About Me

My photo
Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb10, Day17: Finding the point of balance

Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

The author of this prompt is Tara Weaver. You can visit her at:
The Butcher and the Vegetarian

It is a very grey day here in northern California. It has been raining all day long, and water is still drumming on the quivering branches of the giant oak trees lining the street outside. I was just reading in the newspaper about a gathering intended to help people beat the dreary weather blues, and, despite the fact that it is true -- it is raining today -- the idea of needing to beat the blues here made me smile. I had an appointment downtown yesterday and I walked, wearing a tank top and a light summer cardigan, and I was still sweating when I reached my destination. Here we are in mid-December, and I am still wearing tank tops. I passed under many trees still flaming with fall coloured leaves. In December. Needless to say, I am loving the rain showers. I am realizing that I have grown accustomed to having the winter months to regroup and prepare myself for a new year ahead, which for me, as a Baha'i, begins in the spring.

I have learned. Correction...I AM learning many things about myself this year. I am inclined to say that some of them have been positive realizations, while others have been harder to digest, but I will re-phrase that: I have been noticing that there are really two ways that I experience life -- one is when when my actions are in line with my higher self, and the other is when I am being given the *opportunity* to find creative ways to bring my actions and words into line with my higher self. I am currently reading the book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. She highlights the idea that what we often think of as negative experiences or suffering, is really only the negative light in which we cast our attempts to negotiate a balance between the higher self and the ego. Don't get me wrong here. Struggle is not comfortable, and it is often associated with emotions that I might rather not be feeling, but whereas in the past I would have gotten lost in the negative emotions that surface when I am struggling with something, I have started learning to take a step back and detach myself from what I am feeling, and notice what is happening for what it really is: my ego struggling with letting go of its own will.

Living at home with my parents again after so many years of living on the opposite side of the world from them has meant that my ego is struggling consistently, on a daily basis! There is something about living in close proximity with family that brings all of my most unattractive qualities and tendencies to the surface. I imagine that I am not alone here. My immediate response is to want to escape--to move on with my life. To simply accept that there comes a point in a person's life when living with one's parents just does not seem to work anymore, and that I am definitely at that point. But I have been realizing this past week that this desire to escape, while understandable, and healthy in certain ways, does not make constructive use of my current situation to further positive growth, or help me to become a happier person. I am finding that becoming more conscious, in my every day interactions, of how I use my words and how I act, and whether my words and actions are in line with my higher self, is much more productive use of my energy and attention.

An example of this is an experience I had just last night. I had been having a fantastic day. I woke up, said some beautiful prayers, did a spectacularly inspiring and empowering yoga practice with Elena Brower and Kathryn Budig. The class was about "Aiming True." The practice was all about being consistent, cultivating "ordinary virtuosity", which contains within it our capacity for "spontaneous virtuosity" (a.k.a. appropriate responses!) in any circumstance or context. After that I had a lovely walk both down to, and back home from my appointment with a life-transitions counselor that I have been meeting with once a week to assist me with exploring a new career and life-direction. So my day had already been amazing from the minute I woke up, but the best part of it, in my mind, was what I had planned for the evening. Thursday nights are the night that I immerse myself in deepening on the writings of Baha'u'llah by studying the book The Summons of the Lord of Hosts with two people who are quickly becoming very close friends. I look forward to the hours that we spend studying Baha'u'llah's writings more than just about anything else that I do during my week, and I could not wait to get over there, because we had missed last week's session.

 Just before I was about to leave, my mother told me she was taking off for a meeting of her own. Now this might not sound like a problem, and ordinarily it would not have been, but I had to sell my Canadian Toyota Corolla this past summer because it did not meet California emissions standards and therefore could not pass the vehicle smog test. My mother has been kindly sharing her car with me all fall, and when we both need to head out of the house at the same time, she usually borrows my dad's car, and I use her car. But last night my father went to a concert, leaving us with just one car. A bit like the final stages of musical chairs, if you like! So my mom left for her meeting, and I had to call and tell my dear friends that I would not be able to make it to their home for our study of the writings. It took me quite a while, a good cup of hot tea, and some journal writing to move through my frustration at being stranded at home, but after a while I was able to take a step back and realize that my emotions were an expression of my ego's will rearing its head, and that when I looked at the situation from the perspective of "what can I learn here?" I realized that if I had communicated better with my parents, I could have asked one of them to give me a ride to my gathering earlier on in the evening, and the night would have gone much smoother. I also realized that not having things work out as I had intended was a disappointment that I did not handle as well as I could have, and that learning to deal with life's disappointments with a greater degree of grace and acceptance is something that I would do well to work on. So there were hidden opportunities in how things turned out.

What I am trying to say with my story is that the best thing that I have learned about myself this year is that I have the capacity to shape how I experience my reality. I have the ability to see life's challenges in a negative light, and to turn away from opportunities to grow; but I also have the ability to find opportunities to learn more about myself and to grow in ways I might not otherwise choose to grow in. This may well be rather elementary so some people. I have known this in theory for a long time, but have never been as conscious about it in my day to day interactions. Realizing that I have this ability to shape my reality and my relationships with others is extremely empowering. Learning that while I may not always get to choose my circumstances, I can choose how I respond to my circumstances, is a process, but it is one I am grateful for being immersed in at this point in my life. It is not a realization that I expect to have only once and be done with. It is one I am going to have to keep working on being conscious of. It's all about the journey, as the saying goes!

What have you learned about yourself this year?


  1. Lovely post, Ariana. Thank you for sharing via the awesome idea of Reverb10!

  2. Thank you both for your comments. If you have a response to this question, would love to read it either as a comment or if you blog about it, please post a link to your response here so I can check it out!