A Mystic’s Life

This is what it’s like to be a woman

For two years, I was obsessed with a man named Jack, and I hated feeling that way. It was difficult. I knew things could never work out between us. I was serious and driven, while he was irresponsible and unintellectual.

He was outgoing. He was the life of the party. He was from California.

He wasn’t right for me.

During the entire two-year period of our relationship, we went on only one official date.

It was wonderful.

We took a walk in a park by the river between two bridges with the city behind it. I told him that this was my favorite place in the city and by the look he gave me he knew I was saying I loved him, and that whenever in the future I was in that same place, no matter when it was, I would always think of him.

The next day, he broke up with me.

I cried the loudest and the longest I had ever cried in my life. The dorm was mostly empty but I’m sure a lot of people heard me anyway though no one asked me about it later.

That was nice of them.

After that, I felt different. I felt older somehow, and, for the first time, really mature.

I had become a woman.

I was nineteen.

Love at first sight is real

In college I fell in love for the third time. This time, it was love at first sight.

His name was Jack.

There was only one problem, though, which was: we argued. The first day we knew each other, even, we argued.

It was the first week of my freshman year of college. We were just getting out of a class and were walking down the hallway when he said my name really loud and with affection as if we were already good friends. I said his name back, and we started talking and after that, we were friends. Later that night we saw each other in the commons and somehow we got on the subject of television. He said that television was wonderful and I said that it is pointless and uninspiring.

He was right, of course.

Our first semester, we met at the commons almost every night. A little group formed around us and it was the most fun I’d ever had.

It was the first real group of friends I’d ever had, too.

Jack saw how shy I was and he liked to tease me about it. He would talk to me in his loud, confident voice like a big brother would to a little sister, which no one had ever done to me before.

Jack and I were never actually a couple but we were never just friends, either. We never kissed and only held hands once and we only went on one date. But he will probably remember me forever as his first important relationship and I will remember him that way, too.

I still want to kiss him just once.

I remember the day I realized I was in love with him. It was the first time I ever knew I was in love with anyone.

That day, we hung out together in the school library, talking but pretending to study. I don’t remember how the subject came up but suddenly he said, “You have to stop caring so much about what people think of you.”

He’s right, I thought. I do care too much about what people think of me.

I was ashamed.

That was the next thing I learned about love: It makes you believe everything the person you love says about you. It challenges you.

And sometimes, it makes you ashamed.

Looking back, I realize that after being extremely shy all my life, by then, I had made real progress in this area. But at the time, I didn’t see how far I’d come, only where I was right then.

It was like he was speaking into my soul.

No one had ever done that to me before, and it was exhilarating.

That night, as I lay in bed and thought about our conversation, the word “love” came into my mind for the first time in connection with any man. I knew right away that that had to be what it was.

Still, it was a surprise.

Motherhood is just so awesome.

I have discovered the pleasure of driving aimlessly. And of sitting in McDonald’s, for two hours at a time, and dragging my feet a bit while I shop.

I am officially a stay-at-home mom.

It happened only a week ago, after I fired the babysitter. I told her I’d decided to stop working, which was true, though, secretly I had other reasons, too, namely, I wanted my baby to myself.

I wanted to be the one who held him when he cried, and saw his first smile. I wanted to be the one he admired the most, but mostly, I wanted him to feel as loved as he possibly could.

And the person for that job is me.

What’s surprised me most about this change so far: I love it like nothing else I’d ever done.

When I was working, I loved being a mom, too, of course. Not the sleepless nights or all the crying, but the waking up next to the baby’s sweet morning beauty, and the nursing, and the trust, and the love.

Motherhood rocks. I’ve loved every day of this job so far, and a good percentage of the minutes as well. Okay, okay–not the minutes in which my son is crying and I can’t calm him down, and not the ones where he’s not falling asleep. But the ones where I’m holding
him, singing to him, talking to him out loud like a crazy person in the grocery store. And nearly every time I stop the car and open his door to take him out of his seat, then once again see his beautiful baby face, I have to say it again: “You are perfect.”

And so. For the first time, life feels not only beautiful, as the saying goes, but it also feels like an adventure. Even if I’m just going to McDonald’s.

And yet. It took five months of motherhood for me to realize something that seems pretty obvious; being a stay-at-home mom is awesome.

I’m independent. I’m physical. I’m doing something with my hands and feet. I’m not trapped behind a computer, exercising only my tired brain and eyes. I’m getting out, seeing the world, living life.

I am getting in the car and going places. And if sometimes I don’t quite know where I’ll end up, that just makes it even more fun.

Here, a description of a typical day in the morning life so far: When Xavier and I wake up, he cries immediately, then every time I remove him from my nipple thereafter—except when in a moving vehicle or in a stimulating environment. For this reason, as soon as his diaper is changed in the morning, we are in the car on the way to McDonald’s.

It is not the first time we’ll go there today.

At McDonald’s I drink a large coffee and sit with him for over an hour at a booth by the window. With the help of the back of the bench he stands and stares at everyone else who’s there. People stop to say something to him, or to me about him. Everywhere I go I feel like a minor celebrity. Before long I change his diaper on the drop-down table in the bathroom and wonder if the last person to use it cleaned it off. In the car I check my phone for a moms’ group activity, and find one at a park 45 minutes away. I drive there slowly, considering whether or not I should get a bumper sticker that reads “Don’t rush me–baby’s happy.”

By the time we get to the park the baby’s almost ready for his first nap, but I decide to push it as this is the only social event I have scheduled for the day. I put X in the carrier and talk to the other moms while watching their children play, sincerely wondering if X will ever be
interested in these objects people attach so much importance to called “toys.”

When we start driving again, X almost immediately falls asleep. I’m driving in a suburban area but I’m lucky enough to spot a McDonald’s nearby. I park there and read, making absolutely no noise, for about an hour. By the end of the hour I have to pee really bad, but am determined not to leave the baby as he may wake up without me there.

After he wakes up we go in. This time I order a large soda, also caffeinated, and before we leave I refill it twice. (Did I mention that as we are cosleeping I wake up ten to twelve times a night, every night, to nurse?)

After this there’s an errand or two, then another aimless drive that ends in nap number two, again in a parking lot. Then there’s the car ride to pick up my husband from work. With him we eat dinner and immediately after we’re done we go to a meditation class. When we return home I put X in a stroller and we take a very long walk–about two hours. By the time we’re back home the baby is already asleep, but as soon as I move him he wakes up again and it is three hours before I’m able to leave the bed without him crying. I do so, and shower, brush my teeth and change into my pajamas. Then I go to bed.

And that is about how it’s been for the past seven days in a row, and will likely be for a pretty long time to come. I know that in some ways it sounds awful, but the truth is, I enjoy almost every second of the day.  This is how it’s been for the past seven days, and will likely continue to be for a very long time.

At least – I hope it will be. As I sat in the parking lot today waiting for Xavier to wake up from his nap, I had a terrible thought. ‘My life won’t always be like this,’ I realized. ‘Someday I’ll go back to a regular job. Maybe even have a second kid.’

The sadness that I felt in that moment was absurd and premature, I know. And yet, even now I can’t get the thought out of my mind.

I want to be Xavier’s first and best love, and to take care of him, like this, forever.

I also never want a real job again. (Egad!)

My very best career advice

A topical switch-up for you today. I want to offer up a few thoughts on money.

So, I’m not going to follow in the footsteps of so many get-rich gurus who attempt to convince a naive readership that hard work does not equal wealth; I believe strongly in the importance of hard work and always have. Instead, what I take from this review is this: when it comes to making money, financial understanding and a good resume are much more profitable than hard work.

Let’s look at both of these in turn. First up: a good resume.

When I decided to attend college way back when, I did not do so because I believed that doing so would make me rich, or even get me a solid middle-class job. Eschewing the advice of others (though not my poor intellectual parents) to get a teaching certificate or other marketable qualifications, I majored in English and History. At the time I believed that college was just something you did–an achievement that you could be proud of, yet but much more important, an end in itself. I wanted to know things. I wanted to read. I wanted to meet intelligent people. I wanted to put off making a decision about a career.

I wanted the college experience.

Now, however, I know better. The Bachelor of Arts degree I earned at a veritable snail’s pace (7 and 1/2 years, it took me to get it) has paid financial dividends I did not predict. Here’s a top-of-the-head list of jobs I’ve had that I may not have received without a 4-year degree on my resume: My first paid freelance writing job (other than at the school newspaper);My first and only full-time job at an advertising agency when I was still very green, and which was an education in itself;(several very good freelance jobs);A job teaching English in China;My current technical job, even though the subject matter is unrelated. For my current job, my resume was also greatly bolstered by the Technical Communications certificate I earned by taking a few inexpensive evening simple pass-fail classes at a local community college.

I once thought that pretty much everyone had a four-year degree, that getting one would hardly impact my success. For a long time after graduating, I waited tables and wondered what the heck to do for a career. Then one day, I figured it out–and after that things feel into place at a much faster pace than I would’ve believed possible at the time. Part of the reason for that, sure, is how hard I worked.

And part of that was that damn expensive degree.

Okay, then: the resume. The degree, the past experience–whatever you can put on there that’s solid– all those things are important. Now I turn to the second factor in my so-far success, which is, of course, financial understanding.

In the beginning, every dollar is important. When I was waiting table and riding buses, I’d go to great lengths to save $1 on bus fare – walking an extra mile in the rain, getting free food from my parents, skipping little conveniences, and certainly never eating out; I didn’t even go to McDonald’s. I vividly remember one ill-advised trip to the grocery store when I’d bought far too much food to carry home. Still, not wanting to spend the dollar on bus fare to travel only a single mile, I (valiantly) attempted the feat, stopping to rest every few yards when my arms got too tired and the plastic bag handles cut too deep into my hands. I hadn’t gotten far when a nice lady in an old car offered me a ride, which I gladly accepted.

Now, the way I make all this sound, it was miserable. The truth is, though, that as a single person with most of my time to myself – to read, watch movies, whatever – I needed very little money to make me happy. Even today my largest disposable-income purchase (other than home-improvement related stuff, admittedly a huge indulgence on my part) is help. I hire a handyman to (do) my painting, my shelf-hanging, stuff like that. I hire a housekeeper to wash all my dishes and more. I hire a wonderful, dear man to clean our car inside and out, plus do a bunch of work in the yard. I have David go get food for dinner when cooking just feels like too much, and I hire a babysitter twice a week so I can write.

Truth is, though – most of this stuff I didn’t mind doing at all…when I had lots of extra time. When I was hungry, I made dinner. When the toilet was dirty, I cleaned it.

There was no drama involved. to me, saving $3 on a shirt by shopping at a thrift store meant one thing, and one thing alone: $3 more for paying ahead on my mortgage, or my tuition.

I have never waited anxiously for a paycheck in my life. I’ve never even cared when payday was. No matter how little money I had, most of it went to stuff that offered no immediate gratification–including the Roth IRA account I opened in college.

I never saw money as fun. Admittedly, frugality is not the road to wealth that I once thought it could be; much better to earn more than to save a higher percent. However, financial wisdom is the greatest predictor of one’s future wealth, without a doubt.

Just a few thoughts for you on a very important subject. Hope they help.

Thank you, Mr. Walsch, once again

Another Neale Donald Walsch book today, and another cool idea to share. The book is called Questions and Answers on Conversations With God, and in it, a reader asks if the author knows any way to speed up one’s process of reaching enlightenment—you know, kind of like a shortcut. Not surprisingly, Walsch says that he does. He advises the reader to write down in great detail what her highest and grandest vision of herself would look like—then to begin to act as if that was who she was right now.

I thought this was great advice, and since I’ve never actually made a list like this before, I think I’ll do so now—at least as completely as I can manage. Then, after that, I’ll decide which aspects of this list I’m willing to actually undertake to improve.

Here goes: a vision of my highest self, as I now understand it. Mollie Player is a woman who:

•Smiles when she looks in the mirror. Smiles all the time, actually.

•Does not criticize herself or others over superficialities.

•Does not believe she is superior to others, and does not accept such thoughts when they come.

•Does not have any negative thoughts at all; is relentlessly optimistic.

•Takes full responsibility for her choices.

•Is honest with others whenever possible, and always with herself.

•Wears only comfortable clothes (that also look nice).

•Does not spend a great deal of money, time or attention on her physical appearance, but lets her natural beauty show.

•Spends time every morning in prayer and meditation.

•Prays constantly or, put better (as Neale Donald Walsch would say that we are all actually praying at every single moment with every single thought that we have), is fully aware of praying constantly, and does so purposefully and consciously.

•Frequently practices the activities that she’s passionate about, especially writing.

•Takes her time. Enjoys the small moments of her day. Does not rush. Pays attention to people. Does not crowd her schedule.

Okay, so this is weird. As I look through this list, I can see that it’s not at all comprehensive; writing down all of the goals I’ve already achieved (such as learning how to maintain a conflict-free, truly loving relationship with my husband) would, after all, be a bit too time-consuming and not very helpful. And I’ve left out other things, too, things that I just can’t imagine quite yet.

I realize this, and yet, shouldn’t this list be more—well, difficult to live up to? And yet, it’s not. I find after seeing the qualities I want to have all written down together that there is not one that isn’t totally, completely achievable, and not in the years to come, but really, in the months.

Does that mean I’ll get there that soon? Probably not. But I have a feeling, based on the changes I’ve already seen in myself in just the past few years that I’ll get further than I now know, and that in doing so, I will be happier and more enlightened—that is to say, “full of light”—than I’ve ever been before.

Probably by far.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, though, that the list isn’t a bit longer, a bit more intimidating. After all, it’s no accident that I’m living the life I’m living right now. I didn’t just end up in this city that I love, with the adoring and adorable partner I have now and the job that I feel I was made for. Unlike some people claim to have done, I truly, consciously, carefully chose what my life would be like. Of course, not choosing, or letting other people choose for you, is also a choice. But that’s not what I did.

When I got divorced in 2009, I was living in El Paso, Texas. I had a good job there but knew I didn’t want to stay, so I considered my options. After a time, the thought of Seattle crossed my mind and immediately I knew it was the right place for me. I’d grown up in the Pacific Northwest and the only thing I didn’t like about my small inland city was the weather (too extreme—I love the rain) and the lack of career opportunities. Since Seattle didn’t suffer from either of those maladies, I was sure I’d like it pretty well. Almost immediately, I moved, and again almost immediately, I began discovering many other things to love about this city: lush green parks, nerdy interesting people, and a very forgiving dress code, to name a few.

This place, I realized, was me.

So that was step number one on the path to getting what I wanted. Step number two was starting my career, but not just any career—my dream career: freelance writing. Now, after three solid years of building up my business, I am not only comfortably settled into it—I am flourishing.

And then there was step number three. Step number three was finding my husband. Of course, this one (I surmised) should have been trickier than the other two steps; unlike those, it didn’t seem to be entirely within my control. Little did I know, however, it was. It was entirely within my control.

All it took was the decision to look.

I signed up on a dating website, and within a couple of weeks, I’d met David.

And then there is my inner life. Need I expound upon my self-satisfaction in this area as well? I think not. Suffice it to say that working on becoming a better person—more confident, more emotionally stable, more motivated, even—has taken a lot of time and a lot of work, and that I have come a long, long way from where I started.

And so, regarding becoming the person I’ve always wanted to become: I think I’m already a good part of the way there—much further than I realized before writing this list today. I am not yet enlightened, no. But I am truly fulfilled—and I really do like myself a lot.

If that sounds conceited, I apologize—and I certainly acknowledge the considerable and wonderful help I’ve had along the way. But here’s the thing: I am, actually, conceited. I am, actually, a little too proud of myself.

I just can’t help it.

I want to brag about these things with, like, inappropriate frequency and exuberance. I want to tell the whole world what I’ve done—and what I know that they can do, too.

Because they can.

They can.

I started out my life depressed, and was depressed for a long time after that. Now, I’m not. It’s a miracle—but it’s one that anyone can experience.

And so, maybe–just maybe–I’m on my way. I’m at least part of the way toward experiencing what our great teachers like Neale Donald Walsch experience–inner peace, or enlightenment, or whatever.

Or maybe I’m just feeling optimistic today.

Because today, I feel like it’s possible. I feel like enlightenment isn’t the mystery it’s made out to be, just like despite what everyone told me when I was young, finding my husband wasn’t a mystery (thank you, Internet), and also in spite what everyone told me when I was young, finding my dream career wasn’t a mystery (thank you, good work ethic). Instead, enlightenment may be like those things are: something that sooner or later, if you are looking for it hard enough, you will find.

Enlightenment may simply be a choice—and one that I have already made.

How thrilling this is, when you think about it.

Thank you, Mr. Walsch, once again.

I am a heathen now.

My mother is an Evangelical Christian, and I love her. I guess if you were to really put the entirety of the first twenty-eight or so years of my spiritual quest—and life on earth, too, since I’ve been spiritually-minded basically from birth—into one concise statement, that would be it: My mother is an Evangelical Christian, and I love her, and she loves me too, and always has, and because of that, she taught me to be the same.

And so, largely because of who she was and also because of who I was and would’ve been anyway, with or without her, from elementary school on I sincerely loved religion. I was a serious child, and depressed, so even at a young age I looked to faith as my most reliable source of comfort and consolation. By the time I got to junior high, I depended on it just to get me through the day.

And it worked. What else can I say? It worked wonderfully well. Not only because it made me feel better, but also because it was real. In spite of some of the (major) shortcomings of my ideology, I still believe that God really was there for me all that time I was growing up, helping me navigate my sometimes complicated, sometimes overwhelming inner life. Why do I believe this? For one thing, I remember very clearly some of my encounters with what I can only imagine to be the Divine.

Sometimes when people wonder how anyone can believe that there is only one way to heaven, and only their religion is true, I think about the time when I was four or five years old, and my mother prayed for me to “receive tongues,” and how the next thing that I remember was waking up from a kind of coma and speaking audibly and very rapidly in a language I’d never heard before. Or the way I felt when my typical adolescent malaise was pierced clear through very suddenly one evening at a prayer meeting, causing me to kneel down on the floor in front of my mother, who was also kneeling, and tell her over and over how much I loved her. Or the time in high school when I went to a weekend youth camp and repented of my sins and then, upon returning, for the first time that I could remember, having no depression at all, and instead, for days afterward, feeling a calmness and peace that made me feel like I was floating.

Of course, experiences like these couldn’t last forever (or so I then thought); each day following the youth retreat, for example, that peace faded a little more even though I tried to prolong its presence by reading the bible and praying more than usual. I was disappointed when these experiences were over, but I never forgot them, and they gave me the strength to get through high school, the most difficult time of my life.

They also utterly convinced me of the truth of my beliefs. If Christianity weren’t true, I thought to myself, why does it work so well for me?

These days, I’m still utterly convinced that those experiences were truly divine and truly inspired. But I no longer believe they had anything to do with my being a Christian except that as such, I made myself open to them.

After all, why would God be limited by my ideas of him?

In any case, for a very long time I was a Christian, and a good one. It wasn’t until I reached my late twenties that this began to change. Well, actually, this had begun to change much sooner than that, but I wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge the change, or its consequences, completely.

I won’t go into all the details of why I ceased to be a practicing Christian, then ceased to consider myself a Christian at all (something that only happened just recently). I have written about these events in other books, and I wouldn’t want to repeat myself too much here. Suffice it to say that the story is predictable. It involves a liberal arts education, a divorce, and a man that I love. What I will tell you about, though, is the final chapter in my life as a Christian, the events of which played out only a short time ago.

It was the year 2011. In November of that year, I gave birth to an absolutely perfect little girl. Her name was Jane, and she died in my arms four days later.

My story of the events surrounding her death, called What I Learned from Jane, goes into the details. What’s important for my purposes here is that after Jane died, my life was never the same. I started reading spiritual books one after the other, books that had nothing to do with Christianity, books that would in fact be more properly placed in the New Age category of the store. I started meditating (though, as you may have already guessed, I never was very good at it). I started saying affirmations. I watched the movie The Secret and learned about the law of attraction. I started a blog about spirituality called Stories and Truth. I asked people questions.

I began to search.

Here are some of the new ideas about spirituality I eventually decided to embrace:

•“Salvation” for all. I now have a great peace knowing that I—and even better, the people I love—are all going to what I once called heaven, a place of utter and eternal perfection.

•Reincarnation. This belief is one of my favorites, though when I was a Christian I thought it was downright silly. I now believe that I—and, yes, the people that I love—can’t screw up our lives in any permanent way (or any way at all, really). We all get another chance, and another, and another—and as many as we want after that.

•Oneness with God. We are divine. We are all one. We are God. These ideas, which also sounded entirely unlikely to me before, are the foundation of what I now see as the only logical spiritual perspective, almost to the point of being obvious (though allow me to say here that it’s not my goal to convince you of the same).

•Amorality. There is no ultimate meaning to life; life is only what you make of it, what you decide that you want it to be. (I explain this idea at length in another short book called Happiness Is the Truth: A Spiritual Manifesto.)

•The power of thought. Thoughts are prayers. They are our way—our only way, if you include feelings and beliefs in the same category—of communicating what you—a God, or a part of God—want to have happen in your life. (If this idea is unfamiliar to you, I recommend more exploration—very profound stuff.)

This, then, is the greatly abbreviated version of my current theology and the events that led to my adoption of it.

That’s right: I am now a heathen.

You just can’t rush change. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Still, why the difficulty? It’s only been two days, after all. Is this just a normal, expected little rebellion that happens internally when a person decides to take on a major goal, to do something they “should” do? Maybe. Very likely, actually. But there’s another possibility, too: Maybe I’m just not ready.

The importance of being ready to accomplish a goal before trying to do so is something I learned a long time ago, when I was in my early twenties. I was still an Evangelical Christian and still struggling each day to be perfect—or nearly perfect, whatever that meant to me at the time. Anyway, at the time I was suffering from depression, which made getting out of bed really hard sometimes. One morning as I lay there, tired and unmotivated, I remember thinking, I should skip my first class today. It wasn’t a thought that just came to me as a matter of course, a side effect of whatever enervation or despondency I was feeling in that moment. This time, it felt different. It felt like it was someone else that was saying it to me, as in, instead of I shouldn’t go to class today, the thought was actually, You shouldn’t go to class today. It was an “other person” kind of feeling—and the other person wasn’t someone bad or negative, but someone good, someone wise.

It was someone I should listen to.

In any case, I didn’t listen to that voice in my head that day. Instead, remembering my commitment to myself and to my concept of God, and maybe, even, to my reputation with others at the school (not sure about this one, though I did have some pretty strange ideas about what people should think of me back then), I got up, got dressed, and went to class. In a piece I wrote about it, I describe what happened next in this way:

“As it turned out, though, I didn’t feel virtuous; instead, I just felt dumb. That morning, the professor ended the lecture after fifteen minutes to pass out some books to the class.

I hadn’t even ordered a book.”

And that is when I learned a lesson that since then has been a huge part of my identity, a huge part of who I am and what I choose to do and not to do. I learned that not only do I really not have to try to be perfect—but that actually, I shouldn’t do so. I’ve found that when you truly, sincerely want to change, your whole being comes into alignment with that change, and someday—sometimes without even realizing it—the change is just there. It just happens.

It’s like magic.

What’s more, whether the change happens right away or several years into the future, when it does finally come, it is the perfect time. Because then, it isn’t something that you forced to happen inside you—it is something that just happened naturally, without a great deal of effort.

It is easy—and, more important, it is real.

There’s an affirmation that I like to say that goes like this: “I live in the easy world, where everything is easy.” Some people might find this idea a little strange, even somewhat heretical. For those people (and I used to be one of them), life is a struggle, and properly so. Saying that things should be easy and light and beautiful and that most of the time our difficulties are self-created and unnecessary is something they just can’t even imagine to be true.

And this is to be expected; it is what we are all indoctrinated to believe from the get-go in our society. From parents on down the line to books, movies and television, we are constantly reminded that life is hard, that whatever is worth having in life is worth struggling for, that arguments and conflict are natural and necessary, and so on and on.

Amazingly—inexplicably, almost—I just don’t buy this anymore. These days, I believe that life is not the great hardship that people say is—or doesn’t have to be, at least. I believe that if you want it to be, and if you choose for it to be (this, of course, is the key), life is actually light, and happy, and very, very beautiful, and properly so, and that the hardest thing about it is just remembering that it is actually easy.

And so, I say my “easy world” affirmation. And here is the image that I have in my mind as I say it: I am standing on an ocean beach, wearing a very comfortable oversized men’s flannel shirt and very loose white linen pants with the cuffs rolled up. Water is washing up over my ankles, and I am smiling.

As I stand there, I am able to see via some special sense an image of my other self, the “real-world” Mollie, as she goes about her day’s activities. I watch her as she eats, sleeps, writes, runs errands and carries out the various goals she’s made for her time on earth. I admire the way she continues to pursue them even though I know that she takes them much too seriously, and that she doesn’t really need to do anything at all.

And that is my image of my real self, the real, enlightened Mollie. Whatever it is that I’m choosing to do on a particular day, I am actually doing nothing—merely watching myself do things. Because really, I’m still on the beach.

Life is what you make of it. It isn’t anything until then. If I never reach enlightenment, here, now, so that I can see and experience what it is like, and use it to make this life better, that is actually okay. There is no need, no requirement from on high saying I must seek greater spiritual awareness in this life, and there is no punishment waiting for me if I don’t succeed in this goal. I choose to seek what I seek for my own reasons, and that is all.

And so, I choose today not to rush into this thing we call enlightenment. I choose not to worry about “where I’m at” spiritually, but instead just watch, and observe, and make myself aware of what I want to have and where I want to be.

I choose to give myself time.

After all, if I don’t do this, if I choose to work for what I want rather than just letting it come to me, there can only be one reason: I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten who I really am, and that this particular sack of water we call a body is not me.

I’ve forgotten that really, I am that girl in the white linen pants who is standing on the beach, doing nothing, with no need to prove herself, and nothing to accomplish at all.

Spiritual enlightenment. It isn’t just for gurus anymore.

Lately I’ve been noticing that the term “spiritual enlightenment” has lost some of its exclusivity. People–friends of mine, and a few authors I’ve read–define it in a multitude of ways: peace. Calm. Positivity. Joy: smiling joy, constant joy, childlike, carefree joy.

Right now, I like this definition: happiness.

Isn’t that the best definition of spiritual enlightenment there is? It’s not knowing God; as I am part of God, I already know her. It’s not something you do; doing is not ultimately important in this life. It’s not having the ability to meditate for hours on end, though clarity of thought is a very wonderful thing.

It’s just happiness.

Happiness is the truth of life, and happiness is enlightenment.

And when you put it that way, suddenly enlightenment feels much more attainable; I know I can get it because, after all, I’ve gotten it before—a little.

Even recently I’ve gotten it. As I have tried to discipline myself to think positively on a continual basis, especially regarding my body, I have felt the happiness that I desire to feel all the time to some (heretofore small) degree.

Now, I just want it more.

How can we remember to be spiritual? You know, on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis?

Still reading Conversations With God, Part Three, and still loving it. Today read a passage in which the God character discusses people who’ve had near-death experiences. He says that even though these experiences are incredibly powerful and life-changing (like the spiritual awakenings that many of the rest of us have had, only much more extreme), after a time the person usually forgets what they’ve learned.

“Is there a way to keep remembering?” Walsch’s character asks God.

God replies that there is. He says that we must remember that the world we see around us is really an illusion, and that instead of acting based on what we see and experience here and now we must act according to what we know is really true, in the world beyond this temporary physical place. Because in the world of the spirit, everything is perfect, everything is beautiful, everything is right, and there is no sin, and no pain, and no fear and no struggle, nor will there ever be.

And that is of course my true goal in life, my challenge—the challenge not just of losing weight, but of achieving enlightenment, and of finally being truly, deeply happy. Not just fulfilled—not just pretty happy.

But really, really, truly, smiling, singing, spreading-it-around, happy.

I have never experienced this feeling on a continual basis, but I have gotten glimpses of it—recently quite a few, actually. I’ve known what it’s like to be able to hold on to my understanding that it is all much bigger than this visible world, with its longing, its pain, its perceived desire—even one as huge and consuming as the desire to be thin—and that it is all truly well with my soul, and with the world, and it always would really be.

So I am not there yet.

But I am getting closer.

A glimpse of enlightenment. Just a glimpse.

Today is Thanksgiving, the beginning of the holiday season. I had a nice day, though before my walk I had very much doubted that I would. (All that food, I had thought this morning; I don’t want to be around all that food, and then there’s that boring obligatory after-dinner conversation!) Because of my renewed perspective I had a very good (healthy) dinner, and a very nice time at our relatives’ house. There was a smile behind my eyes the whole time, and I felt very much at peace. Somehow, as we all chatted by the fire, I always knew exactly what to say, how to draw other people into the conversation. More than that, though: I found myself caring enough to try. I wanted the people around me to enjoy themselves and to feel better for having encountered me that evening.

In other words: I enjoyed myself—in a way that was, I think, almost spiritual. Or, not almost—actually spiritual.

And that’s it. It’s just a small glimpse, I know, and its just the beginning. But if I could live every day of my life like this one—if I could be exactly the person I decided to be today, that I saw myself being today, this life would be a sampling of heaven. Even when the skies are gray. Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m a little sad for some reason or another. I want to have this feeling, exactly this feeling. I want to feel, very deep down inside, as far as the very end of me—the very deepest part where the caverns end and no path runs through anymore—there is peace.

That, for me, is enlightenment, and now that I have glimpsed it, and called it by its name (for I have glimpsed it many times in my life, of course, and knew it was what I wanted, but hadn’t named it yet, and therefore hadn’t been able to make it an actual goal) … Now that I have seen it, and recognized it, and called it by its proper name, I finally know that it is real. And more than that: I believe that it is possible for me.

I do.

And so, that’s it. I have found a piece of enlightenment, just as I’d hoped that I would. And I hope that it stays, or that if it goes away for a little while, it will eventually come back, and that you and I will see it one day again, in each others’ eyes and in the eyes of other people we know who see it, too.

Until then, I have nothing more to say on the subject.

Except: Wow.

Enlightenment is possible for me. And not only possible, but happening … a little.

And that’s something to be grateful for.

And so, I am on my way. No, wait—I am not on my way. (Have I learned nothing from reading this journal again?) I am there.

I am there, not because I’ve arrived, but because I’m on the path … and the path is the only place any of us can ever really be.

We are learning. We are growing. We are figuring out how to like who we are, right now, deep down essentially at our core—before another single thing has been changed. We are flawed, but we are working on it. And isn’t that really the whole point?

Just working on it.

As I read back over this journal, I’m struck by several things. One is how deeply flawed I was while writing it (and still am). And the other is how hard I was trying not to be.

It’s going to be a little difficult to share this book with the world. It’s going to feel pretty hypocritical when people point out (as they inevitably will) how much this “teacher” has to learn. But when I read over these pages, I am actually okay with what I see.

I see someone who was seeking and striving. I see someone who always wanted to improve. And I see a lot of glimpses of the person I am now, and will be more of: the person who is happy and at peace.

I am not enlightened—but I’m lighter.