Rise Together

Most businesses today, and throughout history, strongly promote competition in the workplace, both inside organizations and in the dealings with the landscape of their industry.  It’s a tremendous flaw to take competition too far. It ends up in a winner-takes-all society. Long ago in my career, I myself was consumed by competition.

There was a particular individual in my department that sparked my spirit of competition like no one else. The company that I worked for created an environment of competition, which is not at all uncommon. I was a medical collections specialist. In order to get our DSO (days sales outstanding) to a more manageable position, the organization thought it wise to challenge individuals in the department to out collect other individuals.

Now, this may seem like a healthy company position, but much later I became very aware of how it changed the way that I viewed working with others. Competition for me roused something dark within, it was based on my ego and resulted in a limiting of my spiritual awareness. The very motivation for employees to compromise their values is in winning at all costs.

I now realize that there is a more sought after approach which creates a win-win scenario. Had the company provided a cooperative environment, one that if an individual achieves, we all achieve, I would not have experienced the pressure to compromise my own values. After all, did I want to be recognized as a winner or just someone who participated? When I engaged in this competition with this particular individual, let’s call her Lila for the sake of identification, I became hostile and intense. You see, the victory of one of the competitors implies the defeat of the other and I intended to be victorious.

I was stressing, straining and pushing to do more, be more. I began not taking my breaks or lunches so that I could get more calls in than anyone else. I even went as far as to speak regularly with my manager about how I was putting in the time and effort in order for the company to recognize its goals, while others did not. But this made me a team player…Right? Actually, I now see how I was reducing others to make myself rise and the environment I was in, supported it. I was being recognized for my achievement.

Compassion suffers miserably at the hands of competition, for compassion seeks our common likenesses, not our differences. When engaged in competition it emphasizes our differences in very black and white ways – winners and losers, successes and failures. When immersed in competition it demands violent and destructive energies. Competition isolates, separates, and estranges. While cooperation unites, embraces, and uplifts.

It’s our responsibility to recognize that we can achieve the outcome without the battle. I conducted a large part of my career like it was a war. Who were my competitors in the marketplace and what were they doing (could I emulate them in some way), who were my peers and how could I outshine them to get recognition for my efforts? Whether it be at home, on the field or in the workforce we all have a choice to foster collaboration rather than competition.

When competition is the sole focus it leads to someone somewhere being hurt. Competition, itself, means that the loss of someone is someone else’s gain. Which means; competition is bound to cause hardships and negative experiences for another. If we can find our way toward cooperation, versus competition, everyone wins and we all move forward at a faster rate united as one human race.

There is another important aspect that needs be relayed. While I believe structuring collaboration rather than competition is critical, it is also my belief that it DOES NOT mean that you give rewards simply for participation. We all have perceived failures and successes alike and just like you I’ve faced many challenging circumstances in my life, the perseverance to continue forward despite what we ourselves consider failure is critical to instill. When you begin operating in the presence of trust and love, the answers you seek will unfold before you.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

The power of giving to life without the burden of expectations.

It is the most liberating experience when you are able to harness life without expectations. We all have experienced expectations some internal and some external – from parents, family, friends. Expectations create preconceived ideas of how things should be that you are attached to. When you can find your way to free yourself of expectations, you go with the flow of life and will not be affected by the outcomes that you encounter. Every outcome serves to move you towards greater realization of your desires. However, when you are attached to the specific path of an outcome, you expect things to happen at a certain time in a certain way. If this does not happen at the expected time or in the expected manner, then what results is a feeling of disappointment.

We did not start out this way. Each of us born in a state of pure love knowing that you are whole and complete. There is no expectations or disappointments. As life continues we get in the grip of fear and we experience disconnection and a sense of emptiness. To manage this disconnection and fill the emptiness, we create expectations of what we believe will fulfill us.

Expectation creates a tunnel of your perception of things. You’re not open to recognizing how things are really happening when you expect them to happen a certain way. This, in turn, prevents you from recognizing the good that comes your way and causes you to push it away. Without preconceived ideas to limit your perception, you are able to accept what comes your way as part of the solution to realizing what you truly desire in life. In turn, this allows you to be able to receive and not resist truth and love.

Many times we feel discouraged when things are not happening the way we want them to happen. We might even lose hope thinking that it’s not meant to be and even give up pursuing it altogether. Let go of expectations so that you can surrender to the journey and let the outcome fall in place in the right way at the divine time.

One of the keys to avoiding disappointment lies within the understanding of expectations and possibilities. Expectations assume a certain result and are future- based. They actually narrow your options, retard your imagination, and blind you to possibilities. They create pressure in your life and hold your present sense of wellbeing hostage to a future that may or may not happen. Expectations create rigidity in your life and cause you to react impulsively to any perceived threat to that future you believe you deserve.

In contrast to expectations, possibilities are based in the present moment, where you’re alive to the mystery of life. You live as fully as you can in the present moment based on your values, which reflect your preferences for the future, but you do not assume that the future will come to pass because you realize that the future is unknown. Being open to possibilities acknowledges that what you may think you want changes with time, or that there is another future that will bring you equal or more happiness, or that the future may turn bleak, or that you may die before any future can unfold. The real joy, then, is that which is present in the here and now.

The best way to live life is to be like the child that you once were just doing what brings you joy and expressing yourself fearlessly in every moment. To truly be in the moment, to not be defined by expectation, requires mindful clarity; a heart conditioned by love, compassion, and empathetic joy for yourself and others; and equanimity that allows you to experience life however it unfolds. This may seem like an inconceivable challenge, but it can be your goal, your beacon through the fog of your life. Most importantly, living in the expression of your truth can inspire and guide you in how to live in the moment.

When you live with an attitude of no expectations, you will experience more freedom than you can fathom. Failure no longer stops you because it doesn’t exist in your perception. You can keep doing what you believe in simply because you are not expecting a particular outcome but you are just expressing the truth that is in you. You are able to release negativity and nothing holds you back from going on in the direction of your desires.
When you hold no expectations, you are committing to the outcome of your higher self. Surrender and lift up the outcome for the divine self to handle while you continue acting on your desires. Yield to the journey with a hope and knowing that the things you desire most will come to you when you least expect them.

I’ve always swooned at the words in this poem written by the 12th-century Persian poet Hafiz, called “The Sun Never Says.”
“Even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens
with a love like that,
It lights up the whole sky.”

This is the power of giving to life without the burden of expectations.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

If you have a loved one with mental illness

As I pushed my loaded shopping cart into lane 12 of my local grocery store I found myself behind a man with a cart full of items. I was in for a wait, so I leaned against the cart and began surveying the candy. Deciding against the sweets, I began to skim the magazines to my left: Oprah, Good Housekeeping, and People. I turned to the right and read a few covers of more magazines placed in the rack: Soap Opera Digest, Star, and Healthy Living.

It was the latter cover that caught my attention. Catherine Zeta-Jones, with her smiling face, but her eyes lined in shadow, seemed empty and…lost. The headline reads: “Living with Bi-Polar (Mental Illness),” at this moment I think, “Yes. I understand. Myself and so many I know. Yes. We understand.”

You see, for me, mental illness has become a place where compassion and real life have collided. Although this has not always been the case. I used to harbor anger and bitter resentment.

You may be able to think of a number of people in your life, people with mental illness or mental disorders who have greatly affected and continue to affect your life. For me this is my mom.

Living with someone who has a mental illness creates a myriad of situations. Somedays are the best days of your lives while others seem to come from a terrifying nightmare of a horror movie. That’s how I viewed it, that’s how I lived it. I embraced the amazing moments and dismissed the oddities as if they were not part of my story, not part of my life.

This created confusion for me as I began to venture out in the world on my own. I was incredibly sensitive to others “thinking” I was weird. I did not want to turn into my mom. As if that’s how it works, you magically turn into someone who is labeled as a person with Mental Illness.

I did not address any of the emotions until much later in life. The way I had chosen to deal with them allowed me to be identified as a happy person. After all, I choose to only identify with the happy moments. This served me well through the bulk of my life; it kept my energetic vibration high and really wonderful people were drawn to me. However, there came a time that I could no longer keep all of it hidden. It was as if some unseen force was pushing me to address how I felt about the circumstances that I was put in.

There are many instances that I can share with you but I’ll just share a couple here so you can get the idea of some of the situations I experienced. I was 9 years old and my mom called the police and told them that “people” where coming into our apartment, living in our attic and rearranging the dust all the while switching out my designer clothes for potato sack clothes.

It was just the two of us, where could I turn? There was no one to help, this was my “normal”. It did not feel right, but it was what I knew. Once I began to address my feelings; it took me years of feeling through the experiences that I had, but eventually I got to a place that not only had I found forgiveness for what I went through, but more importantly I found immense compassion.

After truly making an effort to spend time with my mom and having some really open conversations about what her life experience was like, from her perspective…I came to the realization of how terrifying it must be for her. She expressed to me that she hears voices, telling her ugly things about herself and others. Now I imagine these “voices” are not like what I hear from my ego with ugly self-talk, I imagine them to be a much more dominant force. I contemplated how scary it must be to walk through life with your own head consistently “whispering horrible statements”. This allowed me to soften, forgive and really find so much compassion for my mom.

Today my mom is medicated and does not experience the episodes that she once used to, but that has changed her as well. I notice now that she is medicated, that she does not have the capacity to feel the depth of life that I have the privilege of. Please know that each of us has our own battles and love and compassion can overcome any perceived obstacle. If you have a loved one with mental illness, one of the most important things you can do is to invest the time to understand the dynamics so you can learn to forgive what they may have done to you and learn how to best deal with it move forward.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

I had a crisis of identity and it can happen to you too!

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing an amazing career, with many high highs and nearly as many low lows. It was much later that I realized I had allowed my identity to be directly tied to my successes at work. I co-founded my first business at 24 years old and it was one of the most exciting and terrifying times of my life. Our company experienced TREMENDOUS growth and within 2 years of beginning it was just grossing just over $5 million dollars a year in sales.

My confidence was high, I really thought I understood who I was and what I was offering as a person and a business. I worked, and worked and worked some more…iterating, evolving and changing. The machine had become my baby, but it was more than that…it became WHO I was.

For years I had incredible successes over successes, so I did not even realize that I had identified who I was with what I did. Then there came a point that I began to struggle meeting those continued successes. Everyday seems like a battle and a grind to get things accomplished, I was overwhelmed and stretched way too thin. Then we took another blow as the economy came crashing down. It was a scramble to revamp our business model, all the while seeing the sales slow and margins shrink.

I tried to bolster my resolve, I’ll work harder, innovate more, I can do this! When I made this commitment something strange began to happen; the more I tried to hold on, to get a grip, to make it work…the more that I lost control. This was a business with 170 team members and I was not adequately engaging them or allowing them to grow. The reality unfolded that I was stifling my business, my staff and in turn stifling myself.

Ultimately, I was pushed out of the business and it crushed me personally. In the months that followed I felt battered, defeated and exceptionally lost. It took me years of contemplative assessment to understand that when my accomplishments became fewer and farther between (and ultimately stalled), I equated that to my self-worth and I began to spiral. I had allowed myself to become a reflection of my work, and who was I without my work?

Upon this realization, I experienced a shift in my perception that lead me to learn to never identify yourself with your actions. You are not what you do. No matter what you do or where you live, these criteria DO NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE. When we choose to live by this false identity and draw our security from it, we are always in need, always dissatisfied, and really only focused on our needs simply because nothing is ever enough. We are left with an insatiable desire to search for fullness and completeness, but never finding it. We are continuously trying to fix, change, or re-arrange ourselves or our personal environment. This puts us in a position of lack and need, which pushes us to try and hold on tighter to control of our lives.

This can be said for so many facets of our lives; careers, relationships, physically and financially. Life eludes us, people fail us, and ultimately we are miserable.

This is a choice, the opportunity lies within each of us.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

What is normal anyway?

I have a little secret to share with you, something that only a few people on this entire world know about me…until today I suppose.

I have a physical reaction to cringe whenever anyone would tell me that I was weird or crazy. Have you ever experienced anything like this yourself?

I’ve tried for a good portion of my life to please others while largely flying under the radar. It took me a good portion of my life to be comfortable with my own personality, quirks and all. I had several traumatic childhood experiences (I know, who didn’t) but it really shaped much of what I was willing to show others about myself. My mom suffers from mental illness and this created a complex living situation. I never knew what I was going to walk into when I would get home. Each day was unexpected, could be a fun day of cooking, laughing and playing games or strange oddities such as being told that the dust in the house was being rearranged.

At the time, this did not create many anxieties for me. Later I understood that you only know what your surroundings provide to you. Amidst all the chaos that I know I was in, there was a sense of normality while I was going through it as if it was simply part of everyday life.  Once I had the vernacular to know that life could be different, I made it my mission to achieve that for myself.

But I knew in the back of my mind that mental illnesses can be inherited and anytime that someone would tell me that I was being weird or crazy, I would get this visceral physical reaction and want to shrink up into a ball and fly away. I wanted no association with those terms, EVER! I was terrified of the prospect that if people were telling me that…I was turning into my mother. This lead to me always be very *careful* with how I behaved and what I said, erring on the side of normal so not to be thought weird or crazy. Somewhere along the line I realized that I was really stifling who I was and more importantly who I was meant to be in my life. I began to ask myself questions like “What is normal anyway?” and “Who has the right to judge what is normal?” However, I had treaded the line of suppressing myself to fit in the “normal” box for so long it took me a lot of exploring to determine what the authentic me looked like.

As I began to become more open to showing who I AM all sorts of wonderful things began to happen. I began to recognize that individuals who were using those terms about me, really where showing more a reflection of who they were than an actual depiction of who I was. This really softened the physical responses that I had over time. Also, the people that began to come into my life had an appreciation for who I was. Yes, I may have been different, but the terms weird or crazy where not what they saw. This in turn bolstered my confidence to want to show more of who I really AM and wanted to become. Another wonderful side effect was that I began to find happiness in my life, being able to express freely. A good, longtime friend said that he viewed me as “slightly altered”, today I can take a statement like that and know that there is beauty in the being different. But long ago, I would have crumbled.

You must explore the depths of your being to find who you are and then learn to love it all, the good and the bad of it. Only in this way do you become aware to the whole truth of the matter; the process of shaping yourself is eternal and only you have the choice of what each stage entails. Not only does your perspective change that shifts your past experiences, you are faced with new challenges that continue to shape the current individual that you are to become.

Once you readily own this, it becomes an incredible space of freedom that can be achieved in no other way. So today go out and be free to show this world who you are!

 

 

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.