The other night I attended a Twitter party. For those of you unfamiliar with such things, it is a gathering on the microblogging social media platform Twitter to discuss a particular topic. This time we were a group of bloggers that convened on Twitter using a particular keyword to follow the conversation for thirty minutes. The topic was, of course, blogging, one of my favorite subjects.

One question the moderators posed was what’s more important: grammar or getting the point across. I have to admit I love grammar and respect all its rules because language is something I highly revere. And I am traumatized even now, thirty years later, by my English teacher Ms. Willis whose smoker’s voice and steely glare still permeate my brain when I even consider saying “There’s two things” instead of saying “There are”.

But language, like anything else, is a compilation of sounds that is fluid and ever-evolving. We bend the rules sometimes to fit the situation. Being a Southern girl, I respect rule-bending. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, ya”ll. It gives life to new possibilities and ways of expressing ourselves.

You may have noticed I bend the rules on this blog a lot. Suddenly adjectives become nouns. Slow is one example. It is this very juxtaposition that challenges the reader to think in new ways.

So while good grammar is something to be preserved, let’s leave a little room for imperfection. After all, it is in that very place that we grow the most.

P.S. To my embarassment, I wrongly attributed yesterday’s image as Lower Elk Canyon, Arizona. It’s Lower Antelope Canyon. Apologies to all wildlife that has been offended. Imperfection at its best!

It has been four years since the global recession grabbed hold of the world. It seems in the United States a lurking pessimism has undermined the once unshakable can-do spirit of a nation I’ll always consider home.

Yet never before have we had the possibilities we have today. We are desperate in so many ways — informed usually by fear (of losing or getting a job, of finding the right spouse, of making the right decision, etc.) and yet fulfillment lies within our grasp.

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it one thousand times. Abundance lies within.

When we are desperate for something to happen, we pine away the hours, hoping, wishing and praying for That Thing to occur. And then, when it finally does, it doesn’t have the flavor of satisfaction we thought it would. All that energy we wasted wishing for the very thing that would happen anyway! We would enjoy it more if we expected it less.

What would our lives be like if we allowed things to unfold in the divine scheme that is our DNA instead of pushing, wishing and wanting things into existence?

We would be much happier indeed.

Whenever I start to obsess about something, I ask myself what the origin of my yearning truly is. It is typically intertwined with a feeling of lack, as if filling the whole from the outside will finally quench my eternal thirst.

Not so.

Eternity is in each one of us. We share that common bond. Life is about a constant giving, receiving, allowing and releasing.

We live in an age of plenty. We needn’t grab at anything. We already have everything, and I mean everything, we will ever need because we are born with an entire package that makes living possible. Now is the time to uncover its mystery.

And that mystery, you will find, is you.

Allensbach, Germany

If you have lost your sense of wonder, take a deep breath, close your eyes and remember the last time you had it. You might have to dig deeply to a place you haven’t visited in a while. It might span miles and years and acres of memory. But you had it once. It is still there,  slumbering in the eeves of your being.

Call it up within yourself. Rekindle its fire. Feel how it crawls through your body. Where do you feel it most intensely? In your arms? Your legs? Your back?

I keep my sense of wonder close to my heart, calling on it in times of sadness or remorse. It is my road map to inner peace and regained equilibrium. In troubled times, that source of creative power can be your saving grace.

When was the last time you danced in the sky to beat of your boundless heart? Don’t you want to go there?

And you can. Any time. Any place. Through the breathtaking beauty you keep inside. When you do, you will meet others who are doing the same. Your heart and soul will shift to attract the very people who have been waiting for this moment. You will touch them in unspeakable ways. And they will do the same for you.

When you regain that sense of wonder, your life becomes one big celebration of the divine that is you, that is me, that is everyone.

Blessings to you all.

My grandmother lived in a house she called The Enchanted Cottage. As a child, I considered it an enormous fairytale castle with secret passage ways (closets) and rooms that each had a name: the French Room, the Pretty Room, the Inn. She segmented her house into stories, in which you might encounter magic within the four walls of each one. Even her wildlife, the squirrels, had names. She fed my hungry imagination the right amount of fantasy that remains with me to this day. Thanks to her influence, I was allowed to preserve a child-like wonder from which I create every day.

Enchantment isn’t something we adults think about much. Intellectually, we know forests don’t have fairies (although of this I am not certain. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about an encounter I had with large trees and a giggling friend. And no, there were no mushrooms involved!). But every time I enter the woods, I half-expect a gnome or pixie to greet me. It’s the energy of the place that lulls me to that special place inside. The trees speak. I listen. And what I often hear is a calling beyond words.

Enchantment may be harder to find in urban settings. My grandmother was from New York City so her rural Connecticut home felt like a refuge from too many years in an urban environment. But even in a place as vast as New York, you can find enchantment if you’re with the right people.

Ultimately, enchantment resides within us. If you can cast a spell in any area of your life, whether it be work, a relationship or, like my grandmother did, a home itself, you will have created something sacred.

And who knows what influence that could have on the world?

Doing the Crazy

July 9, 2012

Not many people are talking about personal liberation these days. Maybe it’s because most of us feel trapped and think it’s a normal way of being. But I have news.

It’s not.

My friend recently called me to say she had lost her juicy, but that she knew how she could get it back.

By doing at least one crazy thing a day.

Crazy is, by definition, not normal. It requires you to move outside your boundaries to a new way of being that you, and others around you, might deem “unusual”. But it is in the very act of doing the unusual that we find that juicy space, which leads to flow, which then leads us to slow down and really enjoy life.

Everyone has their own personal definition of crazy. For some it might mean moving to a new place where you don’t speak the language (yet). For others, it might involve leaving a comfortable job for one that is ultimately more fulfilling. Or maybe it is acting out a scene on a street corner just to practice your art. Your special kind of crazy is what will get you out of your funk and back into joy.

And joy is something we could all use a lot more of.

Doing something out of the ordinary sets energy free that is trapped inside you. And that has a ripple effect on your surroundings that resonates with your energy. Who knows? You might even infect someone else to embrace their crazy too.

And then the world will sleep a little sounder, laugh a little louder and dance a little longer.

All in the name of personal liberation.

Are you with me?

We all have pivotal moments in our lives in which just a few words and circumstances change everything. One minute you are humming along, minding your own business, going in a singular direction when suddenly your life takes a sharp left (or right) with the utterance of a phrase such as “Is this seat taken?” or “Hey, you have the same sweater as I do, only in green.” You meet people who change you immeasurably, although you may not know it at the moment of your first interaction.

Take my very best friend in the Whole Wide World. I’ve known her since seventh grade. We met on the bus on the way to a field trip. She was wearing the same sweater as I was so we engaged in a conversation. Since that day, she has seen me to hell and back again. We’re like that. The rest, as they say, is history.

As I have gotten older, I have experienced numerous “fateful” encounters such as sitting next to the very person I needed to meet, whether on an airplane, in a restaurant…just about anywhere the juicy can be found (juicy in this context means absolute truth in Self; the source of All That Is: the progenitor of beauty, grace, aliveness. I’m sure there’s an ultra-long name for it in German that I could make up if I had my wits about me, but as it is I am about to say goodbye to my beloved Grado and I’m a little distracted by that. Translate “juicy” into French? Now I’d really have to think about that one! Maybe one of you has a good term. If so, please share!).

The thing is I don’t believe in fate, but rather that everything happens exactly as it should. We humans reside in the unfolding. The only thing to do is to bring your awareness to it at any given moment. To do so, you need the Slow. It is what helps you focus your attention on what is really happening versus your interpretation of it.

In my view, it is as if there is a Divine Plan for us all. And in those juicy encounters with people in seemingly banal situations, you realize your personal Plan is unfolding in mysterious, yet revealing ways.

It makes me love life all the more when I meet those amazing people who change my world all over again.

Those Plan encounters are the best because they lead me back to my own juicy, that delicious space of creative somethingness. Getting back to Self in powerful ways is the most liberating experience. When we get to know someone else, it is as if we are getting to know a part of ourselves that we were not yet aware existed. When we take time to open ourselves to the beautiful gift that others have to offer us, we absorb so much more of what life itself is meant to be. And we can do the same for them.

Giving the juicy is as good as receiving it. When you meet someone new, how might you give them a spark of renewal? In a smile? A kind word? A promise of friendship forever?

Some juicy encounters last a day. Others a lifetime. It is my wish to you that whomever you meet next is a juicy one. The result is a sense of Flow, a timelessness, an awakening to the Spirit within. Let’s face it. We could all use more Flow in our lives because it leads to inner peace, which leads to outer peace, which leads to a whole world being rocked by the amazingness of life.

Not sure how to find your juicy? The best way to find it is to give that experience to someone else. Here’s a little secret: juicy begets juicy. Yeah, life’s like that.

 

 

The Power of Imagination

November 7, 2010

Dr. Charlotte Reznick, author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination, was on my mind this weekend as we took the kids to the mountains for a few days of frolicking. The four-star hotel offered great food, free WiFi, a wellness area with a pool with an Alpine view and enough cable TV to make the kids’ eyes bug out. We managed to go for two hikes, swim in the pool four times, and visit the gym twice. To distract the kids on our long walks, we practiced math problems in our heads. All in all, it was a glorious time.

The imagination part came in with all the storytelling I did to keep the kids’ entertained (and in complete unawareness that they were, gasp, hiking!). Remembering Dr. Reznick’s nine tools to broaden our kids’ imagination, we practiced some deep breathing on foot. Dr. Reznick calls it “balloon breath.” She says:

“Get comfortable on a flat surface and place your hands around your navel. Focus your attention two to three inches below it, and breathe slowly and deeply into your lower belly so that it presses into your hands like an inflating balloon. Stay there for a minute or two, feeling its gentle rise and fall. Notice how you feel. Try it sitting and standing.” (page 20-21) It is a great power of slow exercise for young and old.

It wasn’t hard to do the next piece because, in truth, our special place was right before our eyes. In the second section of her book, “Discovering Your Special Place,” Dr. Reznick says to foster the sense of self that dwells within. She suggests to visualize a peaceful place…perhaps our kids will think of the mountains the next time they’re bored, looking out the window during class!

Although we didn’t find any real animals (it is, after all, almost winter in the mountains, despite the unusually warm temps). Dr. Reznick recommends “Meeting a Wise Animal Friend” to act as protector. Perhaps the protective quality of animals is the reason why animal movies such as ICE AGE, LAND BEFORE TIME and GARFIELD are so popular.

In the third section, “Encountering a Personal Wizard” Dr. Reznick says sometimes we need to look to magical beings that might be able to assist us in times of need. During a particularly acrimonious homework session, I once called my son’s Math Wizard on my cell phone. Suddenly, he was able to solve the math problem on his own because of the mere confidence his imaginary wizard friend gave him.

If you wonder why imaginary friends are useful, consider the next section, “Receiving Gifts from Inner Guides.” Much like the phone call to Math Wizard, imaginary wizard and animal friends can provide gifts of strength and confidence when you need it most. The sixth section, “Checking in with Heart and Belly,” helps your child get in tune with their own feelings.

Dr. Reznick writes: “Neuroscience has shown that certain ‘brain’ chemicals— neuropeptides, which communicate with other parts of our bodies— don’t live only in the brain; they also reside in our intestinal tract. This suggests a second “Belly Brain” for emotions. Other research suggests that the heart has its own intelligence and communication system.” (page 40)

 

Other Suggested Reading

 

 

 

 

In section seven “Talking to all your body parts,” I was reminded of a recent blog post in which I offered up a simple exercise to help us re-enage with our bodies in a powerful way by greeting each section of ourselves with love, compassion and acceptance. Starting with your toes, moving up your ankles, shins, etc., thank each body part for the part it plays in getting you through the day. Give it a try!

We all know color can have an effect on our well-being. In “The Healing Properties of Color”, Dr. Reznick addresses how we can creatively use color to express our emotions. And finally, in “The Healing Power of Energy,” we learn the positive effects of ‘sending’ and receiving good vibes from others.

Fostering your imagination is a wonderful way to engage in the power of slow. Let it be your guide, wizard, animal or otherwise!

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Shifting Left of Center

July 19, 2010

True inspiration comes from a deep listening that we seldom embrace in our go-go existence. As a writer, I have found it essential to take pause to capture the Voice within. Creative articulation is relentless in granting itself expression. If I don’t pay attention, the Voice finds someone else who will as I’m busy doing something else. It is a sad moment when I look up to see Voice’s dust cloud galloping off without me.

Janis Hui from The Heart Forum left a most wonderful comment about my piece On Savoring that is most appropriate to this notion. She writes:

Not only we do we need quietude for the creative process, we need it from time to time to maintain our sanity.  Without making a point to slow down and reflect, it’s all too easy to get lost in the rat race and forget if all that we are busy doing is aligned with our authentic selves.  We might think what we do is aligned with our center when we set out to do things but our centers also shift as time goes on. If we took the time to check in with ourselves, we would be able to notice these differences and make adjustments along the way.

Isn’t that so true? If we clutched doggedly to a purpose that no longer serves us, wouldn’t we tend to go faster and harder, thinking more effort will lead to a better outcome?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Moments of reflection are necessary, not just for the writers among us, but for everyone on the planet. That is why meditation, retreats and renewal ceremonies are so important. Whether you are renewing your marital vows or celebrating thirty years in business, we need to formally recognize our commitments. It helps strengthen our resolve and place us back on task.

Yesterday I met with a dear friend whom I have know for a while. She helped me on several book projects and has been my champion in so many ways. As we caught up each other on our lives, she paused for a moment and said, “How do you do it all?” I thought for a moment, then answered: “I only do things that serve my ultimate purpose.”

Like an interwoven tapestry, one thing feeds the next. Everything we do must feed our soul. If it drains us, we must move on. That includes listening for the shift in our center, checking in with ourselves every now and then, and allowing things to unfurl naturally.

My motto today? Let it happen and be witness to the grace of this lifetime for it is here, nestled deep within.

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On Savoring

July 14, 2010

“Can we talk later?” My Munich friend breathed into the phone. She had just come off a three-week marathon music tour. She said she needed time to digest all that had happened over the past few weeks so we agreed to put off our conversation for another time.

It reminds me of what Renee Trudeau recently blogged about. She and I had talked at length about our work ~she’s in the ‘renewal business’, helping women live powerful lives while I’m about the business of time and what we do with it. We rarely allow ourselves to digest what it is that we experience. We consume, but do we absorb those experiences down to the fiber of our being?

She blogged about some of the thoughts provoked by our conversation. She writes:

What revelations might we all be missing because we’re yes, moving too fast, but also not creating big spaces of time in our lives to really allow ideas to deeply seep into our bones? To fully digest concepts that may surface, but are quickly swatted away, like pesky flies.

She is now on a delicious month-long writing sabbatical.

The creative process deserves (and demands) moments of quietude. To do things with the utmost of our being, we need beingness. I recently pushed off a creative assignment until the next morning, knowing it required my full creative awareness. I needed that deep listening that the birthing process of art demands. To capture it all hungrily is my ultimate desire. For that I need the silence of the deaf to truly listen.

Sound is something we are surrounded by. Anyone who comes to where I live remarks how truly quiet it is. I love the softness of the air, kissed by the trees that exhale our sustaining lifeforce. The sweet sound of silence enriches us all.

How might you quiet your mind today to all the white noise around you to savor your moments? It starts in the heart where your life’s truest purpose dwells.

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