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Thought Changer looks at everyday life metaphors. We explore new ways to think about what we do, improve our mindset and live more consciously. And, if something moves you, please share! Thank you and enjoy this Thought Changer.
And, here are 8 steps to start leveling up in your life.
By Cindy Yantis
"Level up!" This was the attention grabber in a recent email I received.
What is actually said was, "Level up, Libra!" It began the week's horoscope full of "time for a mid-year reboot," and "the new moon will bring a boost to your professional life." Okay, I'm in!
I love the phrase "level up." Not only is it motivating, but it got me thinking about what that might look like in all areas of life.
What does it mean to level up?
Simply put, it means to improve your current station in a way that feels like a powerful shift. And, it starts with a change in thought, a shift in mindset, followed by brave action. And, the fuel that drives all of it is Passion.
No sooner had I begun pondering this question when an another email popped into my inbox with the subject line, "Level up the passion in your life." Well, now I'm really paying attention. The email was about a yoga retreat and this Nelson Mandela quote was front and center.
“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
So, with passion powering us, here are some thoughts about leveling up.
Start with the questions - Take time with your journal. In these areas of your life, where do want to step, or leap, to the next level?
Career/Purpose - stretch your wildest dreams
Health/Wellbeing - get real with where you are and where you want to be
Relationships - current as well as future-desired
Spiritual - where you desire to be more mindful and conscious in connection to your Source & Self
Life Enrichment - skills you want to learn, places you want to travel or live
Define the big step - ask yourself what feels like a big step. I took 10 minutes and made a list of 25 actions that feel like big steps for me, in all areas of my life. What is for you? Is it making that phone call you know could change things for you? Or booking a venue for a new program you want to launch? Or asking someone out? Or booking the dream vacation? Or having a difficult conversation? Or going back to school? Or quitting a job that doesn't fulfill you? Or hiring a trainer? Go to the place that scares you. Start your big step from that place.
Say YES to the things that feel like a level up - and say NO to those that don't. Some aid you and some stop you. This is where you trust your gut and intuition. When you slow down to listen to the voice of your body, you'll know which is which.
Acknowledge the Yeah-Buts - we all have them. These are the fears, which feel real but mostly are imagined. The yeah-buts are simply expectations of outcome that we've made up to protect ourselves from those fears: I'm not good enough, they won't like me, I don't have enough time, I'm too old, it's too expensive, I'm too fat, I'm too young, I don't have enough experience, I don't like to fail. Leveling up is recognizing the yeah-but and then doing it anyway. That's brave. So, meet the yeah-but with -
Oh yeah? - it's the self-pep talk to squash the yeah-but. Oh yeah? Here's what I know I am good at. Oh yeah? My people, my divine right matches will love what I have to offer. Oh yeah? I have the time because I make the time. Oh yeah? I'm not old I'm seasoned! I'm not old, I'm wise. Oh yeah? I'm not too young, I'm smart and eager and ready to go. Oh yeah? Here's what experience I do have. Putting the focus on where you rock paves the way to your next level(s).
Inhale the future, exhale the past - don't stay stuck in old stories and patterns that have held you back in the past. It didn't work then and it certainly won't work in moving you up.
Visualize you - living at your up level. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? How's the air up there? See in your mind's eye a day in the life of you, living your big life.
Give someone else a lift up too - offering others a hand up as you level up pays dividends exponentially. It's just good karma.
And, as with all things, do it from and with passion.
“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi
Passion, joy and love. After all, isn't that what life is all about anyway?
It often comes when you're not expecting it. At least it did for me.
Photo credit: Yoann Boyer
It was the middle of the night. The year was 2002. I was tossing and turning, thrashing in and out of the sheets because I alternated between sweating and freezing. No, I wasn’t ill. No, I wasn’t having a hot flash. But, my breath was hot as I sighed, the weight of the world on each exhale.
Dark Night of the Soul
I’ve come to understand I was having what could be known as a “dark night of the soul.”
The origin of this phrase goes back to a 16th century poem by Spanish Poet St. John of the Cross, where the poem narrates "the journey of the soul to mystical union with God." Eckhart Tolle defines it today as, “…a collapse of a perceived meaning in life, an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaningless…what really has collapsed is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.”
This was exactly what was happening to me. My mind was engaged in a war of purpose, while I pleaded, cried, even screamed in prayer.
Ever had one of those, a dark night of the soul? It can be triggered by any number of things – anything that can rock your current existence, from a personal tragedy or loss, to a deep feeling of loss of direction or purpose.
But, as Eckhart said, the dark night of the soul “awakens you into something deeper… A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life. It’s a kind of re-birth.” A spiritual awakening.
Well, I’ve experienced a few nights (and days) like this as I’ve evolved and grown in my human experience and as my consciousness has expanded. And, they can be gut and heart wrenching to go through. But, there are two that stand out as re-birth moments in my purpose – in 2002 and very recently – and what’s so mysterious and awesome is that they’re connected.
But back in 2002, it had been four years since I’d uprooted my life in Michigan to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts, acting particularly at the time. I’d had a few trickles of success: some theatre roles, a co-star spot on NYPD BLUE, and several national commercials (McDonald’s paid for the redecoration of my West Hollywood condo). And, I had started writing, mostly so I could write roles for myself in which I could act. I wrote and starred in a tiny short film that I used to help me get an agent. I wrote a piece for an industry workshop. And, I wrote my first script, which placed in a prestigious screenwriting competition and helped me get my first literary manager.
But, so much of it felt like an uphill climb. I felt like I had a gift, but I felt split. I enjoyed the making of the art, but the business was daunting. And, if I’m being honest, which at this point that’s all I can be, I wasn’t sure I wanted the acting thing badly enough to do what I knew it was going to take, that being a gorilla approach to self-promotion. Whenever I did it, it didn’t feel authentic. And, I certainly didn’t enjoy it. And, truthfully, I didn’t think I was a good enough actor to break through the fray of other actors who really, really, really wanted it. The writing was still fairly new, although I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was ten. And, I didn’t know what to do with it, really. Self-promotion was going to be involved with that too.
So anyway. That night. With the soul. Some of these unvoiced and hidden truths were swimming around in my subconscious. Some of them I wasn’t ready to admit because I was determined to find my purpose, and I didn’t give up easily. As a lifelong seeker that was a force that was innate. My body was in pain as I stiffened on top of my mattress; my mouth was dry and I became aware that I was constantly sighing heavily, audibly a whisper of wanting that led to my conversation with God, my Source, my Higher Wisdom.
“God, what am I to do? Why is this so difficult? If it’s my purpose shouldn’t it be easier?”
The silence was beyond deafening, until another sigh of desperation exploded from me. “Why did you give me these gifts?” More silence. My cat, Callie, who had previously become very bored with my bed-top one-woman show of angst, came slinking back into the room. Like she wanted to hear the answer to this as well.
“Please help me. What am I supposed to do?”
And, then it came. An answer I wasn’t expecting, but it was very direct, short and surprisingly sweet. It made me bolt up from bed.
“Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”
What? I can tell you, those were not my words. I didn’t use the word prose. But, that’s what I was told. “Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”
Was that the call of my calling?
That’s when it became the “aha night” when I heard the call of the soul.
My body relaxed as I settled into this new mantra of truth. A mantra that has carried me ever since. So, my focus became writing. I’ve evolved into a pretty good storyteller, screenwriting mostly, my wheelhouse being characters, primarily women, who are in self-discovery, smart, sardonic women with big flaws. Heroines who also have dark nights of the soul. And, there’s movement around a few of them, although it’s Hollywood movement, which can mimic molasses. I’m okay with that though. All in the right timing, with the right people. And, this blog Thought Changer, was birthed from that mantra as it's about changing your life, an idea, an expression, a thought at a time.
Calling fulfilled? Maybe. At times it feels that way.
But, something has recently shifted around it, causing more angst. Oy!
After breaking my wrist and taking the time to reassess priorities, I decided to concentrate on writing a novel that I’ve been researching for awhile.
Also, during this time of rehabilitation I’d engaged with a couple of healers for energy healing sessions. Now, this may sound a little woo-woo for some, but hey this is my world, these are my peeps and it’s how I roll. So, hang with me. I love exploring different healing modalities and they have opened up my life and expanded my mind. Anyway, during the course of the sessions with both of these women, they received strong messages from my angels, spirit guides and loved ones that I’m supposed to do some more deep writing about myself. Both of them said the same thing, on separate occasions: I have a story of my own to tell. And, I said, "Aw thanks. I’ll definitely do that some day." And then I filed it away under the category “maybe someday when I’m interesting.” But these readings happened at a time when there was a lot of quiet in my life, so I heard it on a deeper level. Oh, and they also gave me specific topics and events I’m supposed to write about. Yeah, I know, but that's exactly what happened.
Well, that scared the crap out of me. I think because I knew what that was going to mean. Raw, hard truths that are challenging enough to admit to myself, let alone put out there to the world for others to read. And, my perception is that memoirists have really interesting lives that include huge events - often tragic and dysfunctional family lives - that catapult them into subjects of literary fame. I don't have that. I have a wonderful family that functions pretty well, most of the time.
But, there are some dark and transforming moments, as with any life. So, what did I do? I decided my new novel would be based on some real events in my life. I gave the main character some of my story, writing actual scenes from my life into it and recreating them. That way, I could embellish them and create a much more interesting story that what mine is or would be. That felt like the perfect solution! Much easier to hide behind a fictional character than to reveal anything messy about myself. I don’t show the world my messy. And, I could really write it! Write what you know, right? So, I wrote a few of those chapters and laid out a kickass outline that I was excited about.
Then, I stopped writing. I literally couldn’t write. I researched and made notes. But, I wasn’t writing the novel. I didn't know what to do with her, this character that was sort of me, but wasn't at all me. Procrastination became an appointment in my daily calendar. And. It. Was. Frustrating. Any prolificacy that I’d previously experienced when on a project had left the building.
When the Call Comes Again
So, I created a weekend writing retreat to help me focus. I got a lot done, both on the novel outline and the blog. I was tapping into some deep work. Although something was still in the way, scenes just weren't forming.
As part of the retreat I took part in an herbal tea meditation and breath workshop. The healing breath work was very intense. As the practitioner, Melissa Terese Young, told us, the consistent and deep breath pattern when done for an extended period of time (we did it for close to an hour) over oxygenates your brain and body and puts you into a meditative, and at times alternative, state. A lot came up for me during the session around my novel, my work and more aspirational questions than answers came forth.
That night, in bed, is when the 2nd night of the soul took place. Tossing and turning. I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling a collision of purpose coming. The difference this time is I had some sense of navigation because I’d been here before. So, again I prayed and I asked, “What is stopping me?” “Why have I been so stuck in my writing?” “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” "Please guide me on what's next."
In the silence that followed, a small voice came. “Write meaningful prose that will change YOUR life.” Hmmm. It went on. “Take your story back and tell your own story.” And, the deeper message I got was that the more I dove into my own truths, pains, revelations and transformations, the deeper the connection will be with those who read it, connection to that deep wanting and truth within themselves too.
Now that is a calling that rings really true. And, it petrifies me.
"Every time I picked up a pen, this grinding, unnamed fear overcame me—later identified as fear that my real self would spill out. One can’t mount a stripper pole wearing a metal diving suit. What I needed to write kept simmering up while I wrote down everything but that. In fact, I kept ginning out reasons that writing reality was impossible. I cranked up therapy and drank like a fish.” ― Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir
So, I’m committing to it, to writing those scenes from my own life, whether it’s about the loss of a baby and a marriage, the depths of food addiction, the perils of the hysterically funny and tragic voices in my head as I discovered boys and ran up against mean girls, the shame of pretty, the Miss America Pageant, the path of being a childless woman, the eye-opening metaphors that shifted my perspective and my own spiritual exploration, from Sunday school to shamanic journeys in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. It’s all game and I have no idea what it’s going to look like or what path the story will take.
But, it’s calling. So, I’m answering the call. And guess what? It's pouring out of me, like a waterfall of life.
So, how do you know when your call is calling?
The best way I know is to:
Ask those deep questions - and then get quiet. Really quiet.
Listen intently - to what your inner voice tells you. It may be a soft whisper, or it may be a shout that makes you jump out of bed.
Pay attention - when your entire being feels in accord with that voice, pay close attention.
What is a soul’s purpose? Contemplating that question takes a lifetime, right?
When do I feel like I’m in my purpose? I think it’s when things feel easy. Things are flowing, like a river of motion, smoothly going from one moment to the next.
Like when I put together the agenda for a recent Writing Retreat. I was looking for a theme to drive the agenda, something that would inspire creativity and would release blocks and procrastination which is something I’ve been struggling with, frankly something we all struggle with from time to time.
I ran across an article where the subject interviewed mentioned “circadian rhythm,” which is the body's natural alarm clock governed primarily by our secretion of melatonin (at night) and serotonin (in day). It also has value in gauging the best time for certain activities like meditation and exercise and optimal productivity. The top of my head tingled when I read that. By the way, that’s another way I know I’ve tapped into my soul, the top of my head actually tingles, which I take to be a nod of agreement from my higher self. Some people get chills or their stomach flips. My head tingles. So there you go!
Anyway, I saw the phrase 'circadian rhythm' and immediately did a search on how using our own rhythms help us to find the time of greatest productivity. Something told me it would mean the same thing for greatest creativity time. And, a ton of items showed up on Google. As soon as I pulled up an image of what a typical circadian rhythm 24-hour clock looks like, I knew I was onto something, not only as a theme but also as a way of always staying in flow with my natural rhythm. I mean who doesn’t want to be able to tap into their greatest genius? And if there’s a formula already built into our own bodies, then it’s something worth exploring further. This was an experiment I was excited to try.
So, very quickly, I put together the 2-½ day agenda based on the circadian clock.
Looking back at that small window of time when I created the retreat – about 2-½ hours between 830-11pm – it flowed so easily that I barely remember being a part of it. It’s like something else came in and took over. And, I figured out what it was. My soul took the wheel, grabbed the keyboard away from my procrastinating ass and did its thing, with purpose.
Purpose. What an over used term. Everyone’s looking for his or her purpose.
I was thinking earlier about all of my blog content that I’ve written over the last several years. I’m in the process of re-purposing some of the pieces for other web publications.
Now that’s a interesting concept. Taking something that was created in one original form, and giving it another purpose. Sometimes, it means adjusting, updating or adding to give it new purpose.
That got me thinking more about Purpose. Since it seems to be a lifelong pursuit, seeking or understanding our soul’s purpose, maybe it takes a little of the pressure off (because it’s a question that always needs to be answered and re-answered) if perhaps we instead re-purpose, or tweak, what we’ve been doing all along. I guess that’s one way to think about it.
We recently celebrated my parent’s 80th birthdays by taking them on a memorable trip to Maui. During one of our discussions I asked them what they are thinking about these days. My dad’s response took me a little by surprise. I assumed it would be about finding contentment with the road already travelled and counting the blessings of a life well lived. But, no. He said, “I think about what’s next. What’s my purpose and how can I fulfill it?”
I loved his response because it drove the point home even more for me, that we are here in this lifetime to seek. That’s it. And, those who do seek are always seeking more: more evolvement, more connection, more meaning, more flow.
So, getting back to the question: what’s a soul’s purpose? To my way of thinking a soul’s purpose is to reveal those answers to our human selves, when we’re ready and able to learn them. Then, it’s up to us to take those answers and make the most of them in our time on Earth.
A soul’s purpose is not about making money or being famous or having 10,000,000 followers on Twitter or You Tube or Instagram. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But, that in itself is about one layer deep of shallow. However if it’s done from a place of self-evolving, or by a person who is creating meaning, in both deed and relationships, and living a life driven by love, then it can be a lovely byproduct of a purpose.
I wonder if those who don’t have that sense of awareness find fulfillment in those tangible successes. And, is it sustaining?
I can get caught up in that sometimes. I’m at a quandary sometimes as to why some things are found and followed and go viral and other things aren’t. It gives me a stomachache even writing that. Why the stomachache? What do I have attached to that? My mouth is dry. Hard to admit, but sometimes I feel like a failure because I don’t have that huge following. And, now I stop and think, will I be brave enough to keep this paragraph in here, it I decide to publish this as a post?
But, there’s something in here for me to learn, I think, so I have to keep it in. What is it? Does my soul care about how many followers I have? No. But, sometimes I, the egotist human, do. I really do want to share thoughts that may help someone think about something differently.
So, why do I keep doing it? Maybe I should focus on writing somewhere else that already has a built-in huge following. But, that doesn't feel soul-driven. At all. So perhaps the idea of re-purposing is more ego driven? It doesn't have to be. Is it ego to want to share good thoughts with more people? I don’t think so. I keep asking the questions in order to stay in awareness around it. That usually leads me to the right choice.
Should it feel hard sometimes? Probably. Growth is hard. Expansion hurts sometimes.
So, what’s next in the soul’s journey quest? Here’s the magic sauce.
Keep asking the questions.
Our soul’s wisdom loves questions. Living the questions is what makes a purpose-full life. Deepak Chopra talks about living the questions and allowing the answers to present themselves.
What’s my purpose?
How can I contribute?
What am I to share with the world?
What’s my legacy?
How am I to connect?
What is my life’s meaning?
Keep doing the work.
Keep following the flow.
Recognize when it feels really good. And, do more of what feels really good.
Always ask your Source for help: for me it's God, the Archangels and ancestral spirit guides. Every day, I ask them to guide me in the direction of what serves both my highest good and theirs. Just asking the question has guided me to the awesome place I live and it has guided me to events and people that have changed my life.
That’s the magic sauce, I think, for a purpose-full life. At least one worth tasting.
A day spent at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena was more than I expected it to be. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. I was there recently with my dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, who wanted to go for inspiration. She's currently in the one-woman play "The Belle of Amherst" in which she brilliantly portrays Emily Dickinson. I joined her at the last minute because I had an inexplicable yearning to be outside in that beautiful nature. I felt like a bear reemerging after a long hibernation.
Because of Emily Dickinson’s lifelong fascination with roses, we focused particularly on the massive rose garden enlivened with over 1500 rose varieties and hybrids, examples include the Passion Rose, Jump for Joy Rose, Exquisite Rose and the Marilyn Monroe & John F Kennedy Roses, which with a stroke of garden humor were placed next to each other.
Breathing in the fresh growth and deepness of new that surrounded us and greeted our hungry senses at every turn, I had a new feeling of life within, a rebirth and renewal.
The Power of RE
It got me thinking about the power of the Re words. I’ve reflected about this before and it hit me again at Huntington Gardens how deeply ensconced Re’s are in the development of spring, and therefore in our lives at this time of year. For sure, in my life right now.
The truth is I have been hibernating, more than usual in fact.
When I broke my wrist on Christmas Eve it meant there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, the most crucial being – at least to me – I couldn’t type because I couldn’t pronate my left hand. So, it made writing – my passion and my why – very complicated. Sure, I could “voice type” straight into a document and write longhand (thank god I’m not a lefty). But, instead, I decided to take it as a sign to stop for a while and to surrender to all that my rehabilitation meant on a deeper level.
I slowed way down, took a couple classes, did some reading, plenty of soul-searching and spent a lot of quiet time alone. Staring at the wall. A. Lot. Of. Time.
My rehabilitation and recovery (two delicious Re words) allowed me to hibernate deeply in my own truth. And, the reality of my truth is much simpler than the reality I was living before I broke my wrist.
So, this brings me back to this season of Re. What I love about the Re is that it brings a fresh lens, attitude, appetite and perspective to whatever you’re doing at any given moment. Or more to the point, a refreshed way of being.
Here are 7 RE's that come to mind to reawaken you:
Re-calibrate your spirit by getting back in touch with nature. It can be really simple. Walk barefoot in the grass. Gaze at the sun. Sink your hands into the soil. Bury your face in a cluster of lilacs.
Reaffirm your goals that are most important by getting rid of those that aren’t.
Reclaim your dreams by keeping them alive every day. Talk about them. Write about them. Take action.
Reignite your relationships by devoting time and energy in those that mean the most to you.
Rejuvenate your system. Get 8 hours of sleep. Meditate. Clean up your diet. Replenish your supplements.
Refocus your game plan by clearing out the extraneous projects; and
Remind yourself about what you love & why you do what you do.
Tis the season to Revivify your life. What Re’s can you add to your list?
Emily Dickinson wrote, “We turn not older with the years, but newer every day.”It makes me wonder if Emily was sparked by the Re as well. I like to think so.
If you’re in Southern California this week I highly recommend seeing Ferrell Marshall in her luminous performance as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst. It closes 4/23. Tickets available here.
Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...
Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again.
Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.
To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.
I had no choice but to just stop
What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.
The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!
But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.
Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity.
So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.
As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.
But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!
Going From Multi to Monotasker
Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.
So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with.
And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.
Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.
Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of the month and from then on it was an annual tradition.
His declaration was stated during our nation’s civil war and the underlying message is so apropos today.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise… And I recommend to them that… they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become… sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” Abraham Lincoln, 1863
It feels good to tap into the early remembrance of what Thanksgiving means on a grand level and to honor and be in gratitude for the core values of us as a national people. At the end of the day it always comes down to that.
It all begins with what we’re grateful for in our own lives. And, to my way of thinking, giving thanks for those same tenets that Lincoln mentioned, on a personal level are a good place to start: “peace, harmony, tranquility...”
So, traditions of giving thanks abound, in a myriad of ways. And, it’s really something to celebrate.
What are you thankful for? Take a few moments to really give them thought and voice.
To name a few...
I’m grateful for my family and friends, and for people in my life who are my greatest teachers, often giving me lessons that are very hard to receive at the time but end up being necessary and transformative.
I’m grateful for a curious mind and for having a platform on which to invite others to explore and reach a little beyond themselves as well.
There have been some renovations at my home recently and I was awakened early Saturday morning by the vibration of some power tools in the backyard. The foundation was literally humming and it quickly shifted my energy, making me want to get up and get something accomplished.
It got me thinking about the impact of vibration on energy, thoughts and consciousness, particularly after the past couple tumultuous weeks. I noticed how ill I felt after days of reading divisive, combative and hateful posts on social media as well watching the increase of frightening actions based on hate and fear. You can feel the divisiveness in your mind, body and spirit. It’s splintering.
So much so that I took a break from all media for a few days. After I posted this, I started thinking more about the power of raising our thoughts to raise the world.
A few nights later I spent an evening with a group of people – people I would call highly conscious – and the collective pain and grief were palpable in regards to what's happening in our nation right now as well as the residuals of the divisive election season. We were all shell shocked and taken by surprise at how deeply we’ve been affected. Many of us felt fractured and torn, down deep, by the discord that’s come to be, by the ground swell of a low, fear-based vibration that’s coming to light.
The Power of the Collective
During that evening I came to understand more the true power of the collective consciousness. Power that can either surge low when people speak despicably toward one another and the seeds are planted for further hate mongering. Or power that can soar high through thoughts, words and actions that foster love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and a collective healing.
David R. Hawkins in his book, “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment,” says that “consciousness evolves through progressive levels of power that can be calibrated as to relative strength.” In other words, each level of consciousness is mirrored with an emotion that carries a measurement of vibration. The lower the calibration number, the lower the vibration and the lower the emotion.
The measurements under 250 on his scale of consciousness are fear-based levels - despair, anger, hate, regret, grief - that lead to what he calls disempowerment: destruction, despondency, humiliation, withdrawal, misery, tragedy. The calibrations 250-1000+ are the love-based levels - willingness, acceptance, love, joy, reason, peace - that lead to empowerment: intention, understanding, forgiveness, revelation, bliss, transfiguration and the highest being pure enlightenment, which is the level of Christ, Buddha, etc.
HAWKINS' MAP OF THE SCALE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The Map of Consciousness is a wise guide to live by. The goal is to evolve toward and operate from the higher levels or vibrations of consciousness.
Imagine from this perspective, the power of raising the collective consciousness. That's an unstoppable force of healing and love. And, it starts with each of us.
The Effects on Society
In fact, in his book “Healing and Recovery,” Hawkins illustrates the effects of the levels of consciousness on society.
You can see how the lower levels of thought and consciousness breed the types of behavior we’ve been seeing come forward more recently. But, the power to change it is within us.
How do you make a shift?
It’s human to feel all of the levels from time to time. This is where choice and self-awareness come into play.
When you feel anxiety or despair over what's in front of you, start by recognizing what you’re feeling and what’s underneath it? Is it fear? Is so, of what? Is it anger? Naming it is the first step to raising the thoughts around it.
"Anger is very obviously a high energy emotion. However, if an angry person knows how to utilize that anger constructively instead of destructively, it can energize resolve and determination.
Anger in the form of resentment may lead to hatred, grievances, grudges, and eventually even to murder or war. But the process going on in consciousness is one of expansion; for example, when an animal is angry, it swells up. When the cat gets angry, its tail swells up to almost twice its normal size, and the cat tries to look imposing. The biological purpose of expansion is to intimidate one's apparent enemy. The energy of anger can be positive if used to pursue something better, allowing us to move up to the next level."
When you find yourself at one of the fear-based levels, take a pause. Give yourself some love and then blast the situation, person or experience with some love as well. Soon you’ll find yourself out of that place and on our way up a level of consciousness.
Activism coming from raised thoughts and higher consciousness, particularly as a collective force, will result in a much stronger, love-abiding nation and peaceful world.
Reminders abound for us to change our clocks to standard time again this weekend. And, always when that happens, I stop for a second to remember whether I get to sleep in an hour longer or need to get up an hour earlier. Then, I recall the old adage: In the fall you fall back and in the spring you spring forward.
So we’re falling back into standard time. There’s a certain comfort in that, as if things are setting into the way they’re supposed to be, into the solid foundation of time.
It got me thinking about my own foundation and how important it is to feel a solid base underneath, a smooth platform from which to create, to thrive, to live.
The truth is it hasn’t felt so solid lately.
How do I know this? I notice little things slipping, like home routines that keep my house in order, and self-care commitments like journaling, meditating and exercising, and responding to emails and messages in a timely manner.
And, I haven’t been writing. When that happens I know something’s off. It pokes holes in my foundation because all of those things are vitally important to me and are the elements or standards that I fall back on. I start to feel a sense of disconnection, from myself and from others.
Seismic Shift in Foundation
There are many things that can cause this shift on the personal Richter scale. Internal conflict and expansion of consciousness can both be uncomfortable and take up space and energy. Those I prefer and welcome because to my way of thinking they are signs of growth and the louder they are the better because that means change is coming.
But, for me I think what’s creating craters the size of potholes in my foundation is external. Certainly, it’s easy to get overloaded with obligations and opportunity. However, something else has crept in that has been a shock to my very being, and one that I didn’t see coming. And, I know I’m not alone.
It’s the divisiveness, fear and hatred that have surfaced so fully in this election season. It has rocked me to my core. I watch as it causes hateful exchanges on social media between “friends,” creates deep rifts in families and fosters a canyon-like chasm of discord throughout humanity.
There’s almost a gladiator mentality that has descended upon us, where you watch incessantly and feed rabidly on the lowest of the low, of what began as a need to be informed and to know the truth, became an insatiable addiction to dribbles of manipulated truths, conspiracy theories and one-upmanship for digging up the worst stories possible about the other. It’s worse than politics. It’s dirty pool. It’s cannibalism of the human spirit.
And, it saddens me deeply, simply as a human being. I find myself in a constant state of disbelief because in my heart of hearts I know it’s not real. Is it? That this fear-driven chorus won’t last. Will it?
Well, with potholes and cracks in my personal foundation it’s easy to see why things have been slightly askew. For me, is started with forgoing my beloved morning routine of meditating, journaling and exercising for waking up, rolling over and flipping on the morning news. It just spread out from there to other areas of my life.
Time to Reflect, Reframe and Rebuild the Foundation.
Deepak Chopra said recently that you must have “willingness to let your consciousness and awareness expand.”
When I heard this, the first word I thought of was compassion. Ah, that made me breathe deeply. Those breaths of compassion started to slowly fill the holes in my foundation, like liquid settling into place. And, as this happened I felt an opening.
This started with feeling compassion for the fear flooding the ether right now; compassion for the people in fear who lash out in pain and hate; compassion for leaders, compassion for followers, compassion for those seeking a better existence and have no idea how to get it. And, compassion for myself as disgust fills my mouth and tastes like metal and as I feel my own raw humanness. Compassion then leads to understanding, tolerance, love and a sense of center.
The power of compassion, along with the notion of time falling back into standard, got me thinking about the elements or standards of a strong foundation, and remembering them is bringing me back into alignment, back on solid ground.
7 Standards of Foundation:
Core Values – remind yourself what really matters to you, what base values are non-negotiable. For me it’s respect, for self and others, living and speaking my truth, understanding and honoring differences and being kind.
Wisdom – guidance from your higher self that all will be okay, within. And when the within is solid and firm with personal conviction based on core truths, the external shite won’t and can’t annihilate the foundation.
Soul Food – what feeds your soul and fills you up? Re-focusing on that which makes your spirit sing fosters a feeling of wholeness. For me it’s all of those things I’ve been missing of late: writing, self-care and home routines. Maybe it’s running or teaching or being with family or knitting, whatever it is for you, make it front and center.
Deeper Connections – this means heart-to-heart, person-to-person connections, intimate relationship vs. crowd surfacing on social media, piano bar vs. rock concert. For me this will mean disconnecting to connect, spending less time online and more time face to face.
Presence – being fully present with what’s real and happening each moment in your life. This means recognizing and letting go of distractions. They’re everywhere and can weaken your foundation.
Conscious Languaging – how you speak to others, including comments and posts online, and how you speak to yourself. Ask yourself if this is the highest vibration of conversation you can possibly have. If you hesitate, take a moment and reconsider. This is not about holding back your voice, but rather giving your voice it’s highest power to communicate, to heal, to value.
Solid Surroundings – only allow environments and people within your inner sphere who are going to nourish and strengthen your foundation.
So, as the clocks fall back into standard time, consider this:
How is your foundation? What do you know you can fall back on, solidly? Where are your convictions? What are your core values? What feeds and deeply enriches you? What makes you feel connected?
Fall consciously into your own standards of foundation. It’s nothing less than home.
Utterances by their very nature are often said in passing, not meant to stick around, not meant to be given weight. An utterance is defined simply as “a smallest unit of speech.” And, stringing together a series of utterances constitutes a complete thought, whether it’s our side of a conversation or an improvised speech at a podium or simple off-the-cuff observations. We often don’t give much mind to our daily utterances.
But, we should.
A word. It’s such a small elemental thing. But, can have such a tremendous impact. It’s the impact that lingers, has weight and sticks around for as long as the impact has an effect on someone. Words matter.
And, it’s not just in this day and age of the fast moving Internet, where words travel at the speed of a Tweet and Retweet. The truth is words secure history. They define things like character and reputation and acumen. Since the beginning of recorded time, words have taught, inspired and marked the foundation of beliefs that people still follow and hold true today. Words have also led fear-based revolutions that destroyed governments and created generations of people lost and without hope.
It’s easy to think of historical figures on both sides of this spectrum that have had an impact, positively or negatively. Yes, actions define a person and there is truth to the adage that sometimes actions speak louder than words. However, words are recorded in history and are carried forth from generation to generation. In many cases, it's the words that have defined characters in our human life history. We’re still quoting people who lived hundreds of years ago and are still moved and motivated by their words. It’s probably why #quotes – or many variations: #lifequote, #quoteoftheday, #words, #todaysthought, #wordstoliveby, etc. – are the most used hashtags on social media.
And, it’s why there’s such raw credence to the simple truth that words matter. We feel words deeply, which is why people often have such visceral reactions to what is said, either to them or about something for which they feel strongly.
Words can hurt or elevate us, enrage or sooth us, drive us or stop us in our tracks and make us laugh uproariously or cry hysterically.
Someone said, “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” I don’t know who first said it, but it’s so simple and true. We can’t control how our words land or how they’re interpreted. The only thing we can control is what and how they come out of our mouths.
This was the pearl of wisdom a good friend’s mother gave her many years ago after she’d had her first child, when every little thing seemed so weighted and overly important, so much so that she was in a constant state of angst. “Oh honey, life is about letting go,” her wise mother said.
This friend and I were recently discussing the process of letting go and how challenging it is at times. We were each other's sounding board for some front burner issues we were both trying to release.
I’ve come to the conclusion that letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life, proven by the fact that there are literally thousands of books (328,000 in Amazon alone), articles, seminars and schools of thought on the subject of letting go, available to us hangers-on who at times find it nearly impossible to let go.
Sometimes the notion of letting go can get so stuck in my craw that it’s no wonder it took several stabs before finally completing this post. I'm trying to let that go...
Why is it so hard to let go?
In a Psychology Today article, PhD Judith Sills said, “At its deepest level, the prospect of letting go forces us up against our three strongest emotional drivers: love, fear and rage.”
The attachments we make are based on those drivers as well, and the resulting attachments can be tethered to many trigger points where holding on can feel like the end all, like we’ll never shake the thing that is keeping us stuck. It’s human to form attachments; attachments to the past or to a certain desired outcome or to the fear of a different outcome; or to a person, or the idea of a person such as the picture you have formed in your psyche of your ideal mate.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a connection, particularly one that was powerfully formed. Sometimes it’s a memory that links to a painful past event, where you play the scenario over and over again, perhaps wishing for a different set of actions or exchange of dialog.
Or we get stuck on what might have been, if only it had lasted a little longer, or if only the conversation had gone another way, like a promise unfulfilled that we keep trying to fulfill in our mind.
Or we worry about what hasn’t happened yet. Often we have a hard time letting go of the fear of the unknown or fear of the future. Or, because of an “idea or ideal” we have formed about a specific desire, whether it’s a job or relationship, we project that ideal onto something or someone that isn’t the right fit anyway, but we become convinced we can make it work, so we hang on. And hang on. It's exhausting!
Or we hold onto limiting beliefs that have simply become a habit. These are the what-ifs and the yeah-buts and the when-I-have-this-or-that-it-will-all-start-to-happen or it will then be okay. Sometimes these are the hardest to let go of, the limiting beliefs that effect everything in our lives.
So what is letting go and how do we get there?
Empowerment coach and speaker Andrea Quinn teaches that, “Letting go is all about making room for the something better. To ultimately accomplish anything of value, you must let go of any outcome, any idea about what it’s supposed to look like.”
To my way of thinking, letting go is the greatest way we can honor ourselves, and the only way to evolve into the best version of ourselves. Letting go means taking back control over our emotions, thoughts and actions.
Because the truth is, the hanging on, the very root of any attachment, is formed in the mind, so the letting go must take place there as well. So, here are some suggestions for changing our thoughts and creating room for a new way of thinking.
Surround the situation with compassion and understanding.
Forgiveness is paramount – of self and others – for events, actions or words from the past. Release the past to the past.
Express gratitude for the lessons learned. Gratitude lightens the load.
Stay in the present with right now and remind yourself that all that matters is this moment, right now. Breathe into that.
Go cold turkey – force yourself, or allow yourself, to stay away from the topic or situation that’s keeping you in a place of discomfort.
Free your attachment to an outcome by not focusing on the endgame, but rather the journey and the juice and joy along the way.
Stop judging yourself – give yourself a break for feeling stuck. And give yourself a pat on the back for stepping up for yourself.
Write, write and then write some more - sit down and write about the thing you're hanging onto. Get really detailed about how it makes you feel, describe what it looks like and what your life would be like if that thing, or pain or fixation didn’t exist. Play in that freedom for awhile. Chances are the attachment will loosen and lessen next time you think about it.
Talk to someone, whether it’s a friend who can act as a sounding board, or a professional who can help you release what you’re holding onto.
So why is "letting go" a four-letter word?
To my way of thinking, all of the above come down to one underlying and pervading force – Love.
All of these processes involved in letting go couldn’t take place without love. Love is ultimate surrender. With love, you have compassion and forgiveness, which are the keys to the freedom of release. Of letting go. Just think about it. Even pausing and breathing into the words compassion and forgiveness creates of sense of release, of space, of freedom.