Happy Thanksgiving – Gratitude List

You always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.

This is my fourth “school”-free holiday season and I find I have much for which to be grateful. Many of these things came directly from my evolutionary tenure. Every “school”-free day contrasts sharply with my “school”-dictated life, highlighting what leaving the hallowed halls brought to me:

1) A well-honed bullshit detector – while, I have never regretted leaving the institution, I also don’t regret the experience. I do wish that I’d listened to my rebels sooner — five years and roughly $20,000 is way more than I wanted to invest in this con game. However, allowing “school” to yank me around for a time did prove valuable. It reminded me of that childhood lesson from the The Wizard of Oz: everything I need, everything you need, exists within me, and within you, already. The wizards who tell you otherwise, offering pat and overly simplified advice, alleged informed by convenient interpretations of certain esoteric ideas is, at best, deluded and at worst, sociopathic.

2) A trusted connection to my inner moral compass and path — Every “school”-free day bears gifts in ways to embrace this connection. Every moment, good, bad, challenging, boring, heartening, frustrating, inspiring — whatever comes — offers me the opportunity to honor what feels right to me and leave behind what doesn’t. I’m free from the cognitive dissonance that wrestled with my inner sense when it didn’t line up with the outer party line. I own my time and life, for better or worse: I spend my days with those I love and doing what I want. I am free to share whatever I experience, feel and think with whomever I’d like. This freedom constantly reminds me that every breath is a gift. It is my responsibility to use my remaining breathes wisely, instead of giving them away. And, by the way, I have a lot more energy.

3) An unencumbered holiday season — The holidays are no longer strained with the unnecessary “school”-sponsored usurpation, otherwise known as The Christmas Party. All accompanying marital stress fell away. My friends and family no longer wonder why I am so unavailable and what could possibly be keeping me busily scrambling around. In fact, now that they all know about the illustrious group and its infamous Christmas party, we’ve had a lot of laughs, and lemme just tell you, keeping secrets takes a lot of energy.

4) A reconnection to my inner creative voice — at some point I will research and write more extensively about the cult-usurpation-of-your-creative-energy phenomenon. For now I will simply say that in 2006, when I joined an “informal discussion group”, I hoped that the it would strengthen and affirm my creative dreams. Five years later, I felt severed from those dreams — songwriting, prose writing, even simple morning pages, ala The Artist’s Way, all felt impossible. The flow of ideas and music that had been with me since childhood shut down. Before my tenure — however insecure and lost I felt — those ideas outlined my dreams and woke me up in the morning. They provided a sense of purpose, and I honored them, despite uncertainty about how to shape and define that purpose. Once I left the cult and started writing my story, I reconnected to that creative voice. Recently songs again began outlining my dreams and waking me in the morning. Welcome back!

5) A clarity of purpose – In leaving the cult, I freed my time. In freeing my time, I freed my mind. In freeing my mind, my voice came forth to tell this ridiculous tale. In putting out this blog, I released my psyche from “school’s” cancerous secrecy. This is my experience of freedom of mind. Secrets cloud and shroud. Clarity arrived when I stopped carrying them around. I believe the purpose of artistic creativity — in whatever modality — is connecting to this authentic voice and empowerment through the expression of your truth. I believe this because I found all the healing I needed within the creative process.

6) My marriage — When I left the cult, I suddenly found myself home more, sharing time with my husband. I suddenly found more energy, physical, emotional, cognitive and psychological to give to him. When I stopped protecting the “highly-evolved esoteric institution”, I suddenly had more to share with him. I left “school” because I knew my marriage would end if I didn’t. But I didn’t realize the damage inflicted until I confessed the inner workings and heard him him talk about his experience of “school’s” highly evolved “help”, as it increasingly dismissed him and our marriage as “only a life thing”. I’m thankful that instead of tearing us apart, we’ve used “school’s” education to strengthen our commitment.

7) Real friendships with real people – One of “school’s” most insidious aspects is the isolation. If you “follow school rules” to the letter, you find yourself in an invisible prison; it eats up more and more of your “only life”. If you leave, you are stonewalled. Additionally you are to pretend like it didn’t happen — “don’t leak”. If you run into a fellow disgruntled at Trader Joe’s both of you are to ignore each other. How crazy making. If you break “school” rules, you find that relationships, friendships, have their own organic rhythm. There is nothing evolved about a group that micromanages and engineers “essence friendships”. I have learned so much about the strength and character of my fellow disgruntled(s) by breaking the “non-fraternization rule.” They no longer embody the flat one-dimensional “school” perpetuated cult identity of the group.

On that note, I will end by offering the hope that your “school”-free existence has benefited you, as mine has benefited me. Because when you find your feet walking a path, directed by your internal compass, to your true north, as Dorothy says, there’s no place like home.

Happy Thanksgiving and here’s to a “school”-free holiday season! Cheers!