On Manifesting (or Making Things Happen with My Mind)

Today I want to write about manifesting (or what I later define as “Making Things Happen with My Mind”), but I’m nervous. I wish to write about it because I’ve had recent success I think others can learn from, but I’m scared because I fear readers will either mentally check out or try to physically check me in at the first mention of this subject.

Maybe I need to find a different word because manifesting sounds too “out there”, “new age”, and, well, whacky. Perhaps an alternate word will make the topic more feasible?

Since I’ve been in Mexico for the better part of a month, I see no better place to start the search for this new word than with Spanish.

There’s a common word in Spanish, the verb “hacer”. This is the first word that comes to mind as a potential substitute for Manifesting. I’ll be honest, to my non-fluent ears hacer seems to be used in so many varied situations that I’m unable to describe its job properly. When I look the word up, however, the most common English translations are “to do” or “to make”.

That’s a good start.

Wordsmithing this a bit, I take the second translation “to make” and then add the word “happen” to the end. That feels a bit better.

The thing is, in my western culture when we talk about making things happen, we usually think of putting physical hard work and exertion in place. Manifesting is different.

Instead of exerting and pushing externally, much of manifesting happens internally. It’s about setting a goal, aligning energy, thoughts, and feeling with that goal, then letting go. Knowing this, dare I say that Manifesting equals making things happen with my mind?

But Wait! There’s Research (Kinda)

Ok, I’m not sure if this sounds any better BUT, maybe pointing out that there IS actual scientific research highlighting my ability to make things happen with my mind might help. In fact, this is the fancy quote from said research which gives me hope that I’m not insane when discussing this topic:

“It is able to represent more adequately than classic concepts the neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function.”

Directed attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function doesn’t PROVE that making things happen with my mind is real, BUT it does suggest that directed attention alters how my brain works. From this I can hypothesize that maybe altering how my brain works changes how I act or don’t act when it comes to meeting my goals. And maybe this change in response is what manifesting is all about?

Maybe.

Either way, I’m counting the research as a first piece of evidence. The recent events which happened to me are what I count as a solid second.

Recent Event #1

The first event is a smaller one. A few weeks ago I was looking over my annual finances, and even though I’ve been doing pretty well this year, I noted how having one more small, non-intensive project to give me an extra influx of cash for the holiday season would be perfect.

Realizing I didn’t have the energy to push forward with additional business development or marketing to land said project, I took another approach. I set the goal of said project, imagined what having it would feel like, then let go.

That’s right, instead of churning and putting all my energy towards finding a gig, I simply detached myself from the outcome. I didn’t think about it, nor did I wish for it. I just let it be.

Several days later I received an email from a client I hadn’t heard from in years. They had a desire for a two week project that paid pretty well, and required little effort.

Reading this email I felt the exact same feelings I had envisioned. We were able to set the project up quickly, and in no time we were on our way towards extra cash (and making our client happy).

Yeah, success.

Recent Event #2

When I booked my travel to Mexico, I knew I’d be in the country for one of their biggest holidays, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I greatly desired to learn more about the holiday while I was in Xalapa, and I longed to be part of the celebrations. My greatest wish was to talk to local people about how they celebrated and what the holiday meant to them.

Unfortunately, I knew zero people in Xalapa with whom I could celebrate. Instead of researching Day of the Dead meetups or expat groups or some other option, I chose to go inward. I visualized what I wanted, aligned with why I wanted it, and then let go.

A few days later, on the Tuesday before, I was in the kitchen of my AirBnb host. He, a Dutch man, was helping two of his long time Mexican friends to practice English. As a native speaker, I was invited to join.

Several minutes into our chatting, the wife of the pair said to me, “You must celebrate Muertos with us. Thursday we will take you to the center of the city. Then Saturday, you will come to our house to see our alter and eat with us. Sunday, we will take you to Naolinco, a very famous town for Muertos celebrations.”

I was floored. Right before me was an entire itinerary that met my original intentions, and all of it was created without one bit of grind and hustle on my part. To say I felt a little bit like I had superpowers would be an understatement.

Lis manifests herself in front of Xalapa letter sign.
While celebrating in the city center we stopped to grab evidence that I, indeed, was in Xalapa.
Lis in Xalapa in front of carpet alter on Muertos. Another manifestation!
Behind me you see a carpet. It is made of SAND! These are the traditional pre-Columbian alters seen during Muertos.
Alter in Naolinco. Manifested on my day with new friends.
An alter in Naolinco. This is the more modern form you see with offerings to the dead.
Lis in front of a giant Catrina in Naolinco. No better example of Manifestation.
I’m pretty excited to see this huge catrina (dressed up skeleton) in the middle of Naolinco.
Cortez catrina display. Made this happen with my mind... maybe?
This exhibition is put on every year with a different theme. This year’s theme marked the 500 year anniversary of Cortez’s arrival.
Catrina with a black veil and purple dress. Definitely made this happen with my mind.
This was by FAR my favorite catrina of the day. She was in a local pastry shop.
Lis on bicycle with Catrina in a tuxedo. Look, I manifested a groom!
It was a wild ride!
Naolinco letter sign. My mind brought Naolinco into being... kind of.
I love these signs.

Great examples, BUT how can I be so sure?

I’m the first to admit that the idea that I somehow made these things happen with my mind can seem out there. But, being that I actually LIVED these examples it’s hard for me to deny the premise completely. This conflict made it clear to me that further investigation was needed.

My first step was to look further at the idea that I had made these things happen with my mind. Sure, I thought that’s what I had done, but since I know that thinking something doesn’t make it true, I had to dig deeper.

To do so, I examined if and how others talk about the concept of making things happen with the mind. What research had been done? What results surfaced?

In my investigation, I found several resources which discussed the concept. These, coupled with the research I cited earlier AND with my own experiences further solidified my theory. (NOTE: I will, of course, continue to investigate.)

Another interesting finding was that many of these resources echoed my own experiences. For example, in each, having a clear vision of the goal and aligning with the feeling surrounding that vision was paramount to success. In addition, most of the resources also noted the importance of letting go.

Bringing Together My Investigations

I reflected on both of my alleged manifestations. In both, I set clear goals. In the case of the project my goal was to “have some extra cash”. In the case of celebrating Day of the Dead it was “to learn more about the holiday”.

In both I visualized what each of those outcomes would feel and look like.

In example 1, I saw myself landing a client quickly, felt the project being non-labor intensive and the client being highly satisfied, imagined myself having extra cash, and felt the relief that came as a result.

In example 2, I felt the joy of being seated at a table with friends and festive foods. I imagined myself in the midst of skeletons and colors, and felt the wonder of learning more.

Sure I didn’t know the details of these imaginings, but I could envision what they might feel like. I walked through these events as best I could. Then, when I got to the question of “How do I make this happen?” I did something REALLY IMPORTANT.

I answered, “I don’t know”.

Then, I detached myself from any results, and did absolutely NOTHING else.

I was STILL making something happen though.

The beauty of it all is that during this process I described: setting a goal, having clarity on how the outcome of the goal would feel, aligning with the feelings and letting them sink in, and then, most important, letting go of the result, I was in effect doing or making something happen.

The key was, I wasn’t pushing in order to bring my desires into being. In fact, I didn’t care about the outcome at all! Instead I was accepting my current state with or without the result, while knowing that IF my goals came to pass they would make me more whole.

“I’ve tried this before…”

Before these recent events, each time I saw an article on making things happen with the mind or “manifesting” I scoffed thinking, “I’ve tried this ‘manifesting’ before, and it doesn’t work”! Now, I see my error.

I tried.

In the past I put external effort to the forefront. I had checklists and action plans, and I clung to my end result. I found articles and instead of reading between the lines and finding my truth, I pushed until I checked off each and every step; never seeing the result I told myself I had envisioned.

During these times I blinded my clarity with desperation. Instead of letting go, I focused on grasping and needing things to happen.

I did this because letting go felt like being lazy or giving up, and lazy people aren’t worthy people. More, I desperately wanted to feel worthy of the outcome I desired..

I know now that letting go isn’t giving up. Instead it is giving the subconscious brain time and space to “direct attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function.” It’s trusting instead of grasping.

And of course, Buddhism holds the key

When making things happen with my mind, there is action and effort, but as the Buddhist texts teach this effort needs to be “right effort”. Better defined here as:

“The most basic, traditional definition of Right Effort is to exert oneself to develop wholesome qualities and release unwholesome qualities.”

I need to set my goals (and make sure they align with making me more wholesome), align with how attaining them will feel, and let go (i.e. let go of the unwholesome qualities of pushing and grasping).

To me this is taking the right effort to bring wholesome actions from my internal thinking into my external world. This is making things happen with the mind, and I’m further convinced that it is 100% possible.

Making things happen in this way is much harder than following a plan or checklist. The latter includes social proof that others have succeeded. The former involves walking where there is no path, and this means little validation and even less knowing.

Walking my own path forces me to trust my beliefs, have faith in myself, and not concern myself with outcomes to prove myself to others.

It’s hard to walk such a path, but from what I’ve learned creating that path is not only possible, it’s half the fun.


Becoming a Wild Woman

This post was originally published in Sam Osbiston’s online publication Catching Life back in the Spring of 2017. It’s one I worked hard on and really enjoyed creating! I’m reposting here so that you too can enjoy it (hopefully).


As a young girl, somewhere between the ages of 5 and 7, I made a bold statement.

I remember my two older brothers and I were arguing, and one of them made a comment condescendingly saying,

“When you grow up you’re going to be lazy and no good”.

I remember feeling weighed down by hurt and confusion. I didn’t understand why anyone who was supposed to love me would say such things. It is only as an adult I realize this is what others tend to do to the brave and wild. They go to great lengths to extinguish our fire before our flames can grow so large they get consumed by them.

Shockingly, my mother stuck up for me. In what felt like a rare moment I heard her say to me,

“No you’re not. You’re going to grow up to be a nice, smart young lady.”

At her words, I remember feeling a tightening around my soul. One that I knew wouldn’t do.

Confronting my mother’s statement, my small frame straightened and I announced,

“No I’m not, I’m going to be a wild woman!”

Wild? Did I even know what I was saying? Did I really want to be wild?

At such a young age, did I know that a song played across my spirit; one that would not be quieted by the everyday expectations of life? Did I know in order to feel a part of this world, to find an inner peace and calm, and to make a mark for myself and for all my kindred spirits, I would need to dance in full force to the rhythm of my inner song?

Was I aware of what dancing the dance would mean, and did I realize living a wild life would require me to stand alone in my truth?

In the time before I allowed my heart and soul to be tightly closed by mediocrity’s vice, yes, I think I did want to be wild. In fact, I think it was knowing these things deep inside the core of my being which made my child-self affirm my future so confidently.

Somehow, I still ended up falling into the grasp of the uninspired life. My dreams clouded and eventually merged with those of others. I found myself operating from a restrained, sensible, and disciplined place, one that had been made for me, instead of by me. While living this carefully constructed life, my persona eventually morphed into that image my mother described.

I most certainly did become a “nice, smart young lady”.

The song, however, still played.

It hummed along in the background throughout the empty successes, the ghost failures, and the misguided loves and heartaches. Eventually, I saw I had given up so much of myself to the conventional, I was left feeling void and drained, like a ghost roaming eternity in search of a redemption it would never find.

I needed to find my way back to Wild. I needed to dance.

I don’t think it was one moment or decision that prompted the dilation of my soul. Rather, I think my untamed heart freed itself slowly, jaggedly, and painfully, like ice expanding and breaking apart the rocky enclosure. One painstaking decision after the other led to the undoing of my sensible persona and the uplifting, and releasing, of my natural spirit.

Slowly, the traditions I held onto so loyally and so dearly began to break away. I started to see through them, past the place where their false core resided, through the thin, filmy residue of the intentions that held them together, and into the heart of the lies they were built upon.

I began to confront my own false narratives which held together the fragments of the model citizen I had become. I stood face to face with my demons, and I broke my own heart several times along the way.

With each broken heart I realized how much I had stifled my own free spirit for the acceptance of others. I waded in the pool of the heavy pain and regret of these realizations. I berated myself for not being my true self, and basked in the guilt of wanting to let go of everything I had built to get away from my natural self.

I allowed life to tell me wild was ugly and outcast, but the more I worked to let the thick, sludgy venom of conformity drain from my soul, the more I began to see the pure, inspired beauty of a spirit so naturally expressing itself in the world. I saw a dormant flower of winter bud into a vibrant Spring blossom.

Truth be told, the further I went down the path less travelled, the further those I had relied upon proceeded down the well traversed path. As I stepped further along my road to authenticity, I saw the inauthentic friendships melt away. And, being honest, watching the happiness of the many while walking among the few caused so much doubt within me, the brilliant light center I had begun to operate from flickered and darkness began to move back in.

But, the song played on, and each time it came down to choosing between sitting this one out, or dancing the time away… more and more often I chose to dance. For I believe, in the end, the feeling of living my truth outweighs that of living the false ideal of others. And, in the end, I have fallen madly, passionately, and deeply in love with a life that is lived purely from the heart.

I have fallen for me, one hell of a wild woman.


Ready for the Dark

“The real issue arises if we get the Diablo Winds.”

My friend (and one of the homeowners I sit for in Oakland) was informing me about the catalyst for the planned power outages in the region. Being that we were up in the hills, we were likely to lose power in the next 24 hours. We had no idea when in those 24 hours the outages would happen, nor for how long they would last.

Since the outcome hinged on the manifestation of said winds, I figured I should inquire further. “What are these Diablo Winds you speak of?”

“The Diablo Winds are the weird kind. They are like the Mistral in Provence and the Scirocco in North Africa. Have you heard of those?”

I shook my head “No”.

“They are winds that, for some reason, make people a bit crazy.”

It sounded somewhat disturbing to me, and sure enough, less than 24 hours later when I woke up and saw that we were without power, I could feel the heightened energy of the dawning day.

Formosan Mountain Dog lying on a bed.
Fay’s face in this picture reminds me of the vibe of the day.

The day was one I’ve come to call a “move day”. My bags were packed, and later that afternoon I would head down the hill to my next sit. (NOTE: because of the proximity of my next location, the other homeowner and I decided it could only be qualified as a “half move day”, but I digress.)

Move days always makes me feel outside of myself. It’s as if I’m simultaneously no longer rooted in where I’ve been and not settled into where I’m going. Instead, I’m stuck in this in-between land of undefinition, feeling as if I belong everywhere and nowhere. These feelings encourage me to doubt if I’ll ever find the right fit.

In short, they’re not the easy days.

The winds started late morning just before I headed out. Was it their arrival that stoked my fears? Maybe. But, considering I was moving into a new house with a new pet and no electricity, I think they only added force to my anxiety.

Australian shepherd on a kitchen rug.
Kylie welcomes me home despite my angst.

After getting to the house, I was somewhat comforted to see the homeowners had more than prepared me for the potential of several days without power. There were flashlights in every room, a bathtub full of water, and water bottles galore for drinking.

With this half an ounce of calm, I began my move day routine: organize bags, hang up clothes, find pots, pans, plates, bowls, napkins, towels, utensils, scissors… you know, all the things you use all the time but don’t think about.

I then went to move day routine phase 2: figure out the light switches before it gets dark, connect to the wifi, figure out the heating/cooling… you know, all the things that require ELECTRICITY! I could only chuckle at my folly.

I decided to get up to date on the blackout situation. I picked up my phone to look up emergency and city resources, only to find out this new house’s location was not conducive to phone data service.

Double fail.

By the time the homeowner/friend stopped by to pick up Fay, who had been spending some time with my new housemate Kylie, I was ready to snap.

Two dogs face each other in a living room
Kylie and Fay await my exploding… sort of.

I almost exploded when my friend shared the news (the first I’d been able to muster regarding our situation) that the soonest the power would be back on would be midnight, while some sources said the outages could last up to 5 days.

I panicked. If I was already crawling out of my skin, unable to work or connect with the outside world, how was I going to mentally survive DAYS of my mind racing to figure out solutions while my heart clenched with both fear and hope?

As I considered all of this, I noted the windows rattling ever more slightly.

Australian sheppard and Formosan Mountain Dog laying on carpet
At least I had these two to calm me.

I tried to calm myself by remembering that I was one of the lucky ones. Missing work for me didn’t mean missing out on food or shelter. I was in a home where I could cook using the gas stove, had plenty of supplies, and had dear friends up the road who I could count on for anything.

Yes, I felt supported and grateful, but I also felt so violently alone and fearful.

I made dinner by flashlight as the last rays of Sun dipped in the West. All the while I prepared myself for the impending dark. I knew I’d be afraid. I knew, being in a new house, that each sound would set me off. I knew that being with a new pet any number of situations I hadn’t yet encountered could occur and I’d have to solve for them.

By the time I ate and cleaned up from dinner, I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The mantra, “be ready for the darkness”, on constant replay.

I gathered all the candles available in the living room, lit each one, then settled myself on the couch as Kylie side-eyed my anxiety-filled self from her living room doggie bed. Sitting there I saw I had an opportunity to dig deeper into my feelings; to uncover some shoved away layers of myself forgotten long ago.

Between shadows, I considered my anxiety and fear. Why was I feeling so uneasy? I had all my needs met. I was staying in a nice home in a safe neighborhood. I had all the supplies I needed. I had friends to call upon.

I felt the side of the house quiver as I realized what I no longer had: self reliance. I was completely vulnerable to the situation at hand and to the people around me. Maybe, you never did get through them alone, the wind whispered.

Being vulnerable meant I ran the risk of being denied, refused, pushed away… rejected. I HAD to open up and let go. Considering this, my shoulders inched up to my ears and my gut sank to the floor.

I concluded that here, at the bottom of my inquiry well, was where I had the choice; fight or flight?

This time, I chose fight.

The surrounding sounds quieted as I sat with my reactions and the deep knowing which inspired them. I reminded myself that vulnerability is necessary and stayed with both the discomfort, and elation, at being aware of the opportunity before me.

NOTE: I was also scared of the dark like any normal 37 year old adult. Don’t act like you wouldn’t be.

Once again it took only a few moments of stillness for this illumination. Instead of pushing my fears away and trying to extricate them with logic and reason, I accepted my human-ness; all my moods, feelings, reactions.

I saw by accepting these characteristics I empowered myself to show myself kindness and to make progressive changes. This empowerment had the potential to increase my self efficacy and confidence, and thus increase my ownership over my life while making it more fulfilling.

With this acceptance in mind, the quiet cloak of night wrapped around me reigniting some discomfort, but, secure in my knowing this to be part of the process, I set aside my anxious thoughts and picked up a book.

Not 5 minutes later…. CLICK! The shadows retreated and light was everywhere. I was thankful to have the power back, no doubt, but I also observed how I was left with the disappointment and regret every fighter who wins feels as she exits the ring. The strangling attachment to the action that keeps her alert and on guard.

Now… I know what you may be wondering:

Geesh, Lis, after all this self work you claim, how can you still find such anxiety in these seemingly small moments? Don’t you see yourself a failure for succumbing to the winds, the situation, your own fears?

No, I don’t.

First, because seeing myself as a failure for not “being there yet”, i.e. in a state so enlightened that I’m unable to be swayed by natural human reactions, assumes a “there” exists. In truth, there is no destination on this journey of life. There is only seeing and admitting the truth, accepting or resisting that truth, than taking action accordingly.

Second, I believe that what I go through and feel isn’t me. What IS me is how I choose to respond. So, I can either choose to see my anxiety filled moments as failures as I have done for FAR too long, or I can choose to sit with and accept my reactions, as I did on the night in question. Picking the second option is how I set myself free from the pressures of being “there”.

All this said, I must share with you how legend has it that the winds I spoke of earlier have such an effect on people; in some ancient Middle Eastern cultures, people who committed crimes during the Scirocco were given more lenient punishments.

Perhaps, then, all this narrative I’ve shared with you today is something my mind made up to justify the effects of the winds?

I doubt it. Instead, I like to think of it all as one. I had a choice that night, resist the winds or let them carry me where they wished. Resistance would have meant either standing still or getting knocked over, letting them wash over me guaranteed movement.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s that movement is what keeps me going; step by step.


Putting Work Aside and Making *More* Progress – A True Story

I’ve been back in “The States”, more specifically back in Oakland, for two weeks. It feels really good to be in a familiar place; living in a familiar house with a familiar pet. All this familiarity means I don’t have to figure out the rhythms of my daily life. It means I can settle back in to where I was, and extend forward from there.

That’s one thing about being on the road that I haven’t talked about all that much; the having to start over in each place I land. Of course, I’m not starting entirely anew each time, but I am having to figure out all the simple things which I took for granted when I lived a more stationary life (i.e. morning/evening routines, knowing where the grocery store was, knowing how to use public transit, knowing the language!… you get the idea).

It’s been nice to not feel demoted back to the beginning and to be able to just live.

Garden at the back of the cottage
It was a comfort to see the garden in bloom.
bougainvillea
The Bougainvillea welcomes me.
Chair on back deck with forest trees and sunlight peeking through.
The familiarity (and beauty!) of this scene didn’t disappoint.

My first week back I was diligent about being kind to myself and letting myself recover, physically, mentally, and emotionally, from traveling halfway around the world.

When the weekend came, I kept this “being kind to self” mentally at the forefront when I decided to honor the voices in my head that had been yelling at me to “Get to Walnut Creek!”

Where?

Walnut Creek is a smaller town about 20 minutes drive from where I’m staying. It’s quite a normal American city, and in fact when I told the Oakland homeowners I was trying to get there, they looked at me confused.

Formosa Mountain Dog standing
Fay herself was confused.

“Why Walnut Creek? There’s nothing all that special there.”

“No idea, but the voices are a-yelling to go.”

Before I took the short ride over the hills I decided to do some research on the area. I do this frequently. I search for the town on Google Maps, then will look around for places of interest. Finally I’ll save said places to my “want to go” list.

As I was investigating Walnut Creek in this way, I caught myself saving some pretty unremarkable locations to potentially visit: TJ Maxx, Walgreens, Whole Foods. Observing this behavior I thought to myself, Don’t you want to go on an amazing hike or wander the downtown area’s local shops instead?

My answer? Nope!

All I really wanted to do was run errands to some plaza malls in a car. It was a Saturday straight out of my American youth!

Noticing this thought, I saw why I was being called to the town. I was anchoring myself into a familiar day and putting aside the active “self work” for awhile.

It may sound silly, but putting the active work aside was scary! As I considered how my Saturday was playing out, I couldn’t help but hear the OTHER voices (yeah… I have a few in the old noggin. I’m sure you do too should you choose to listen.) asking:

Shouldn’t I be doing something progressive with my time?
Shouldn’t I be hiking or thrift store shopping or walking down whimsical streets reflecting on my life?
Shouldn’t I be working on being courageous?
Shouldn’t I be doing all of this instead of being the quintessential American consumer?

Instead of listening to these voices, I opted to trust my gut and do the activities that made me FEEL calm when I thought about them. (NOTE: I find the italicized voices above FEEL different in my body than the others. They cause me to feel more anxious, tightening of my shoulders and chest, versus feeling calm and expansive.) I also opted to sit with and accept that these activities didn’t seem all that glamorous, and that this was OK.

Looking back, I recognize that by taking this stance, I was, in effect, “doing the work”… but I digress.

It was scary to stop the active work because doing so felt like I was wasting time, being lazy, or being ungrateful for the life I have by not putting said life to use; none of which I want to be. Further, being inactive gave me the perception that all my progress would stop, be thrown away, and I would have to start from square one if I wanted to continue.

I reminded myself that the opposite of all these assumptions is true; stopping active work is very necessary in order to reach my efforts’ full potential.

I’ve heard many times how my brain needs downtime to be it’s most productive at work. It was reflecting on this this weekend when I remembered it is the same with working on myself.

If I’m always actively pushing forward, I’m not letting the knowledge and learnings I accrue absorb and ruminate in my subconscious. If I don’t let this below the surface work take place, I’m unlikely to manifest and realize the benefits in my conscious life.

NOTE: This is why savasana is so important at the end of yoga practice. It’s not just a time to lay there exhausted and elated that the pain is over. It’s a time to allow the body and mind to absorb the benefits and muscle memory to make the next practice all the better.

I think the hardest part of keeping all of this very important knowledge top of mind, and why I think I still have these anxieties about stopping the active work even though I KNOW the above evidence is true, is because the non-active work doesn’t always have an immediate, concrete outputs.

For example, if I run 5 miles 3 days a week and eat well for a few months, I see my body adjust. The results are not always so obvious with mental and emotional work. It’s not A + B = C like with the exercise and eat right example. It’s more like A + B = maybe bits of C, or A*2 = B – C, or B-3 = A*C…Ok I’m getting out of hand with the math examples; I’ll stop here.

The point is, I find it challenging because the outputs aren’t always apparent and immediately measurable.

That said, I did notice some results after putting aside the active work that Saturday. For most of the day, I felt an immense amount of gratitude for giving myself a break. My brain greatly enjoyed the reprieve from having to decipher and process and thus grew clearer. My soul was able to ease into a quiet night at home with a book I adored, and my body benefited from a restful and refreshing night’s sleep.

Can I be sure these were direct outcomes of giving myself a non-active self-work day? Honestly, I’ll never know. Was the ROI positive in the long term? I have no idea! However, now I can live with the discomfort of not knowing.

Why?

Because I DO know how exhausted always actively working to find myself and be happy makes me.

I also have come to realize that the results of my active work are STILL not concrete. My actions themselves are concrete, and they make me FEEL like I’m making progress, but if I actually stop and take a hard look at the process, the results remain as nebulous as my non-active work results.

In short, whether I’m actively working on myself or laying in savasana all day I’ll never know “for sure” if I’m “doing it right”.

With that said, I figure I may as well take a chance and look to reap the immediate, short-term benefits that I know will come from choosing to give myself a break when I feel I need one. I’ll take the warm, ease-filled feelings of giving myself permission to do something routine over the sticky weight of pushing “the work” forward any day.

At least that’s the choice I made that Saturday… and that’s enough for a start.