What I Lost in Ceremony on the Great Plains

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In 1995, I was on the prairie of South Dakota very near the badlands.  If you've ever traveled to the Great Plains, it is amazing.  When you look over the rolling hills, you can literally see so far you see the curvature of the Earth.

For 23 years, I participated in ancient ceremonies of the Plains people.  

3 days into the 1995 ceremony.  Sun high in the mid-afternoon.  Scorching hot.  114 degrees.  With the intensity of both the natural elements and the ceremony, I wondered how my life brought me to this moment.

So many things bound me to my past.  So much weight in the present moment.

What would it take to be free?

Expectations of what it meant to be successful.  Some self-imposed.  Some placed by well-meaning parents.  Some expectations met.  Some missed.  And there were those demeaning childhood roles of which my siblings constantly reminded me.  

In that moment on the hot prairie, I rolled up the burden of all these expectations and awful roles into one iconic item:  those darned Boy Scout pocketknives.

You see, I was a model Boy Scout.  I climbed the ranks fast becoming the youngest Eagle Scout at the age of 14.  I followed the rules.  I passed all my merit badges with flying colors.  And yet, I would come home from almost EVERY campout having lost my pocket knife.  My siblings eventually started making fun of my penchant for losing things.  I just didn't keep track of things very well.

Well, my proclivity for losing things carried into my college life and consulting career.  I left hats in hotel rooms and cell phones in taxi cabs.  If my siblings got wind of the endless stream of stories, I would ALWAYS hear something about 'Boy Scout pocketknives.'  

Jabs with psychological knives.

I grew SO TIRED of the sibling jabs and yet I could not solve the problem of losing stuff.  In my consulting career, my executive assistant got used to calling hotels, car rental stations and clients for stray items.  Shipping costs from London hit my credit card.  I must say, though, I never felt any bit of shame from her.  She just followed up and found stuff.   Thank you, Deb!

Well there I was, in the middle of a ceremony on the hot prairie.  Bare feet felt like stepping on hot asphalt.  And I'm thinking about those darned Boy Scout pocketknives.

"HOKA" yelled by the ceremony leader, snaps me out of my reverie.  

NOTE:  'Hoka' roughly translated means Get Ready.

And I smile.

In the next moment, I GET to let go of all those pocketknives.  I get to let go of all those roles my siblings hold me in.  I get to let go of EVERY family expectation and burden ever placed on me.  

Oh yes, my smile grows so big that the ceremony leader notices.  Maybe the sun was beaming off my teeth!

And another 'Hoka' and BAM the transition is complete!

Burdens placed by my family over all these years lift from my chest in a millisecond.  As I close my eyes writing this, I can re-live that moment and feel the bricks lifted off my chest.  

I take a huge breath and start weeping.  

I literally BREATHE easier!

We strive for personal freedom as if it exists in a future state when all the stars align and everything will look and feel better.  

Personal Freedom is present NOW by letting go of expectations – our own and those placed on us.  

All totally within your control!  

A good coach, advisor or therapist can help you release the burdens you carry.  

Or maybe you need something more substantial…

…like 100-degree heat, bare feet on hot dusty ground and an ancient ceremony.

Whatever it takes…

Live 100% Empowered


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