Building Your Spiritual Home

Get a Life

I was 37 when Laura, my older daughter was nine, I can remember getting ready to go upstairs with her for “nightly”, which meant handsy-facy-teethy-peepee and story. That was always a sweet time in my day. But this night, Laura was not very interested, and I realized, for the first time, that this child of mine no longer thought of me as the center of her world, as she was the center of mine. This moment was my wake up call. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, and said to myself that I had to Get A Life. I realized that it would be bad for my daughters and for me if they remained my emotional focus. I started to think about how I could shift things.

I needed to have friends and interests in the bigger world. Building and nurturing the nest as a full time job was over. I started with the intention of investing more in my professional and social life. Gradually my world seemed to broaden. In that year, I accepted the presidency of the board of a local counseling center that had just formed. I got involved with Transcendental Meditation and began a life long interest in developing my inner world. At the clinic, I began to train myself and my team in family therapy and developed and accomplished the goal of having no waiting list for treatment. I started reading Carlos Casteneda about his encounters with a Mexican sorcerer, books that forever changed my notions about the nature of the world. I began writing poetry. I began keeping journals, and paying much closer attention to both my inner and outer lives.

Each of these beginnings has blossomed into a highway throughout my adult life. The counseling center has grown and been a major force in my community. It, and my friends from the board, have entrenched me in community work, and I continue as a consultant to the staff. Meditation has been a lifelong practice that has shaped my personality, my health, and certainly my view of the world and of my relationship with the Divine. Professionally, the training I did at my clinic has lead to a career as a teacher, with special interest in family and short term therapy. I have written many articles and spoken or consulted at scores of clinics across the country on issues of therapy. This role as teacher has defined my professional identity, but it began as I redefined my scope from therapist to trainer in that first year.

My interest in learning about the world of the spirit, begun with Casteneda, continued and spread. I have always sought out books, training and friends involved with psychic and religious interests. I am currently a member of a psychic group and also a spiritual reading group. My relationship with God is a center of my life. All this has connected with my practice of meditation, and also my journalling. The journals have been a record of my emotional, but also, my spiritual journey.

As with so many life changes, I sometimes become aware of going too far. Just before Laura’s graduation from High School, she developed a herniated disc in her back, and needed to go to her graduation on a stretcher. She graduated on a Monday afternoon, at five, just after I was due to finish my golf game with my foursome (which formed during the year when I was “getting a life”). I arranged for the local fire department ambulance to provide transportation for Laura, and came separately. Even worse, that night was my golf partner Phil’s 40th birthday, and we had planned to celebrate. After we got Laura graduated and home, off I went again, in loyalty to Phil, to celebrate. My wife was furious. I got a call from my younger daughter: “Please come home”. Our family was in a crisis too awful to describe. I did finally get it that my first priority needed to be family. Ten years previously, I knew that, but those ten years of pursuing a life had changed me.

A similar reminder came some twenty years later when my wife Linda was laid up with a bad back. I got her settled and fed each morning, brought lunch and did supper, but I kept all my clinical appointments and evening commitments. By the end of those two weeks, I was frazzled, grim and tight. Linda was furious, feeling neglected. My daughters, both mothers of young children, were resentful of my calls to them requesting that they look in on her, requests made with my tense, bossy, overwhelmed voice. After it was over, we had a family meeting at which it became clear to me that, again, I had overvalued my commitments to patients and meetings, and under responded to the needs at home. Two years later, when Linda needed shoulder surgery, I canceled the better part of two weeks of my schedule, and was able to provide care without either of us stressing out.

Another part of this issue of growing and changing is clearly getting and using feedback. Left to my own devices, I am likely to go overboard in my zeal to follow my own decisions. But with a little help from my friends, I am now at a new place. I do have a life, and I know I need to be more flexible about my pursuit of it.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1) Are you happy with your life?
2) Do you feel you have created your life or fallen into it?
3) Think of three things you might do to broaden your life.
4) Do you think you have the time, energy, resources to make changes?
5) How many hours of TV do you watch in a week?

 

CHAPTERS

GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED MOTHER
OPENING MANY DOORS
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH ANGER
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE AGENT
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT LIFE
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
DOUBLE VISION
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
DISMANTLING SELF
TOLERATING GOD’S LOVE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD

 

 

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