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Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

Last week, my mother spent a couple of days with me, and since my Michigan days when both mom and dad would stay with me for weeks, I love her visits.  In my turf, unlike when she is in hers, she operates within adult boundaries, hers and mine. At home, her inner child has full discretion and when mine is awakened, it becomes a playground brawl.

We chatted in the morning about our family and ancestral histories, reminiscing about her parents and grandparents. From the little she remembers, we are descendants of Basques.  You may have heard about them at different times in the news for terrorists acts against Spain because they want independence. Huh, it makes sense why this French guy once called me an “emotional terrorist”.  I also learned a family secret that gripped tightly for decades has now been released by a less vigilant aging mind. It turns out, that my grandfather, Juan, was in jail for 20 months for shooting a man during an argument.  As she tells the story, the father of the man he shot, let’s call him “Justo”, later said that had he known my grandfather was such an upstanding man, he would not have had him prosecuted.  As the story goes, while in jail, Juan arranged to send  some medicine to Justo’s younger son, who was ill.  Truth, or fiction?  I choose to believe that it is true because my grandfather was a magnanimous and service-oriented man, or at least, that is what I grew up hearing.

I realize that I have spent my life not listening to my mother.  Although she brought me into this world, she became part of the wallpaper of my life. She was background noise and an obligation, kind of like taxes.  As much as I cry that I was invisible to my family, she was invisible to me. When I was younger I bemoaned her not being there for me—all I remember is my father’s, at first indulging and, as I grew up, possessive, overbearing, and suffocating love.  Growing up, I felt that she loved my father best; yet, although he wanted her to leave Cuba with him during the early days of The Revolution, she would not leave us behind. And, when my accomplishments were never enough for my father’s demands that I fulfill his aborted dreams, to my mother I was always enough.

When I was leaving for my first quarter at Chicago, I remember her saying that although most people would be more than satisfied with what I had, I was leaving it all to go for more. Although I realize now that I could have construed her statement as a criticism (like, aren’t you ever happy?), I experienced it as an affirmation. This is not to say that she did not have her own dreams of becoming a journalist and of, literally, climbing mountains; but unlike my father, she did not impose her dreams on me. The funny thing is that I unconsciously took it upon myself to climb the summits her sex, culture, and history prevented her from climbing.  Wait, whose dreams have I been living?

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,

talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

~~Marianne Williamson~~

Have you ever asked for a sign from the Universe and once you got it tried to look the other way?   That just happened to me ten days ago.  See, I have been thinking about returning to the blog for a while, but I could not muster up the energy.  Then, one day I decided to wait for a sign, and I received an email that “Sue” had just signed up for blog notifications.  Strange that after a seven-month hiatus from writing, someone should sign up, but it happened. Thank you Sue for acting as the messenger I asked for. So, here I am again, grateful to be reconnecting with you and with me. Since I write about me, how could I write if I abandoned myself?

So much has happened since January 13, my last entry that I was overwhelmed thinking about where to start, and now, I think I know. The details themselves are not important; instead, I will share my process, which is why I started this blog in the first place.  As a spiritual seeker and a teacher, I wanted to put myself out there to break the isolation we all feel when we think we are the only ones battered by inner enemies. But resistance got the best of me, and I succumbed to self-criticism and doubt.  I also became lost in the whirlwind of another’s dream, too terrified to dream my own.  I see realize that, often, instead of being the protagonist in my own blockbuster movie, I have grabbed a supporting role.   I remember in college encouraging Ana Sozio to go for a PHD, thinking I could never get one, myself, until the day, three years later, when I allowed myself to feel the desire to go for it.

But after, overwhelmed by the power of dreaming and dream realization, I abruptly trashed my career dreams and began dreaming of a partner.  Was the empiricist or doubting Thomas in me testing reality to see if I could do it again?  I realized that dream 15 years ago when I met my husband, and I was two for two.  Amazing!  Yet, unknowingly, I shut down the dream factory—outsourced them to other manufacturers.  Let them dream.  Not me. I’m done.  Looks like I was frightened by the light.

Of course, other things happened in my life to halt dream production.  But like the little shoot growing through the crack on the sidewalk, I am turning to the light, reconnecting to myself and to my dreams.  As Neale Donald Walsh reminded me this morning, “You have got to have a dream if you want to have a dream come true.”

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

-Neale Donald Walsch-

I thought it might be good to take stock in the past year before I start writing about 2012.  I can’t believe that wrote a total of 58 blog posts this past year; it is interesting, however, that I still have not written a background description for “About the blog” section. I hasn’t been the right time, I guess.  Still, it would have been nice to reach 60 posts, as the WordPress people were encouraging me to do, but it didn’t happen. I was not avoiding, though; I was just too busy living to write.  Yes, I have finally come out–remember the post with the Diana Ross song title?  It’s happening!  I am thrilled.  Elated.  I feel like Houdini after escaping the nailed and chained packing crate submerged under the East River in NYC.  Though I am still teaching two online courses, I am emotionally done with academia.  Over!  And, I have started a new life.

Meeting Judith Chusid on July 31 was transformational, professionally, spiritually, and socially.  As part of my training for Success is an Inside Job™ (SIIJ) workshops, I attended one myself, participated in an ongoing group working on blocks to success, and attended trainings on psychodrama. And although I felt lost at first, I shut down my Greek chorus when it started to berate me; and, pushing past the initial confusion, I see that psychodrama builds on my prior social work and spiritual knowledge and skill, and in the spring, I will be running workshops on my own.  Also, my academic way of thinking complements my collaborators’’ analytic training, which means that I am using all aspects of myself, as I had been longing to do.

So, after years of feeling professionally depleted and unappreciated, both Judith and Paul, from the Blanton-Peale Institute, sincerely value me.  As I write this, I am thinking that, I must be loving myself more, since our experiences and the people around us mirror our inner life. Oh, and wait, there is more.  I am meeting so many interesting people, both socially and professionally through Judith and SIIJ—fashion models, actors, writers, business people, and a recovering academic!  I am exploring the world beyond the Ivory Tower, and I am learning that no matter what we do for a living, or how successful we are, we all have the same fears and longings.

Before I go, I want to thank you for reading this past year and to wish you blessings beyond your wildest imaginations, like the ones I have received this past year. I will continue to write, though I am wondering about changing the format and the frequency.  We shall see.

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Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wow, I have gone three weeks without posting; that is scary and so sad, I feel like crying.  As I write this, I want to escape by calling or emailing friends—-everything to avoid doing something I love, anAdd Audiod I finally understand why.  Since I last posted, I attended a four-and-a-half day Success is an Inside Job™ workshop (SIIJ) .  What an amazing gift!  Thank you Dr. Judith Chusid for having the vision, heart, and determination to embody your dream, thirty years after conducting your original research success blocks.  I feel turned a corner, and since re-entering my life last Monday evening, my insights have deepened and expanded.  Early in the workshop, I completed questionnaires about my blocks to success (perfectionism, self-doubt, low-self-esteem, and survivor guilt) and fear of success signals (I have 25, including fear, esteem issues, distractions—my personal favorite, and negative self-talk).

We were also assigned “success” and “spiritual” buddies upon arrival, with whom we discussed our answers giving each other feedback about what we heard each other say.  One of my buddies, I can’t remember which one, was struck by my saying that I avoid the things I love the most.   Her reflecting that back to me inspired me to send a question out to the Universe:  why would I resist the things that make me feel most alive?  Neither she nor I could make sense of it, then.  But one morning, the answer came to me via a phone call from a friend.  I awoke thinking I would journal and focus on myself, determined to write and not be distracted, but when the phone rang, I automatically answered it.  As soon as I got off the phone, I received a text from another friend, needing my input on a matter, and despite my resolve to write, I dropped everything, twice.  This is not surprising, given my childhood programming, and my love of distractions.  Let me explain.

During the workshop, we did a psychodrama of my family dynamics affecting my relationship to career, and it was powerful! The reenactment, including my father, mother, and three and six-year-old inner children, and Dr. Chusid’s astute questions and observations expanded my understanding of my career paralysis.   First, there is my chronic avoidance of responsibility.  As the eldest child, I became my family’s connection to the English-speaking world as soon as I learned English at age seven, filling out crucial immigration forms, school absence notes, and translating. The trauma of such early daunting responsibility burdens me to this day.  Throughout my adulthood, I have said “NO” for all the times I could not, then.

Second, there is the dream issue—whose dreams have I been or not been living?  Ever since I can remember, my father dreamed that I would become a medical doctor.  Mom, on the other hand, wanted me to become a cartoonist, because of my artistic talent in elementary school.  When Judith asked me what my dreams were, I was speechless.   Dreams?  Looking back, I became a social worker because I was not ready to face the world, I needed an excuse to go back to school, and my therapist in college was a social worker.  My goal was to become a psychoanalyst, just like he was, but research and policy classes in graduate school convinced me, otherwise.  Those classes challenged me intellectually and sparked in me a commitment to social justice and to creating knowledge about Latino/as in the US.  Unhappy with the low status and low pay of social workers,  before and after graduation, I entertained a doctorate in psychology and even medical school, but chose to get a doctorate in social work, instead—not because I wanted to teach, but because I wanted options.  I realize now, that my doctorate and finding my life partner were my last career/personal dreams.  After that, the dream well ran dry.  By the way, giving upon reaching a goal is a fear of success signal, and that is exactly what I did after graduation; I landed the highest academic job I could and I retired, so-to-speak, embarking, instead, on my spiritual quest.

When Judith asked what I wanted to do in my career, I blurted that I wanted to work with her doing the workshops.  “Are you sure?,” she asked.  “Do you really want to do this, or is it that you are use to being a helper?”  I am thinking.   .   .  She ended the session with a brilliant solution that honors the six-year-old that balks at responsibility.  “You will have success without responsibility,” she pronounced.  Feeling uncomfortably irresponsible, I protested, “But it’s not that I don’t want responsibility.”  And, she repeated, “You will have success without responsibility.”

Later, I asked her what she meant; success without responsibility means that I only do the things that I want to do, for now.  I am not to force the six-year-old, which if you think about it, would be abusive.  But then, there is the lingering issue of my being a disappointment.  Since I disappointed my father, despite my accomplishments, part of me feels, why even try when I will end up disappointing people, anyway?  But this is when I need to sing the refrain from the Ricky Nelson song—-remember him from the sixties?  “But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

via Marianne Williamson Quotes – BrainyQuote.

I have been AWOL.  First, I didn’t post, as I promised to do after my interview, last Monday, and I didn’t post yesterday.  Sorry about that.  Though hurricane Irene flooded our basement and stripped us of electricity for twenty-four hours, I can’t blame her.  Procrastination is a lifelong habit I hope to break as I train to facilitate fear of success retreats over the next few months.  Yes, I got the gig!  My interview could not have gone better; though, at first I wondered since prior to our meeting, I thought I heard her trying to set up a lunch date with her banker, even though she’d offered to take me to lunch.   Did she forget?  Needless to say, I almost took a nosedive into SELF-DOUBT; but I didn’t.  I took a deep breath and focused on the present moment, stifling my Greek Chorus before it had a chance to warm up.

Tell me about yourself, JF said.  Another deep breathe, as I recited an abbreviated profile of myself.  Then, to my surprise, she started telling me her story.  My friend Fefy, had advised me not to carry on about me, and this was a smooth transition, just as we’d planned it.  Okay, we are hitting it off, but I am getting anxious.  Am I having fear of success? Although we are getting along, two co-therapists separated at birth, once again reunited, a couple of hours have passed, and my blood sugar is dropping.  What if I pass out?  Not an option.  Focus.  .  . breathe . . . relax.  Finally, JF said, “Come, on, I will take you to lunch.  I think this will work.  We have a similar style.”  Great, but what if she takes me to a steakhouse.  Do I tell her I am vegetarian?   She took me to an organic restaurant that had vegan and meat options.  Perfect.

Again, she said that she thought we could work together, and then she told me the most amazing thing.  When she decided to change her staff, ironically, because they started sabotaging as she was about to launch her fear of success retreats, she went to her pastor and asked how she should go about finding new people for her organization.  Unity Church, where she belongs is big on visualizing what you want, so her pastor told her to visualize the kind of people she wanted in her organization.  Maria, whose energy she likes, but works for another organization, came to mind, so she visualized a room full of Marias.  Not long after that, she met me. Maria happens to also be Cuban!  Can you believe it?  Although I did not visualize as intentionally as J.F. did, I hoped to do consulting, coaching, and self-development workshops, but I had no clue how to even begin.  Little did I imagine that, I would find a way at my dear friend’s wedding!  God’s imagination is so much wilder than mine!  After three-and-a half-hours of conversation, stumbling from dizziness and yawning from anxiety, I made my way back to the Port Authority for the bus.  Fear of success, huh?  Yep, I have many of the symptoms, procrastination, negative self-talk, inability to stick to a vision, becoming distracted by people and activities (like shopping), and giving up just as you are succeeding, among others.  The list goes on.  So how did we leave it?  JF is training me to run her fear of success workshops by having me attend two retreats and a follow-up group she runs. The rest, I will leave to God’s imagination.

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“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”

via George Bernard Shaw quotes.

It looks like this is turning into a series on finding heart-centered work. Two weeks ago, a spontaneous feeling led me to check a professional job bank, and, I discovered that the college where I interviewed, and had not heard from, re-posted the job I applied for. My fleeting response was shock, anger, and hurt that they had not informed me. Not a word. But before my feelings turned into self-pity, I chose, instead, to be mindful. For one thing, they have not officially rejected me, and, if anything, they are mirroring my ambivalence. Although I like them very much, I have questions about the fit, and about a five-day-a-week commute—something I have not done in thirty years. Likewise, it was obvious that they liked me, and they said they were impressed with my credentials, but they expressed concern about my scant administrative experience and wondered if bored at an institution much smaller than what I am used to, I would leave after a few years (the last director was there for fifteen). Having taught at four different schools, in almost 25 years, has branded me as a “loose woman—the Run-around Sue of academia. Have I been teaching for that long? Yikes, where has the time gone? I concluded that, if this job is mine, it will return to me, and I will be in a better position to bargain. If not, another door will open. In the meantime, I can, conceivably, work through my professional ambivalence (or, maybe, not).

 

 

Days later, talking to my friend Luisa (not her real name) about my job search, she said some things that jostled me. I must tell you that, this friend was my housemate when I was on tenure track at a TOP SCHOOL, so she is well acquainted with my persistent discontent with academia. The first thing Luisa said was, that I needed to change my thinking. What? Me?! She pointed out that I have spent years looking at what is broken within system, instead of seeing possibilities. She also said that I expect rejection, so, of course, I get it. She’s right. I have been putting my attention on what’s not working instead of envisioning my “dream” work, and if you are of the school that believes that we create our own reality . . . well, you know what reality I have been creating. Is my ambivalence giving me away? I think so.

 

Back to Luisa, who also said that I keep going back to academia, because I cannot conceive of working outside academia. Remember, I am the one that has spent 80% of her life in school. I am not using my imagination. But in all fairness, my imagination was anesthetized by my conformity-uniformity-inducing left-brain education. I think of Lisa, a professional violinist who is getting a masters in social work because she dreams of opening her own holistic healing agency where she can use her musical and yoga training. What I do I need to imagine for myself? I realize that my professional dreams ceased upon completion of my Ph.D. I was too tired to dream, never imagining the enviable job I got right out of school; I applied because my dissertation chair envisioned me at her alma mater; but, it was her vision, and one I would never have dared to dream.

 

Yet, I have a phenomenal dream record of accomplishment. I dreamed of the perfect relationship for me, and I have it; I dreamed of light and space, and I live in a home with a cathedral ceiling and wall-to-ceiling windows that radiate sunlight; and I dreamed as a lonely child, with only had one friend, of loving friendships, and I have bonded and connected with the sweetest souls! So, after looking at what  I have NOT had professionally, I am at work constructing possibilities. And, as scary as it is, my dream work may not be through an institution, because as my friend Val says, I don’t like to follow rules. Perhaps, I am a lone she-wolf—an older wolf, pushed out of the pack, or a young wolf at heart, in search of new territory. What are you not dreaming of?

 

P.S. Right after I finished this post, I found a stray fortune cookie in my kitchen. Want to hear the fortune?

 

“In dreams and in life, nothing is impossible.”

 

Dream on!

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