How Big is Your Stress Box?

November 14, 2012

As I peered out into the night sky last night, I smiled at the inky darkness and thought what a sleepy little town I live in. An occasional beam of light shot through the air as commuters returned home after a long day at work. Breathing in the nocturnal dampness, I wondered how such a place could also be a showcase for so much stress: not externally, mind you. But internal turmoil can be found even here.

I began an inquiry as to how big our stress box needs to be to handle the daily demands of modern living. Even in as pastoral a place as this cow town that I’ve called home for ten years, I wondered what it takes to push the limits of that stress box to one in which you never touch its sides. What is required to leap from the box into a state of peace and calm?

We all have stress boxes of various sizes. Some of us touch the sides of our self-imposed cage rather quickly. We hit the edge, explode (or implode, depending on your nature), and lash out about us. Others rarely touch the sides of their box, having recognized how much room they need to expand and contract with ease.

Lately I have seen the sides of my stress box a tad too often, but once I recognize that it’s a box of my choosing, the sides seem to vaporize like an apparition of my own imagination.

How big is your stress box?

No Quantum Leaps Required

November 5, 2012

Stumbling blindly through life is something I have found myself doing whenever I leave the path of my vision. When my inner sight is clouded, I get lost in a place much like a damp, dark well. The only thing that accompanies me is the drip, drip, drip of my weirdest thoughts.

Vision questRecapturing your vision takes courage, especially if you are apt to think of everyone else’s welfare but your own. To stand in the strength of your own truth is a daunting task when it is at odds with what society deems acceptable. Rather than carry the inner conflict out into the world, we bury it deep inside, fearful of the reaction our environment might have about our wildest dreams.

Mae West said good girls don’t change the world. Stepping out of our self-made prisons is the first thing required. Self-understanding informs everything we do. So if we think we can’t do something because it’s not proper or we’re worried about what other people will think, we’ve totally missed the point that this is our life and we get to decide how to live it.

Building a vision is a lot like building a house. You first need a plan. How many rooms do you want to build? How big should they be? What is the reason for the space you are creating?

Then you need to find the resources: what can you afford to take on, what not? What kind of materials will you need to support the house you want to build?

Then comes the execution. Will you build the house yourself or hire help to do so? How long do you anticipate the implementation will take? Are you flexible enough to accept delays or last-minute changes? Can you live with the outcome, even if it isn’t perfect?

Coming to the light is what your vision is all about. When you have a focus, things fall into place more easily than if you have no clue what you are doing. You don’t need to know every last detail. Trust that what you feel is right. It will guide you to where you need to go next.

Baby steps will get you there. No quantum leaps required.

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.

Some Day is Now

October 31, 2012

Eckhart Tolle teaches us about the Power of Now in his book of the same name. Now is all we have. So when you find yourself saying “Some day I’ll do this or that,” know that some day is now.

When I was a kid, my cousins went on a safari to South Africa. It was such an impressive experience that my aunt and uncle feeding giraffe, power of slowdedicated an entire room to the photos they made. They aptly named it The Safari Room. From that day forward, I told myself I too would take a safari ~ some day.

Life doesn’t always allow us to immediately implement our some days into a single day. But when you see an opportunity to live your dreams with some day in mind, you had better go for it.

When my dear friends in San Diego told us about the Safari Park near their house, I saw an opportunity to live my dream ~ even if it wasn’t the South African plains, it was filled with the same animals my family had seen years earlier.

When we put off our dreams in the name of security, safety or assurance, we are often shortchanging what could be the most transformative experience we could have in our lives. If you want to do something, do it. Trust me. It will be worth it!

The other day we took an open air van to an area where giraffes, rhinoceroses and other exotic animals roam in near-native conditions. I got to feed several of them and I must say it was, apart from giving birth to my own children, one of the most moving experiences of my life. Yes, I was terrified, but I did it anyway. I held fast to the dream of taking a safari and there I was amongst very safari-like animals on a beautiful day in Southern California.

Some day is now, people. If you have a chance to live one of your life’s dreams, do it. It will bring you to higher heights and empower you to live the life you’ve always wanted.

Forget the excuse as to why you cannot embrace every moment in all its preciousness. Your life is always happening in the NOW. What will you do with it?

The Blessing Way

October 29, 2012

Fourteen years ago I stood in my mother’s living room, pregnant with my first child and excited about the next step in our lives. My mother’s fairy godmother friend performed a ceremony she called “A Blessing Way,” a ritual that ushered us into a new phase as parents. Considering I never thought I’d get married, much less have children, it was an important moment of transition for me.

Blessings can accompany us throughout our lives. Rites of passage such as weddings, funerals, or in our case, Blessing Ways, symbolize the recognition of new constellations. It is a celebration of life and all that it entails.

The grieving process has its own hidden blessings as we transition from one identity to the next. Perhaps we are widowed, separated or even divorced. The social stigma that often accompanies the exiting of a partnership can be unbearable. It is simply not acceptable in most cultures. Or if it is tolerated, it is seen by most as utter failure.

But what if there really is a way to look at such change as a blessing? Departure as a sacred opening and transcendence versus the death of a relationship? Peace and wholeness instead of sadness, anger and disappointment?

Blessings can heal. Whenever I give away clothes to our local Salvation Army, I bless them and the people who will wear them next before placing them in the bin. Or if I leave a vacation rental, I bless the space where we have been, sending energy to the next set of people who will dwell there.

We are all balls of energy, light and grace. How we move about the earth and interact with others truly matters. Blessings can be the cohesive strings of love that connect us all. A kind word, spoken to all of humanity from your heart, can raise up the collective in profound ways.

What blessing can you speak today?

 

The Lessons from the Moon

October 26, 2012

Do you doubt the moon’s existence, even if it is not in sight?

In times of darkness, do you wonder if the sun will ever shine again?

If you have ever witnessed the passing clouds on a dark night, you will know that the Unseen often speaks louder than that which you can see. Like feelings that soar through you, it is an ephemeral moment of grace. It is a reminder that you are alive as you search inside for your deepest truth.

We never know what curve balls life will throw at us. At times we feel as though we are the moon itself, floating majestically on its elliptcal path around the Earth. At other times we see ourselves as the hidden moon, caught behind a web of clouds for no one to see us as we truly are.

There was a time when people believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. Gallileo got in serious trouble for questioning that belief. But he stuck to his principles even in the face of anger and fear. He was a brave man in haunting times. I would like to have that much courage.

We are lucky to live in times when we are not persecuted for believing whatever we wish to believe. And yet we are often held hostage to the beliefs of others, forced to conform even when we know what we believe to be true. If you are feeling a moment of weakness, look to the moon for answers. It will tell you that this too shall pass.

At times the moon appears to be half-full, when in truth it is always the same. It holds itself back in the shadows of the Earth, waiting for the moment to shine in its entirety for just one night.

No matter where you are on this planet as you read this, you have your own unique view. You have every right to the view you hold. The question is whether the view you have is allowing you to live in your most empowered state? Whether hidden or in full view, you are here.

You may not always be able to shine in the fullness of you. But know that every part that you have is worthy of that light. You are worthy of being seen, heard and experienced in all your glory.

The moon has taught me so much about the staying power of perseverance. The moon knows what it is here to do. I think I know it too. Do you?

 

The Power of the Night

October 24, 2012

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, fretting that you cannot sleep? Does it distress you beyond belief that you are awake when it seems that the rest of the Earth is not? Have you ever considered what an opportunity it is to be aware in that moment of wakefulness? That it is a gift to be alive?

A friend once told me that before electricity, people would sleep at odd hours, wake up whenever they did and used their time to make love, think or even talk to one another? The clock did not dictate their days.

In our modern age of productivity, we are forced into a rhythm that our bodies often reject. If you “suffer” from insomnia, I ask you to consider the power of the night.

Nighttime has a special quality of solitude and introspection that we don’t often get during the day. No phones are ringing, no demands are tugging at you, no secretaries telling you to sign this paper or that. All you have is the sound of your own heartbeat, pumping in your chest as sure as night follows day. In those quiet times of wakefulness, you have received a gift that we often deem a curse. It is time for you to simply be.

Nighttime offers you the moon, bright and shiny, smiling down at you to remind you that the sun is shining somewhere on the planet where you might not be. It gives you the stars and the brilliance of the planets that encircle themselves with the force of an ever-expanding Universe.

The night offers you the sound of the trees and the last falling leaves before they make their final descent, saying farewell to the time they have spent with you.

It gives you the hoot of an owl, resting placidly on a branch to let you know you are not alone. You are never alone.

The night encompasses you in its dark cloak, hugging you with a power far greater than you can imagine.

It gives you a chance to listen to your breath and the sound of children laughing in their sleep.

When sleep alludes you, remember that the rhythm that keeps you awake has a story to tell.

That story is your life. Your time.

That story, my dear one, is 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.

Boys, Do Cry!

October 17, 2012

Empathy is a lovely quality. It means you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and feel their journey. It also simply means you can feel.

How many of us can’t even do that anymore?

Nineteenth century poet Henry David Thoreau once wrote that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. We aren’t loud about our unhappiness. We just cover it up with more stuff, thereby numbing our pain…and our joy too.

Slow says you don’t need stuff to be happy. In fact, less is really more. What does give you greater access to happiness is a spectrum of emotions that most boys, in particular, are taught not to feel.

So when Son came home with a schoolyard bully story, I listened carefully to what he was trying to say. At first he proudly told me of his verbal jabs, that he successfully defended himself from the mean kid. But as lunch wore on, Son asked why he can’t suppress his own tears.

“I hate it when I cry.” He was embarrassed to admit he cried in front of his friends.

That’s when I put down the frying pan and looked Son square in the eye.

“I have a secret,” I began in a whisper. “Did you know that men who cry are so much more attractive than men who don’t? In fact, there is nothing better than a man who can feel.”

Son laughed outloud.

I explained that when we only operate from our minds, we are limited, but that the heart is a place that is boundless. It is the source of all creativity and joy. Keeping the pathway open to our hearts gives us unspeakable power and an endlessness no other place can provide. The heart, I told him, is where everything begins and ends.

He seemed satisfied with my answer. For now.

So for you men out there reading this, do cry. It will not only set you free. It might also get you that date you’ve been waiting for all your life.

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