Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Am Who I Am

Exhale ...

This one is a tough one for me to write. Because it's about one of the biggest challenges I encounter on a daily basis.

Self Acceptance.

And with that follows self criticism and self judgment. Because, during those moments, when we worry about what others think about this or that. Really, what's going on is, we're projecting our own judgments on ourselves to the illusory "everyone else."

And even IF people do pass judgments, as we all do from time to time, as a wise woman just recently quoted to me during my trip to Lily Dale, New York, "What other people think about you is their problem. And I mean just that, it's their problem."

The reality is, I've discovered or "rediscovered" so many things about myself in the last several years and especially in the last two years ... and it just keeps on coming. This change, this transformation. Some days, I look at myself in the mirror and I both see a complete stranger and an all-too-familiar friend.

All of my fears, my flaws, my insecurities, they dance upon my face ... they are so vivid these days. It's like they're ready to come out, to face the music. And that music is me, my true Self, facing them, overcoming them and releasing them. As I learn more about who I am, what my life's purpose is, what I'm guided to do with my life, my abilities, my passions and gifts, I become both joyously excited and completely terrified. Because it all means change ... and more change. It means diving more deeply down this rabbit hole. And it means embracing who I am, what I'm about, what makes me happy and what sets my heart and soul on fire. It means making choices not everyone understands. It means going against the grain.

And that means some people might no longer "get me." They might altogether not like me. They might think I'm full of shit. They might even think I've jumped off the deep end ... lost in that "woo woo" world of energy, peace, love, metaphysics, quantum physics, intuition ... And yet, all I feel inside is a depth of truth and love and a deep inner knowing I can't quite put into words. And instead of being afraid to talk about it all, I wish to break free from such fears and embrace every ounce of it.

And this means, honoring my humanness as well as my spirit. Honoring the fact that I'm 31, I'm not going a "traditional" route in life. I'm learning to love myself, including my flaws and my ego. I'm learning to embrace my inner beauty and hopefully let it reflect on the outside. I'm learning to acknowledge I have faults, I have insecurities and weaknesses ... I still wonder if certain people in my life or from my past "still like me" because I'm no longer who I once was ... or if they just pretend to.

I am learning to embrace the fact I'm scatterbrained and absentminded at times. That I'm never on time (though I have been working at this one), that I'm stubborn sometimes, that I am an introvert and can seem aloof when I'm feeling overwhelmed, that I am private ... I have always been private (take after my father on that one ;-).  I am selective about whom I feel safe to open up to, whom I trust, whom I choose to talk about my life with ... and as much as I've worked on my self confidence — both through counseling and my own inner work — I still have moments where I second guess myself, where my ego yearns for confirmation that I matter.

In the end, though, flaws and all, we are who we are. And who we are is constantly changing. Whereas what we are, never changes. Our soul, our higher Selves, is the constant that is guiding us, if only we could listen more often. We would see, all of us are connected.

Most of the world, however, is still a way's away from seeing that. But that doesn't mean we can't choose to love ourselves, despite what others do see.

So that's where I am right now. Learning to love myself, no matter what. Because, after all — I am who I am. And whether you love me, or don't ... I love you all anyway.

<3 <3 <3


Monday, May 4, 2015

To All Fellow Control-Freaks ... The Key to Peace is Surrender

The notion of surrender.

This is quite possibly one of the hardest challenges for me thus far on this self discovery journey I'm on.

I've admittedly been hibernating. I have pulled back from writing. I've done a lot of reading, reflection and meditation in the last six months. And I will continue to do it.

But I felt the need to come out of my hermit crab shell for a minute to talk about surrender. My ego has a real problem with this one. While I've been able to stay more present, to open up my channels of intuition, to be kinder to myself, to others, to love myself, others ... I have yet to really, truly surrender to what is.

It's the "controller" in me. I want to have control over every situation that presents itself in my life because control means "safety" to my ego. We somehow won't get hurt or won't be disappointed if we can control things. Right?

Yeah ... not so much.

The reality is, control is an illusion. Yes, you can control yourself, but that's pretty much ALL you can control in any given situation in your life. Everything else is out of your hands.

Now, that doesn't mean you don't hold a TON of power inside yourself. You are, in fact, made up of vibrating atoms. You vibrate. We all vibrate. And that vibration happens with energy. And your energy ... it can be pretty freaking powerful.

Think about it. When someone walks into a room enraged, how does that impact the entire room? When someone walks in full of smiles, gentle, kind, warm energy and a bubbly disposition ... how does that impact the room?

And what vibration we put out there, our environment responds to. So, if you can control your vibration, you can have control over what you attract. And there in lies your true power.

But the rest ... the rest is about surrender.

Surrender, by the way, does not mean defeat, does not mean subservience, nor is it giving up or being a doormat or punching bag.

Surrender is about no longer resisting "what is." It's about pulling your head out of the sand, looking past the mirage your ego wants to see, and seeing your reality for what it is. And accepting what you see. Because once you accept, you can choose to make whatever changes you deem necessary.

But first, you must see.

If you are resisting "what is," you are going to continue to draw the exact same situations you've been resisting over and over again. Because that's what your vibrating. And you're blocking the very energy that will bring you what you desire.

Even as I write all of this, I know it's easier said than done. And the reason I know that is because I've been struggling with it for years, decades really. Because the notion of surrender also ties into the notion of releasing all expectations and attachments to outcome. It means you live your life in the present moment and yes, you have goals you work toward, but you keep your attachments in check and you surrender to the present moment and what it entails, good, bad, sad, happy.

And all of this takes discipline and practice ... you are essentially trying to rewire a brain that has been operating one way its entire life. So it won't happen easily or quickly. It takes some people their whole lives to get there. And I struggled with patience ;-) However, I DO know that the few times I have experienced surrender, it has brought me immense peace.

But fighting against reality gets really tiring. And it wears on the heart and the soul. And I think I speak for other "control-freaks" when I say, it's exhausting fighting to hold onto ghost reins.

It's so much easier to lie down on the raft and float with the tide.

So, if you're anything like me, maybe these suggestions will help you. The next time you feel your stomach tie into knots, notice it, close your eyes, take a breath and ask yourself what you are resisting right now. Bring your awareness to the knot, and breathe deeply and imagine that knot loosening and dissipating. Imagine you are on a raft with a pair of oars ... now take those oars ... and drop them into the water. Just let them fall right in and float away. Take a few more deep breaths and lie back and feel the sun on your stomach and feel yourself floating gently with the tide. Tell yourself "All is well in my world," "I resist nothing" over and over as many times as you have to until you feel at least a little bit of peace if not entirely peaceful.

Another thing to do if your brain just won't quit running the hamster wheel is to imagine the "worst case scenario" and let it play out.

Is it really the end of the world? You'll likely find it is not. It might hurt ... it might hurt a whole lot or disappoint a whole lot, but it's not the end of the world. After you do that, let it go. Know that scenario is just that — a scenario, an illusion, not a reality. And know that nothing ever quite turns out how we imagine ... and our ego and imagination tends to make EVERYTHING so much more dramatic than it usually ever turns out. Because imagining is not living in the moment. And the moment is the only "real" thing we have. Our ego loves to contrive worst case scenarios so that we stay stuck in fear and fight or flight ... and defense ... because to the ego, surrender means vulnerability ... and vulnerability means the possibility of hurt.

The funny thing is, we hurt ourselves more by resisting than we do surrendering.

And of course, being present is always the key to finding peace in any given moment. Focus intensely on an object in front of you, look outside at a cloud, or a tree or a flower. Find something that gives you peace, focus on it and breathe.

Lastly, remember that the more tightly you hold onto something, the farther away it will get. Remember that the things you fear the most are the things you'll attract. And with that reminder, let go. Release.

Or as Pema Chodron so perfectly says, "Lean into the sharp points and fully experience them."

Til next time ...



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Respecting Our Fellow Beings

I've been circling around this observation for some time now.

And quite frankly, I'm a little worked up about it.

I know it's very much a larger topic that has many veins, but it's something I feel compelled to write about tonight ... and to pose some tough questions about.

I've often wondered why it's so much easier for us to disrespect or hurt those we love more than complete strangers.

That thought leads me to the next ... why do we often get so caught up in our "roles" and "statuses" in society (all ego-driven concepts mind you) that we so easily dismiss people we consider "below" us or somehow inferior. And by that same code, we almost grovel to those we consider "above" us or superior.

And at the end of the day, when you step back from the close-up shot of ink blots in a mural and look at the picture in its entirety, we are ALL ink blots on the same tapestry of life. One blot isn't any different than the next, maybe altered in appearance and color, but identical in every other way. We are all made up of the same matter of this planet. Our energy, the electricity that flows through our body and animates it, our spirit if you will ... it's ALL the same. And if you believe in a higher power, than you would believe we are all connected to the exact same source, intelligence, higher being, God.

So why on earth do we look to the person next to us and allow our egos to automatically label them or automatically change our entire energy and treatment and behavior based on some observation we've made about them (male, female, young, old, poor, rich, slow, smart, black, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, parent, child, manager, employee, owner, secretary, CEO, maid, etc.)

But let me rein this mental thread back in to the seed of my original thought — which ties into my previous post about taking people for granted — why do we so often act respectfully and politely to a stranger who asks us a question on the phone at work or who stops us for directions on the street or takes our order in a restaurant, yet we can turn to the person right in front of us — the person we know, trust and love — and disrespect them, dismiss them or hurt them right to their face?

Is it because we've taken them and their place in our life for granted so much that we can so easily project our personal "stuff" on them?

I can't speak for you all, but I know I've certainly done this many times in my life, whether it's to my parents (especially in my teen and young-adult life), friends, the person I'm dating, acquaintances, etc.

Is it because I figured "oh well, they love me, so they can take it"? And I've certainly put myself in situations in my life (which I've blogged about plenty ;-) where I've been another person's punching bag ... and in the next breath, watched them be nice as can be to someone they hardly know, or might not even care for in general. And I would lying if I said I haven't done something similar in one way or another in the past to someone I cared about.

My point is, what makes that other person more worthy of our attention and respect than the person we know and care about? In fact, shouldn't that be the other way around, or at the very least, equal?

It's worth pondering. I don't have the answers per se. I just raise the questions.

And speaking of equal ... my second point or question is, Why does anyone deserve more or less of you than anyone else? Why do we pick and choose what we give to people? I'm not saying that the people we love and care about wouldn't naturally get more of us, good and bad ... but at the end of the day, we are all just people, humans ... in this world together. And if the world was ending tomorrow, none of those labels would matter, all that would matter is our species as a whole. Yet we operate from those labels day in and day out.

Yes, some people drive us nuts, some people rub us the wrong way, some people we even consider mean, angry, manipulative, possessive or evil (though again, these are all ego-driven labels), but does that mean when you take a step back and look at the whole mural, we still don't all appear as the same small ink blots?

Because I think this about that person, does that somehow give me the right to treat them differently or expect everyone else to?

In the yoga world, as some people might know, the saying "Namaste" means "I bow to you" and variations of this greeting also mean "The light in me honors the light in you."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all "Namaste" to one another on a regular basis?

Imagine a world where we treated one another as fellow human beings rather than "this type of person" or "that type of person."

Imagine a world where we actually treated people we loved and cared about with ... love and care.

I would surmise the world would be a far better place.

'Til next time my friends ...

Be well,


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to Stop Taking Your Life and People for Granted

Close your eyes a moment. Take a few breaths and imagine the faces of all the people important in your life right now. 

Linger a moment on each of them, their eyes, their smiles ... their energy. Think about what each of those people gives you, what each of them adds to your life on a daily basis. 

Now imagine if they all disappeared.

Imagine what your life would be like without those people in it.

This is a good exercise to practice every time you get upset with any of these people or angry about something and take it out on them. It's a good exercise to practice on a daily basis, upon waking up, mid-way through your day, before going to bed.

It doesn't always have to be people either, it can also be a job, your kids, your pets, a situation, a home, etc. 

The reason I mention it is, in a way, when we take people, possessions, jobs and even something as simple as running water and fresh food for granted, we are not honoring their value in those moments ... in those moments, they may as well not exist in our lives for all the honor we are giving them right then.

It's a harsh thing to think about or admit, but once you realize it, it can change your life ... and the silver lining is, it can change your life in ways that oftentimes (unfortunately) only tragedy or loss will do. And I've read about, written about, experienced and seen enough loss in life that it really hits me hard these days how fragile it all truly is.

But if you let this practice be a part of your day, it will give you the power to honor and respect all the people, all the tangible things and intangible things in your life. It will change the way you talk to people you care about. It will change the way you view your job and all the things it provides you, it will change the way you view your pets, even when they're driving you nuts ;-) or kids, your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.

The second thing you can do to help rewire your brain to focus on the positives in your life and to no longer take people and life for granted, is gratitude. When you actually sit down and write out all the things you can think of off the top of your head that you have to be thankful for, you will be quite surprised how long that list gets.

So the second you have a negative thought about a person, situation or experience, try to counter it with a positive thought about that person, or a pleasant experience you had that day. And stay with THAT feeling and emotion.

The third thing you can do ... is when you have an enjoyable moment during your day, or something makes you laugh, try to stay with that feeling for a few seconds longer than you normally do. Try to stay present throughout the day and give your presence to the people in front of you at any given moment. 

You will find you experience those people in ways you may never have before, you will notice things about them you haven't before ... and if you have the open mindedness ... you will appreciate them for who they are and what they offer just a little bit more than you might have the day before.

These are just a few things that come to mind. But I think the key is stopping periodically throughout your day and just taking a moment to really ... well, take it all in. Take your life in and all the people in it.

And imagine if they weren't there anymore.

Til next time ... be well my friends <3


Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A self-fulfilling prophesy is essentially a belief or prediction that comes true because we are already acting as though it is true. 

So this can obviously go positively or negatively, depending on what the belief is. 

Right now, I want to talk about self-fulfilling fear-based prophesies. I've blogged about fear a long time ago and here and there in other posts.

But it's been awhile since we've talked about it. While I can sit here and say the obvious, "We must face our fears in order to overcome them," I want to actually focus on another aspect of fear that has definitely been a challenge in my life as of late.

Let's operate under the notion that everything we give our focus, energy, thoughts to, we strengthen and attract. So, if our mind is constantly on work-related material, work will consume our lives. If our mind is constantly on social media, we will get lost in the abysmal void that is the internet and so on.

If we focus on love, peace and joy, we will nurture those seeds and they will grow. Conversely, if we focus on our fears, if we continually operate our lives from a place of fear, we will assuredly bring those fears right to our doorstep. 

Imagine fear as a small, fiery ember in a hearth, and our focus and energy is oxygen and gasoline. 

This is the part that is the hardest for me to accept. But I see it happening day in a day out in my own life and in the lives of those I am close to. Operating from a place of "if I do this, then this won't happen, if I do that, then I won't feel this way, if I do this, that person won't get hurt," etc., we will undoubtedly manifest the very thing we are most scared of. If it's losing someone, hurting someone, if it's getting sick, if it's not being in control, if it's offending someone, if it's not being good enough or not feeling worth enough, rest assured, those things will become our reality. We will lose people, hurt people, we will get sick, we will wind up in situations we have absolutely no control over, we will offend people, we will constantly create situations where we feel unworthy.

Whether our fear-based actions drive others away, whether they thwart our own happiness (as I have definitely learned in my life, over and over again for the last decade), whether they appear to be the "safe" route to go but inevitably leave us with a sense of emptiness inside ... whatever the case is, we will continue to draw those very fears into our lives until we not only face them, but counter them with the opposite emotion ... love. Love and faith.

When we act from a place of love and faith, we will find a very different outcome — joy. I can't say that I'm there yet. I'm still working on NOT feeding my fears right now. But I have found that the times I do act from a place of love, when I trust that acting from this place will take me to where I'm meant to be, I do feel peace in that moment and I do end up where I need to be. 

And when I face my fears, and communicate my feelings to those who are important in my life, when I am open and genuine ... those fears dissipate. Because I've countered them with something much more powerful — love. 

So, if your fear is talking to someone, telling them something ... if it's standing up for yourself in a situation, maybe work or with friends, or a partner. If it's making a decision that might not please everyone, but is what makes you happy, what brings warmth to your soul, what helps you grow — for instance, not everyone gets why I'm pursuing therapeutic Yoga training, why I've gone down this path, but as long as I know it gives me joy and love and happiness, I know it's worth pursuing — approach it from a place of love. Be present as you face it. 

This could apply to a path in life, a lifestyle change, the decision to pursue a relationship, a career move, etc. The point is, know yourself, know what moves you, know what brings you joy and love and happiness ... and MOVE from that place, always. When you feel fear creep up and try to control your next step ... or if you're hearing many different opinions (I've definitely been there) and none of them feel quite right ... stop and listen inside. Listen with your heart and soul and you'll know what to do.

Our fears are only as powerful as we make them. WE make them. We are their maker. And to believe they run our lives is a farce. 

Watch what you give your attention to. Observe what you choose to feed in your life and what you choose starve. If you are scared something will happen, if you believe the worst will occur, you will then act from those places ... and sure enough, you will create your own self-fulfilling prophesy.

So, I say this to myself as much as you all ... we must choose wisely. Remember, we're all in this together.