Zombies and Personal Growth

I have spent the last several months in a state of low-level anxiety that occasionally spikes at inopportune moments. (Like there’s ever an opportune moment for anxiety.) For a while now, I assumed that the origin of the anxiety was my 6-day stay in the hospital last year – but the more I explore it, the more I realize that it’s a build-up of several life events and circumstances, and there isn’t any one thing that is the culprit. It’s not just my health, or my living situation, or my job — it’s all of these things and more. There’s not one catch-all solution because there’s not one catch-all problem. However, I do feel like I have a better handle on what’s going on, and I am taking steps in the right direction.

What I’ve discovered, both on my own and with a bit of guidance from others, is that the instinctive, animal part of my nature isn’t getting everything it needs – namely around shelter, pleasure, activity, and connection. I don’t feel particularly safe or comfortable in my home. The only way my job feeds me is financially, and even that is somewhat lacking. I am not able to be as physically active as I would like to be somewhat due to pain – but also due to the fear of throwing another blood clot or worse. And the list goes on. I have said before (and it is still true), that my anxiety is not debilitating – but the things that contribute to it are really piling up and making everyday life a challenge. So it’s high time I do something about it.

One thing I am trying to do is take a breath and recognize my wealth when I find myself in the deathgrip of a scarcity mindset. And as luck would have it, this past weekend, I had one of those all-too-rare opportunities to look around and realize how amazingly blessed with friendship I am. And, like many important life revelations, I have a zombie to thank for it.

A handful of my friends actually committed to being locked in a room with a zombie chained to a wall. We had to solve a series of puzzles in order to find the combination to the lock that would reveal the key that would allow us to escape the room. However, a buzzer would go off every 5 minutes, and the zombie’s chain would get a foot longer. If she touched you – you were “eaten” and could no longer physically participate in the solving. It was adrenaline-pumping, stressful, ridiculous, and SO MUCH FUN. I don’t think I have laughed that hard or squealed that much in years. (Here’s a link to their site. Go do this. You will not regret it.)

Here’s the thing … I’m a nerd. Many of my friends are not. Or at least not in the way that I am. But the one thing that draws me into a relationship is passion. If someone is passionate about what they love and finds a way to bring that passion into the world in some creative and life-affirming way, then I am undeniably drawn to them — and I definitely have some pretty magnetic friends. This event was not the sort of thing that at least ¾ of them would ever consider doing had I not asked them to join me. But they committed, they came (a couple from different states!), and they showed up, despite the fact that this wasn’t their thing. I couldn’t have asked for a better present if I tried. In fact — after the event, I found myself looking around the dinner table at the amazing people who had gathered to help me celebrate my birthday. And maybe it was coming down off of my adrenaline high, or maybe it was low blood sugar because the food was taking so long to get there — but I actually teared up a little and thought to myself:

This is my family. These are the people that show up.

The space for the zombie adventure was limited. I couldn’t invite everyone I wanted to invite, and I felt genuinely bad about that. It’s hard thing for me to be exclusive, even if inclusion is prohibitively impractical. So the people sitting around the table last Saturday are not the only people I consider beloved family. Not even close. There were many dear friends not present, and they are certainly friends that show up with just as much passion. It just goes to show that my abundance in this area is large, and my connections run deep.

I am making several changes over the next few months that I hope will bring my life back into balance. This past weekend served to get a jumpstart on those changes by motivating me towards pleasure, joy, creativity, and a whole lot of laughter – not to mention the recognition that I really do have an incredible support system. I’m not saying that zombies are the cure for all of my ailments, but it was a darn good way to start.

Guest post by Amoret from Siren Afire and Bone and Briar

Recently, my friend Amoret asked me to write a guest post for her blog, Siren Afire – a space that offers regular exploration into personal and spiritual growth. I have a great deal of respect for Amoret and her work, and I couldn’t resist asking her to do the same for my blog. Lucky me, she agreed.

I had so much fun with this process that I would love to do it again. Drop me a note if you would like to exchange blog posts. I am particularly interested in different takes on finding your passion, risk-taking, and the practice of cultivating delight — but if you’ve got a good pitch for something you feel would fit, let’s talk!

But for now and without further ado, let me introduce you to the lovely Amoret and her take on listening to and answering the call to passion.

* * * * * *

I Heard, I Heard, I Heard It Clear: Soul, Passion and Purpose
By Amoret

It’s not the dazzling voice that makes a singer. Or clever stories that make a writer. And it’s not piles of money that make a tycoon. 

It’s having a dream and wanting to live it so greatly that one would rather move with it and “fail” than succeed in another realm.

~Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe

I cannot say I did not hear
That sound so hauntin’ hollow
I heard, I heard, I heard it clear
I was afraid to follow.

~Shel Silverstein, The One Who Stayed

I have a friend who is a talented actress. She is burning out, auditioning for role after role, not getting cast, watching parts slip past her fingers. Over the few years I have known her, she has stopped talking about her passion for acting. Instead, she talks of being tired of the constant auditions and the low pay of her day job, and of finding a more mainstream career. She wonders if focusing on an acting career was a mistake.  More and more, she vacillates between commitment to her current path and giving up the work that has been her dream for many years.

Is acting, her passion? She is no longer sure.

This is a pretty common state of affairs for human beings, at least in my experience. I think we are often wandering around, asking our souls to speak, not knowing how to translate what we hear, or playing telephone with the messages we get.

For me, hearing the voice of my soul and recognizing my passion has been a long process. In 2003, doing work at Diana’s Grove, I recognized that my soul lit up when I was priestessing, creating rituals and working with others in intentional community. The desire to devote my life to spiritual pursuits was intense and joyous, and I knew that I was being called to my purpose.

But soon after, the Voice of Reason spoke up. It reminded me that I had bills to pay and that I liked having a comfortable lifestyle– would I be financially stable if I followed this longing? I also had a spouse that wouldn’t take kindly to a full life overhaul – what would happen to that relationship if I followed my bliss? And goodness, what would people think of me if I dropped everything and lived a life they didn’t understand? (Personal observation: isn’t there always a seed of “What will they think of me?” in the Voice of Reason?)

Long story short: I heard the call, but I was afraid to follow…and I continued to work in “safe” jobs, and I ended my marriage, and I did spiritual work here and there…and I was haunted by the road not taken while living my safe and stagnant life.

Over the last year, the voice of my soul has become more and more insistent, and it is speaking with a clarity and wisdom that I cannot deny. This time, I am listening. This time, I am following. Stepping out into the unknown, I do know this: the soul does not interface with reason. Passion doesn’t need to be understood; it needs to be trusted.

I ask you this: What makes your growth inevitable? What do you do without thought of reward? What do you want more than success? What excites you when you envision it manifesting? What scares you when you envision it slipping through your fingers? What are you willing to humble yourself to? What do you need to awaken in the world?

I believe that most of us have heard the voice of our soul, and doubt it, reason with it, fear it or flat out ignore it. Hearing the call isn’t necessarily the hard part – it’s the following of that call that takes some “soul stamina,” in the words of Caroline Myss…and for good reason.

Your purpose will be bigger than you or your personal desires. It will demand that you grow to birth it, to hold it, to release it into the world. Passion moves through you, and is not yours, for you exist to bring it into being. It is joyful. It is ceaseless. The work your soul requires will be invigorating, for it will align with all you already bring to the world. It will feel exhilarating and frightening at the same time, but know this secret: the delight will outweigh the fear.

Here’s to hearing the call. Here’s to knowing our purpose.

Here’s to doing it afraid.

Amoret has been working in the Reclaiming and Feri witchcraft traditions since 2000. Her passions include the search for Truth and Desire, co-creation and manifestation, ecstatic ritual, and the power of good reading material. Amoret believes in full-on surrendering to transformation.

Passion, Desire and Tornadoes

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to indulge my inner weather nerd and attend the WGN Severe Weather Seminar out at Fermilabs in Batavia, IL. Not only did I meet my weather hero, meteorologist Tom Skilling, but I got to listen to folks like the director of the National Weather Service and a climate scientist who also happens to be a Nobel laureate, and a few other distinguished guests. 

The best part of the presentation? These guys obviously love what they do and love to talk about it. The worst part of the presentation? These guys obviously love what they do and love to talk about it. We left at the four-hour mark, after arriving an hour early to grab seats, and they were still going. I definitely have some feedback about program length … but for the most part, it was pretty fascinating stuff. I learned quite a bit about trends in the field and the process of forecasting.

I even got to bone up on my ASL, since I had a clear view of the interpreters. (Those women earned their paycheck, man. That would be a *tough* interpreting gig.) I can now sign “tornado”, “severe weather”, and “climate change.” I was also pretty impressed that I could follow along reasonably well, and anticipate some of the signs. Maybe I need to start looking at signing up for that 201 class again… but I digress.

The most inspiring part of the seminar was the sheer passion these speakers had for their field of study. I want to find that one thing (or maybe a combination of many things) that I can have that level of passion and commitment to bringing forth. I think I’ve touched that place … ritual certainly, teaching Earth-based spirituality definitely… but it would be wonderful to have that on a regular basis and as something that was accessible to a wider audience. This is the work of the moment, for sure.

One thing I have learned, seeing people embracing their passions and finding joy in their work is something that never ceases to delight and inspire me. I might feel a tinge of envy, but these days, I find that motivating. (That hasn’t always been true. Yay, growth!) My prayers these days are all about bringing my desire and my passion together in order to feed something greater than myself. So mote it be, baby. So mote it be.