Embrace the Lessons
Perfect Bound Softcover
This book was not intended to be about me. It is a memoir, yet, I truly do not consider myself so significant that anyone would want to read my memoirs. It consists of stories throughout my life that have been significant because of the lessons learned. If not for the belief that I am here as a student, in this University called Earth, with the ultimate goal of evolving spiritually, then life in and of itself would be an existential purgatory. I write to teach. The paradox is that we are alone in this journey called life, yet we are never truly alone. We are all connected. Embrace the Lessons speaks to a Universal truth that acknowledges that the purpose of the human experience is to grow as spiritual beings. I share with you my personal stories of transcendence, in the hopes that you will become open to your own. You are invited to open yourself to the lessons that Life has to offer. Embrace the Lessons is a look inside one woman’s journey to remain on the path of healing and transcendence. Much of this book was written over the course of three decades. It is packed with insight and inspiration. It is thought provoking, heart-felt, and entertaining. It is written for you. It is written to inspire you to engage in frequent acts of courage and stamina in order to awaken to your own personal growth and transformation. Awaken to your Teachers. Listen, watch, and observe the many forms in which they appear. Fear not. Open your mind and heart in order to Embrace the Lessons.
Excerpt from Part One, Chapter One:
The human condition requires that we experience and incorporate pain into a higher level of consciousness that ultimately serves to transcend one’s spirit. As part of the human condition we question why we should feel pain. Indeed, our brains are neurologically set up for pleasure. As a human species we have a low tolerance for pain, which has motivated us to generate things that have made life much less painful. One might even say that we have evolved to the point that pain seems unnatural to us, and has indeed become unacceptable to us. We live in a time of immediate gratification. The invention of the microwave oven was perhaps an important time marker of this new era. Until the microwave came along, we had to spend hours preparing and cooking meals. There was no such thing as a Drive-Thru or Fast Food. It is not uncommon in today’s world to wait impatiently for the microwave to “hurry up” and heat up our food. It is also not uncommon to not ‘have time’ to ‘run though a drive thru.’
The invention of the remote control brought immediacy to our finger tips. Some of us remember that children used to serve as both TV antenna and remote control. Remember when your father would say: “Hey, get up and turn the channel. Wait. Stand right there, the reception is better-- and hold your arm up--yeah that’s good.” Back then we had three TV stations— ABC, CBS, and NBC. We thought we hit it Big Time when PBS came upon the scene. Now there are hundreds of channels and we frequently “can’t find” anything that interests us. We “surf” the TV, radio, and the web in an attempt to find something that suits our every whim. We live in a time and place where we expect to receive pleasurable/stimulating things almost upon the moment that we desire them. Pain has become unnecessary and unacceptable. Pain has become something to avoid. In fact if we encounter pain, we automatically assume that something is terribly wrong.
We have this unrealistic expectation that we can and should be able to sustain an indefinite period of bliss. In the rooms of 12 Step Programs it is not uncommon to hear people say that they are happy, joyous, and free. Another common expression is that members are “happiest beyond their wildest expectations.” Now, I’m not against people feeling happy. In fact, I rejoice in such a blessing. The problem is when people begin to think something is wrong if they are not happy all the time. I like to ground people in the reality that “Happy, Joyous, and Free” is not a place. It is not a destination. It is a temporary emotional state of well-being that is afforded to us as a respite from the daily trek called Life. We cannot be happy all the time. That is just not natural. Even though we have evolved into the Information Age, this does not mean that we are no longer part of nature. There are just some things that we cannot bypass, and one of those is that life is challenging. If you are sad, anxious, upset, hurt, or angry it doesn’t mean that something is wrong, it just means that something is. It is as it is. Be with whatever it is, and it too shall pass. Everything comes and goes. That is natural—eternal bliss is not natural.
Pain comes in many forms. There is physical pain, emotional pain, and mental pain. I separate emotional and mental pain because the two feel distinct to me. Emotional pain is a feeling response to an event. Mental pain is typically the result of repetitive beliefs that in turn produce emotional pain (such as sadness or anxiety). As human beings we encounter physical, emotional, and mental pain as part of the experience that life offers. It is through the challenges of physical, mental and emotional pain that we are offered the opportunity for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is not currently a high priority in this country because it lacks immediacy and requires stamina and a humble approach to pain. Why should I feel pain if I can take something or do something to bypass such pain? How can there possibly be value in working through pain? The value comes in the lesson learned—be it gratitude, fortitude, self-empowerment, compassion, love.
I believe that we each have our own traumas and challenges in life. The amount, frequency, and depth of these traumas will vary from person to person. For some it may be one major traumatic event in life. For others it may seem to be a never ending cascade of mini traumas. There are those, too, who believe that we chart our traumas and our lessons before we get here (are born). This makes sense to me, as it would be characteristic of a loving God to allow us to participate in our Course of Education. After all, it is all for Glory, all in the name of Love. Of course, I don’t feel very loving when I am in the middle of one of my Lesson Plans. In fact, I’m more likely to curse, hold my breath, and stomp my feet. I’m more likely to cry “foul” and declare how unfair life is. I am more likely to do all those things because as a human being I don’t want to go through the painful experience. I don’t want to go through something that in the long run may make me a better person. It is part of the human experience to want to bypass spiritual growth, yet part of the condition as a spiritual being to transcend through such experiences. That’s our job. I’ve learned to accept this, and as a result, life has become much easier to maneuver.
After some internal debate I’ve decided to let you in on some of my own personal traumas that I have weathered in life. These were troubling times that caused such growing pains that I needed to journal as a means of freeing myself from the source of pain, in order clarify and open myself up to the lesson. As such, contained within this book are some excerpts from journal entries. The decision to use a journal entry is due to the raw honesty that would be diluted if I were to rewrite the entries. I have shared my uncensored, inner thoughts because I believe that some may benefit from the realization that they are not alone, or perhaps are better off. Most people, when asked, would rather keep their own problems than trade for someone else’s problems. There is hope, regardless of your own personal situation. There is a path out. That path begins with honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to change. The path is also a lot easier to walk if you appreciate the humor that can be embraced along the way.
Vickie H. Shannon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Addictions Professional in Vero Beach, Florida. She is one of a trio of women who provide educational lectures and workshops through Vero Quest. For more information about Vero Quest go to the website at www.myveroquest.com
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