The GPS of Your Soul

I drove back from a life-changing retreat lead by author and wise woman Christina Baldwin* yesterday noon.

As I drove up the spine of Whidbey Island, past milk cows, spring greening cedars, pie shops and many espresso stands, I thought about what gets in our way after life-changing retreats (or workshops, coaching sessions, conversations with angels, classes).

Because you have life-changing experiences –  often.

You have an experience and you see with clear eyes what you thirst for and what needs to change for that to become part of your life and then you let it get furry, slip away.

Why?

You might say busyness, fear, habit, brain wiring. You might quote a great book like Switch or Buddha’s Brain and you would be right.

And here is what I think is the foundational reason you don’t change: you fall back asleep because you believe the mean-ass voices that slither in and say,

“You didn’t figure this out the last time you learned it. You didn’t do anything different the last time or at least, not for very long. Why do you think this time will be any different? Don’t even bother.”

This, my friend, my dear reader, is a big lie.

Big stinky lie. Big stinky not true. Be gone! Wave your hand with me – gone!

I walked the labyrinth several times during my retreat,

the ancient shape spilling so many ideas at me I had to stop every few feet to jot them down, rich clear insights into very old ways of being that snag and scar me.

Right before I reached the center, I asked,  “How will this time be any different? I know all this but how will I live it?”

The first thing I saw when I walked into the center of the spiral?

A rock tattooed with the words: Begin Again.

The great GPS of your soul is simply telling you, with tender and complete love, that it is time to recalculate.

I’m recalculating today. Please join me.

* Read Christina’s books, study with her, mentor with her. She is the real thing. We need the real.

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  • Jillangeldavis

    You hit the Sweet Spot!!!

  • Pam

    I am really, really sad to see you use fat-hate language. “Big stinky fatty.” Cuts me to the core. Unbelievably sad. Those are all the words I have. Peace.

    • Anonymous

      oh Pam I never thought about it that way! I was thinking only of playing with language! I’m so sorry to offend you.

      • Pam

        A few more words, just because I want to be really clear about this …

        Being anti-fat is the last socially acceptable kind of hate and absolutely pervades our culture — to the point that a phrase such as “stinky fatty” can be in the vocabulary of even someone as conscious as you. (People who would never dream of using a racist or sexist slur are often oblivious to their fat-hate language.)

        But until society changes, using the word “fat” as a negative adjective (and unintentionally reinforcing ideas like “fat people smell”) is not going to be OK.

        I
        really appreciate that you listened and edited the post. Thank you.

        • Anonymous

          Pam thank you so much for helping me learn! And for being patient while I do. :)

          • Pam

            Jen, I appreciate your openness to learning. Unless you were name-called with phrases exactly like “big stinky fatty” as a child, you cannot fully understand what this is about. Any more than I fully understand the experience of a person of color, for example.

            I saw your tweets about this, btw, and it was not the simple word “fat” — which can be reclaimed and used as a neutral descriptor, as one of your tweeps pointed out. It was the phrase, the context, and the negativity. But I guess I’ve made that point by now.

            And now I will let this float away, for I have other things to tend to. I’ll look forward to reading you again after some time has passed.

          • Anonymous

            more learning!

    • Anonymous

      I just went in and edited the post and I also wonder: can we use the word fat without it being about weight, people, or hate? I don’t know but so open to discussing and learning!

      • Anonymous

        As a person who’s fat in one or two little places, and a person who counts fat among her favorite food substances, and a person who’s interested in just about every aspect food, eating, and nourishment, I say 

        YES! We can talk about fat, using the word “fat” without it being about weight or people, and more important, without it being hateful (or self-hating). I do it all the time.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks Max. I love to eat fat. Now can i love my own personal fat? Great question!

  • soupiedoup

    Jen~I have read and reread your post. You are onto something huge. Quieting those voices can feel like a fulltime job though. Why does it have to be that way? Should I embrace them? Invite in for coffee? Kicking them to the curb doesn’t seem to be working. Begin again. So simple.

    Love you!
    Kimberly

    • Anonymous

      Kimberly, I do a bit of both – loving them, embracing them, telling them to “get to the back of the bus” and also sometimes kicking them to the curb when they feel like cultural voices rather than parts of me

  • http://www.workingwithpower.com Michele Lisenbury Christensen

    I love this, Jen.  Ah, if I were embodying today every “life change” I’d ever experienced… Man, I’d be walkin’ on water!  But for just the most recent among them – the ones my mean voices haven’t yet ground into the earth like a toddler’s sneakers trampling on baby grape hyacinth sprouts (to draw a metaphor from my daily life!) – those I will hold each day.  Start ‘em again.  Give thanks again for the chance to live them.  Mmm.  Love that.  Thank you.  And so glad your retreat brought you so much.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.plett Heather Plett

    I’m smiling over here. On the weekend, just after leading a workshop in which I had to step into the wisdom I knew I had but that wasn’t appearing in the notes I’d made for the workshop, I wrote this on Facebook: “Today’s lesson: Dream. Plan. Pray. And then let go and trust.” Someone responded with “Got any tips for letting go and trusting?” And I said “Try, try again. And then when you fail, try again. And again.”

    That’s what I love about the labyrinth – every time I visit, there’s new wisdom to be found, just when I need it.

    And I’m SO jealous you got to do this workshop with Christina! I’ve been dreaming of it for years now! 

    • Anonymous

      you would love it, the retreat is MADE FOR YOU. When you come, tell me, and we will have a meal together. You are wise my friend

  • http://twitter.com/Later_Bloomer Elle B

    What a gorgeous post! I’ve had life-changing experiences, then back to “normal” life. But as the decades go by (yes, decades!) hindsight often shows that something shifted that I didn’t notice and I can thank that experience for something I cherish now.

    How much better to do this consciously, with foresight! 

  • http://www.adesignsovast.com Lindsey

    Wow, I love this.  I often write about – and think about – beginning again.  Every day, every hour, every moment.  Sometimes it feels like too little – shouldn’t I be making some PROGRESS, some movement past this?  Other days it feels like all anyone could possibly ask – to commit, over and over, to getting up when we trip, to starting over. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Lindsey for being with me in beginning again!

  • Crissy

    Part of my recalculation today was taking a Yin Yoga class instead of my regular Vinyasa class. My energy has been really excited and flowing outward with ideas and wanting to “do” since TeachNow (thank you Jen & Michele!). I’ve had to remind myself to balance out all the excitement with some grounding time too. My mantra the past few days is “Energetic Balance”.

    • Anonymous

      sWeet!

  • Saralee

    This experience and EVERY experience changes you. I don’t agree that we fall back to sleep. You are a totally different person than you were a week ago. You do not need to stay on the “high” of the retreat or incorporate 100% of what you learned immediately or ever, for that matter. There is a rhythm to all of nature. You are incorporating the new into your life in the way that is natural for you.  Why is it so difficult for us to appreciate and trust the natural cycle of all aspects of our lives?

    • Anonymous

      That is a great point, Sara Lee, and of course, there are cycles to this and there is also a way we do go to sleep… I’m feeling my way into something new, where I both stay conscious and present to what I want to do differently, and accept the cyclic nature of change. Hope that makes sense!

      • Saralee

        The word “incubation” popped into my head this a.m.  I love beginnings and am hopeful that we are assimilating all the new energy from every experience and incubating it as we move forward and begin again!

  • http://profiles.google.com/marionwilliamsbennett Marion Williams-Bennett

    I loved the beauty in this post and the wisdom of these words.

    I left my recent retreat feeling the same lift of goodness and hope – thank you Jen!

     I came back to the same chaotic life – the same  job, the same marriage, the same child. I was different, they were the same. The struggle comes from merging who we have been and we who we are becoming. Sometimes, who we have been has served others so well, that it’s hard for them to see us grow.  It’s not easy for anyone, but you need to be selfish and hopeful and grounded and hold on to your change because it’s yours and you’ve earned it. You deserve it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marionwilliamsbennett Marion Williams-Bennett

    I loved the beauty in this post and the wisdom of these words.

    I left my recent retreat feeling the same lift of goodness and hope – thank you Jen!

     I came back to the same chaotic life – the same  job, the same marriage, the same child. I was different, they were the same. The struggle comes from merging who we have been and we who we are becoming. Sometimes, who we have been has served others so well, that it’s hard for them to see us grow.  It’s not easy for anyone, but you need to be selfish and hopeful and grounded and hold on to your change because it’s yours and you’ve earned it. You deserve it.

  • http://twitter.com/evanhadkins evanhadkins

    I think we can welcome and listen to those voices.  I don’t mean just go along with them.

    Partly the problem is often lack of support for the new way of doing things.  We go back to a situation that is no different to the one we left and we need to do new things – but the old ways worked, which is why we did them; and to do new things (even ones that feel good) takes energy.

    So I think we can listen to the voices, use them to find what we want and need and use this to shape our way forward.

  • dahna willis

    you, dear jen, are also the real thing…and i am eternally grateful for the truth you helped me to see…

    dahna willis

  • http://www.anintegreatedlife.com Lynne

    Beautiful post, Jen, thank you! 

    I’ve been there so many times, and felt the frustration.  Then I came to the words “begin again” and a lot of things clicked: the beauty of beginner’s mind, the key to meditating being not how often you bring your mind back, but that you do!

  • Mletta

    Loved this post.  What I take away from this is that to begin again, you must have faith…faith that your actions/behavior will result in the change you wish, even if they did not do so on past attempts. Faith that you will receive the support/help you need to make the change.

    Faith is tough for many of us because our life experience does not reflect it. It’s hard to “begin again” when you have done it many times and it still does not seem to “work.”

    Have walked the labryinth at Grace Cathedral (outdoor one) several times. It is always an amazing experience.

    Would love to know from a neuroscience perspective why that is.

    I think every block in big cities should have a labryinth! Might help us all slow down and refocus.

  • http://twitter.com/carryitforward Christa Gallopoulos

    And what better place to navigate your soul than on Whidbey Island.  Magical, just magical.

    I am doing nothing but recalculating lately, it seems.

    Thanks for this, and all you do, Jen.

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  • Lea Howell

    This is exactly what I needed to read tonight….”Begin Again”. Just reading those words allows you to know that at some point, you have already begun, and gotten off track….hence the “again”. And, the fact that you have stopped at whatever point you have, and for whatever reason…you can “begin”, which to me, is at a new place. It doesn’t say to me , “start over…..you messed up”. When we feel like we are just starting over, it feels like all the “stuff” that caused the mess is still hanging out with me. BUT to “Begin Again” feels like a clean slate…..a fresh mind and heart…a new goal….what a great feeling!
    Recalculating……what an awesome thing…..and just like with a GPS, it just takes you from RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE….even though you may have messed up….it doesn’t make you start over, or go back through the mess…..it just says, “Begin Again”…and let’s get you to where you were going!!!