out why I told myself these fictions was a real exposure for me. Because you can't change something if you don't know it's a problem.

I realized that I was putting walls up around having what I wanted most. Why would I do this? I hated to admit that it was fear. Fear of having what I want. Fear that I wouldn't get what I wanted so don't try anyway--that kind of thing. Once this all became conscious I saw the silliness of the logic. But of course, I was operating from a place that doesn't use logic. It was a conditioned response. So I used some of my hypnotherapy tools to reprogram my mind to allow myself to be happy. What an amazing concept--to say YES! to the things you want in your life. I love it.

As soon as I did this, the very next date I had an experience that changed me forever. I'm not saying he's true love, although it was a magical date. I learned that God is aware of me and who I am and what I need in a partner. Though I had enjoyed all my dates up to then, what I reflected on after this date was that he was the first person I had gone out with in the last few years that I didn't feel that I needed to teach him anything to help him understand me. I don't mean that to sound egotistical. I just have a difficult time sometimes because being LDS and a hypnotherapist often means that whatever crowd I am in, people don't totally understand me. If I am with other hypno-dorks, they aren't usually LDS (though most are v spiritual), and if I am with LDS people, many don't understand the power of the mind to transform our lives (or to limit them) and I often have to teach people something. I'm okay with it. It just gets tiring sometimes. But I didn't feel like I needed to explain any of that to this date, because he had a first hand and deep experience with the Atonement and transformation. We talked for hours about all kinds of subjects under the full moon and I felt deeply glad for everything.

After the date I observed my mind being excited when I thought of him and wanting him to call me, but I also felt deeply that if he didn't it would be okay. I felt full of hope about the future because I know if God can make that out of a person, he can do anything. Since then, I have been on more awesome first dates and a few second dates. I continue to learn things. But that is all I want to share for now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hearer

Yesterday I opened my scriptures to see what I could learn about healing. My profession falls under the healing arts, and I am always trying to learn more and be more in this area. So I decided to look in the guide to the scriptures for "healer." I opened instead to "hearer." In that moment of dyslexia, I realized what God wanted to teach me--that hearer is only one letter away from healer. This is a lesson I needed to relearn. I have so many wonderful tools in my toolbox as a hypnotherapist that I sometimes forget that it's not about doing tricks or handing out tools. True healing begins when people feel deeply heard.

I love the way God teaches me. In this realization I felt a measure of healing, because I knew my prayers on how to be a better healer were heard. He guided me, much like I guide my clients to realize the tools were already within. Sigh. I love that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Project True Love Diaries Part 2 - Date Quest

Phase One of Project True Love is duty dating. It has also been nicknamed Date Quest, by my friend Jonathan, who runs a geek website. "That's what the geeks would call it," he said.

As I said, there are a lot of good books out there, and Katie and I decided we really liked Patricia Allen's book, Getting to I Do. Her wisdom on the masculine and feminine energies and how they need to communicate with each other resonated deeply with both of us. (It think this would be valuable for so many married couples to reveiw). She also breaks the dating process into 4 clean phases. But before you can even get to phase one, you have to do what she calls duty dating. The thing about duty dating is that it doesn't sound fun. You just have to go out with people, even if you don't want to. Who wants to do that?

So we decided to make it more fun and awesome. The person who brought the fun back into duty dating is another writer named Tamara Duricka Johnson. Tamara and I met online years ago and then fell out of touch and then one day earlier this year she ended up in my Writer's Mind class when she was finishing 31 Dates in 31 Days, which just came out in October. It is fabulous by the way. I think I am going to make it required reading for PTL. 

Leading up to the release of her book, she challenged a bunch of people to do their own version of 31 in 31. I decided to take her up on her challenge. Since I’m a mom and a business owner, I decided to try 21 dates in 42 days. In reality, this has turned out to be about one to two dates/week so I stay sane and can still work and be a good mom.

Tamara had her own reasons for the project and so did I, so I set my own rules. Here there are:

Rule #1: I like being the feminine energy in my relationships so I require that the man asks me out on the first date and that he pays. I feel like most men love to be the giving masculine energy and so why not let them? You might ask how I got these dates if I wasn’t asking? I put my rules online and sent out an email to friends and then hounded them till they set me up or had their friends call me. I am still bugging some of them.

Rule #2: I made a no kissing rule. This was my a personal rule I didn’t tell the guys. My reasons: a) If I kiss one, he will think I kiss everyone. b) Kissing messes with my clarity. I wanted to think and see clearly.  

Rule #3: No second dates till the end.

Rule #4: No alcohol. Obvi none for me, but none for them either on the date. (I told friends to set me up with anyone, but they had know I was LDS and be okay with that.)
Rule # 2 and 3 got broken pretty early. But let’s begin earlier. Before I even started.
 
Pre Date-Quest: A man I had been flirting with for six months--we’ll call him Joe (because he doesn't know he is being blogged about)--decided to make a move. Joe is more than a few years younger than me and I had decided he was a just a friend that I flirted with. I figured it would never become anything. However, as soon as I told him I’d be going out with 21 dudes in the coming months, he decided it was time to lay one on me. After all those months of shamelessly flirting and trying not to think about what it would be like to kiss him, it was nice to diffuse some of that tension. But then immediately afterward my mind started to think of why it was not a good idea and how to call it off. My mind was literally doing acrobatics until I mentally shouted, Sheesh! Can’t you just enjoy the moment?!

So I did. I realized it was just a kiss and it was fun and it didn’t change my mind about anything. I did ask myself why I magnetized this right before I started a dating project. My analysis: I think part of me was afraid of what PTL might bring into my life and I wanted one last fling.

PTL Date #1: Date number one ended up being a married guy. Ok not really. I think Date #1 couldn’t handle the pressure of going first, so he bailed. We had met online and I get the feeling a lot of people online are not really ready. They just put up a profile to prove to someone or themselves that they are ready. So the day I was supposed to begin PTL I ended up at breakfast with my workout buddy Jonathan, who happens to be married. We talked about comic books and other geeky stuff. Jonathan runs a website called Geekscape.net. It is pretty awesome. He was supposed to be one of my pimps for this project, but he told me that he wouldn’t want to set me up with any of his geek fans. I didn’t understand his logic, because he is one of them. In fact he is their king, but oh well. Jonathan is not Mormon or from Utah, but for some reason he is a crazy about the Utah Jazz (basketball team). He keeps hoping I’ll date someone who is also a Jazz fan so that we can all hang out and he can have a basketball man friend. I will see what I can do, Jonathan. 

This blog post is now super long and so you will have to wait till the next one to hear about the real dates. I promise it's good.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Elementary Christianity

Recently, I had, what was for me, a profound epiphany. For a few months I have been thinking about switching wards. Because of where I live and the fact that I am single, I can choose between two family wards: the one I live in, and another one where all the mid-single adults in the stake are invited to attend. I have never felt any desire to go to the other ward, because my support network has been in my home ward for years now, and I have no problem meeting single people. I don't need to switch wards to do that. But lately I feel like I am needed there. It has been a gentle spiritual nudging and last Sunday I felt I couldn't ignore it any more. In fact, the talk in church was about giving service in the right time and place and acting immediately when called. Hmm.

But switching wards is a big deal, I kept telling myself. Okay maybe not that big of a deal. They meet in the same building, and at a more convenient time, and Phoebe already knows half the kids in their primary and as many of the adults. I think she'd be fine. I realized my biggest hesitation was about the bishop, which is funny, because it took such a long time for me to warm up to my current bishop. He is so quiet and awkward and difficult to read. I used to find it torturous to meet with him. But over time, I became used to our one-sided conversations. His not knowing what to say makes him a good listener. And it makes me listen more when he does say something. I have also learned to read the subtle signs that he does care, and learned to get his very dry sense of humor.

The bishop of the other ward is the complete opposite. He's very chatty and social, and I didn't like the idea of such a dramatic change, nor the idea of "starting over" in my relationship with a new bishop. But as I pondered it last Sunday evening, I had this overwhelming feeling that spoke to my heart. If it had spoke in words, they would have been, "everything is going to be okay, because they all represent me." I realized that the bishop is really just a representative for Christ. Believe it or not, I had never thought of that before. When I thought of it that way, I could see through their different personalities and flaws and vulnerabilities and realized that I would not be starting over, because my relationship with Christ was ongoing.

Then I thought of my home teachers--the two men that visit me every month to bring me a spiritual lesson and see if they can serve me in any way. Though no one will ever be as awesome as Josh, (the home teacher who was with me through my pregnancy, divorce, and the first 3 years of Phoebe's life) they all represent Christ. In fact, that is what the home teaching program is all about. Christ visiting each home. I thought about visiting teaching. When I visit teach I also represent Christ, too.

Then I had probably the most elementary realization ever, and it was that all Christians represent Christ at all times in our lives. This was very deep, and yet, so basic. Primary stuff. That's what I love about the gospel is that even though there are depths upon depths of knowledge to be had, it is also at its core, so simple. And I'm humbled and grateful that I got to relearn this. A few days later, I had to go to court (I would rather go to Iraq) and I noticed that everything was different this time because I was seeing everyone as a child of God and treating them the way Christ would. I think that the entire plan of salvation can be boiled down to Christ's statement: "Follow me and do the things that you have seen me do." (2 Nephi 31:12)