Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Empowerment, Freedom, Inspiration, Lessons

Befriending our Fears

I have a fear of bats.  Not the bats that fly at a safe distant munching on ‘squitos at dusk or silhouetted against a full moon.  No, I’m afraid of the bats that show up in my dreams, and then find their way into my home threatening myself and my children with their rabid bites.

At a distance, bats are romantic and seductive, luring unwary women into vampire fantasies and superheroes in black cowl and cape, saving Gotham with Robin at his side.  There is something irresistible about the tall, dark, potentially dangerous stranger who will sweep us off to their cave and ravage us through forbidden pleasures.  But fantasy and reality collide when a girl in the neighboring town is bit by a rabid bat and suffers the horrors of treatment and escapes within an inch of her life, but is stricken by irreversible damage because of a vagrant “flying fox.”

batman

My intimate relationship and growing unease around bats started seventeen years ago after a misdirected bat found its way into our home while my infant daughter blissfully dozed unaware.  Between my husband (at the time) and myself, there was screaming, and scrambling about while I ducked under the covers and the bat performed acrobatic maneuvers over my head.  I came up with the butterfly net and album cover plan and the bat was safely extradited from our home.  The hole through which it came was securely nailed shut, but the pattern had been set.

From that point on, bats haunted my dreams.  They came more frequently and more ominously as a dying marriage approached its death throes and accompanied me almost monthly as I found my way through the labyrinth of life after divorce.  Then, two years ago, bats found their way into the new home I had made with my children, one in which I had previously felt safe.  Not anymore.  There was not an evening that I wasn’t checking window trim, behind mirrors and headboards, along the tops of doorways for a glimpse of their tell-tale dragon-wings and claws.  I searched every flat surface for traces of guano.  But even after thorough inspection, I would be awakened in the middle of the night by the crash, thud and screeching wail of bats in peril – trapped in a home that was not their own.    I eventually learned these were migratory bats and to expect them at first thaw and first frost as they were respectively departing and returning to the hibernation colony they had established somewhere in the walls of our home.  To say we soon became experts at catch and release (again, album covers and butterfly nets) would be an understatement.  SIGH!

After the seventh bat in three seasons, I’d had enough.  A generous and resourceful neighbor determined where they were likely coming in and sealed up the hole.  We haven’t seen a bat since.  I never go to bed, however, without first checking for evidence of their return and bats continue to haunt my dreams.  The most recent was of a bat fluttering on the window trim beside my bed and thousands of bats crowding the space between window and storm trying to find their way in.  YIKES!

“Enough is enough,” I said, and decided it was time for me to face down this fear and make friends with the bat.  Now, this would not be the first conversation I have had with bat.  In fact, this would be one among many.  In the past two years, I have come to understand the spiritual significance of the bat and that its presence (according to Native American and Mayan mythology) heralds a shamanic call.  I have accepted this to be true for myself and for two clients whose visits were preceded respectively by a bat appearance then a bat dream.  I wasn’t sure what else the bat might have to say to me.  Well, the bat, in fact, had a LOT to say.  Mostly about the value of befriending our fears because hidden within our deepest and darkest fears lies our greatest power.

Batgirl

In conversing with bat, I turned to my friend Ted Andrews and his book Animal Speak – a must have for those serious about self-discovery and the journey of self-actualization.  I had turned to Ted before when exploring bat’s significance in my life and the message it might have for me.  I read through the qualities of “bat medicine” for the umpteenth time and it suddenly hit me…….

 

Bat is showing up with its medicine because this is MY medicine. The only reason I’m afraid of bat is because I am afraid of my own power!

 

So here are the powers of bat medicine that bat has been trying for 17 years to get me to understand are my powers and to willingly embrace them:

  • An intimate connection with the process of initiation as embodied in the 7-step process.
  • The knowledge that in every death resides the promise of new life.
  • The ability to face and move through fear.
  • The willingness and courage to release what is no longer life-giving to make room for the new.
  • Willingness to embrace change.
  • The ability to use my own inner resources to move through challenges, fears and change.
  • Hope in the promise of new life.
  • Trusting my own inner promptings and guidance system.
  • Learning empowerment comes through facing fear.
  • The ability to fly – rising above challenge and conflict, seeing life through a broader perspective.
  • The acquisition of higher wisdom gained from a wider perspective.
  • Openness to new truths and the willingness to let go of outmoded “truths”.
  • Great auditory perception – the ability to hear the truth beyond the words.
  • Great visual perception – the ability to see the truth beyond the veil.
  • Perfect navigation system.
  • Being a channel through which others are awakened to their own unhealed wounds and fears.

And as I’ve already mentioned – the presence of a shamanic call.

All this time, what I feared was not the bat itself, but my own powers that bat was reflecting back to me.  And in support of befriending my fear and embracing the powers that bat has been reflecting back to me, I found the cutest, most cuddly picture of a bat I could find and I now have it hanging in front of my laptop and on the desk beside me so that I will learn to love bat and the powers that it came to help me acknowledge and embrace.  Thank you Bat!  I’m not (entirely) afraid of you anymore…..but for the record….you can stay outside ok!?

batcute

 

Copyright 2015  Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, creativity, Healing, Inspiration, Midlife Journey, Spiritual Practices

Almost 50!

Lauriattwo

Happy Birthday to me!

As I celebrate my 50-1 birthday (may as well get used to saying it!), I thought I would pause for a moment and share a few thoughts on approaching 50 and the many things which cause me to welcome 50 instead of shunning it or trying to hide it by lying about my age.  So….to set the record straight….today I am turning 49 years old….one year away from the big milestone of 50…..and I’m not afraid to say it!  🙂  No, I’m not a fan of some of the physical consequences of aging, but I am happier, more content, more comfortable in my own skin than any of the previous 49 years.  I figure I’m just going to keep getting better….so 50, bring it on!

Loving Middle Age!

What I love about being this age is that I don’t ever have to go back to the challenges of adolescence, the pain of puberty and the difficult lessons we all have to learn (mostly through trial and error) in our twenties.  Yes, during those years, there was fun to be had, but since I came out of the womb as an adult,  those were trying times. I didn’t understand the meanness of teenage girls (and I still don’t….neither do I understand those that never outgrow it) and let’s face it, teenage boys are not so interested in smart, courageous, strong young women.  Those were tough years.  College was better, but there were other difficult lessons to be learned there.

With Age Comes Wisdom

What I also love about being almost fifty is that with age has come wisdom.  I’ve been through the life and death of a marriage and the resulting fallout.  I’ve successfully parented two amazing children into their teenage years (we still have a way to go!).  I’ve come to know who I am – my gifts as well as my challenges.  I’ve become well-acquainted with my shadow and have come to accept the parts of myself I used to loathe and detest.  While it’s not perfect……it’s a long way from where I used to be.

Healthy, Intimate Relationships

One of the things for which I am most grateful at almost fifty is that I am learning how to cultivate healthy intimacy and through this learning, have developed some really deep, meaningful friendships.  I am so grateful for the men and women I love who love me in return – mostly without condition (we’re all human after all).  I am more able to name and claim my needs and to allow space for them to do the same.  I feel more comfortable addressing conflict and working with another in finding a way through it.  These are tools I did not possess even in my 30’s when the more common response would be to “cut and run,” while holding an eternal grudge.

What Got Me Here?

What is it that got me to this place of gratitude instead of despair over being almost 50?  Carl Rogers, the father of Humanist Psychology suggests that each of us has within us an inherent drive toward our greatest potential, and that when given a safe space, and the proper tools, this potential finds its realization naturally.  I agree with these sentiments and have found this to be true for myself.  The safe place began in my childhood where I was loved by two parents and where all my needs were provided for.  I’m not saying my childhood was perfect – whose is?  But, we always knew we were loved, that we would have a roof over our head, food on our table and shoes on our feet and that we had a safe place to land. As children, we were given a lot of freedom to explore and more freedom than many to be who God made us to be.  Our parents supported our hopes and our dreams and encouraged our pursuit of them.  In my adulthood, I continued this exploration and actively sought out (actually was COMPELLED to seek out) support toward this end.  In this search, there are a few things I give credit for being instrumental in helping me to feel at ease with being almost fifty:

  • Discovering, cultivating and maintaining a daily spiritual practice.
  • Discovering, cultivating and maintaining a creativity practice (which for me is mostly writing but takes many forms).
  • Meeting regularly with both a Spiritual Director and Psychotherapist.
  • Discovering and embracing wellness practices which nourish, support and rebalance me (reiki, massage, healthy food choices, yoga).
  • The cultivation and maintenance of healthy intimate friendships.
  • Discovering and cultivating meaningful work which gives me a sense of purpose while serving the betterment of the world.
  • On-going learning opportunities.
  • The discovery of Authentic Freedom

Confronting and Overcoming Fear

I can take absolutely no credit for the creation of Authentic Freedom as a protocol for self-actualization, except that I was open to receiving this tool and agreed to sharing it with others.  Through the process of having Authentic Freedom revealed to me, I found a profound tool for healing myself and for helping others find healing.  Authentic Freedom, more than anything else, gave me one rule by which I try to live my life:

Never make a decision based in fear!

Fear, I learned, is what keeps us small and holds us prisoner within the ego, our past hurts and our false perceptions.  If we desire peace, love and joy in our lives, and if we want a life which has meaning and purpose and which gives us a sense of fulfillment – then we have to stop letting fear rule our lives.  Authentic Freedom gave me the tools to identify the fears which were holding me prisoner and gave me effective tools for transcending and in some cases, even releasing, these fears.  When I realized the power in this tool, I could not help but want to share it with others….which is exactly what I have been doing for the past 10+ years.

Next Year 50?  Bring it on!

So, in conclusion – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.  The past 49 years have given me an opportunity to enjoy the fullness of the human condition and through this I have found knowledge, wisdom and growth.  I trust the next 50 years will only provide more of the same!

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, creativity, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

How Authentic Freedom Helps

Today’s blog features a poem contributed by one of my clients (with her permission), Janet Fietz.  Her poem came out of a creativity/meditation exercise I gave to her, similar to something that might appear in an Authentic Freedom class or something I might invite a client to do.  The goal of the Authentic Freedom protocol (whether learned through a course or through one-on-one mentoring), is to give participants tools through which they can transcend and even heal the feelings and sensations Janet describes in her poem!  I am happy to report that Janet is doing a great job getting “untrapped.”  🙂

animecage

Trapped

Darkness,

My shadow self envelopes me,

Grasping silver threads of weaknesses,

And it’s a knowing, an awareness that has arrived.

The darkness knows me,

We are deceitful, faithful friends,

Breathe into my soul,

Take my life.

We are as one.

And it is me,

I am the darkness,

I’ve trapped myself.

To learn more about Authentic Freedom mentoring, click HERE. To learn more about the upcoming Authentic Freedom class in Oshkosh, click HERE.   

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Book, Being Human, creativity, Empowerment, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

How Authentic Freedom Works and Why it Matters

In today’s blog, I’m going to use my own recent life experience to demonstrate how Authentic Freedom works and why it matters. 

Lauri on a Rant

Last week, I went on a bit of a rant. (Read Part I HERE, and Part II HERE)  Now, something interesting to note about my rant is my blog traffic QUADRUPLED that day!  Apparently my rant resonated with someone!  That being said, I am the FIRST to admit that when I am compelled to go off on a rant, it is clearly my fearful and compulsive self who is speaking.  As a Type One on the Enneagram, self-righteous-moralizing is my characteristic compulsion and a sign that I have lost sight of Presence.  I’m not going to apologize for my rant, however, because more than anything else, I AM HUMAN and I will not pretend to be anything other than who I am and sometimes who I am needs a good old fashioned rant to return to center.  I seem to remember a certain teacher of mine who one day went on a rant and cleared the temple courtyard of the evils that were being done there. Sometimes the courtyard needs to be cleared and sometimes we are called to be the voice pointing out the disease that has found its way to our doorstep.  At the same time, I am humble enough to recognize my own fears at work and humble enough to use my own fear-driven behaviors to point out how we can all transcend our fears and potentially destructive behaviors.

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The Back Story

So….in an effort to illustrate how Authentic Freedom works and why it matters, I will share with you the back story on my rant.  Some things I have learned that create a feeling of safety in my life and help me to cultivate peace are the following:

  • Structure, order, routine
  • projects that make me feel productive and give me a sense of accomplishment and achievement
  • Being in my own home or in familiar environments with people I know well
  • Feeling vital, healthy and energetic

I have also learned that I am a bit of a control-freak and that I am pushed off-center by circumstances I cannot control, especially those that might have a direct impact on me.  And for those of you who do not know, I’m not a huge fan of driving.  I used to love driving until I had my first MAJOR panic attack while driving and now there is always a bit of anxiety that shows up pre-drive, especially if it will be over long-distances.  SIGH!

Now, let me paint the picture.  It is Christmas break.  I have no school, no work, no teaching to keep me feeling productive and accomplished.  My routine is completely disrupted.  I have programs I want to prepare for 2014 and I cannot get the information I need to move forward from others involved in the project.  The university where I am pursuing my PhD studies is in the midst of a political upheaval and has been shutdown to students, so no communication is happening, there is no way to reach support staff if you are having problems with getting information on classes, problems, registration, financial aid, etc.  As a type-A, overachiever, control freak, I want to get started on my January classes but not all the information or content is available so I can’t start.  My end of the year funds are dwindling.  Kids need Christmas presents.  I have to make a major technology decision (WAY OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE).  I take my children out of town for a week to have Christmas with my family, which means I have a DRIVE a long distance on treacherous winter roads.  We are out of our comfort zone, out of our element and subject to other people’s agendas, plans, etc.  And then, I get sick.  REALLY sick.  Sick in bed for a week sick.  So sick I had to cancel all my client appointments, which then stirs the whole fear over money thing.  GET THE PICTURE!!!!?????   Lauri is NOT a happy camper.

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Compulsions Driven by Fear

Feeling as if I have absolutely no control, feeling frustrated, impatient, angry and afraid….I rant.  I rant over all the things that make me angry about our world (rightly so) and about which I have absolutely NO control. It was a good rant because it helped me get over the hump of self-pity, looming depression and seething frustration.  And I own the FEARS that drove my rant:

  • Fear over money
  • Fear over the situation at the University I’m attending
  • Fear over the investment I’ve already made in grad-school and what may or may not happen
  • Fear over 2014 courses that I will be offering and over whether or not they will be successful – which ultimately boils down to fear over MONEY!
  • Fear over not getting what I want in the way that I want it.

This I how Authentic Freedom works – examine the compulsive behaviors (moralistic-self-righteous ranting) and look beyond the behavior to the fear driving that behavior.  In this case, the fear boils down to three fears (according to the Authentic Freedom protocol):

  • The fear that there is not enough
  • The fear that I have nothing to contribute to the world
  • The fear that I will not be able to be the person God made me to be

The good news is that naming the fear is actually 99% of the work.  Once the fears are named, they tend to take care of themselves.  However, if the fears remain, Authentic Freedom then lays out specific mindfulness and creativity practices that help us to move through, transcend and sometimes even heal and release these fears.  In my case, I employed music meditation, movement and creativity practices to help me transcend the fear.  (examples of these are interspersed throughout this blog).

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My invitation to you

If you sometimes find yourself acting in ways outside of your preferred happy, peaceful, contented self, engaging in compulsive and/or potentially destructive behaviors, and you wish to find another way, check out my book Authentic Freedom – claiming a life of contentment and joy…..or if you are in the Oshkosh area, check out my upcoming course:  Authentic Freedom – The Fairytale Edition. For more information on the course, click HERE.

Posted in creativity, God, Inspiration, Mystics

Mystics, Madwomen and a Rock and Roll God

The journey of the Soul, I have learned, comes in fits and starts.  Sometimes seemingly stagnant, sometimes dead and lying in the grave, sometimes dancing naked in the streets – a journey that we want like heck to control, but one we must instead learn to surrender to.  After taking a huge step forward yesterday by moving through one of my biggest fears (public speaking), I found myself writing poetry again.  Who knew that this was what was waiting for me to get over myself?  I’m sharing one of the fun poems that came out of yesterday’s creative burst.  After playing with this poem, ask yourself, “What is lying in wait for me when I move through that next big fear?????”  (PS  Thank you Rob Zombie, Motley Crue and Disturbed for being today’s muse!)

RobZombie

Rock and Roll God

You may have your god in flowing white robes, hands in pious prayer, basking in his golden hue.

My God wears black leather,

With long, flowing hair,

An electric guitar strapped across his chest,

Pounding out tunes and serenading me with:

Believe!

“Shout, Shout, Shout at the Devil”

And

“Living Dead-Girl”

While calling me forth from my grave.

copyright 2013  Lauri Ann Lumby