Dear Sugar Shells,
Today my sweetie niece called me via FaceTime and she had two questions:
First, would I wear my Halloween wolf costume when I come over to play tomorrow because we're going to be the three little pigs?
And second, could she see Emma RIGHT NOW???!
Answer: Of course!!! So off I bounded to find both my wolf hat and Emma the Brave, who incidentally was hiding, I mean resting!, under the bed.
There are soooo many things I love about this episode, as you might imagine.
When I receive the FaceTime call from Mom, it is actually Belle herself calling. Not my mom, not my sister, not even my darling nephew who is five and much more dexterous. Belle is two and a half years old and therefore, naturally, she can use an iPhone (duh). She likes to say, "My do it!!" meaning, I'll do this all by myself so hands off thank you very much. And she does. Her independence amazes me.
When I press the green button to answer her FaceTime call, all I can see is her plush little forehead because of how close she's holding the phone to her face. Equally amazing! I mean, have you seen her adorable forehead! She slays me.
But most of all, I love that she knows what she wants, and she does her level best to get it.
She is an ambitious person confined (for the moment) in a small body. Whether it's a basic feature of her age...or a characteristic of being the baby with a big brother who generally gets his way...or a fabulously unique personality trait...or whatever other mystery, the fact that Belle names and pursues exactly what she wants is a freaking inspiration to me.
Knowing what we want, saying what we want, and following what we want are all skills. That's right; skills.
We are born with them, but we seem to lose them. Invariably I teach ALL my private clients these skills in one form or another, which involves eliminating obstacles, dissolving the heavy clouds of confusion, and remembering more than anything else. It's not that my clients are inept, lazy, or unintelligent. Quite the opposite, in fact. They're brilliant, incredibly high-achieving, and really rather successful.
But working with desire takes intention and effort and energy and time. We adults generally don't have the easy clarity that Belle still possesses, and that's because we live in the foggy, cloudy layers of the social self that rests atop our deep essential selves, obscuring desire. Unlike Belle, we have learned to value being appropriate more than we value being happy. We tend to prioritize obligations over happiness.
"That's what adults do!" you might say. "Toddlers don't have responsibilities!" Well, yes - you're right. But know this: responsibilities and obligations are not more important than what you want. That is a trap. If we lose desire, we can't actually make decisions, let alone feel an abiding and sustained happiness. And the game is already rigged in favor of obligation.
You see, we grown-ups contain an internal machine that Belle hasn't developed just yet: a hyper-socialized self that knows how to fit in, wants to please the group, and doggedly chases approval. This machine serves an important purpose, but, believe me, it's not about your happiness. It's here to help you to be good.
I could be wrong here, but I don't think Belle cares all that much about being good. She wants happiness, however unconsciously. And you know what? Like many youngsters, Belle is extraordinary to be around. She is delighted, she is powerful, she is on purpose.
Miniature wonders like Belle can teach us a lot about working with desire. To wit:
- She knows what she wants without having to worry about it. There simply is no over-thinking.
- She trusts her own desires. Instinctively.
- She doesn't say things like, "I just need some time to figure it out" because that would just delay the juicy delight of actually having what she wants.
- She doesn't second-guess her desires and wonder if others would mind, if what she wants is actually okay, if people will still think she's a good person?
- And she certainly doesn't wait to pursue her desires until she has reached the appropriate destination (be it a particular weight or a certain number of books on her shelf or until her room is clean, for example).
So. For all these reasons and about a squillion more, my niece is totally my heroine of the moment. Right up there with Elizabeth Gilbert (because have you read Big Magic yet??? WOW!).
And, the excellent news is that we can become our own adorable heroines. Working with desire involves skills. Learn-able, teach-able skills.
I admit that I do have a bias here. I have become someone who insists on being happy. In fact I'm quite stubborn about it. (You know, kind of like a toddler.) But, like an adult, I analyze the costs and benefits, decide when and how to pursue my desires, take courageous action, and live peacefully with the consequences, savoring what I've created. This includes the swift and responsible handling of obligations. In other words, it's possible to let desire lead, toddler-style, and still be an adult. It takes skill.
Working with desire is so important for cultivating sustained happiness and yet somehow so weirdly foreign that it has taken up significant residence in my new framework, which I'll share with you soon. I'm really psyched about it! I want (see the desire?) to give you an idea of the system I use for coaching my beloved clients, whether on retreat or in a year-long mentorship program. So you'll receive that soon.
In the meantime, if you get very very quiet and still and you recognize an authentic desire to go on retreat with me, registration is open for the January DreamTime Retreat (!) and I would LOVE for you to be there. It's for people who want to give themselves the time, space, and support to invest 2016 with powerful magic, in a magnificent and luxurious setting on the northern California coast. All details are here.