Nov 12 2012

Times of Transition

Peggy McPartland


I’ve been bouncing down a dirt road for hours on an antiquated bus. It’s so rough that I literally bounce out of my seat at times as we hit yet another hole in the road. At one point I bounce so hard that my leg hits the seat lever, breaking the skin and creating another nasty bruise. My body aches from sitting for what feels like days on end.

The woman in the seat across the aisle has a bag of chickens between her feet, their heads poking out from holes in the plastic. They’re none too happy about the journey, squawking loudly in protest.

They have a saying here – vale la pena – literally translated as worth the pain. I certainly wonder at times. But then it always proves itself true. The scenery is breathtaking.

These long bus rides are a good time to reflect. My life has changed so much in the past eight months.

You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

When I sold my house, got rid of everything I owned and quit my job in March, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted something different, but wasn’t sure what it might look like. All I knew was that I was incredibly stressed from the process and was looking forward to some down time. Heading to Plum Village felt right. And it was. It gave me plenty of time to decompress, reflect and find some balance. It was the perfect decision.

It was strange that I didn’t feel any fear, regret or apprehension as I left my entire life behind – my job, my home, my friends and my sense of identity. Maybe I was just too tired! In reality, I believe it was because I was making the right choice at the right time.

The structure at the monastery helped me make a gradual transition from my daily routine in Seattle to a life of complete freedom. I was supported and loved by the sisters as I began to find my center again. I’m not sure I would have wanted to do it without them. They are so wise and really understand what’s important in life. They guided me when I struggled and supported me in my practice.

As my time at Plum Village came to an end, I began to feel incredible apprehension and fear. The outside world isn’t as kind and supportive as the beautiful environment I had been living in for three months. I was afraid I would no longer fit into that world and that I may not be able to sustain my practice without the structure and guidance. I knew it was time to move on, but it was so hard to do at the same time.

Life definitely isn’t the same out here as in a monastery, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Yes, I have to work harder at being present, maintaining a daily meditation practice, and remembering to take a lazy day every week. But the things I learned there and the people who touched my heart will always be with me regardless of where I am.

I scheduled time in the U.S. following my stay at Plum Village to spend time with family and friends and attend the incredible World Domination Summit (put on by Chris Guillebeau and his amazing team of volunteers) in Portland. As much as I loved connecting with like-minded souls at WDS, it was difficult to be among so many people and so much activity after the structure of a monastery. I joined in the morning meditation group in the park with other WDSers and tried to find my balance early in each day. I met great people, reconnected with others from the premier World Domination Summit and got excited about the world-changing projects of these non-conformists.

For some reason, the introvert that I am hadn’t realized that eight weeks of not having my own space may not be the best idea! It was great to connect with friends and family over the summer although it became exhausting to move from house to house, couch to couch and coast to coast as the weeks wore on. I escaped to one of my favorite places, the Oregon coast, for a few days and as always, the ocean soothed my spirit.

I became more and more restless as the summer went on, anxious to head to South America and really begin living this new life of mine. I stepped onto a plane in Portland, Oregon at the end of August and have been in Ecuador and Colombia since. I’m meeting amazing people, speaking a new language and living in an entirely different culture. While it’s challenging at times, I wouldn’t change it at all.

I’m living my life fully and passionately on my own terms. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Jan 6 2012

Make This Your Year of Transformation

Peggy McPartland

The rain is coming down hard. The wind is blowing against the windows.

It’s definitely January.

And it’s 2012. Finally.

I’ve been looking forward to this year. A year of major transformation and change as we reach the end of this Mayan calendar cycle.

December will mark the end of the 13th b’ak’tun—a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. It’s said to represent the full cycle of the fourth world of the ancient Mayans.

It’s speculation to believe we’ll see major changes in human consciousness with the beginning of a new calendar. But it’s exciting nonetheless to think about making significant changes in how we perceive the world and live in it.

This is the year to make things happen.

No more planning; no more reading; no more talking; it’s time to move forward. And it seems so perfect to do it in 2012.

We’re so afraid of making mistakes or feeling like a fraud that it’s easy to become paralyzed. If we only can learn a bit more, get that one more piece of important information, and feel just a bit more sure of ourselves, we’ll finally be able to take action and move forward.

We consume everything we can get our hands on. We’re following blogs, reading books, talking to “industry experts”, and everything else that might give us that elusive final push we’ve been looking for.

At some point we have to face our fears and take a step forward, out of our comfort zone. We’ve talked ourselves out of making any major transformation and postponed it time and time again. Sometimes we really are our own worst enemy.

You’re not perfect. But neither is anyone else.

Trust that you are enough.

You have incredible hopes and dreams. Now is the time to begin creating them.

You’ve learned everything you need and no longer have to use a perceived lack of knowledge as a barrier to those dreams. You can only absorb so much information.

So stop planning and start doing something amazing. You already know enough. It’s time to create.

Your creativity will push you to start a new career, a simpler lifestyle, healthier relationships or to begin helping others. Self-publish that book. Put your photography out there for the world to see. Offer your consulting services. Provide coaching to someone trying to bring their business to the next level. Reach out to that non-profit you’ve always wanted to be a part of.

What you create transforms not only you but the world around you. You’ll become stronger and more confident. And it’ll give you an incredible sense of satisfaction and happiness.

Start small; but find at least one thing each day that moves you forward. Take the information you’ve been so voraciously ingesting and turn it into something amazing.

You exude creativity when you care deeply about people and the world around you. Allow that energy to burst forth and create a new reality.

What amazing transformation do you have planned during the auspicious 2012?

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Nov 17 2011

How to Let Go and Embrace Simplicity

Peggy McPartland

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
- Raymond Lindquist

Letting go isn’t easy.

It’s cold and the sun is setting. It’s been raining and the cedar boughs send their deep fragrance over me.

I stand alone, watching.

The gray SUV pulls out onto the road, the tail lights glowing in the darkening day. On top of it are two well used sea kayaks.

They used to be mine.

I feel a piece of my life heading down the road.

They represent who I am or was – a strong adventurous person. It’s as if I’m giving away my life piece by piece.

Letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.

Our belongings give us a sense of identity. We cling to them believing they represent our past, our history, and in some ways our life.

There’s strength in being able to let go. We can spend our lives acquiring things and never really feel as if it’s enough.

What you own is not who you are. It doesn’t define you as a person although it does feel like that at times.

Living more simply provides the freedom to open up to new experiences. If you’re less focused on acquiring, maintaining or hanging onto your possessions, you’re able to more fully focus on the things that bring joy and meaning to your life.

You’re not letting go of yourself; that stays with you. You’re only letting go of the things that no longer have a place in your life.

Imagine a future less cluttered and less encumbered. Imagine what life will look like living more simply.

Being settled in a simple space surrounded by your family, your friends and those things that truly have meaning will bring a deeper sense of joy than being in the most luxurious surroundings.

Rather than looking for external validation, strive to live fully and presently with a sense of openness. With that openness your creativity will flow more freely bringing a new clarity to your life.

Allow this simplicity to come from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. This isn’t about giving up anything, but making room in your life for what’s really important.

The familiarity of our things feels safe. Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything left. You’ll still have the things that are important yet feel freer and less encumbered.

Letting go brings a clearer sense of your authentic self. It adds lightness and joy, giving you more energy to fully interact with the world.

Ask yourself what your belongings represent to you. Are they enhancing your life or holding you back?

Discover what they mean to you and what letting go represents.

Let go bit by bit. Find creative ways to recreate the feelings those objects represent. Let go of the uneasiness of feeling as if you’ve lost a part of your identity.

You can make the choice to live a simpler life. The rewards are tremendous.

Today may be all you have. Do you want to spend this day crowded with excessive belongings or filled with rich experiences and the people you love?


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Photo credit: rickydavid, flickr

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