Day 2 – Love/Hate

I can honestly say I’m not moved by today’s task. We’re supposed to conduct a life assessment of 7 specific areas of our life. We’re to list what we love and hate about each area. Hate being strong, we’re encouraged to consider “strongly dislike.”

Welp, the good news for me is I don’t strongly dislike any aspect of my life. I live a happy, well-rounded, successful life. Things aren’t perfect, but even trying to frame things in terms of strong dislike simply didn’t ring true for me. This means my Buddhist practice is working, as the main goal is to build absolute (internal) happiness, not based on externals. Simultaneously, when things aren’t going quite right on the outside, we identify them right away and work to change them (again working from the inside out).

The 7 areas are: lifestyle, work, education, finances, health, family, and relationships. I jotted statements about how things are going, including what I like and what improvement I’d like to see. I’ll share the highlights:

My aunt and uncle at my graduation, December 2010.

Lifestyle: I love the freedom to make my own schedule. I would like to spend more time dancing and communing with nature. And dating.

Work: I’m in between jobs since I graduated two weeks ago and my jobs don’t start for another week. I’ll let you know how things are going once they’re underway.

Education: I just finished the highest degree offered in the U.S. I have things I’d like to learn/master including sewing, cooking, and specific genres of writing.

Finances: I have money saved. This is a great feat considering I’ve not had a full time job in 3 1/2 years. No complaints there. I have goals for this year including earnings, savings, and giving.

Health: I’m in good overall health, although I could use a check up. I’d like to lose 5 pounds and get to around 20% body fat (I mean what’s to hate if you only have 5 pounds to lose!). Spiritually I could be more focused in my chanting and study. I’ve already started working on both.

Family: I’m an only child of two deceased parents. My relationships were great by the time my parents passed. I also have a  half brother with whom I did not grow up, who is building a relationship with me now.

Relationships: This is the only area I feel is “lacking” but I have no “strong dislike.” I’ve definitely enjoyed being single and would like to enter a serious romantic relationship this year. I’ve done internal work, especially around forgiveness and welcoming. I continue to work on all aspects of my life in the belief that any future partner and I should both bring 100% to the table. I’ve met a lot of high quality men lately, so no complaints about that either. Hope to do more of that in the coming weeks and months.

That’s it in a nutshell. I’m a happy, well-adjusted Nicole. Looking forward to being better and brighter in 2011!

Day 1 – A Mantra & A Notebook

Today is the first day of 2011 and it’s also day one of the 31 Day Reset. The first exercise is to choose a reset notebook and a mantra. The first part was easy.

In the past few months I’ve really been embracing my divine feminine and connecting more with myself as goddess. I’ve done quite a bit of journaling and was in the market for a new book. A few weeks ago I discovered this:

I was drawn to it right away. It has earth tones, yet is multi-colored with warm reds coexisting peacefully amidst calming blues. The woman is surrounded by, and is in fact, nature. She looks at ease and totally free. She is goddess.

I connected with her energy and determined my thoughts would be at home between her pages.

I’ve had this journal for several weeks now and have only written in it twice. The first time was during the winter solstice/lunar eclipse. The second time was last night – to write out my new year’s goals.  It’s not an “empty” notebook, but it’s the perfect one. Part one – check!

The next thing was to find a mantra. Immediately I went to Emerson, whose essay, Self-Reliance, is full of gems. I thought about taking parts of various statements and creating an “ultimate” quote of sorts, but I didn’t exactly do that. In the end I decided to build from the passage that inspired this tweet:

When I am honest with myself, I realize the thing holding me back from that which I’d most like to do, is fear. There are many things about which I am timid, yet I do them anyway. Likewise, there are many things about which I am scared, but I muster up the courage to tackle them.

But there is one goal I have yet to reach, nor even strive toward. And when I am still, I hear the voice which whispers the truth of my desire, even as I silence it with my fear. And that, ladies and gentlemen, simply will no longer do.

In Self-Reliance, Emerson writes:

We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. It needs a divine man to exhibit anything divine.

Ignoring his use of the masculine (with respect to the reader and to God), this passage encapsulates the essence of my belief and my challenge. To live my purpose and mission is to honor the divine in me. To be afraid, to cower and even shun this work is, quite simply, to dishonor the divine. Although I’m one who is generally prone to gray interpretations, this is pretty black or white.

I’m doing the work or not. I’m living the life or not. I’m honoring my divinity or not. As I choose to honor my divinity and do my life’s work, I simultaneously honor all those I serve, which also includes God/Goddess/Nam-myoho-renge-kyo/the Law.

In an oft-quoted Buddhist text, Nichiren writes, “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (WND-1, p. 1003). What is the vow of which he speaks? He wishes for all of his disciples to attain Buddhahood and to lead others to Buddhahood as well. This is also the original vow expressed by Shakyamuni in his highest teaching, the Lotus Sutra (Expedient Means, Chapter 2). Quite simply, the work and point of Nichiren Buddhism is to challenge your own weaknesses, manifest your best, brilliant self, and help others do the same.

My best self is hidden beneath my fear. And whatever it is I have to offer to the world remains covered until I am brave enough to break through. This does not serve humanity. This does not serve the Law. This does not serve me. To that end, my mantra is:

Goddess will not have her work made manifest by a coward. I am am fearless. I am divine. I am total victory. I am Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.