Escaping the Maze

Know what it feels like to be stuck in a rut? It’s like there’s a literal ditch in the ground carving out a walking path. I’ve been there: Get out of bed, go to bathroom, dress and walk to car, into office, out of office, home, repeat. It’s a long, winding maze … leading to unhappiness.

My friends, my friends, I'm in a rut.
My friends, my friends, I’m in a rut.

When you’re in a rut, friends ask what’s new and you just shrug your shoulders. Nothing. Nothing is new. You’re low on energy, motivation, creativity and general joie de vivre. It’s no way to live.

Getting out of the maze is actually pretty simple: Change.

As you know if you read this blog, I have divested all my worldly possessions except for a hope chest filled with mementos, some files and basically whatever fit into my boyfriend’s 32-ft sailboat. It has been a major project, to say the least.

I’m calling it Operation Tighten Up 2015, and what it’s done is pushed me very far out of my comfort zone and from whatever rut I had found myself in. It’s kind of stressful. I’ve had a few people recently tell this to me, and I’m letting it sink in. There’s something very reassuring about a rut. There’s something very disconcerting about change.

Think about ruts: Like in the Grand Canyon, water makes its way in the path of least resistance. If you are mindless about your life, you will be like water and create a tiresome rut for yourself. But, also like water, you can cut your own path. There are a few things you can do if you realize that life is boring you:

1. Look for signs. When talking to your friends, don’t bitch about things. Instead, look at the good in your life. Find gratitude for

If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths ... but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!
If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths … but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

that old hallway while waiting for the next door to open. It’s going to open. But you have to look for where it is.

2. Take a risk. No need to be so dramatic as I’ve been this year, but do something that you don’t know will work. Here’s an example: My boyfriend’s car needed a part changed, and he’s out of town. So I went to AutoZone and bought the part, watched a YouTube video and shuffled up under the steering wheel and did the job myself. I’ve never done car repair before. I just decided it was something I could do because I’m not a complete dummy and tried it. It worked!

3. Take action on your dreams. What do you want in your life? Seriously, what is it? Most people have no idea, but this is why we are here. What do you dream to do? Write it down and don’t judge yourself. Be authentically you – and WORK to make it happen! There’s intention, and then there’s action. You need both to live an amazing life.

It’s also good to realize that there are endless ruts everywhere, waiting to trap us into a mindless routine. For example, like most American women, I used to have a big closet so filled with clothes that it overflowed into another smaller closet. I loved thrift shops, so most of what was bulging out was purchased for a couple dollars and worn quite well. But when I moved onto the boat, all I had was a little locker and some space bags. It was embarrassing, all the clothes that I was holding on to and not really wearing. I had to continue to let go, push myself out of my fashion rut.

So I did some research: Along with watching my fair share of TED talks that spoke to divesting and minimalizing the clutter in your life, I found a great video blog called The Daily Connoisseur. Jennifer L. Scott preaches the feasibility of the “Ten Item Wardrobe.” I purchased some key pieces that were missing, and whittled my wardrobe down.

This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it'll never be enough!
This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it’ll never be enough!

Why is this so difficult for women? I believe it is because we are conditioned to wrap our identity around our possessions and our clothing. It’s easier to understand who we are if we judge ourselves and others on what they own and what they wear. But of course when you think about it, we’re fooling ourselves to be so superficial.

And what’s wonderful about Scott’s blog is that she offers the reality of a choice: You can still look cute and own only a few pieces of clothing. She encourages viewers to purchase pieces that are lovely, wearable and diverse. Now I have a few dresses that I could wear on the dock or out to dinner. Since I left my job, I did away with my work clothes. When you simplify your life, it’s easier to simplify your wardrobe.

When you have fewer items in your closet, it’s easier to pick what to wear. It’s easier to pack for a trip. You just do it effortlessly, and suddenly you have time for the next thing. You have more space in your life to decide which way to go next. You become so light that you don’t wear a path into your life. You start to escape the maze by floating up and away.

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Soul Time

I have a personal mantra I like to say to friends when I feel like they’re starting to freak out about being late: “I’m always on time for my life.”

Granted, I’m late an awful lot for relatively informal engagements (right on time when professionalism rules or for live music!). I honestly think it’s more important to relax and flow through life instead of rush just to fulfill a social obligation of not wasting my friend’s time. I mean, really. Is there anyone who I made wait for 5-10 minutes who were unhappy during that time? If I ever pissed you off, I’m really sorry.

Sorry not sorry! My pal Harvey taught me to say, “Don’t be sorry, be silly!” And that’s because we are all operating on Soul Time all the time, regardless of what the watch says. It’s a beautiful reality that we often forget in this culture of 15-minute billing intervals.

Tangent 1: It’s not just Time, it’s SOUL TIME! (Click that link for this blog post’s first song on the soundtrack, followed by this one!)

Tangent 2: One time I made an appointment with a nutritionist at the local hospital here in my small town, and they said, OK, see

What was great about Google images was that I typed in "plastic food" and a picture of a hot dog came up. Seriously.
What was great about Google images was that I typed in “plastic food” and a picture of a hot dog came up. Seriously. And what is that thing behind Mr. Cheeseburger is this picture? A fat, bloody Kit-Kat?


you on Monday for your hour appointment with the nutritionist. I get there, and she’s showing me plastic forms that kinda look like broccoli and piles of rice to explain to me portion sizes and healthy food choices. I truly learned nothing, but whatever, I had health insurance and paid $35 for the hour. Then I get a bill explaining, it turns out, that I actually made four 15-minute appointments and had to pay something crazy like $300! I fought and fought that, and got them to cut it in half and begrudgingly paid it. If that nutritionist’s time was really that valuable, I’m in the wrong field.

By limiting our understanding of time to the concept of Linear Time instead of Soul Time, we are shorting ourselves dramatically. The Law of Abundance tells us that we have enough time for everything we need, and yet it feels like we can never do it all in a happy, relaxed manner when racing against the clock.

Soul Time also helps us aging gracefully, by accepting that building up Soul Time increases our wisdom and lessons learned in our hearts in such a beautiful way that there is never a reason to feel the least bit upset about visual cues of Linear Time aging. Soul Time aging is awesome! Ram Dass wrote a fantastic book about changing, aging and dying called Still Here. Highly recommended.

Relying on Linear Time also fools us into thinking that we have complete control on our lives. That’s why we are so upset when

"Oh, I am so disgusted with everything! I am so much better than everything around me! My time is more important that this drudgery! I am so mad!" Isn't it better to just chill out instead of suffer like this Spazy McGillicutty?
“Oh, I am so disgusted with everything! I am so much better than everything around me! My time is more important that this drudgery! I am so mad!” Isn’t it better to just chill out instead of suffer like this Spazy McGillicutty?

things change and the situation doesn’t meet our highest expectations of perfection. Ugh, traffic is so bad, you might say, looking at your watch in disgust. But what a wonderful opportunity to meditate or even plan out gifts for friends, think about a delicious dinner to prepare with a loved one or dream up your next vacation. It’s really all about limiting suffering, as far as I’m concerned. So if I’m happy daydreaming, score!

Besides, if I’m behind the wheel freaking out, what’s actually happening is that I’m nervous about what I think is going to happen. Like, when my parents are in town, I know that if I’m more than one minute late, they are standing at the front door of where we are meeting, anxiously awaiting my arrival. I don’t want my parents to be inconvenienced; but who knows might happen on the way there? Maybe they were caught up. Really, by being worried about time and the cultural expectations associated with its perceived lack of abundance is simply creating dramas in our minds.

The idea of Soul Time has really hit home with me in regards to my plan for extended travel on my boyfriend’s sailboat to

The captain of my heart and me sailing S/V Tortuga ... full-time whenever in Soul Time.
The captain of my heart and me sailing S/V Tortuga … full-time whenever in Soul Time.

remote locales with currently undetermined itineraries. Originally, the plan was to cruise over to the Bahamas before hurricane season began. Then much-needed projects, money-making opportunities and other parts of life’s realities held up that initial plan, and we have yet to depart three months later.

The thing that I must remind myself is that EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ON THE EXACTLY CORRECT SCHEDULE. This is my life. It’s not on hold. It’s not “late.” You remember when you were in school and a kid said something like, “Well, I was supposed to be in the next grade up, but I was held back.” Sorry, kid. You were supposed to be in this grade. That’s why you’re there.

It’s all a surrender to the flow. I am grateful for this time, living on the boat yet still near land. I am taking care of so many things that would have gone undone had we left. I clipped a New York Times article that defined flowing as “the voguish psychological term, which refers to the heightened satisfaction and enjoyment derived from clearing out extraneous concerns and immersing yourself, Zen-like, in the task at hand.” Ah, the NOW is an awesome place to be.

As my friend Mary would say when she can’t find her keys or feels like time is running away from her: FLOWING! Just go with the flow, she means. It’s all happening exactly the way it’s supposed to, because we are always on time for our lives. That’s the beauty and freedom with living your life on Soul Time!