I’m Not The Sort of Person Who…

Guys. I’ve been on holidays for over three weeks now, and one thing that keeps popping up is my idea of Who I Am. Indulge me for a minute here: Take out a piece of paper or open a blank document on your phone or laptop. (Please make a cursory attempt to do this at least– it’s fun and enlightening, I swear). Answer the following prompts as honestly, as thoroughly, but as spontaneously as possible, and then meet me in the next paragraph for discussion. :)

Prompt #1: I am someone who ____________________ (or simply “I am ____________”)

Prompt #2: I’m not the sort of person who ______________________ (or simply “I’m not _______”)

List as many things as you can think of for each prompt. For example, coming into this vacation, some of my answers for myself would have been:

I am someone with high standards. I am someone who believes in doing the best job I possibly can. I am someone who is careful and conscientious. I am disciplined and in control.

I’m not the sort of person who enjoys crowds. I’m not one to let loose in public. I’m not a party-er.

That’s just the start. I’ve also discovered how widespread and totally arbitrary my “rules” about who I am (or should be) are. Many times, I’ve caught myself saying things like “I can’t eat dairy” (i.e. I am someone who is limited by what she can eat), “It’s late– I should really get to bed” (i.e. I’m not someone who deviates from her usual routines), or “I don’t think that’s worth it” (i.e. I don’t splurge on anything. Ever.)

Take a look at some of your own answers. Do they lay out very specific– and, let’s face it, highly unlikely– circumstances under which you’re finally allowed to have fun or to experience joy? Do they make you feel free or do they keep you trapped indeterminately? I don’t wear skirts or shorts. I’m not a ‘two piece swimsuit’ kind of woman. I’m not a swimsuit person, period! I don’t eat meat. I don’t eat carbs. I don’t eat fat. I swore off sugar. I don’t have sex during the day, on weeknights, or when the kids are at home. (Or at all.) I wear my hair up. I usually wear my hair down and part it on the right. I hate my job. I love my job! I gain weight just by thinking about food. 

This idea really hit home for me when Marty and I went to Florida for a week. Originally, we had planned to winter in Ecuador, and when we discovered that you have to fly through Florida to get there, we thought, Well, we might as well spend a week in Orlando! Our travel plans changed dramatically soon after we had booked ourselves into a random resort in Orlando, leaving us far away from Ecuador but still scheduled to fly across the continent and to partake in things like Disney World and Universal Studios for a week. Eek!

En route to Orlando, I nervously peppered Marty with questions on the plane. Do you like rides? What if we hate it there? When’s the last time you’ve been on a roller coaster– what do you mean, ‘never’? I was extremely apprehensive about deviating from our usual vacation MO– camping or staying in a cheap hotel, hiking, logging extensive urban kilometers, discovering hidden gems in nature, etc. The thought of staying in a resort and going to theme parks for a week made me sick to my stomach, especially when I read the cost of Disney admission in our guidebook. Having fun ain’t cheap, sister.

Anyway. We arrived in Orlando and checked into our villa, with my carefully crafted idea of Who I Am rearing its head and ramming into our surroundings at every opportunity. Ugh– I don’t do ‘poolside’. What do you mean, there’s a cigarette butt station right outside the elevator? Gross. Mandatory mini golf fee, are you kidding me? It got worse when we purchased tickets to both the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, my hand quavering as I signed the exorbitant credit card slip. You mean I’m paying to spend time in a crowded theme park with a bunch of screaming kids? Am I crazy?! And I have to set my alarm for what time to get there? That’s, like, 4 whole hours before I normally get up… What on earth is happening to me?

Ever the strategists, Marty and I made a game plan the night before heading to the Magic Kingdom. Being the crusty, childless couple that we are, we decided to capitalize on Parade Time throughout the day, bee-lining for the far flung corners of the park while everybody else jammed Main Street to see the floats and to have their photos taken with Mickey Mouse. We don’t do parades. We don’t care about Mickey Mouse. We hate crowds. We are serious adults, for gods sake. It will be the perfect time to get photos without any people in them, for once.

At the park the next day, everything was going according to plan. At 1 pm, we saw the park attendants rope off a generous area for parade traffic and heard some spirited, G-rated music blaring from some speakers in the distance. Let’s head for Tomorrowland!, we mouthed to each other and enthusiastically pushed through crowds of people to make our way as far from Main Street as we possibly could. Marty decided to shoot some photos of Cinderella Castle en route, and that’s when we saw it:

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Some poor soul dressed up as King Louie, the orangutan from The Jungle Book, was doing the twist with a young girl in the middle of Main Street. I made a snarky comment–  likely ridiculing people who were shallow-minded enough to unwind and have fun at a theme park of all places– and then Marty dared me to go dance with the orangutan. The default programming flooded in immediately: I hate parades. I don’t like crowds. This song sucks. I would never dance with an orangutan period, let alone in public. What are we doing in Disney World, anyway? But Marty persisted. And I got curious.

This is what curiosity looks like for me-- a mixture of sheepishness and disbelief about what might happen next.

This is what curiosity looks like for me– a mixture of sheepishness and disbelief about what might happen next.

Hmmm… Am I really ‘not a parade person’? What if I could enjoy a parade, just this once? Maybe I can enjoy this one, right now? Maybe dancing with a person in an orangutan costume isn’t so ridiculous after all? Maybe it will even be– gasp– fun?!

That’s how this happened:

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Yup. I finished that song feeling completely exhilarated and didn’t even have to prompt Marty to join a congo line right afterward. (He was in there before I could even dare him!) Pure joy rushed through my veins for the rest of the parade– not to mention the rest of the day– and I felt like hugging that orangutan when everything was over and the floats were being steered back to the garage. ME! DANCING AT A THEME PARK! HAVING COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF FUN! LOOK AT ME, EVERYONE! 

Needless to say, we happily crowded around the barricades for every subsequent parade that day, and we gasped in collective wonder that evening when the cast from ‘Frozen’ transformed Cinderella Castle into a bedazzled, snowy confection. (I even wept when Jiminy Cricket narrated the fireworks show. I was overcome with emotion about dreams coming true!)

A super cool "Sleeping Beauty" float at the next parade.

A super cool “Sleeping Beauty” float at the next parade.

I don't believe anyone who says this display wouldn't bring them to tears...

I don’t believe anyone who says this display wouldn’t bring them to tears…

Yes. The moral of this story is to examine “who you are” and “who you are not” in light of new opportunities and experiences that come your way. You never know– maybe, like me, you’ve got a parade-loving, monkey-dancing persona just itching to break free from your disciplined, super serious facade. (Or maybe not, in which case, at least you’ll have some incriminating photos taken of yourself for the future…)

 

     

The Call: Part 3

There are two things you should know about heeding The Call of Your Calling:

1. It’s extremely liberating.

You (or, in this case, ‘Me’) can go from trying to cram the entire ocean into a delicate teacup, and the amount of sheer energy and willpower this frees up on a daily basis is incredible. Seriously, before I spoke with Dr. Divi, I felt like the Mother Loving Hoover Dam– holding everything together, resisting, keeping everything in its place, figuring things out, and making things work in a real stoic, concrete sort of manner. When she told me not to restrict the flow and to make every interaction an opportunity for healing, aahhhhhhhhh, I burst open in the most glorious and epic of ways! WHOOSH!! Out poured love, and energy, and my signature animated (read: awkward!) style of relating to other people. I entertained others with my stories and interpretive dance moves at the harbour! HEALING. I started coaching women outside of the harbour! HEALING. I looked like a maniac on my bike to and from work, declaring emphatically and most definitely out loud that I WAS A HEALER! (And guess what? That was healing, too! Well… it was healing for me and probably hilarious for witnesses.) Anyway. I treated the whole summer as an experiment in healing, and I emerged from the harbour season more exhilarated than exhausted for once.

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Watch in wonder as I insert photos of local humpback whales randomly throughout this post! Exhilarating!

That said, here’s the other thing you should know about heeding The Call of Your Calling:

2. It’s absolutely terrifying.

More terrifying than a humpback whale waving hello to you.

More terrifying than a humpback whale waving hello to you.

The Over-Achiever, Type A part of me likes to plan everything down to the last detail. Preferably in advance. I’ll figure out exactly what it takes to excel in a given situation, and then I’ll do it. Easy, right? Do I need to earn 6 credits in the History of Who Really Cares in order to graduate from this academic program? Consider it done. Should I eat nothing but cardboard and cabbage for 6 months in order to lose weight? That doesn’t sound so bad! Is it time to go play Perfect Daughter In Law at Marty’s parents’ place in Calgary? No problem– I’ll just prepare forty allergy-friendly recipes in advance and haul them in my backpack for 800 miles on the effin’ Greyhound bus. Whatever it takes– just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

Tell me how to wave like a humpback whale, and I'll do it.

Tell me how to wave like a humpback whale, and I’ll do it.

It’s different when it’s Your Calling, though.

Nobody but YOU can step into Your Calling.

Nobody but YOU can gauge how easily you slip into that garment and how well it fits.

It’s not about “planning”; it’s about claiming.

It’s not about “controlling”; it’s about trusting.

The compass shifts inward. The metrics become intuitive. And in a way, this is really exciting! But in another way, perhaps for a woman who is used to somebody older and more authoritative telling her how to get an A and then being done with it all? Well. It can be downright petrifying.  

*   *   *   *

Just another day at the office...

Just another day at the office…

Ahem. I am being Called, dear readers. And– finally– I am bowing at the feet of this Call, accepting this sacred invitation. I say yes now.

I am opening myself to healing and being healed.

I am committing myself to honesty, vulnerability, unadulterated freedom, and unabashed joy!

Part of this Calling involves working one-on-one with women as a coach. (I have started to do this already and am pretty amazed at the feedback I’ve received so far.)

Another part involves exploring the self-imposed limitations I’ve placed on myself in real time– self-written rules for how much love, joy, abundance, and freedom are “allowed” in my life before it’s time to call in the authorities and to turn the volume down. This will take place… soon. And out in the ‘field’ of life, at that! All that’s left to do is:

- finish packing up everything we own– again

- move out of the place we just moved into– uh-huh (last day is October 31!)

- dive heart-first into the adventurous unknown

Yes. I have heard The Call, and I have answered. Hello, this is Dana speaking…

 

The Call: Part 2

If Over-Thinking Everything is anything like karate, I’m totally a black belt by now. I’ve literally spent years turning tentative answers into infinite questions, and every time I seem to settle on ‘a solution’ to the mystery of my life’s calling, hi-ya! I judo kick open the door to irksome follow-up questions, namely “How?”, “How?”, “How?”, and “How?”

If it isn't obvious, I'm approaching the camera with the stealth and cunning of a ninja, ready to side kick my intuition to the curb and be an Over-Thinking Wizard for eternity!

If it isn’t obvious from this photo, I’m approaching the camera with the stealth and cunning of a ninja, ready to side kick my intuition to the curb and be an Over-Thinking Wizard for eternity!

Occasionally, I surprise myself by declaring “I’ll do this with my life!”, jolting myself into the unfamiliar territory of quiet certainty. Seconds later, though: Hi-ya! With the deftness and skill of a martial arts sensei, I return to the realm of interrogation and blast the Left Brain Soundtrack again, “How?”, “How?”, “How?”, and “How?”

The mystery that has dogged me for years is this:

I believe I am meant to be in the healing and helping professions… but how? 

Please, seagull on the beach. Teach me the answers to the mysteries of life...

Please, seagull on the beach. Teach me the answers to the mysteries of life…

Sigh. I’ve tried calculating the number of hours I’ll need to invest in further training, the number of dollars I’ll need in my bank account to fund said further training, and the number of certificates I’ll need in frames on my wall before I feel confident enough to just… do something helpful and healing with my life. (I know– cool and classy, right?)

Thankfully, I only had to run in circles for 32.5 years of my life before the Universe finally took pity on my harried self. Stellar report cards aside, it probably mused to itself, This Dana girl sure is a Slow Learner. I suppose that instead of telling her the same “healing and helping professions” message– which she is clearly not getting– we’re going to have to make things a little more simple for her.

This is when I came across Juliet*, a supremely amazing woman in Australia who offers palm reading, astrological chart reading, tarot card spreads, and generous intuitive wisdom. I’ve never met her in person before, but I stumbled across a thread of hers in the world wide web, let her know my date and time of birth on a whim, sent her some photos of my palms and fingertips, and soon received a recording of her intuitive reading in my inbox.

My astrological chart! SO COOL!

Plus my own, honest-to-god astrological chart! SO COOL!

The recording itself was about an hour long (and it totally made me cry, just so you know. Tears of being ‘seen’ and understood by someone I had never met, who lives halfway across the globe from me.) Anyway, here’s what came up a whole lot in the session:

You are a healer.

Not, You belong in the healing and helping professions.

Not, You should train to become something healing and/or helping in the near or distant future.

Not, You should become a Psychologist.

Not, You should get a degree in Clinical Counseling.

Not, You need to earn another certificate to put on your wall.

No: You are a healer. Now! Today! Right at this very moment!

Yes, you near the church bulletin board dressed in all black: YOU ARE A HEALER!

Yes, you near the bulletin board dressed in all black: YOU ARE A HEALER! (Be angry about it if you must, but do not sin.)

Wowza. I’d like to say that I listened to Juliet’s recording, snapped to my senses immediately, and promptly hung a “Healer: Open For Business” shingle on my door. But… I obviously didn’t. Instead, my eyes widened in alarm at the sheer magnitude of that word: healer. It felt too big for me– and I felt too awkward and clumsy for it– like trying to clomp around in my mom’s high heels when I was five years old. A recipe for disaster and twisted ankles!

Nonetheless, something inside of me shifted.

I stopped thinking about becoming a Psychiatrist or getting a Ph.D. in Metaphysics. (Granted, I did start a loose apprenticeship under an incredible EFT Wizard and Energetic Magician– not his real title, obviously– and I did enroll in a beta coaching training program, but at least I was no longer waiting around for some higher-sanctioned being to mysteriously grant me a degree in Good Enough. Baby steps, right?)

Anyway. I teetered on the edge of getting my shit together and diving into the world of Being A Healer for several months. I contemplated. I hesitated. But… I still didn’t ‘get’ it. I didn’t understand what it meant to Be A Healer or– more importantly– how on god’s green earth could do that. On days when I was feeling particularly confused and fragile, my mean-spirited side would imagine printing up business cards– “Dana M., Healer” typed on the front in a matter-of-fact font– and then I’d dissolve into a puddle of shame and mortification. Who the hell am I to be a healer?, I’d ask myself. That’s too big and I’m too small.

(At this point, I’m sure the Universe was shaking its head in disbelief at me. Woman! Are you serious? Gah. We’ll try this one more time…)

One. More. Time.

Angel wing shells: One. More. Time.

So, in the spirit of lifelong learning, I was sent yet another amazing teacher and mentor– fingers crossed for actual understanding of the message this time! Ha. This time around, universal insights and nourishing droplets of soul nectar came to me in the form of Dr. Divi Chandna– my mom’s GP as well as a bonafide Medical Intuitive. We had a session over Skype, and here’s what she said to me (in bold-faced caps, of course):

You. Are. A. Healer.

And when I spluttered, Me?! But how?!, Dr. Divi reiterated:

Not ‘How’. Let me spell this out for you: You ARE! ALREADY!! A Healer!

[dramatic pause for insights to sink in… followed by yet another instance of me not understanding] But no, seriously– how?? What kind of healer? What does that even mean?

(At this point, I’m sure Dr. Divi was connecting psychically to The Universe in mild exasperation, saying, Still nothing! She’s not getting it! Um, how else can we put this?)

Then, finally, words that clicked:

Don’t restrict the form. Let everything you do or say be healing.

Oohhhhhh….

This is me opening up like a dahlia...

This is me opening up like a dahlia to healing…

To be continued once more…

 

*I so, totally wish that Juliet had a website set up, because I would send everyone I know to her in droves. Alas… this is not the case just yet.

 

The Call: Part 1

I’ve known from a young age that I belonged in the healing and helping professions. How did I know this? Well, it started out with the countless horoscopes that pegged me as a champion “nurturer”. I’d read about my inborn maternal instincts in the zodiac section of the newspaper and think to my (twelve year old) self, “Sure, that sounds like me.” At the time, I was an ace babysitter (!), sometimes caring for seven (!!) children at the same time (!!!) and practically peeing my pants at the thought of making a combined NINE DOLLARS AN HOUR (!!!!). “Helping professions– no prob”, I thought, “I’ve totally got this.”

Image sourced from cafepress.com

Image sourced from cafepress.com. It’s like they know me!

Fast forward a few years, and I still had confidence that I belonged in the healing and helping professions. By then, I was working as an intake counselor at a sexual health center in Calgary, guiding women warmly through sensitive experiences like pregnancy tests and answering delicate questions about birth control methods, fertility, and pregnancy options. I. Loved. This. Job. I started at the center as an unpaid volunteer and practically peed my pants when I was offered a paid contract to cover a year-long maternity leave. “You mean I’m going to make actual MONEY doing this job?”, I screeched in the Program Manager’s ear when she told me the good news, unable to conceal my sheer delight and using all of my restraint not to kiss her square on the lips. “Helping professions, no prob!! I’ve seriously got this!”

Plus I got to meet my BFF, Gloria Steinem. Perfection in a career path!

Plus I got to meet my BFF, Gloria Steinem. Perfection in a career path!

Shortly after finishing up the mat leave contract, I went back to university and completed a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies. There, my very foundations were shaken. My core beliefs disintegrated– replaced with GPAs and a thesis advisory committee– and leaving me standing in ashes of confusion and uncertainty. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure what even qualified as a “healing or helping” profession anymore, but one thing was now certain: I didn’t have the right credentials to be that sort of professional or to do that sort of work. What good was an MA in COMS, after all? I couldn’t graduate and become a Professional Communicator. (And even if I could, how lame would that be?) I wasn’t a Psychologist. I wasn’t a Clinical Counselor. I wasn’t even a Coach or a Registered Anything of Importance. Basically, I determined, my degree was worthless and I had just wasted two years of my life. Healing and helping professions, so long…

... but I know y'all are dying to read the riveting thesis I wrote, right? My Supervisor: What's the title of your thesis going to be? Me: Can I call it "Who gives a sh*t"?

… but I know y’all are dying to read the riveting thesis I wrote, right? My Supervisor: What’s the title of your thesis going to be? Me: Can I call it “Who gives a sh*t?” No? Okay, then I’ll call it the next lamest thing: “Communicating About Contraceptives”. Ugh…

*     *     *     *     *

Around that time, I started getting cozier with psychics, palm readers, and astrologists. (And, on a related note, I practically peed my pants when my favorite astrologist, Georgia Nicols, started following me on Twitter. Not that I’m ever actually on Twitter, mind you, but just having her follow me was a thrill!)

Anyway. Psychics and palm readers. Yes.

Dana LH 1

I had my palms read for the first time in the mall in 2008. (Don’t judge). Sandra talked at length about me belonging in the helping professions, and I was all, “Does working at a non-profit organization count as helpful? If not, should I go back to school and invest four more years and fifty thousand more dollars into further education? Should I become a psychologist?” (At that point, I’m pretty sure Sandra just took her fifteen bucks and sealed her lips forevermore). The Era of Over-Thinking Things had begun.

Do you want to work at the Harbour like me? Come on, I know you do...

Do you want to work at the Harbour like me? Come on, I know you do…

In 2010, when I decided to leave the world of non-profits and work full time with my Beloved at our now infamous art booth, I consulted with my trusted psychic medium to make sure that I was heading in the right direction. I certainly was, she said, and then I proceeded to riddle her with tangential questions about getting other training, degrees, certifications, or Officially Sanctioned Skills under my belt so I could legitimately work in the healing and helping professions at some point again. Poor psychic medium. She told me (nicely) to stop over-thinking things, and I interpreted this as “Yes. Training. Get more.” Heh.

So I decided in 2013 that I was going to become a Holistic Nutritionist. (Remember that? Hahaha.) An interview was scheduled. A tuition deposit was even paid. And suddenly? It didn’t feel right anymore. A quick call to my trusted psychic confirmed the intuitive ‘no to Holistic Nutrition School’ hit and also yielded a now familiar nugget of advice: “Healing and helping professions. Stop over-thinking things.

Me: Stop over-thinking things? What does that even mean? I wonder if it means I should get certified as an EFT Practitioner. Or maybe I should take a coaching course! Should I get coaching done for myself? I should probably get more online business training, that’s for sure. Maybe I should take that Crystal Healing qualification course, too? Or wait until I’ve got some Transcendental Meditation experience under my belt. Maybe I should try yoga finally? And then get certified as a yoga teacher, yes! I wonder how long it takes to become a Reiki Master. Or an intuitive healer! Can you get a degree in intuition? Maybe I should get a Ph.D. in Metaphysics. And then write a book!

Not over-thinking things– no prob! I’ve totally got this. ;) 

To be continued…

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