Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'd rather be WICKED!

I’m still on a “green cloud” this week  from seeing the play Wicked. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of this production, the story is about the land of Oz and its many colorful characters, pre-Dorothy and Toto. It's a tale of  Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West; Glinda the Good Witch; and the Wizard in all his narcissistic splendor.  All the characters transport you on a realistic journey down the yellow brick road.   If you're debating on whether it is worth the $100+ (and those are the cheap seats)  to attend, it is.  It's a fun, humorous, poignant tale, with a twist.  "Glinda the good", is blonde, beautiful, ditsy, and shallow.  She fits right into the superficially lovely Land of Oz and refuses to peek at the the "man behind the curtain".  To do so might burst the bubble of security she finds in her looks, popularity and the comfort zone of a world she knows well.  So, Glinda doesn't dare  look.   To see the great and powerful Oz, as neither great nor powerful, would force the question: what else is illusion? Elphaba, on the other hand, has green skin, is already unpopular and has been since birth.  What does she have to lose by ripping back the draperies and exposing a frail, wizened old man, as he screams, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"?   She pays attention.  Her dreams are temporarily shattered. She finds herself staring into one of many faces she's allowed to direct, limit, and define her, and recognizes it isn't even real, and hardly intimidating.  This revelation opens up a new world for her.  She's freed to explore suppressed talents and resourcefulness in changing her world.  The costumes, set design and special effects are not only yummy eye candy; the music is inspirational. My ears perked up at the words: 

        Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
 It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap
It's time to try defying gravity...............
I'm through accepting limits, cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of , losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love, it comes at much too high a cost.
I think I'll buy defying gravity........

Wow......and, this is where the story gets really good!

It's one of those fables that slowly unfold layers of  insights, unearthing the golden key, which unlocks authenticity and its by-products........serenity and happiness.  It speaks loudly  of accepting and proudly wearing who we are and honoring that, although others may not. It reminds us to do it anyway, because the price of trying to become something we aren't, steals the beautiful bits of our character that God implanted in us individually, empowering us to fulfill our unique destiny.  It's also about hearing truth pounding so loudly, inside your soul, and learning to defend it, no matter what.  It's recognizing that sometimes you can't  make others happy, and perhaps, it's time for them to learn to be happy with themselves. It's learning, if you need to worry about losing love, it wasn't the real deal anyway.  Yet, true love blossoms in the play.  The kind of love where you fall  head over heels with another's soul, rather than their perfect skin. You recognize real beauty is deeply embedded beyond the normal five senses.   A person's  true character and value is revealed, by watching with your heart, not your eyes.  

My husband had a saying which I find myself trying to apply today.  He said, "We can't judge.  We don't know the rest of their  story."  Wicked tells the rest of their story.  A bucket of water is thrown on that wicked old witch of the west. It's meant to eliminate her, but it also douses the platitude, "perception is reality".  No it's not!  Perception is our personal delusion and always will be.  Perception resides in the mind.  Reality, is truth, and can only be known from the place God resides, our hearts.

I left the theatre smiling big.  I was entertained for sure, but also comforted.  My choice to stop being afraid of losing love I never had in the first place, and selling off pieces of my soul for so many things I thought I needed, has been a good one. I am no longer limited by my self-imposed fear of moving out of my comfort zone into the wild and beautiful unknown. And, while my exterior may be perceived as blonde, baubled, stilletoed,  and moderately shallow, the reality is, I have the heart of the Wicked!   And, that makes me happy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love Lite - The story of a rural woman with an urban heart: Journey with her as she travels from her own fridge in the kitchen, to pre-meditated, meditation in the den. Final stop... the bathroom mirror which whispered sweet affirmations into her ear. A happy ending.... She fell head over heels, crazy in love, with the person standing right before her eyes!

Yippee! The movie, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s smash book, Eat, Pray, Love, came out this weekend. The hype this book created had to be good for tourism in Italy, India and Indonesia!   Everyone could use a good Liz Gilbert experience just once in their lifetime.  If done as well as she did it, one lifetime is probably all you’d need! Three unique destinations.  Three life altering experiences.  1) Cultivating a healthy relationship and genuine appreciation for the sensuality of food as one of life’s pleasures, rather than a means of control, deprivation, medicating, or eating away emotion. 2) Connecting with your true self and reaping the benefits of forgiveness, and, 3) Meeting your perfect fit... the love of your life, in the most beautiful location on earth;  a fairy tale come true. All in one single year!  C’mon...what are the odds? I’ve spent a lifetime just trying to find any old self, true or not. It’s possible, this year, a reunion has finally taken place.  “Helloooooooo, Rebecca.... nice to finally meet you.  I’m Becky!”  Now that we’ve met, we’re working on best friend status. I really like the old broad.  I asked her, “Where you been all my life?” She said, “Right here. You didn’t have time for me.  You were trying so desperately to insure others liked you, you couldn’t see that I already did.”  I digress.  Back to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. I am not a big fan of the Nicholas Sparks genre, love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after...... sigh.....This  is just not a realistic gig for me.  Perhaps, I have a deep seated envy of the population that believe in that kind of innocence. My daughter is among them.  I feared this book would be like that. Girl experiences double heartbreak, goes to Europe to heal and wait out her divorce. While waiting, she swears off men, eats her way through the best pizza known to man (really substituting food for man). She decides to go to India, as her pants are now too tight and perhaps, being locked in an Ashram indulging in the brown rice diet program, will be the ticket to finding weight loss and herself. While in the Ashram, she drops two sizes, and discovers she must forgive, in order to clear her karmic airspace.  Emerging an enlightened, skinnier, human being, she is open to new beauty and potential frolic on the beautiful beaches of Bali.  Fade out.... final chapter, there she goes, walking hand in hand, on the beach toward the land of milk, honey and commitment, with some sexy, worldly, foreigner. Flash forward to her new book, ten years later, Purge, Rage, Hate.... Stripped of her money, again, divorce pending, she can’t afford to work through her issues this time gallivanting across the globe.  She spends a weekend in a cheap hotel room in Soho, meditating to the sounds of the local hooker and her parade of Johns in the room next door. Is this all too cynical of me? Am I writing my own story here?  
I know I am being wildly irreverent and I apologize.  That was the mindset I had when I opened the book initially, two years ago.  When I closed the book, I was sighing and clutching it to my heart, hoping to shove some of her wisdom into my own soul.  I did. She changed my perception on a number of things and I annoyingly quote her fairly often these days. I fell in love with this book, and Elizabeth Gilbert.  She has the confidence (and humility) to strip bare, expose herself, and invite you into the bedroom of her vulnerability.  Right where all her secrets are kept.  You feel her suffering, see her revelations, and experience her joy.  She is the kind of person you want for a best friend. Your secrets would be safe with her because they mirror yours, and it’s creepy and not much fun, to be with someone who has none.  And, this is what made her story beautiful, and believable, rather than just another glorified love saga.  Yes, she found her grand love. But, before that, she took your hand and let you walk that painful path with her, peeling back the layers in each country, as she moved forward into her happily ever after.  
The buzz her story created is pretty amazing. Interest in Buddhism has skyrocketed as well as “spiritualcations” (spiritual vacations).   I recently read an article in a woman’s health magazine of a group of young women, who quit their jobs, as well, to travel and “marvel” at something.  I am not discounting the bravery and faith it takes to venture out into parts unknown.  But, I do know that making a geographical adjustment isn’t necessarily the path to enlightenment, forgiveness and love.  Can be a heck of a lot of fun while doing it, but we all have to come home, and guess who comes along home with us?  
Two years ago, I was blessed to travel, for two months.  I became immersed in each culture and savored every moment and morsel. It was my adventure of a lifetime. The final days of my trip, I reflected on many things. Three countries, eighteen accommodations, many more destinations, witnessing snatch your breath away majesty, in its natural form, as well as man-made Art that made me weep.  I still felt this  urgency to return home.  I discovered that enlightenment can also be found in our own surroundings and in the eyes of the love we encounter  in our daily connections. 
This last year has been an Eat, Pray, Love journey for me as well.  The majority of my enlightenment has arrived, quietly, within the four walls of my own home.  I have rediscovered the pleasure of good food. Not only the taste, but the serenity of the preparation.  Somehow, over the years, I must have decided I wasn’t worthy of the time it took to prepare lovely, nourishing, meals. That was reserved for friends,family, and special occasions.  Food was fast and furious, kind of like my life, consumed most often standing up at the counter! I didn’t think that same pleasure, I so freely gave my loved ones, was mine to enjoy.  How lovely it is to now sit at a table, cloth napkin, pretty dishes, nutritious, delectable food, filling my belly as well as sustaining my soul. My Pray took place in my personal Ashram, my favorite spot in my house.  It is a holy place by nature, because so much of life has played out there.  Hearts have broken, tears have been shed, secrets revealed, joy shared, intimacy savored, comfort provided, and a blessed life passed on to begin a heavenly life, all in this small, solitary room. It’s as beautiful in its meaning as Bali could ever be.  The shelves reflect photographs of happy people and times, meaningful trinkets and treasures.   Windows overlook God’s playground, glorious year round, but especially so when the trees are frosted with the white stillness of winter.  A fireplace, roaring,  acts as a fire Mandela in losing conscious thought and slipping into  the space inside, where God resides. Over sized comfy chairs welcome sprawling into childlike poses. All the while, listening to instruction from some of the inner work greats; Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zin, Dr. Wayne Dyer, as they help me slow down my mind enough, to allow stillness, prayer, healing and Love, to enter.  Back to back days spent in my haven, pried open  the door to forgiveness and allowed it  to  finally swing wide open.   And, love.  I discovered her in my bathroom mirror.  I had seen her around for many years, but never really paid much attention to her.   How could I miss those bright, happy eyes and joyful smile?  I am happy to report she is everything I always dreamed of.  I accept her as she is, flaws and fluff, because those are the things that make her special to me.  And, I made a commitment (perhaps for the first time in my life) to always treasure her, never leave her, and unconditionally love her, forever.  
Don’t wait for the time, or the money, to take your Eat, Pray, Love journey.  Begin where you are, with what you have.  Venture into parts of yourself that are yet unknown.  I promise, you will discover there is so much to "marvel" at, right where you stand.