Are You a Life Architect?

November 16, 2012

Actually, you are. Everyone is. Each of us builds our lives by the decisions we make.

Because I am susceptible to gloomy thoughts on gloomy days, I carefully contemplated how to spend my fall and early winter. It occurred to me that I could avoid what I used to think was the inevitable seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that plagues me at this time of year if I were to reconstruct the way I do things around the holiday season. So, like an architect, I drafted up a blueprint of how I’d like to feel.

“Cheery, joyful, at peace,” I wrote at the top of the page. Knowing that lack of sunlight makes me less than happy, I booked a flight to California, the sunniest place on the planet, or so it seemed, the morning after our arrival. It helped tremendously.

Even though I am back under a blanket of fog, just looking at the photos and videos I took remind me that the sun will shine again.

If you feel trapped, take a moment to consider what might be causing that feeling. Is it your circumstances or merely your feelings about your situation that are holding you back? Do you need a mindshift or a physical shift to release blocked energy to put you back into the flow of life?

Life architecture doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to deconstruct every aspect of yourself or your life to alter your plans. Perhaps you only need to tear down a wall or two to make room for new space. Or maybe you require an addition to your already fabulous construct to make yourself feel complete? It could be that you need a complete overhaul, in which case you’ll need to invite some friends to help you out.

What I have learned this year is that those friends are there, waiting for you in the wings, if you ask them. With hammers and pencils and casseroles in their hands, they want to contribute to you just as you have always contributed to them.

Architects rarely work alone. It takes a village to build something new. Assemble your award-winning team and get on with the business of life.

Your dreams are waiting for you. Build a life that welcomes them and I promise you they will come true.

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Manifestation Station

November 15, 2012

Blame it on 2012, but I’ve been getting visions left and right that won’t leave me alone. They are begging for my attention, wanting me to listen, then act on them. My entire being has become a manifestation station. The messages about aligning your path are there, if you listen closely.

It’s the same for my mother whose uncanny ability to see things others don’t that sends chills up my spine.

And so it was about a week ago when she told me, unprompted and completely relaxed, as we breakfasted one last time before parting ways in Arizona: “I see a new friend coming into your life this week.” She described in great detail who the person would be: English-speaking, a single mom with, uh, let me see…two children. It will be unexpected, but expect it, okay?

Uh. Okay.

I have learned when my mother sees things to believe them. They always come true.

Three days and a continent later, I sat in the waiting room of the orthodontist’s office, waiting for my daughter’s turn when I overheard a mother and her daughter chatting. It sounded distinctly American so I couldn’t help myself but ask where they were from.

“Scotland!” The lovely lady said. “But my kids grew up in international schools so their English is very American.” Sitting three tables away, we chat nonchalantly until she told me she had spent eight years in India and couldn’t quite find her way in Germany. I discovered she is now a single mom with two teenage children. That’s when I drew nearer, inviting myself to sit right at her table and look her square in the eye.

“I’ve never met you, but my mom told me I would.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here she was, the new friend my mother had seen. She smiled deeply and said, “Yes. There are no accidents.” In her tone, I could hear “I’ve been waiting for you too!”

We’re meeting for coffee today.

And those chills? Yeah, they continue to tap dance up and down my spine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS: This blog is moving to http://powerofslow.com. If you wish to continue receiving these posts in your inbox, please subscribe here.

Somewhere in the Dance

November 6, 2012

The framed picture spoke a thousand words in just a few:

“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing.”

Your heart can dance even if your feet cannot. As I recently posted, life is a dance. The partners we choose make all the difference. You might not be able to choose the family you are born into, but you can choose the people that surround you. You can choose who to hang out with and who to let go. You get to decide whether to waltz or do the Texas swing.

You might fall down every once in a while, or trip over life’s unpleasantness. But as long as your heart keeps beating, you can remain somewhere in the dance.

Where are you in yours?

Tap into Your Extraordinary

November 4, 2012

Your environment matters. If you live in a dark place, chances are you won’t feel as bright as someone who lives under the sun 365 days a year.

The landscape matters. If you are in an urban jungle, you might not feel as consistently grounded as someone who lives amongst the red rock of Sedona, Arizona, for instance.

I had the pleasure of visiting Sedona this week. Known for its vibrating vortexes of energy swirling up from the minerals in the ground, Sedona holds a special kind of vibe I have never experienced in my life. Go there and you will realign with your highest self. That’s all I have to say.

Sedona, power of slow, energy vortex

Sedona, Arizona

Even if you aren’t apt to make your way there, consider where you live as your sacred space. If your office is lifeless, without plants, water or some kind of sunlight, consider placing a portable water fountain on your desk. Place special rocks or other meaningful items around you. They hold positive energy, something everyone could use a little more of!

It is easy to tap into your extraordinary when you have peace of mind. All it requires is a little time to reflect, go inward and really listen to yourself. Take a few breaths, light a special candle, and think about how extraordinary your life is. Every day you get a new chance to live that life to the very best of your ability.

Some times all it takes is a beautiful landscape to set you free. You can create it right where you are. You really can.

Two days ago I was cruising up I-8 on my way to Phoenix from San Diego to pick up my mom at the airport. If you have ever driven out West, you will know how straight and narrow those highways can be. You can go 100 miles without really seeing civilization. With good tunes on the radio and a bit of mindlessness, it is easy to go a tad over the speed limit.

It is embarrassing to admit to you that, right after a pitstop in Yuma, AZ for some breakfast at IHOP, I was pulled over by one very nice Officer Sanchez for going too fast.

Picture it.

“Hi, Ma’am. The reason I pulled you over is because you were going too fast.”

“I was? I thought the speed limit was 70!”

A warm smile.

“I clocked you at 81.”

Oops.

He asked me where I was going, where I am from and what I do for a living. I cheerfully explained that I had had a spiritual prompting and was on my way to Sedona. Admittedly, I thought the spiritual angle might soften his heart. And I told him how ironic this all was, given I am the author of The Power of Slow.

He made me wait a full ten minutes while he checked out my profile in his car. When he returned, he kindly handed me a warning instead of a ticket, told me I really needed to slow down, and ,”Oh, Christine? Read your book!”

I giggled to myself all the way to Phoenix.

Thank you, Officer Sanchez. You are right. Slow really is faster.

Travels to Myself

November 1, 2012

Whenever I board a plane, train or automobile to a new place, I am guided by my internal GPS. Every interaction I have or person I meet opens my eyes in new ways. I am informed by the novelty of the situation, but also by the ever-unfolding plan of the Universe that places me right in the middle of whatever I need to experience. It is particularly astounding to me how many cool people fly on airplanes.


Waiting at the Dulles International airport with Husband, I noticed a cute young couple in the corner, sharing food and body warmth as we waited to board our five-hour flight to San Diego. Husband and I had to change seats at the gate to ensure we sat together so our once randomly assigned seats were once again rearranged for that purpose. In other words, I wasn’t supposed to sit where I did, but I am so glad it worked out that way. I met the most fascinating doctor-in-training who laughed with me across the continent. When we got up to stretch our legs, I noticed the cute couple was right behind me in the next row. That’s when the girl engaged me in some small talk. It turns out she and her husband were returning from their honeymoon cruise just in time to miss Hurricane Sandy. Then, to my delight, she asked me if I might go to lunch with her.

“I just love your light,” she beamed. I beamed back and we made a date. A few days later we spent a lovely few hours together, chatting over lunch then walking on the beach. We revealed that neither one of us was supposed to be in the rows we were sitting (she was supposed to be on a different flight altogether). I shared with her the mystical-magical that we all possess. She already knew that. What impressed me most was when she said we already have everything we need. At 24 years old, she knows who she is. I was encouraged that the next generation’s consciousness will be higher than ours.

Travel brings us closer to who we are, guiding us to people of all ages and backgrounds. It shows us that no matter where we are on the planet, we expand a piece of who we are when we are engaged with each other, just like the Universe itself.

Dance in the light, my friends, wherever you are. Know that everything will work out just as it should. And that you are not alone.  Ever.

Charmed

October 25, 2012

The bracelet was perfect. After searching from Paris to Alsace to Tuscany, I finally found the jewelry that expressed one of the most important summers of my life.

You see I am not a collector, really. My best friend is the one who collects things. As a teen she collected crystals. Later she took a liking to charms. So whenever I would travel, I would bring her a charm from the places I had been: the Parthenon in Greece; the Eiffel Tower in Paris; the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Until one day her bracelet grew so heavy, her arm could no longer support it.

Infused with the need to find something similar, I looked everywhere for a new charm bracelet, but it seems as though the charm makers had gone out of business. No matter where I went, I couldn’t find any.

That is, until I reached our final destination on our week-long tour of Tuscany in a small town called Lucca. There lay two charm bracelets in the window with exactly the charms I had been searching for. The place was so tiny we had to stand still so as not to touch the walls. With an open face and a kind smile, the shop clerk was incredibly friendly. In our broken Italian we asked for a good place to eat. She called around to her friends, but none of the good places were open. She was the most, well, charming person we had met along the way!

Sometimes we find what we are looking for in the most unexpected places. If we search too hard, we may not see what we need to see. With relaxed eyes and a calm spirit, we are better able to perceive what we are meant to see.

In which ways have you been charmed lately? Life can be spell-bounding, if you let it. Open your heart and look at the world through its eyes. You may find that everything you’ve been looking for is right in front of you.

The Wisdom of the Trees

October 22, 2012

Tanja didn’t believe me at first.

“Hug a tree?” she skeptically looked at me over her steaming mug of coffee. “Alright then, Christine.” She refrained from rolling her eyes at me. For the moment.

I explained the power of trees, of their grounding nature, of their ability to speak to you if you listen closely. Tanja didn’t seem convinced, but a month or so later, she confessed that she tried it one day while traipsing through the woods.

Eyes lit with a fire I’d rarely seen before, Tanja recounted the experience.

“The tree literally talked to me,” she said in a reverent whisper. “There is wisdom in trees.”

If you haven’t paid attention to the trees in your life lately, you might want to take a look at the nearest one. How old do you think it is? In a recent visit to Switzerland, I found the most gracious giants, standing tall like sentries of a long-lost secret you can only access by hugging them tightly.

And hug them I did! This tree spoke to me in a language beyond words. Its solid grace made me bow before it. Before drawing closer, I asked its permission to give it a warm embrace. It nodded a “yes” in the wind. It told me of a time before the cemetery on which it stood was built. It told me of horses and wildlife and romantic lovers meeting under its limbs. I was astounded at the stories it told in that precious moment of connection.

Trees are the lungs of the Earth. Treat them with the respect they deserve. They are one of our greatest resources, not only for the air we breathe, but for those times of Slow that bring us back to our truest selves.

Do you doubt what I am saying? Give your neighborhood tree a squeeze. You, like Tanja, might just be surprised at what happens when you do.

The Principles of Yes

October 20, 2012

Going Slow means saying no.

But not always.

When we say “no” to certain opportunities, we are saying “yes” to the possibility of others. We are creating space for what is meant to come into our lives. But many of us fear that space, that moment of nothingness, that void in our hearts and souls that we feel compelled to fill with something, anything. Oftentimes we fill it with noise ~ whether it’s the TV, the radio or our own chatter.

Taking time to be quiet will give you the strength to get to “yes”.

The principles of “yes” do not mean you affirm everything everyone wants from you. Nor does it mean you are a yes man to anyone. It means you are standing firm in your power and in your belief in yourself. You are saying “yes” to the life you want to lead.

As I have often said, when we say “no” to someone or something, we are actually saying “yes” to ourselves. The first tenet in the principles of “yes” is to be clear about what is important to you.

Action items:

  • Name five things that have a priority in your life.
  • List an action for each one that you can undertake to support that belief.
  • If you can’t think of an action, reevaluate your list of priorities. Are you walking your talk or just paying lip service to those things? You may find you have entirely different priorities than you realized. Knowing this will help you get back into alignment with “yes”.

The second tenet of “yes” is to understand that even when we say “yes” to something, it may not turn out as we had planned. Maybe we say “yes” to a project that we think will be fulfilling, only to discover it wasn’t at all what it seemed. You may feel disappointed that things turned out that way, but in saying “yes,” you learned exactly what you needed to learn at that time. Trust that saying “yes” with conviction will lead you down the path you need to take, even if that path seems scary.

The third tenet of “yes” requires that you listen deeply to what you are affirming. Are you saying “yes” to the actual experience or are you saying “yes” to that pretty picture in your mind, painted with wild expectations? This tenet is based on the high involvement/low attachment idea. You are highly engaged in what you are doing without expectation that it will turn out at all.

Pretty Zen, huh?

The final tenet of “yes” is the contagion factor. When you smile out into the world with an aura of “yes”, others will notice and want to know where you got it. Glowing from the inside out, you can share your “yes” story with them.

Sharing your “yes” moments with others will make the world a better place. It will encourage them to do the same for themselves. Can you imagine a world in which we all dance to the rhythm of  our personal “yes”? Oh, yeeeeeesssss!

It never ceases to amaze me how selective our memories can be. My best friend remembers things from our school days that I can’t even conjure up in a dream. I have no recollection whatsoever of some experiences, while she can’t remember other things I do. I am not certain whether it was our adolescent minds, not yet fully developed, that allowed for such lapses in our memories or if we are simply wiser today and carefully choose what to remember.

We place blinders on to filter information. Our world would otherwise be too overwhelming if we were to take in every nuance in our surroundings. But lifting the blinders, if only a little, would also widen our lens and our view of things.

They say we tend to get more narrow-minded as we get older. Our horizon shrinks, our attention span shortens. But what if we were committed to fully embrace every aspect of a moment as it is laid out in front of us instead of putting it through our translation machine of meaning-making nonsense? What if we were to take on the entirety of the experience, such as eating an ice cream cone on a sunny day, instead of checking our smartphone while we lick away at it? Would we have a different memory of it then?

There aren’t many things we do with a singular focus, except perhaps sleeping. Even then, our subconscious mind is active, feeding us dreams and processing data in its memory bank of time.

Dreams can be helpful for memory recall. I recently had a dream about an actual car accident I had ten years ago. In my dream, the car swerved toward another car. All I could think in my dreaming mind was :”This is it.” I had a similar thought in real life as the car turned 180 degrees one way, then bounced back in the other direction, but luckily there were no cars in sight. In my dream, I was ready to take on death with a singular beat. It was a moment of full acceptance of the experience.

In our dreams we are capable of doing things we can’t do in real life, such as fly. But the symbolic meaning behind the dreams, such as the one I had, can tell us a lot about what we are really thinking.

Pay attention to your dreams for they are the land mine of our memories. If you can’t remember your dreams, go to bed at night telling yourself you will remember at least one aspect of the next dream you have. As you wake up, write it down right away. After a time, you might start to be able to remember more. You might also start to see patterns.

In your waking moments, absorb the entirety of one experience today. It might not help you remember your dreams any better, but it will help you remember the life you lead.

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