martha dawson

errant inspiration

the extraordinary lives in the ordinary

can you love a hangnail?

bored dog statue

It came unexpectedly and was as welcome as a hangnail. 

Just like that tiny bit of torn skin, it began as a small irritant that was just uncomfortable enough that I was unable to ignore it completely, and it grew in its capacity to annoy me with every passing hour.

It was boredom.

Let me explain. I DON’T DO BOREDOM. I never did, not even as a child. I have always prided myself on being self-entertaining. Ego clue #1: Only the ego mind gives birth to pride, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy reacting.

It felt like the proverbial fire in my belly had been snuffed out. I had no desire to do anything. In an attempt to get myself jump started I laid out a smorgasbord of tantalizing activities. Nada. Then I coaxed, wheedled, and cajoled, and when that didn’t work I resorted to begging, all with no result. Fear began to set in. What if I stayed like this FOREVER?!? That’s when the anger showed up and the bullying began.


Nothing changed.
Ego clue #2: It doesn’t take a detective to know the home address of the inner bully, and yet I still continued to engage with it.

A week, or was it two, went by. I was exhausted. I had nothing left to fight the ennui. My days were reduced to rewatching endless episodes of an old British archeology show with the added attraction of witnessing a stink bug explore my computer monitor for two days. If I was going to be a flabby minded, uninteresting slug of a human being, so be it. Ego clue #3: Interesting?  Why do I need to be interesting? Interesting to whom? Again, too involved in having a pity party to take notice.

I finally gave up and resigned myself to slugdom.

My mind immediately went quiet! 
What a relief.

As I relaxed into the silence I had a moment of clarity. Why don’t I ask for guidance? Gee, you’d think I would have thought of this sooner since that’s what my work is all about, but fear often blinds us to the obvious solution. So I reached out and asked my spirit guide and soul for assistance. I wasn’t disappointed.

Over the years I had come to believe that my worth and lovability were based solely on what I could do for others. This coupled with a natural inclination to be of service made for a confusing mess. I learned to label my own needs and desires as frivolous or selfish. This influenced many of my choices big and small. For example, there was a time when I couldn’t even read a book just for my own pleasure or enrichment. The whole time I’d be thinking about who I would recommend it to or how I could share the information in a class. It was like living on an invisible stage in constant pursuit of adulation to feed my wobbly ego. I wasn’t really living MY life.

This was not a new revelation. I have consciously worked on healing this issue of codependency for years and have made substantial progress, but like most deeply rooted beliefs it has many layers and has covertly affected many areas of my life. I still struggle with doing things just for the sheer pleasure of it. My ego doesn’t see the point. It just wants to be fed.

Here comes the interesting bit.

I was informed that the boredom was a good sign. It signaled a tipping point in releasing my need for approval. There had been a coup. My ego no longer had its bum firmly planted on the Great Motivator throne and it had roared into overdrive trying to regain control of the situation and became frantic when its tools of guilt, shame, and fear no longer had the desired effect. The reason I fell into the boredom stupor is because I hadn’t recognized there had been an inner shift. My motivation was now coming from my soul not my head.

I decided to try out this new way of being and see if I could do something just because it gave me joy. I decided to paint. Well, my ego had not laid down all of its weapons. It spat out a bunch of reasons why THAT shouldn’t be happening right now. I shot back that I didn’t care, I was doing it anyway and headed for the easel. There was a moment of silence, and then I was hit with an enormous bout of anxiety accompanied by a wave of intense nausea.

Whoa. That’s new.

I hesitated. Then I burst out laughing! What I had just witnessed was an act of unmitigated desperation on my ego’s part because it could feel some of its power slipping away. I immediately sat down at the easel, squeezed out dabs of paint, and happily painted for the rest of the day.

When I stopped resisting the boredom I was able to receive its gifts. It was an invitation to be still, a call back to present moment awareness, the place where I could hear my soul voice. It was a reminder that life is not necessarily about getting busy. It’s about being. It’s living in and embracing each moment as it unfolds whether I’m paying the bills, sitting in meditation or watching a stink bug. Life only occurs in the present moment because the present moment is all there is.

My ego micromanages, intellectualizes, and often weaponizes my emotions so it can remain in control. It believes it must do this to keep me safe and on the RIGHT path. It holds strong opinions about what are good and bad emotions. Envy, grief, embarrassment are bad because they are painful and unflattering, but it turns out it’s not too fond of unconditional love or great joy either, and too much peace and contentment are also on its shit list because to experience them I am in present moment awareness, and it has no influence there.

I don’t consider my ego mind my enemy. It is part of me and my soul designed it. It’s just doing the wrong job. It is a temporal construct trying to direct a spiritual experience. It is a necessary requirement for the soul, along with the body, to address the temporal matters that arise while the soul is doing its thing in human form. Now here’s the crazy part, temporal issues make up only five percent of our lives! Does it really make any sense that we have put our mind in charge of the whole kit and caboodle? 

The boredom episode inspired me to make this promise to myself:

To the best of my ability and seeking assistance when needed, I will be with my emotions. I will experience and observe them. I will not judge or fear them or try to avoid them. They are fertile fodder for my soul growth. Anything that clears the way for my soul to more fully express itself is a gift beyond measure.

Since I have implemented this practice life has become more peaceful. There is less mind chatter, and I seem unable to do anything that has even a whiff of “should” about it. It’s not that I no longer have any uncomfortable or painful emotions. I just don’t resist them. I see them as teachers providing opportunities to move towards wholeness. I can even welcome their appearance knowing there are gifts within, and in doing so I am able to stay present, and to my great delight it has deepened my experience of inner peace and expanded my awareness of the multifaceted beauty in which universal consciousness expresses itself. It has also made me profoundly aware that we do not do this alone. I am so grateful to be surrounded by beings, both here and in spirit, who inspire me by sharing their journeys with honesty and courage and those who have compassionately assisted me with open hearts and a willing ear.  

For me, life is soulwork, and soulwork is about expressing the love that we are, a beautiful and challenging experience shared by us all. We do it together.

By the way, my being nudged to watch endless hours of archeology was not a random occurrence. It was a message from my soul to start digging and uncover the truth that is buried within. The universe is generous. Loving guidance is all around us. We just need to be open to receiving it.

From my heart to yours,

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