Where are YOU on the List?
In previous writings I shared with you how to begin creating your goals for your year ahead and told you one of my goals is Adventure!!
As we close the month of January in a new year my goal stays the same -- adventure with a twist --rooted in DEEP INFINITE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Today I encourage you to stay committed to YOURSELF, no matter who, and no matter what you are currently facing.
PS: Why do you think I will continue to plan retreats?
SO....Why is this my message today?
In my life and my work I continue to support loved ones and clients with all types of extremely difficult challenges from addictions and abuse, to anxiety, depression and overall lack of clarity.
Upon reflection, I notice there is one thread that runs through all of the struggle. And it is this thread that will determine their ability to "overcome".
The thread you ask? The ability to put themselves first.
I trust many of you who are reading this understand what I mean...even if you have not yet mastered this feat.
Think of the oxygen mask on the airplane.
You must have oxygen for yourself first, before you are able to help the other. Without your own source of oxygen, you will both...end up dead.
Same with life. Yet we RESIST we RESIST we RESIST! And guess what? Whatever is trying to get our attention, whatever is asking us for love, PERSISTS.
Unless we uncover, honor, advocate and then act for the life WE want (OUR own oxygen supply)-WE will end up with whatever WE get. A slow and painful death indeed.
Based on personal experience, the ability to save ourselves first is an on-going practice.
Perhaps hard at first because we've been told it's "selfish" and therefore lack the tools/support required.
In fact, not taking care of ourselves is selfish!!!
With practice, saving our self first becomes a way of life. As such, it gets easier.
Eventually, we realize there is simply no other way to live.
We must save our self first because the other way is hell on Earth.
Ready for my Reclaiming Joy Retreat now? I am!!!
Is the battle in here...or out there...?
Last week I encouraged you to stay true to what matters to you, especially when faced with challenges. I invited you to lean in to these challenges in order to reclaim your power.
I am fascinated by power. I love playing with power and studying it. In my shamanic practice I have learned to respect power immensely. Power is neutral. It becomes "charged" when we decide how to use it. Meaning, we are either using our power to help/heal or harm/hurt.
The interesting thing about power: some of us don't even know how powerful we are; others of us feel so powerful (ego) that we are oblivious... and still others think we are using our power to help, when in fact we are actually causing harm.
One example of being unaware of our power is when we get stuck for long periods of time in the frustration of how things "are". Perhaps we are frustrated with the outer world...or maybe it's our inner world...or some combination. Whatever the case, when we use our power for prolonged periods of time at the energetic of "frustration", we are doing harm.
Instead of focusing on why we are frustrated, we lose/leak energy to the lower vibrations that come with frustration: sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, etc. Over time, these emotions cause harm to us and to those we touch.
When we focus on the frustration itself rather than the "root" of the frustration, we miss the gifts our frustration has to teach us.
What to do?
Get to the root!! Dig deeper by using reflection practices such as writing and meditation and/or get support by engaging in shamanic practices . When we commit to getting to the root, in the process we usually notice we are stuck/slowed down for a reason. And that reason is our teacher to help move us forward. In essence, the frustration is an invitation to lean in.
To be clear: I am not saying it's bad/wrong to have emotions. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is to live for prolonged periods of time in the lower/negative emotions is a misuse of our power as human beings.
If we want to use our power to help, we must first help our self (think airplane oxygen mask). By helping our self, we learn how to come into Ayni (right relationship) with power and we free up energy to help others. Isn't that the point?
In the process we learn one of the greatest gifts of our frustration is our freedom.
We begin to realize we are powerful human beings who are free to act in the direction of that which brings peace, love, joy and expansion...or not.
"Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are." -- Geneen Roth
Last week I spoke about suffering being inevitable and how to live joyfully in the face of it.
This week I want to share a perspective that helps me during those times of suffering: Life is a marathon...not a sprint...
What do I mean?
I will use a running analogy. When I use to run, I gravitated toward distance running rather than sprinting. I often wondered, why distance? Then one day it hit me.
I like the distance running because it feels spacious and doable...comforting almost. The focus on running distance, over speed, suits my personality and my nervous system!! To thyself be known and then be true to you.
Distance running requires the ability to see the end, no matter how far off. Because all I had to focus on was "finishing", it took the pressure off of having to do it "fast".
And what I know about myself now is that fast makes me anxious.
Distance running taught me how to let go of "how fast" in order to focus on completion instead...a valuable life lesson as it relates to living the life of our dreams.
In the process of running to finish I also learned: how to breathe, how to pace myself, and most importantly, the belief that I would make it, no matter how long it took.
There is a peace filled sweetness that washes over us when we realize we choose our beliefs. As such our beliefs have the power to uplift and inspire us. Or not depending on what beliefs you choose.
The perspective of seeing and then living life as a marathon is comforting- especially these days when everything moves too darn fast for me.
This perspective has gifted me 3 pillars that guide my life...all of which I have written about to you countless times in different ways:
1. Be Real
There will be times of suffering, it's inevitable. Best to accept this with non judgmental compassionate awareness. Then get busy living again.
2. Practice, Patience, Pacing
Nobody starts off running a marathon on their first run.
In order to succeed you must...
Practice: Quite simply making the time to do the "work" because whatever "it" is, is that important to you. The excuse, "I have no time", simply means I have not chosen to make this a priority. In which case, reassess. Life is precious and short. Time is the only commodity we don't retrieve so invest wisely. Death reminds us of this. Use death to motivate.
Patience: Understand what patience is and what it is not. True. Rome wasn't built in a day. Some things take time. We are impatient. Yet sometimes we are being slowed down for a reason, we don't yet see. And still others times we are so painfully patient. We use the excuse, "I am being patient" when the truth is, we are afraid to take the massive action we need to in order to move ahead. Hiding behind impatience or patience is still hiding. Pay attention. Discern. Decide. Life = Short.
Pacing: Since energy is our #1 asset we must learn how to pace ourselves by caring so deeply for our physical, mental and emotional health so we don't burn out.
Physical- Balance your days with effort (working/having fun) and ease (relaxation/rest)
Mental- Commit to daily meditation to cultivate mental discipline and move beyond "I can't/I quit" and all the other stories the monkey mind creates.
Emotional- Accept feelings will come and go. Some days will simply suck...Practice non-attachment to the voice that alternately says, "I hate running/work/life/! I feel awful." and also says, "I love running/work/life! I feel amazing."
3. Faith- Your faith in your ability to run the distance/live the life of your dreams must be bigger than your feelings at any one time.
Faith in your dreams translates to your belief in yourself. Your "big" faith will carry you through times of suffering when feelings are at an all time low and you want to quit.
When we adopt the view that life is a marathon and not a sprint we give ourselves permission to live slow and deep...to pace ourselves so we enjoy the journey rather than rush to an "end". We practice deepening our faith that we will make it...we give ourselves permission to believe.
And maybe when we arrive at the end- death- it will be with less sadness and regret, and a ton more joy and ease...
arriving with a sweetness that says yes, our very own dreams have come true- because we BELIEVED.
Last week I invited you release something/someone you are burdening, which no longer serves your highest destiny path so that you experience living light as a feather. Otherwise known as joyful living...
What are you noticing? I would love to know here.
This week I am called to speak about suffering. So much of my life's work of late has been about understanding and then sharing the nature of suffering.
From this reflection a deep inquiry arises:
How do we live joyfully in the face of so much suffering-- both in the global world and in our personal world?
To get an authentic, practical, action oriented "answer" I believe we must first realize, that yes, suffering is inevitable. For each and everyone of us, if we are lucky.
Suffering is a teacher. Without the lessons, we stay stuck.
What is suffering?
Not accepting the burdens we face...
Judging the burdens and our response to them.
Expending all of our energy resisting "what is" therefore depleting us of the precious energy to make necessary changes to live, love and enjoy life.
What are our burdens?
A few examples:
Abandonment, abuse, addiction, anger, anxiety, depression, illness, loneliness, loss, neglect, self hate...
Do we all face burdens?
Yes, at some point in our life, we do.
If suffering is inevitable, how do we live with joy?
Meeting ALL burdens with non-judgmental - compassionate - acceptance.
Many of us hold our burdens so tightly we allow them to confine and define us. We identify with the darker parts of our humanity (remember those shadows?) and ignore the lighter parts. We end up feeling shame, guilt, fear. We do this to ourselves and others. And "they" do it to us. It's not how we are meant to live.
Once we face the truth of our burdens, through acceptance, we free up the energy of resistance.
I share an example of acceptance and embracing the parts of ourselves we feel shame /guilt/fear about (our shadows) in my book, Reclaiming Joy on page 32 when I speak of my unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Until I accepted, nothing changed.
What do we do with this freed up energy (remember energy is our #1 asset)?
We direct it towards healing.
Healing ourselves, and in the process, helping one another heal.
We learn to view all experience, including and especially our burdens, as opportunities to awaken more fully into the life we were meant to live. In the process of awakening, we cultivate compassion, wisdom, and ultimately deep self love. Compassion, wisdom, and self-love become the foundation of our life from which all prosperity flows.
We look in the mirror and know our worth no matter if we are poor or rich, Ceo or janitor, single or married, thin or heavy, abused or enlightened, addicted or clean...whatever.
As we accept our own burdens and cultivate compassion, wisdom, and deep self love, the next step is to extend non-judgmental compassionate acceptance to others.
It is from this place of acceptance that we heal and so too the world. Beneath the facade, we are one. One heart. One love. One energy.
So, is suffering inevitable?
Are we able to experience suffering and still live in joy?
In the face of inevitable suffering, when judgment ceases, and acceptance prevails, we are able to live joyfully.
Is this an easy way to live?
Over time, it's the only way. Enough said.
Last week I invited you to consider how living life is an endless opportunity to practice peace. I also shared that peace isn't an absence of conflict. Rather, peace is being calm amidst all of it and choosing to respond with love.
How is it going? Tell me here.
This week I encourage you to take the next step: Revisit the garden of your life and prune it.
Life is too short to live otherwise...and as I mentioned last week, in addition to the challenges you may be facing in your own life, you are perhaps also feeling the collective depression/anxiety that is occurring on the planet (em-path?). Absorbing all this intense energy creates distraction, complexity, and ultimately depletes your precious energy. By pruning your inner garden, you will begin to simplify your life and amplify your energy so you are able to focus on that which brings you JOY.
By the way, if you know you are an em-path, I suggest you attend my workshop this Saturday.
How do you prune your garden?
It's 2 parts.
You must first weed the dead. After that, you seed that which brings you joy.
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Close your eyes.
Ask yourself the questions:
What makes me come alive/energizes me?
Upon opening your eyes, jot down what came to mind.
As you do jot down what came to mind, also think about:
1. What needs to be weeded from the garden of my life so I have more energy to seed?
Example: Weed negative behaviors such as gossip, negative thinking, people...
2. What do I wish to seed instead?
Example: Positive thoughts, nourishing, positive friendships...
Make sure you list at least 2-3 things for each question.
Say thank you to yourself and commit to taking small steps over the next 7 days to weed and seed.
What kind of small steps?
Weeding- When you notice yourself in the gossip or negative thought, stop it. Distance yourself energetically and physically from negative people.
Seeding- Commit to getting support (a mentor, class, book, etc) around weeding these behaviors and people. Attend a social activity with the intention of meeting a new friend.
As in nature, when we nourish our garden - by the consistent activity of weeding and seeding, we bloom.
Remember to be courageous and compassionate as you face the facts.
I will check back with you next week.
Questions/Support? Connect with Me.
Gratitude isn't something to celebrate only on Thanksgiving. For many of us, it's how we live, or strive to live.
Being grateful is being joyful! Easy, no? So, I decided to come up with a simple game to help keep me on the path of gratitude.
As I speak about in my book, Reclaiming JOY, how we are being (grateful or not, loving or not...) determines the quality of our doing...and this is how we experience life. It's a big deal!!!
Here's the game:
1. Grab paper and pen (or your cell phone).
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
3. Write down as many kind words as possible about yourself that begin with theletter of your first name. (I.e. Stephanie: Still, Silly, Self-Loving). The key is to write words you "know" you are...and even more importantly, write words you wish to become.
4. For the rest of the year, look at this every morning and night. Add to it!
Extra Credit: Share and play this game with a spouse, partner, child, friend, co-worker...etc.
How would you live if you knew your life would soon be over?
After the sudden death of my father in 2004 from a massive heart attack, 3 weeks before my wedding, I vowed to live my life to the fullest. At the time however, I didn't know how. I was so sad and so busy in the doing. I was driving myself harder and harder. It was an escape from the pain. It was a vicious cycle. Deep down, I knew I had to stop or I would end up like him. I had to slow down, be silent and question everything. In particular, I became fascinated with creating a quality future for myself. I wanted to live the depth and width as well as the length of my life.
I read voraciously. I prayed often. I meditated. I cried... a lot. In so doing I decided I wanted--needed-- my tomorrows to be better than they were. Lucky for me, I was gifted the book The 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, written by John Izzo. Amazing, life changing book. In the book Izzo spoke of exactly what I felt after losing my father so tragically: we are here for an undefined yet limited amount of time. And we have unlimited choices about how to spend our time. Most importantly, the choices we make (and those we do not make!) create the fabric of our life. In his book what Izzo was trying to understand was--- if at the end of our life, we are to die happy, what does that mean? What does it look like, feel like? And how do we do it? What he found by interviewing people who were deemed by their family and friends as "having lived a happy life" was that they were wise. They understood what really mattered to them and lived accordingly. They took risks and had the courage to move toward what they wanted out of life rather than away from what they feared. Easy, no? Worth it? Yes. They had no regrets!! What a wonderful way to have lived. I am here to tell you it's possible for all of us.
Losing my father was very painful. In order to survive I had to make choices and therefore changes in order to create a future I would love. I also had to find the gift of his passing. Izzo's book helped me uncover this gift, which ultimately fueled my actions. The gift was the choice I made to live my life with no regrets.
My experience of losing my father so unexpectedly showed me that even a full life is short. I decided I better get busy living-- doing and being-- what I love, both personally and professionally. It's now 12 years after my dad's death, and when faced with a challenging decision, all I ask myself to seal the deal is, "Will I regret this?" Powerful. Works every time. Try it.