"Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: serve. Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work."
William Arthur Ward
As a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. Helping people felt very natural to me. When I went to college, I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't stand the sight of blood. My dreams of becoming a doctor were shot. I graduated with a Biology major and worked in AIDS research for seven years until I realized that I didn't want to pursue a career in science after all.
I decided to go to massage therapy school and had a very successful private practice for about 13 years. At 40, I realized that I didn't only want to be a bodyworker for the rest of my life. I went through a rough period of depression for the next few years, sitting with the uncertainty of my future. It was through the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) that I was able to, as Pema Chodron says, "Lean into the sharp edges" to begin to untangle the deep conditioning of needing to be in control and to let go into the unknown. This became and continues to be my practice.
Rather than have a well laid-out plan of where I would take my life, I began to approach the process by acknowledging what other gifts I had to offer the world, by being open to all opportunities that would come my way, and to feel fear as it arose and walk toward it.
Never would I have imagined that my livelihood would be serving the Dharma in myriad ways. Leading sanghas (Buddhist spiritual communities), teaching, mentoring, and producing and managing workshops and retreats have challenged and empowered me to show up in ways that often feel so uncomfortable yet necessary in my evolution as a human being on the planet. And I have met incredible people, have taken on unexpected and fruitful opportunities, and have experienced abundance in many forms along the way. I am deeply grateful for all of it.
One of the greatest insights I ever received happened in a session where I said:
Me: "All this work, all these practices that I've been doing for years ultimately is not about being happy, is it?"
Therapist: "What do you think it's about?"
Me: "I think it's about being fully alive."
Therapist: "La, being fully alive is way better than being happy."
This has stuck with me and provided refuge to hang in there with what the Buddha refers to as "the ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows" of this life, and with the knowledge that both can co-exist. It has also re-defined the meaning of happiness for me. Every morning, I recite this Tibetan prayer:
"Grant that I may be given the appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey, so that my heart may be truly awakenedand that my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled."
Living into that prayer inspires me to embody strength, courage, perseverance, wisdom, discipline, and patience with myself, others, and the world in this lifetime. And I have a ways to go in de-constructing this ego and its habit energies. Just ask my life partner. ; )
May my practice and livelihood be of benefit to all beings in ever growing circles. May you live your life more fully.
Thanks for visiting my website and please check out my upcoming gigs. May our paths cross some day.
Peace and blessings,
Below are the many hats I wear with honor and gratitude: