It’s that time of year when we all are trying to live up to our New Year’s resolutions.  How are you doing?  Are you still on target? Or, after only two weeks, are you back to old familiar habits and ways of being, those resolutions already forgotten, those promises and dreams for 2012 already driven away by cynicism and doubt and “Oh, what the hell? This chocolate cake is just too good to pass up…”

I sat in church last week, listening to my favorite priest, Monsignor Stern, give his homily on just this very topic.   I didn’t want to hear it as I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions – I’ve never known one person in my life who has ever lived up to them, including myself.

But, what he said was different and new enough to resonate with me – he said, “Instead of thinking of a New Year’s resolution, think instead of a ‘mid-life course adjustment’.”  He gave examples, but none of them fit for me as much as that phrase made me think of the film I had watched the night before, “Jaws”.

There’s a part in the movie when they’ve got the barrels on the Great White shark and they’re trying to run along side of him.  The Captain, Quint, is out on the farthest part of the bow with the harpoon laying in his arms like a baby, yelling adjustments up to Matt Hooper, the marine biologist, who is steering the boat:  “Five degrees starboard!” and then a few moments later, “I said, five degrees starboard, Hooper!”  Quint wanted to be sure the huge shark didn’t get away from them.

And, so it is with our dreams, our goals, our intentions.  Do we simply say, “I’m going on a diet this year?” or do we set an intention to look and feel great twenty pounds thinner and watch and correct when we are running off course?  What are the dreams that you gave up on a long time ago?  Do you now say, “It’s too late?”

Don’t let your dreams get away from you.  Watch and adjust…   Keep pace with that huge prize…

Never give up.  Make that mid-life adjustment and full-steam ahead!  Okay, so maybe I’ll never be a prima ballerina, but I love dancing of any kind.  Am I doing that?  No.  So, time for a mid-life adjustment.  I’m not going to jump right into the Argentine Tango because I know I won’t stick it out.  But, I can start with Zumba fitness classes and get the feeling of the rhythm back again, feel the beat of the drums, hum along to the music – and I’m there!  I’m dancing!  Yay, Me!

There’s an old saying, “Change one part of your life and you change your whole life.”  That’s because life is holistic – the way you go into a swimming pool is the way you do all of life.  You just need to change one little thing and your whole life will change as a result – and then keep making those “five degree starboard” adjustments.

I remember that my father took up the guitar when he was in his 50’s.  We all made fun of him, but he kept at it.  He loved music – he used to listen to opera all the time.  He knew he would never be an opera singer, but he could pick up a guitar and take lessons and participate in life.

I never appreciated that lesson from my father when I was younger, but I sure do appreciate it now.  Life is growth.  Death is stagnation.  You can only dance when you’re dancing…

Five degrees starboard, Mates!  Happy New Year!

Deliciously yours in the Grand Opening Number of it All, Linda

The title is from a quote by Werner Erhard:

“You can only dance when you’re dancing. You can’t dance ‘by the numbers.’ You can’t dance when you’re checking to see if you’re dancing. You can’t dance when you’re comparing your movement to your ideal. In order to dance, you have to dance. That’s what freedom is. That’s who you are!”

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.

We say, “I’m going to go on a diet,” and maybe we join a gym or maybe we eat healthy –  for a few days or weeks –  and then —  we get too busy to  go to the gym, and we see a great dessert and say, “Oh, just this once…”

And that’s the end of the resolution.

We’re right back to where we were before.  Worse, really, because, now,  we feel bad about ourselves because we failed at THAT,  too.

We fail because we make it all about the “doing” and not about who we’re “being”…

For me, it’s been more effective to take a stand for something — a stand for myself, a stand for someone else — a stand for something that’s important to me.  That “stand” becomes something that the living without THAT would be — not who I am.

This is not easy.  It takes being present to who we really are all the time and THAT is a challenge.  It’s just not something we do — We tend to be a lot “foggier” about our lives.   Without that presence — Well, life will simply continue on automatic.

What it takes is courage.  Courage to face the truth in ourselves. Courage to do the work to be who we really are.

Complacency is so much easier.

The first step is to really get what’s going on now:  The “what’s so” in the matter.  Once you get that, you’ll know where you are standing now on the issue – and then you can see whether you like standing there or not.

I remember when I quit smoking for good.  I had quit many times before that last time.  I did all the things that smokers do when they try to quit:  I tapered off, for a while. Then —  a bad day at work would set me off and I would realize I’d finished a pack.   A few times, I quit cold – and all I could think of was a cigarette. Then I sneaked a cigarette at a party and was right back to smoking.

Every time I went back to smoking, I hated myself about it more than before.

I couldn’t trust my own Word to myself in the matter of smoking.

I never referred to myself as a smoker.  I tricked myself into thinking that I only smoked when I was socializing or I only smoked after dinner or I only smoked outside my apartment.

Rarely did I notice that I smoked when I was by myself and I smoked in the morning and I smoked sitting in front of the television late at night when I was too lazy to go out into the stairwell or to go outside.

On October 10th in 2000, my friend invited me to an Anthony Robbins event at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  The Meadowlands is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan, so she also had to talk me into taking the train down to her house in South Jersey so that she didn’t have to drive to the Meadowlands alone – and so I did.

The night I arrived at her house, I sneaked outside to have a few cigarettes on the back deck.  I sneaked out there again the next morning and I smoked outside the Meadowlands, after our long drive from her house and before we entered the arena.

During the course of this event — a motivation-driven event for 3000 people that included speeches by Christopher Reeve, Barbara Walters, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Donald Trump, and Tony himself – I quit smoking for good.

I love Tony Robbins – in the pantheon of motivational speakers, he’s got the thing DOWN.  He’s got more energy than any ten people I know.  And he goes for the jugular of self-loathing in a way that leaves you no choice but to face yourself.  Really.

At one point in the event, he talked about smoking and smokers.  It was clear that he does not think that being a smoker is an empowering way to live one’s life…  What he thinks is even more disempowering is when we don’t know who we are around being a smoker…

He addressed the audience, “Raise your hand if you’re a smoker.”

I didn’t raise my hand.  After all, I wasn’t REALLY a smoker, I didn’t smoke ALL the time….

About one-third of the people raised their hands.

He then said, “Raise your hand if you’re not a smoker.”

Well, I couldn’t very well raise my hand.  I did smoke… SOMETIMES.

A different one-third of the people raised their hands.

Then, he said, “Raise your hand if you didn’t raise your hand for either of the other two choices.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.  Now, here was something I could get behind:   Ambivilance.

I proudly raised my hand high.

Well, pride goeth before a fall.

Tony said, “Good for you if you don’t smoke.  Acknowledge yourselves for that – you’re taking one step towards leading a healthy life.  There’s nothing more for me to say to you about this.”

Now for the smokers, “YOU know that you’re doing something that’s not good for you.  You know that and you continue smoking.  You think of yourself as a smoker and until you don’t, you’ll continue to be a smoker.  I’m not going to try to talk you into quitting smoking.”

No lecture, no advice, no nothing.

Tony continued, “The people I really want to address are those of you who didn’t raise your hand for either ‘Yes, I’m a smoker’ or ‘No, I’m not a smoker.’  Don’t you get that you either are or you aren’t a smoker?  There are only two choices here.  Who are you kidding?  Only yourselves.  Everyone around you knows what you are.”

Suddenly, I was embarrassed.  I guess I thought I was fooling everyone.

“You are living in a fantasy world.  A world where you cannot possibly make a powerful choice for yourself because you don’t even know where you stand RIGHT NOW.”

Tony didn’t say much more than that – he’s not into convincing people to do things.  What he did say was much more powerful:

“I’m going to ask you all again.  This time, I want you to choose one or the other because there can ONLY be one or the other.  Be honest with yourself.  Be true to yourself.  Be willing to be responsible for the consequences of your behavior, whatever that is.  Non-smoker?  Healthy choice.  Smoker?  Unhealthy choice.  Know thyself.  Choose powerfully.”

Then, he asked again, “How many of you are smokers?”

It was a moment of truth for me.  Am I a smoker?  Is that who I am?  Am I someone who daily makes an unhealthy choice for my life?  Someone who does something to put myself at risk for my LIFE every day?

NO, that’s NOT who I am.

I didn’t raise my hand.

Then, Tony asked, “How many of you are non-smokers?”

I hesitated only a moment.  I raised my hand. I was a non-smoker.

That was it.  I never smoked another cigarette.  I never reached for one, I never craved one, I never thought about smoking again since that day.

Looking back on it now, in the light of what I’ve learned since then, I realize that what I did – what Tony helped me to do – is the simple formula for transformation of anything:

Get profoundly related to the “what’s so” in the matter.  And, given that, what is your stand – for yourself, for your life, for the world?

That’s what I believe in.  That’s what I do every day of my life – about whatever comes up.  A stand is a very powerful thing – because we are very powerful Beings.

I’m working on my stand for 2010.  So far, it sounds something like this:

My possibility for myself and my life is to live in the fullness of life everyday, to be in partnership with everyone who comes into my life, to be someone who gives everything I have to give, always.

Happy New Year!

Deliciously yours in the Creation of it All,   Linda

“And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”  Rainer Maria Rilka

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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