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?

The Lessons of Now

November 13, 2012

Some days we climb buildings in a single bound. Other days we can barely raise our heads off the pillow. Life can get overwhelming at times. When everything seems to be happening at once, know that you can only do so much.

For the past week I have blogged in my head a hundred times. And I’ve missed it. A lot. I am in the process of doing some back end work on this site to serve you better and to spread the word more easily about the Power of Slow. And yet, it seems, there are forces at work that have set me back from my desire to improve this blog even more for you.

As in all things, there is a gift to be found in setbacks. We often want things yesterday, as if now, or even tomorrow, isn’t soon enough. We get frustrated when our computers don’t boot up “fast enough”, when the person driving in front of us is “too slow”, when our loved ones don’t answer our emails/phone calls/text messages “right away”.

But it takes time to let things grow. They must first germinate, then grow roots, then push themselves slowly out of the ground. Only then can they come into full bloom.

So if my blog has yet to have the beautiful character I wish it to have, know that I’m working on it.

That is the lesson of Now.

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?

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.

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.

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?

 

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.

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