Calming Emotions, Exciting Stuff, Mindfulness, Uncategorized, Writing

Nervous Excitement of Achieving Your Goals

You know that feeling you get when, after years of concentrated effort, a thousand wishes, and mindfulness-challenging patience, you finally achieve your goal?

When every nerve in your body sparks with excitement and waves of conflicting emotions batter you from all sides? When you can’t stop pacing and smiling and trembling?

That moment when you realize that…now…the real work will begin?

The nervous excitement of achieving goals happens to everyone at one time or another. At least, I think it does. I can’t be the only person on the planet to react this way. Although, when it happens, it feels so personal. The details of our experience seem so specific that it’s hard to believe anyone else will relate.

But people are more alike than different.

The stories we share, no matter how specific, often feel familiar to others.

So, perhaps, my story will remind you of your own.

A month ago, I received some amazing news: my debut novel, The Ninja Daughter, would be published by the new Agora Books imprint of Polis Books.

I received this news from my agent while at lunch with a friend. Thank goodness. Because when the call finally ended and the negotiation progress conveyed in nerve-wracking detail, I was ready to jump out of my skin.

Had it really happened, just like that, seemingly out of the blue?

Seven years ago, I made a big commitment: I stopped training and teaching ninjutsu in order to pursue a career as a fiction writer. For me, there was no other way than complete immersion. I had done the same thing to achieve my fifth degree black belt in To Shin Do and knew I’d need to do the same with writing. So, I jumped in with focused intention and dogged determination.

This wasn’t the first time I had switched directions in the midst of success. I did the same thing when I left Cats to move to Los Angeles to try my hand at television and film. I did it again when I stopped acting, after eighteen episodes on The Love Boat and a guest-staring role on a television pilot, to raise my sons. And again, when I stopped training and teaching to write.

People around me thought I was nuts, but I knew it was the right thing to do for me–mind, body, and spirit. Each time, I made the leap and tried not to think about what might happen if I failed.

So there I was, on the phone with my agent, pacing outside the restaurant, getting the much hoped-for and slaved-after news–and out of all the emotions vying for my attention, the single greatest emotion that hit me was relief.

Can you relate to that? I’m positive you can.

When you put everything you have into an endeavor with no guarantee that anything will come of it, the relief is overwhelming. There’s joy and satisfaction, certainly, but there’s also a teensy bit of anxiety.

Every goal met marks a new goal begun. Click To Tweet

With every new job, there are new expectations, work, and deadlines. That can be scary, especially when the new job is in a new career.

Questions arise that you never thought to ask. Your mind is assaulted by things you need to do. And, although you only just got the news, time feels of the essence.

So that’s where I am on this mid-December day: scheduling work flows for two books, planning events, addressing marketing issues, starting an author page on Facebook, writing content, and preparing to leave on a trip of a lifetime to Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

What makes those cities so important? Oh, so many wonderful reasons.

But that’s a topic for another day.

Photo credit by Val Vesa on Unsplash

Calming Emotions, Mindfulness, Relationships

Peaceful Compassion without Suffering

When tragedy strikes, as in the case with the recent Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, the heartache spreads beyond the borders of the affected areas to those with compassionate hearts. Family, friends, neighbors, people in the same state, country, planet (!) feel for those suffering unimaginable—or perhaps, far too imaginable—loss.

We feel for their suffering. We send prayers and good wishes. We connect and donate, We sift, clean, and carry. We bring them into our homes, board their pets, buy them dinner. We do what we can. And even a little is a lot. Because in times of grief, fear, and loss, caring of any kind is a reminder that we’re not alone.

But it can be painful to care, especially for those who take on the pain of others. Therefore, it’s important to remain strong so as not to detract from those in need.

Compassion is not measured by how much we suffer on behalf of others, but by our ability to support and connect with those in the midst of suffering. Click To Tweet

When the comforters become depressed and fearful, they lose the strength of detachment and the clarity of a calm mind. Focus splits, emotional support weakens, and those wanting to help become hindered by their own desire to stop feeling the hurt.

I blogged about Empathy without Suffering back in 2015 after speaking with CSUN graduate students who were studying for their masters in social working. Needless to say, emotional balance was a major concern.

It takes a calm mind and an unencumbered heart to provide meaningful comfort. Click To Tweet

When our minds and hearts are calm, we can be present for our friends in whatever way they need. We can receive their emotions as they journey through grief, anger, optimism, courage, fear, despair, gratitude—sometimes daily, sometimes minute by minute—without feeling a personal need for them to be positive. And that’s important because no one stays positive every moment. No one. Especially in the midst of hardship.

It's not the job of the suffering to inspire others with their courage and resilience. Emotions need to be felt, acknowledged, and processed in their own order, in their own time, and as often or long as necessary. Click To Tweet

Four years ago, when I was hosting the Empowered Living Radio podcast, I had the privilege of speaking with Shamar Rinpoche, the 14th reincarnated Sharmapa, about his new book THE PATH TO AWAKENING and the true nature of compassion. In it, he wrote the following sentence:

“You can help them by powerfully exerting your unemotional, unattached, unborn compassion.” – Shamar Rinpoche

A profound statement and one that resonated deeply with me since I had written about similar concepts in my book EMPOWERED LIVING: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection.

Shamar Rinpoche passed out of this lifetime two months after our conversation. I continue to treasure the experience and invite you to listen to the AWAKENING podcast. (Rinpoche speaks about how to embody compassion without suffering at the seven minute mark.)

If unemotional, unattached, unborn compassion seems too esoteric to embrace, then consider this quote from my own humble book.

“It’s not about us, is it? It’s about the one we love who needs our support. The depth of our relationship is not measured by how much or how visibly we suffer. It’s measured by how willing we are to be truly there for the other person. It takes a calm mind to recognize the needs of others and provide meaningful comfort. Suffering is not calm.”

So, please, feel deeply and care for others but do so with a calm mind and a peaceful heart.

Calming Emotions, Mindfulness

Wrong Turns Allowed

Just before I fell asleep, a car swerved into my lane and shoved me off the road, jolting me out of that twilight state and back into my bed where I was safe and sound.

Well…safe. I’m not too sure about sound.

It took some calming affirmations to get myself relaxed enough to truly fall asleep. But whenever I woke in the night, I still had this unsettling feeling—as if at any moment, something unexpected would happen to derail me. As if I shouldn’t have been on that road.

As if I made a wrong turn.

I’m often invaded by sudden images, sometimes while wide awake. I’m walking along when—BAM!—I see and feel myself twisting an ankle. I can even hear the familiar crunch. It’s sudden and visceral and startling. And I hate it. But I understand it: I have a long history of falling off my foot.

The first time it happened I was living in Manhattan. I had just spent the day rehearsing for Cats, executing all manner of coordinated feats, when I stepped in a pothole and twisted my ankle. After that, all it took was a less than solid step for me to, literally, fall off my foot. No pothole necessary. Just a slight misalignment and down I’d go. It’s happened dozens of times since then, always unexpected, always painful, always accompanied by cringe-worthy crunch and a shock of pain.

So what does this have to do with a car running me off the road?

Insecurity

The unexpected car veering into my lane and the ankle I keep re-twisting in my imagination are signals from my subconscious that I’m feeling uncertain about myself. Did I take the wrong turn? Am I on the right course? Or is the bridge out ahead and I’m headed for disaster?

That’s what I love about this Toontown sign: It reminds me that wrong turns are okay, but more than that, it implies that wrong turns are a natural part of getting from here to there.

It’s scary to stretch out of the comfort zone.

We don’t know what to expect.

We don’t know how others will respond.

We don’t know if we’ll inadvertently cause harm or create a monumental mess.

We’re taking a chance, and in the process, risking failure.

So yeah… it’s scary. And yet, it needs to be done. Otherwise, how can we grow?

I remind myself of this when the startling images catch me unaware—while falling asleep, while walking through a lobby, while sitting at a table with friends with whom I should feel completely comfortable and am not. I shake off the feeling—a very visceral feeling—and remind myself that I am capable of handling whatever comes. Because that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Confidence isn’t about always being right or perfect, it’s about knowing you can get back on course when you take a wrong turn.

night watch
Calming Emotions, Mindfulness, Relationships, Writing

Night Watch

I wrote the notes for this poem on my father’s bed during the wee hours of the night, pen in one hand and his fingers curled around the other. Writing is the best way I know to process emotions and pass through challenging times. It helps me arrange my thoughts and get to the heart of what I’m experiencing. When I arrive at what I feel is a finished poem, essay, or story, I feel a great sense of peace about what has transpired.Read more

prayer for the precious lost
Calming Emotions, Mindfulness

Prayer for the Precious Lost

I greeted the day with my habitual morning meditation—reaffirming my commitment to the path of enlightenment; acknowledging and atoning for my own misuse and misdirected actions, words, and thoughts; activating energy points throughout my body; and centering my spirit for a calm mind and focused intent.

And then I prayed…Read more

Reflections on Gratitude...
Calming Emotions, Health, Mindfulness

Reflections on Gratitude (Insights from a Fractured Tooth)

Who knew a blast of air on a fractured tooth could render a badass ninja into a trembling kitten? Okay… I suppose I would have expected it if I had given it prior thought. But here’s the thing: I don’t have problems with dental work. I don’t leap from the chair like a Halloween cat and claw the ceiling every time the dentist pokes at a tooth. In fact, my biggest concern is staying awake in those comfy reclining chairs. But when that air blasted my nerve, I embedded all twenty of my claws so deeply into ceiling panel I didn’t think I’d ever come down.Read more

Energize the Waiting
Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Energize the Waiting

“I love to wait!” said no one, EVER. And yet, we can’t seem to a avoid it.

We check our emails on the hour (or minutes) for responses from agents, editors, and casting directors. We stare at our phones (and test the connection), willing them to ring with news of that hard earned promotion or the house of our dreams. We pace our floors (or pound our heads) waiting for test results and customer service, plumbers and computer techs, heartthrobs and children. And no matter how fast we work or how efficiently we manage our affairs, every series of actions seems to be followed by an even longer and more grueling period of waiting for some omnipotent entity to say YES!Read more

Dangers of Over-Sharing
Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness

Dangers of Over-Sharing

We’ve all got problems, right? They exist. We can’t just close our eyes and pretend they aren’t there. Well, actually we can, but pretending won’t really make them disappear. Our problems will still be waiting when we work up the courage to take another peek. So, we might be tempted to think that talking about them couldn’t hurt. We might even believe that unburdening our troubles will relieve some of our stress. And to some degree, it does. But at what price?Read more

The Second Guessing Game
Calming Emotions, Communication, Empowerment, Mindfulness

The Second Guessing Game

The other day, a friend of mine was wrestling with a common relationship issue, trying to figure out whether someone’s action was motivated by good intention or woeful disregard. I say common, because I suspect we have all experienced this kind of uncertainty at one time or another: Someone we know does or says something that leaves us feeling hurt, bewildered, or perplexed. The most direct course of action would be to ask. But that only works if we’re willing to believe the answer.Read more

Reflections from a Beach Girl
Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, ShowBiz

Reflections from a Beach Girl

In 1986, I recorded with Brian Wilson. I was a young singer at the time and thrilled to be hired (along with two fabulous women) to sing on his album-in-progress. This was during a difficult time in Brian’s life when he was struggling to get back into his music. A couple years later, he would come out with his critically acclaimed solo album. But in 1986, he was in the midst of his struggle with music and his longtime therapist, Eugene Landy.Read more

Empathy without Suffering
Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, NINJA

Empathy without Suffering

While speaking on the Power of Empathy to graduate students studying for their Masters in Social Working, I saw a need to address how to be empathetic without taking on the pain. Like writers, doctors, artists, caregivers, parents—and any deeply caring individual—these young professionals wondered if there was a way to open their hearts, safely. If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, read on!Read more

why feel bad
Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Motivation, Perspective

Why Feel Bad?

I see many well-meaning slogans encouraging us to embrace imperfections, anything from extra pounds, to volatile social skills. You know the ones. They declare to the world that we are perfect just the way we are, and that others need to fix their perceptions of us. Either that, or they can just leave us the hell alone!

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

Read more

Time warp
Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Perspective

Time Warp

Time, like everything is relative. It depends on our temperament, our work load, our environment, our relationship to people, our stage in life, our health, and myriad other things. Our perception of time fluctuates throughout the day, week, month, or years. It varies according to topic, people, and circumstance. So while we would like to think that the past is the past and the present is the present, that is not always the case. The past for one person might be the present for another. It might even be perceived as the future for someone else. Talk about confusing! Is it any wonder that our differing perceptions of time can cause such conflict and heated emotions?Read more

Tori and rinpoche
Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, NINJA, Perspective, ShowBiz

Differently the Same

I’ve had a series of fascinating conversations for Empowered Living Radio this past month. Each has been on a different topic with wildly different guests: the reincarnated spiritual leader of the Red Hat Lamas of Tibet, an advocate and activist for the Indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America), a Colonel in the United States Army stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an adviser, and a professor and author of middle-grade fiction. And yet, there seems to be a common thread that weaves between all of these conversations—connection and interdependence.

Read more

Fear
Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Exciting Stuff, Mindfulness, NINJA

Overcoming Fear

FearFear stems from our unwillingness to experience a particular condition. It doesn’t matter what that condition is. If we are unwilling to experience it, we can be controlled. The condition could be anything: unemployment, divorce, solitude, poverty, confrontation, injury, illness, or death. All conditions have an opposing counterpart to which we are probably very attached: ie. employment, marriage, friendship, wealth, harmony, mobility, health, and life. Read more