Laura Paskell-Brown is a very flawed human being who lives and works in New York. She is one of the ‘Young Leaders’ at Women of Spirit and Faith.
Two years ago when my life felt like it was going to hell in a handbag, when every day seemed to bring some new problem and every thought some terrible pain, I needed more than a new code of ethics or a mere philosophy to save me. No, when this kid hit bottom she needed a completely new way of life, a set of practices to reshape the mind and the steady ebb and flow of each moment. Even today, when my life is so much better, I need not only the practices that take me to Divine bliss, but also tools to use when my emotions are in turmoil and I feel like smacking somebody.
One daily ritual that helps me with this are the inventories I do with myself. These check-ins are a series of questions I ask myself in order to uncover the real source of my discomfort. It turns out that whenever I want to blame another person, to verbally admonish them or to cause them some physical pain, the real cause is my own selfishness, dishonesty, inconsideration or my (eternally present) desire to get my own way. “But she’s such a sweet girl”, I hear you say. “How could this be?” Let me give an example: my dishonesty. I used to lie so frequently one could have considered it a daily (perhaps hourly) ritual. Rather than connecting me however, it was a practice that separated me from others because it led me to fear them (would they find out I lied?), as well as to all kinds of resentments on my part.
You mean I resented the people I lied to?!? You betcha I did.
Imagine you were a man and I lied to you about who I was in order to make you fall in love with me (suuuuuuure, I looooove baseball, it’s my faaaaaaavourite thing!) and you did in fact fall in love with me. Now fast-forward two years. We’re living together and you want us to watch baseball on TV for the hundredth time in a row. And I’m pissed. How COULD you subject me to another afternoon of this crap? So I’m indulging in another ritual I used to love: self-pity. You’re perplexed, and you say “But I thought you liked baseball”, which you have every right to think, because I told you that I did. But don’t you see? I only told you that to get my own way. And now I want my own way again, so it would be really great if you could disregard that lie, without me ever actually having to say that I lied, because another practice of mine was always being in the right. Got it? Good.
Such practices do not a happy relationship make, and I finally realised that if I wanted to stay in contact with my Divine Feminine (not to mention my fellow man), I needed to start doing it differently. So it is that every day (sometimes several times a day) I ask myself “Have I been dishonest?” and if the answer is “yes” then I’m going to tell you I lied and apologise. It’s a simple practice that helps me to avoid the complex mess that used to be my life. I also ask myself “Have I been resentful? Selfish? Afraid?” and I can address those issues too when they come up.
So today, if anyone were to ask me on a date to a baseball game, I am still free to accept, as long as I make it clear that I like to watch baseball about as often as I go for a check-up at the dentist. Some rituals just aren’t healthy for me when performed more frequently than that. After all, my Divine Femme prefers figure skating. Ahem, sorry, that was a lie.