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.

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 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!

That last statement of the pitch was what really hit home. As a long-time blogger, I receive countless pitches from PR folks about their various products, causes and ideas. It is rare that I respond to one, mainly because a good story is really hard to find amongst the massive onslaught of commercialized messages.

But this one is a story worth telling.

Christy Turlington Burns, Every Mother Counts

It is a fact that when women are healthier, societies overall are healthier.

Global health advocate and former model Christy Turlington Burns is participating in the ING Marathon on November 4 along with Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter, World Renowned Tattoo Artist Scott Campbell, The Smile Co-Owner Carlos Quirarte, Oiselle Founder/CEO Sally Bergesen and 45 other runners, to raise money and awareness for her non-profit organization, Every Mother Counts (EMC). To expand the reach of this effort, Every Mother Counts is calling on supporters everywhere to create their own team, and participate in a 5K run/walk in their town on November 4 while the EMC team hits the pavement in New York City.

Did you know that 5k is less than the average distance a pregnant woman in the developing world must travel to receive the basic health care she needs to deliver her baby?

Let’s face it. 5K is simply too far to walk for a woman who is 9 months pregnant, in labor, and has no access to transportation.  By walking or running in communities across the country, Every Mother Counts aims to raise awareness of this simple but devastating barrier and empower people everywhere to get involved in helping women to overcome it.

How to join: It is as simple as grabbing a couple of friends and going for a 5K run/walk during the official ING New York City Marathon. Make a sign, tell friends on social media about your efforts. Then share your photos and stories with Every Mother Counts on our facebook page or by email at info@everymothercounts.org.

Three additional ways to help support the un-official run:

1.       Purchase the official Every Mother Counts marathon team shirt for your team and all proceeds will go to EMC. This year, team EMC will be outfitted by Oiselle, a growing women’s apparel company dedicated to female runners and EMC’s official athletic apparel sponsor. You can purchase team jerseys from the “EMC Collection,” on oiselle.com, and 40% of the proceeds will go to Every Mother Counts.

2.       Join our Team by setting up your own CrowdRise page here and have friends and family sponsor your run by making donations through CrowdRise. All proceeds will go to EMC.

3. Please use Charity Miles, a free app that enables you to earn 25¢ per mile for Every Mother Counts, whenever you walk or run. It’s a free, easy way to raise both money and awareness for Every Mother Counts.  And you can use it any time you walk or run— even if you’re not doing a full 5K.  Please download the app to your iPhone or Android today. Every Mile Counts!

I’ve downloaded the app, which is based on your GPS so it is best to use outside (and not indoors where I tried to log exactly how much distance I run up and down the stairs all day).

You win through exercise. Pregnant women win through the help they need.

Let’s run/walk so others don’t have to.

Your Life: Summed Up

October 9, 2012

The average American spends nine years of his life watching television and two million commercials. Only two weeks of his life is spent kissing another person. Imagine if those numbers were reversed (and probably are in some countries!).

The average Joe spends 4,050 hours at a standstill in traffic (that is the equivalent of 506 nights of sleep), 4,320 hours at traffic lights, 5,365 hours talking on the phone and 122,400 hours working. He will have walked 35,000 miles in a lifetime, which is equal to walking from Paris to Shanghai and back ~ twice. At the same time, he will drive 798,000 miles: That’s 3.5 times to the moon and back.

If you look at these staggering statistics, it makes you realize how much of our time is spent with machines, not Nature or even each other. It makes me want to hug a tree and remember that we are all connected to everything: Not just through Facebook, but through our ultimate purpose in life, which is to love each other with all our might.

How will you spend your day today?

Life Summed Up

A Shot of Vitamin P

October 5, 2012

According to Scientific American, moods are contagious. If you see someone frowning, you are more likely to frown. If they complain, you become less able to problem solve. Like someone who coughs, we instinctively turn away so as not to catch their germs. So-called emotional contagion can impact relationships significantly.

positivity, fight germs, emotional contagion, power of slowMarriage researchers Lisa A. Neff of the University of Texas at Austin and Benjamin R. Karney of the University of California, Los Angeles, tested over 150 couples for three years to determine how one spouse’s stress influences the other spouse and overall marital quality. Although women are thought to be more emotional than men, the findings were surprising. The study found that wives were not affected significantly by their husbands’ bad moods, while the husbands experienced lower marital satisfaction when their wives reported higher stress.

Ladies, it’s time we had more fun!

What the research has not suggested is that a good mood can be just as contagious. I experienced a group of extremely positive people in my travels recently. As a result, I found myself smiling constantly. It wasn’t the fake social smile we all give. It was one from the inside out. Positivity can touch you like that.

So be careful of the company you keep. Give yourself a dose of vitamin P by hanging with folks who make you feel good and drop the downers in your life. Otherwise their problems may become yours quicker than you can catch a cold.

Possibility grows in the space of uncertainty. If we were absolutely certain about how everything would turn out in our lives, we would have no room to consider what might happen if we choose a different path altogether. We would be stuck in a one-way street, on a track with rails so high, we would never be able to see beyond the straight and narrow.

Ambiguity, possibility, uncertainty, path, journeyIf you think about it, a seed is both fragile and packed with possibility. With the right conditions, it can grow to be a towering tree or a plant that bears fruit, vegetables or flowers. But remember: a seed grows in its own time, at its own pace, to its highest potential. For that seed to reach its best, it needs nurturing, love and care. It needs sunlight and rain and cooler days. It requires protection, attention and support.

We human beings are no different.

As we traverse the terrain of our days, we need each other to stay the course. We also need people to encourage us to take another road if the one we are on proves to be unhealthy, unhappy, unwhole.

At the same time, we need not fear the uncertainty because it is the very packaging of our existence from which we unravel the mystery of our lives.

In a phrase, uncertainty rules. If you have learned to despise it, I invite to reconsider its purpose for you.

Imagine a Christmas tree in which none of the gifts are wrapped in bright paper, bows or bags. They are laid out for everyone to see. No surprise awaits you. Just the certainty that what lays there is yours. Consider how less exciting your holiday would be if you knew every gift you were about to receive.

So I ask you: Do you really want to know how the next ten years of your life will look like?

I think not.

It is in the anticipation of what could be possible that makes life fun. And for possibility to breathe itself into reality, you need fertile ground, stable conditions and sunshine in your heart. With a dose of uncertainty of what will become of that seed, you possess the magic that is your life in your hands.

 

Happiness is a decision.

It’s that simple.

Our mindset has everything to do with how our day will be. On those days when we’re off center, we are less apt to choose happiness. Most likely, we buy into our self-pity as if it is real. We convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do. We may feel a sense of doom and gloom that lingers over our heads, inescapable and crushing.

We’ve all been there. It’s the human condition to feel the depths of despair as well as the high that happiness brings.

There is nothing wrong with being unhappy. It happens. In our smiley-face culture, we are taught that happiness is what we should strive for (it’s even in the U.S. Constitution!). But let’s be real for a moment. Sustained happiness is a pipe dream. What comes up must come down. And we can choose in any given situation how to respond.

It takes training. Not every day is the same. You might have the very best intentions to start your day out right, but things go awry and you’re left overloaded, spent and downright stressed. With some practice, you can put yourself back on track, but everyone has their own pace to getting there.

That’s okay too. I hereby free you from the shackles of the must-be-happy doctrine. You can spit fire and curse too. Where there is light, there are shadows.

Are you ready for the biggest irony of all? If you can accept that part of you that you wish to hide from the world, you will be happy.

Of that, my friend, I am very certain.

Clueless

September 25, 2012

What happens when you are absolutely clueless about a situation? You simply have no direction and your inner compass has gone haywire. Resting in the place of unknowing can be scary for most of us. We are used to always having an objective, a goal, a vision. In our linear understanding of time, the clock marches forward, not backward or sideways. When we are clueless, we are in a swirl that has no boundaries.

Did you know it takes the human brain a few milliseconds to process information so that what you experience is actually delayed in time? What you see, smell or hear happened in the past. So when you are clueless, it is as if you are standing in the immediate moment between what has happened and your experience of it. And that can be your bridge to understanding.

It is a place of suspension, of absolute nothingness, of inner space, of Ma. We can use that space to truly allow things to unfold, then let our brains catch up to experience its unfolding.

Imagine being clueless as a powerful place where you needn’t have the answers. They will come in their own time. And you get to be the participant-observer of their birth.

You don’t always have to run the show. In fact, in many ways your personal script has already been written. The question is which part will you play?

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