Inspiration

Freedom From Labels is Where it Begins

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Recently, around the US Independence Day, I got into a discussion with a friend about the problematic divisiveness that permeates the world right now. And, we agreed that so much of what drives the discord comes down to this:

Labels

Labels are what define a thing, or a person, or a group of people. It literally means to “identify” or to attach a meaning. A label is a “descriptive phrase or word” placed onto something.

But, when a label becomes de-meaning is when assumptions are made and rash categorical biases are formed against an entire group of people. Based on the label.

We walk around all day long putting labels on people, based on religion, political party, sexual orientation, male/female sex, socioeconomic status, body size, education, illness, profession, credit rating, etc. Most often, it’s by way of fleeting thoughts, but more and more in this socially brash society, it’s become vocal and viral, and way too common.

It got me thinking about how we also label ourselves, and how what that does to either help or hinder our own self-growth. And, how easy it can be to start to believe the labels put on us by others as well. Politicians get elected by hammering away about labels. Marketers sell products by categorizing and labeling groups of people by demographics. They call them things like “early adopters” and “baby boomers” and “millennials”.

The second you’re born, labels are pronounced about you. What sex you are, what physical markers you have or don’t have, what kind of family you’re born into, what color you are, the area of the world you’re in.

Even, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” starts the labeling process right out of the gate, so to speak.

Eventually, we start to believe the labels and it becomes part of our story. The labels become who we are. If we let them.

What if all of those labels were stripped away?

What if we strip down to our barest humanity, down to the soul level, and treat what happens to us as mere life experience. Or it's a physical characteristic but doesn't define who we are as a person. Or it’s something we’re going through, not who we are. 

My dear friend was just diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. It’s not curable. But, is manageable. So, we talked a lot about not allowing the disease to define her. She’s a healthy spiritual human being going through an unhealthy experience.

Yes, it’s going to be a challenge and yes some things will have to be different in her daily life, but she knows she could either allow the disease to drive her, to define her, or she can do whatever she can to drive and diminish the disease. To recreate her life. In other words, she can decide not to be burdened by the label.

It goes that way with any label. 

Who are you without all of the labels? I mean all of them. The labels put upon you by society, but more importantly by the labels you place on yourself.

Is that a frightening notion? Or a freeing one? 

To my way of thinking, it’s probably both. Life without labels is full of possibility. As in flying without constraints while also free-falling without a net. Freeing and a bit scary too.

But, once you start removing the labels, the easier it is to trust your own volition, your own self-worth, your own humanity.

Start with removing your own labels. Then, remove everyone else's.

Can you imagine what a different world it would be?


A Life of Intrinsic Value

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Value. It’s such a small word with big meaning.

I was originally writing a post about what people might say about you after you’re gone, which was inspired by a rather scathing obituary that recently made the news. Not because it was about someone of celebrity, or that it was beautifully expressed. But, because of the powerful, painful punch it packed in very few words. “She will not be remembered…” were the words said about a woman who had abandoned her children, by her now-adult children.

Susan Soper, author of the book, Obit Kit, and writer of many an obituary, says this is a more common thing that you might think, vengeance-driven obituaries.

It got me thinking about what people might say about me after I’m gone, hopefully a few decades from now. As part of an exercise in some coursework I recently completed to become a breathwork facilitator, we were asked to write our eulogies, as if someone was reading it today. It was pretty eye opening.

It wasn’t necessarily the accomplishments or successes that I felt compelled to include, but rather characteristics and relationships are what rose to the surface. It struck me that what I wanted said about me was something like: “She lived a life of value by giving meaningful value to others.”

I mean, the truth is you have no control over what someone says about you. What they say has more to do with their experience of you than anything else. However, projecting what you would want your epitaph to be, or the consensus on your behalf after your gone, then having a say today in what you want that epitaph to be gives you some direction, a mission, for how you want to live your life. What’s said then, is a reflection of what and who you are leading up to your eventual life exit.

What would your epitaph be if someone wrote it today? Does it differ from what you aspire it to be?

Then, the news came out about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. And, it shook me, particularly as it was on the heels of Kate Spade’s death by suicide.

They both brought such value and beauty into people’s lives by what they produced in their own. I watched a CNN special about Anthony Bourdain and the love came pouring in about how he impacted people.

Then, a comment in an interview with a friend of his gave me pause: “He always said he has lots of friendships that only lasted a week,” which while a function of his job, perhaps shed a stronger light, according to this friend. Perhaps, he didn’t have many deep, intimate, soulful relationships.

Certainly, I would never trivialize the inner demons or mental health issues that drove Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade to end their lives, by suggesting anything trite that might have “helped”. What they experienced or felt is something beyond my understanding.

But, what it did for me was to start to more closely examine what a life of value truly means to me. And, for me, it’s going intrinsically into that value. In other words, focusing on deeper, more intimate connections with the important people in my life, deeper connection to myself and then to the cosmic and karmic connection to “one”, that is all in nature.

Perhaps there’s a level of this that you can relate to. We all want to matter, to have meaning and to give meaning. It’s the very basis of humanity. It’s easy to stray from that simple thought when we’re pushed and pulled by all that’s going on in the world right now. But, it starts and ends with your own intrinsic value.

These are some guideposts I’m rededicating to, which I know will help me to fulfill my living epitaph.

  • Be generous
  • Be honest & forthright
  • Be aware of changes in behaviors of loved ones and have direct conversations about it
  • Be available
  • Be grateful
  • Be responsive & communicative
  • Be assertive in my desire for connection
  • Be transparent when asking for help when I need it
  • Be diligent in my self-care: sleep, meditation, prayer, exercise, healthy food - creating inner strength that will guide through difficult times

Add value to other’s experiences. And, receive value from others when it’s offered.

It’s reciprocity. It’s kindness. It’s humanity.

That’s value. Intrinsic. Life-affirming value.

 


In Remembrance of You

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As I drove to my office this morning, the jacaranda trees were draping over the boulevard. It sent my memories floating back to a post a few years ago that spoke to the spark that came from these luscious trees. Good timing for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Here it is reposted and updated just a smidge.

 

The jacaranda trees are in bloom, the landscape sprinkled with its almost indescribable purplish blue flower. It's one of the most beautiful sights in Los Angeles this time of year.

I saw several on a recent walk and stole a few moments underneath one of them, lying on the grass as discarded petals cascaded down on me. It felt a bit clandestine because I was lying on someone's front lawn. But, I didn't care. 

It was delicious and cool and the sweet aroma took me back to another time.  

My body sank into the ground and I was completely present with that tree. It was a reminder of how nurturing and grounding nature is. It gave me a glimpse into the invisible matrix that connects everything and everyone since the beginning of time, across nations and through our ancestral lives. 

With Memorial Day upon us, when we remember and honor those who have passed before us, it conjures memories of those and their histories, victories and tragedies, rights and wrongs, acceptances and denials, and how they intertwine with our own senses of self. Often, it's their voices we hear in times of triumph, strife or decision. How many times do you wonder about what another would say or think before doing something? 

I thought about this while under that tree, in that instant when I was sublimely myself. No deadlines, no internal or external expectations, no judgments, no rules.  

It got me thinking about the possibility of adding another meaning to Memorial Day. 

Remembering Yourself

Truly, the most important person to honor and remember is yourself. Remembering who you really are, at your core. Not the who someone expected, or told, you to be. Not the who society or the environment in which you were raised told you to be. Nor, the who that tries to emulate someone whom you admire.   

So, who does that leave? You strip away all of those expectations and put-upons and you're left with THE who, leading to one of the most eternal questions.

Who am I? Or more to the point, who is the real me?

As I sit here in midlife, this question takes on deeper meanings and is a guidepost often as I navigate my path.

A few thoughts to ponder:

When do you feel most present, the most settled in your being? What are you engaging in? What are you feeling in that moment? Not what are you thinking, what are you feeling?

When you hear the voices in your own head, pay attention. Take a few moments, without judgment, to identify the voices. Sometimes they will be masked in fear, self-criticism and ego. They make you feel bad, and out of your body. And, following them won't feel authentic, like it's not really you. You recognize it when you pay attention.

THE who voice, the soul voice, the one that is truly yours and yours alone will smack of wisdom, truth and courage.

Your own voice, your God voice, is weighted with the intentions of your Summum Bonum, or your highest good. That voice makes you feel grounded and present. Still and exuberant at the same time. Limitless.

I'm not saying that we don't learn from another's experiences and wisdom. We absolutely do. But, it's when we stop listening to our own wisdom, from our heart, when formulating our lives that we lose our authenticity, our true self.

Remembering who you are is also honoring the parts of you that have healed, memories that you've reconciled and lessons you have learned.  

Shed those skins so that you can continue to advance toward true self. And, watch as they continue to occur. Tiny little deaths followed by tiny little births every day.

If you pay attention, you can feel the constant endings and beginnings.  

At the end of the day, listening to you true voice, leading with your heart and allowing your heart to guide you will take you back to who you are. Every time.  

How are you going to remember and honor the real you today?

 

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It's the Mother Lode of Mother Loads

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You’ve hit the mother lode. This phrase floated into my mind this week as I started thinking about Mother’s Day approaching and what I might write about. The mother lode.

I know I hit the mother lode with my mother. Lois Jane Kirk Yantis is da bomb. And, the best mom on da planet.

Hitting the mother lode actually means “hitting the richest vein of something,” initially in reference to the richest mineral or ore. Mother Lode, famously, during the California Gold Rush was what the gold miners searched for, the densest area of hard rock gold deposits along the West Coast. It became the source of their hopes and dreams. Because when one hit the mother lode it could potentially change their life forever. You can just imagine the community chatter at the end of a long, laborious day of mining. “Did y’all hear? Henry hit the mother lode.” And, the room would nod collectively in reverence and hope.

It got me thinking about other things that have been given the auspicious honor of being called the mother, depicting it as a source for its life. 

To name a few -

Motherboard - the premiere operating system.
Motherland - the land that birthed people and nations, or the nation where one is born.
Mothership - the main vessel that serves as home for smaller ships.
Mother Nature - the spiritual origin of all of Earth’s nature.

When something is the mother lode, it’s the pinnacle, the thing that’s worth the price of admission. It seems to me it's the highest honor you can bestow on something. That of Mother-ness.

Mother lode also means “the origin of something valuable, of great abundance.” What a beautiful way to think about giving birth. Birthing a person. I can’t think of anything more valuable or abundant than that.

I don’t have children of my own so Mother’s Day has been a loaded event for me over the years. You could say it’s a Mother Load

I bought myself a Mother’s Day card this week while selecting one for my mom and sister. It read: “You’re such a badass mother that you didn’t give birth to a child… You gave birth to a legend.” If I were writing that I’d change the word legend to legacy.

Following that line of thinking, a mother lode is also the origin, or birth, of a legacy.

Mothering is birthright, whether you’re a mother to children, or not. We all give birth to ideas. And, if you birth creative projects or businesses or buildings or communities, then as the creator of your own offspring, you’re a resident of Motherhood too.

It also got me thinking about Self-Mothering, loading your own container with self-care. Creating your own mother-load.

How do you mother yourself? Hmm.

It helps to start by thinking about how good mothers care for their children and families.

  • Unconditional love - loving us, relentlessly, no matter what
  • Provides physical care - when we’re sick or need to be fed or nurtured.
  • Listens to our ramblings - in only the way a mother does, with rapt attention.
  • Motherly advice - often knows better than we do what’s best for us. And often repeats it until we get it. 
  • Offers support - sometimes both financial & spiritual
  • Makes time - often dropping everything when we need her

Now, how about if you took each of the above to load up on some deep self-mother love? With unconditional love, caring for yourself physically, listening to your heart and soul, heeding your own wisest counsel, staying in tune with yourself financially and spiritually, and making and taking time for yourself.

So, after you remember or honor your own mother on this Mother's Day, how about honoring the motherhood in yourself.

Now that's hitting the mother lode of a mother load. 

 


Soaring Above Your Personal Glass Ceiling

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On a recent flight, I ran across a story about the first female pilot to fly for a major US airline. In 1973, Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, at age 24 literally soared above that glass ceiling. Today, American Airlines continues to honor her feat by bestowing an annual $50,000 grant, aptly titled The Bonnie Award, to mid-career female filmmakers who are blazing trails and breaking through their own glass ceilings.

It got me thinking about my own personal glass ceilings and how great it feels to be looking down through the glass floor rather than up through a seemingly unpenetrable glass ceiling, where you can see it, sometimes feel and taste it but you just can't quite get there.

Some of the barriers were societally or industry-imposed and some were created and built by me. Can you relate?

Personal glass ceilings aren’t those imposed by society or industry, but rather are our own barricades that hold us back, barriers we place there out of fear. How to tell? If you’re constantly coming up with excuses for not getting what you want, then that's likely a sign that they are blocks you’ve placed there yourself. In other words, you become your own glass ceiling. Yikes.

When you think about it, even though it was a societal and industry glass ceiling that Bonnie Caputo burst through, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at piercing through the ceiling if she’d put her own fears and excuses in front of her. “They’ll never promote me because I’m a woman.” “It’s never been done before so why try.” “I have to be better than I am to do this.” It's certainly possible those thoughts were prevalent during insecure moments, but they never became her personal glass ceiling.

Shattering a glass ceiling sounds kind of messy and dangerous. I mean the notion conjures up the vision of being cut to bits by shards of sharp, cruel edges. The same kind of sharp cruel edges that come from imposing a harsh inner critic upon your dreams. Another yikes. 

When put that way, how about a reframe on breaking through your own glass ceilings. Perhaps as you continue to blaze your own trail, the energy from your own heat will dissolve the barriers. Hmm, it’s a thought.

"I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to." ~ Marian Wright Edelman

And, as more and more of us rise up and dissolve through more and more of our own personal glass ceilings, it stands to reason the societal and industry glass ceilings will dissolve as well.

Here are some heat-generating tools to aid your trailblazing journey upward:

  1. Be optimistic - “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. Set intentions & goals - and write things down. There's power in committing the words to paper. 
  3. Work smart and be diligent - one day after the next.
  4. Do things that scare you - stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Each day stretch a little bit further. You can break it down into bite size pieces that way.
  5. Recognize fear - give it voice and then forge ahead anyway. Often it's not as bad as you've made it out to be in your mind.
  6. Keep track of your progress - you'll surprise yourself when you recognize the baby steps that have grown into bigger ones. All of a sudden you're there and the glass ceiling as disappeared.
  7. Be assertive about your own worth - you are your best advocate and it starts with your own self-talk.

Here’s the thing about personal glass ceilings, as you break through one and continue to evolve into the person you’re meant to be, there will be more ceilings and barriers to dissolve. Because as we break through and start to get used to the air up there, we just keep rising and discovering and reaching for the next height or accomplishment. And, each one is a breakthrough!

So, keep soaring. Keep looking for higher personal ceilings to breakthrough.

Keep moving toward your heart’s desire.

And, take a moment to look back from time to time to appreciate your journey. Honor the accomplishment, no matter how large or small.


Wise Women, Wise Words - 31 Quotes That Make Us Think

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In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month.

Wise words...

ON LOVE

"To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on miraculous." Elizabeth Gilbert

“Love yourself first and everything else falls in line.” Lucille Ball

“Choose people who lift you up.” Michelle Obama

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

ON SUCCESS

“Done is better than perfect.” Sheryl Sandberg

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand

“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM

 

ON CHOICE 

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” JK Rowling

“We can choose to be perfect and admired. Or to be real and loved.” Glennon Doyle Melton

"Each day is a clean slate. How you fill it is up to you." Cindy Yantis (I couldn't resist!)

ON POSSIBILITY

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Audrey Hepburn

"I dwell in possibility." Emily Dickinson

“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”     Golda Meir

 

ON VOICE

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.” Malala Yousafzai

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel

ON TRUTH & WISDOM

"If you have a longing in your heart to hear a deeper truth, there's a mysterious way in which that truth will find you." Marianne Williamson

"Turn your wounds into wisdom." Oprah Winfrey

ON INNER STRENGTH & POWER

“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa

"If you don't know where you're magnificent, no one else will either." Andrea Quinn

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher

ON HUMANITY & COMPASSION

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." Pema Chodron 

“Until the great mass of people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait for a single moment before starting to improve the world.”       Anne Frank

ON BEAUTY

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful.” Drew Barrymore

“Look your best – who said love is blind?” Mae West

"Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself." Coco Chanel

 

ON LIFE

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Katharine Hepburn

“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” Shonda Rhimes

“Owning your story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” Brene Brown

"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

 

The inspiration and wisdom are endless. I literally could go on forever. So, just rejoicing in women, well behaved or otherwise, today, and always. 


Want Some Purpose? Follow Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Heart

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Photo by Tim Marshall

I was naked from the waist up, except for a thin paper vest that opened in the front. I felt very vulnerable and not a little bit nervous. 

The technician was kind, but definitely was moving through her day by rote, and seemed bored when moments before she'd called my name in the waiting room, introducing herself in a monotone voice. “I’m Julie. I’ll be doing your echocardiogram.”

A few weeks earlier I'd been driving across Los Angeles when I suddenly had no idea where I was, literally didn't know what city I was in nor what day or time it was. I literally said out loud, "Where am I?" It was pretty scary. I'd also been having rapid heart palpitations. So, I was there for some answers. 

As I lay down on the table, trying to wrap the flimsy paper around me like a robe, I said, “I’ve never had an echo before.” She grunted, which I took to mean, “Yeah, so? I've done hundreds.”

Instead, she said flatly, “Lay on your left side,” after which, with cold precision, and cold fingers, she connected me to the machine by gluing electro pads onto my chest.

She turned the monitor, so I could see. The dark pumping mass that was my heart took up the screen.

I watched the monitor as a massive electrical storm ensued. Inside the deep purple pulsating cloud was a continual flash of crazy lightning in a spectrum of color and intensity.

“It’s like a thunder and lightning storm inside my heart.”

“Yes, it is.” She could have said, 'Uh huh."

It was a mind-blowing concept, for me anyway, in that moment. I’d only really thought of the heart in terms of feeling. As in heartfelt expressing, or a heart full of love, or a broken heart because of sadness or pain. I mean I've actually done a ton of work around living and being in an open heart. 

But, this, seeing this, alive and outside of my body, all lit up and frenetic, it was a combination of delicate mechanism and a powerful electromagnetic force all at once.

“My heart is badass,” I said. Finally, a hint of a smile. 

Then the tears flowed. I surprised myself with how emotional I became. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt splayed raw and exposed. You'd think I might have been embarrassed, given the constant stream of tears. But, I wasn't. It was beautiful. I truly couldn't believe I was watching my own heartbeat. It wasn't some blip, blip on a monitor. It was my own heart, up close and personal. 

As she maneuvered the cursor, carefully taking measurements and notes, I felt a warmth seep down over my head, what I can only describe as love and a protective awe for this organ that I take for granted. And, at the same time, I was enamored and held captive by its sheer strength and will. 

Suddenly, I felt a kinship with Julie, this stranger with whom I was sharing this incredibly intimate moment. I asked her if she knew how lucky she was to be able to explore hearts all day long.

An eyebrow raised.

I asked her what she was looking for. She snickered and said, “There’s so much going on in there; there are numerous things we look for.” I paused. 

“It’s so incredibly profound to be witnessing my own power source. I could look at it all day,” I said.

She said, “I’ve been doing this for five years and no one has ever said that.”

I knew I was getting all woo-woo on her, but I didn’t care. She needed to know what an incredibly moving thing this was. I asked her what she found the most rewarding about her job. She said, "It’s the knowledge and understanding of what I’m seeing. I know exactly what’s wrong or not and the doctor relies on my knowledge. I show him what to look for."

Then, I felt and saw her pride in what she does. She is honored to be with hearts all day long. And, I saw her desire to be seen. And, so I gave her some heartfelt recognition. She looked at me for a moment.

"Everything looks good," she said. "Although I'm not the one that's supposed to tell you that." 

I exhaled. My attention drifted back to the monitor.

It got me thinking. If that lil old heart's been beating the same consistent, reliable rhythm every second of every moment of every day for my entire life, then who am I to live a less than meaningful or purposeful life? It was like, how dare I? I owe it to my heart to live full out.

So, if the heart is your power source, shouldn't it have a say in things? 

Sure, you're the one making the moves and taking steps toward what you want. But, for a purpose-filled life, the heart is the true navigator. Our very own hearts provide the blueprint for how to live.

And, really, it's a seamless balance of both following the heart and leading with the heart. When you "center" yourself, it's settling into this balance.

Lead with your heart

What does that mean? It means being respectful of life.

It means using the heart as a lens through which everything filters.

Have something you want to say? Maybe it's a difficult conversation? Take a moment and filter it through your heart. Process the words through that love mechanism and the right words will always appear.

Follow your heart

Trying to make a decision? Allow your heart to lead the way.

Trim the fat. Always ask yourself the question, “Is this what my heart wants to do?” Truly. It trims the fat from the decision.

Follow the heart-speak. She’s the ultimate GPS guide, a deeply rooted Siri, the one who knows, really knows, what you want and where you're going.

It makes you want to take excellent care of your heart. Which means we are also its pit crew. Making sure there’s fuel and exercise or training to keep it strong. And, the right amount of rest.

Listen to the clues for when she tells you something is off. For me, that little episode in the car was my heart's way of telling me my thyroid medication was too strong. A small adjustment was all that was needed and we were back on our way.

Your heart knows your purpose. Ask her. Listen to her. Honor her. Love her.

After I got dressed and tossed the paper robe away, I noticed my beating heart was still up on the monitor. I stood there for several moments, just watching it pump and thrive.

I reached up and placed a hand kiss on the screen. “I've got you," I said. "And, I’m counting on you.  To lead me. To point the way. I’ll follow you anywhere.”

You can’t go wrong when you follow your big, beautiful, badass heart.


How Meandering About Can Lead to Gold

 

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Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

I took a Sunday drive this week.Through my mind.

I was bouncing around from thing to thing, flitting between writing and movies and articles and chapters and musings and organizing. It created a feeling of unsettle.

“I’m meandering,” I said to Gracie, who is ever present by my side. She looked at me mid-purr. "So what else is new," her look said. (at first I wrote 'what else is knew?" which made me laugh because there's true there too).

I do meander. Aimlessly at times, so that I can almost get dizzy from the spinning. Breathe.

Meander is fun to say, it's kind of a whimsical word. It basically means to “follow a winding course,” and is often used when referred to streams or bodies of water, “the stream meandered across the valley.”

People meander through a conversation, which can be interesting and deep and unexpected. That’s what makes for good conversation. Unless there’s a point to be made, and when everything is said except the point, you’d say, “he meandered around it but never said it.”

I’ve always loved bookstores and could wile away hours, meandering through the aisles of books and miles of stories contained therein. I miss that. It's just not the same to meander about through online bookstores.

You can meander through a day off, which is one of my favorite things to do, to give myself permission to just flow from one thing to the next. The truth is some of my best ideas present themselves on days like that, when I wander through, yes aimlessly.

It made me look at the word and it’s meaning more closely. I started playing with it. Me-ander. Or for fun, if I just plunk down an innocuous “w” in there, meander becomes me-wander.

Which then makes me wonder.

Is it really wandering aimlessly? Sure, sometimes. When there’s no specific intent or goal.

More often than not, for me, it’s wandering with too many aims at once.

But, meandering, to an artist, to a writer, to a creator? What about the freedom that comes from it? The wonder? The wonder of the wander.

There is wonder in the wander, when you remove the judgment and become more open. Give yourself permission. Permission is key.

“There’s gold in them thar hills.” – Mark Twain, in The American Claiment

There’s gold to discover in the meander; treasures in the sand on the long beach walk; vistas to relish on the Sunday drive, through the mind or otherwise.

There is so much value in just thinking. Many success leaders, such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, carve out time in their day to do just that. Think.

How great would it be if an entire class in school was devoted to just thinking. An hour of time just to encourage kids to learn from their own minds. Where the only recommended materials were a journal and a sketchpad. 

"What's your favorite class?"

"Thinking 101. I'm learning so much from myself."

"Yeah, it's my favorite too."

Or if a time-out was instead a think-out. Hmm. I guess it is, really. "You sit here and think about what you said to your sister."

Aim-full Meandering?

What if you put a little purpose behind the meander? If you gave it some aim. Is there such a thing as aim-fully meandering instead of aimless?

It could be as simple as asking a question or stating a simple intent for the day or the time in front of you.

Deep questions can lead to deep thinking.

"What will inspire me today?" "Am I living fully?" "What does my heart want?"

Or pick a word.

I have a bag of word cards and often pick a word at the beginning of day, or before I go to sleep or upon journaling. I like to think that energetically there’s a reason I picked that particular word.

It could be "clarity" or "simplicity" or "trust" or "collaboration." 

So, then it becomes a backdrop, an intent. 

Then the meandering has aim. Try wandering around, examining, kicking the tires, massaging, splitting open and devouring it with a freedom from any expectation. There's gold thar.  

Purposefully wandering.

Wonder with purpose. And curiosity.

Or just enjoy the meander, the wonder of the wander, the blissfulness of the aimlessness.

Sure, focus and prioritizing and completion are important. But, that’s another post.

This one, happily, was the result of a shameless and aimless me, wandering.


I Had An Epiphany! Now What?

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“I had an Epiphany!” 

We’ve all felt that inspiring moment of realization at one time or another, the powerful insight that was going to change everything.  It’s a great feeling, right?  

Today is the Day of Epiphany. I know that because as I glanced at the calendar to schedule my week of writing I saw “Epiphany” written on today, the day I was planning to publish a post. So, I had a little epiphany that I’d write about epiphany!

I didn’t wake up receiving 12 drummers drumming from my true love, but I woke up thinking about how much I love those sparks of inspiration, those rushes of insight that bring clarity.

The Day of Epiphany in Christian tradition signifies the 12th day of Christmas and ancient traditions culminated the season with a lavish Feast of Epiphany. It’s come to be known as “12th Night” in Great Britain. Shakespeare originally wrote his play, “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” as part of the entertainment for Twelfth Night, Day of Epiphany celebration.

Epiphany is such a great word. In Greek the word means “manifestation.”

“I had an epiphany!” I’ve said. You’ve likely said it, or have heard it said, often.

An aha! Oprah says often, “I had an aha moment.” She’s even made it a thing, part of her brand. 

So, is an “aha” a small Epiphany? Does an Epiphany have to be huge? I feel like it should always be written with a capital E because to me Epiphanies are major, whether they’re large or small.

What to do with an Epiphany?

Epiphanies feed creativity, particularly when we follow them, court them, nurture them, build relationships with them, introduce them to others so they can flourish and become something beyond themselves.

It got me thinking about Epiphanies and how often they show up in our lives. A light turns on, we have that aha moment where a realization hits home in a way it hasn’t before. It’s enlightening and can be life changing.  

But, this is where the rubber meets the road. 

What we do with the Epiphany - the awakening - is what matters, right? The doing looks different for everyone. Sometimes the doing is not actually “doing” anything. It’s being the Epiphany. Living the realization, one day, one hour, one moment, one second at a time.   

It’s returning to the feeling evoked when the bells of Epiphany first started ringing. 

The first step is to recognize it’s a new thought, a new feeling. It might bring up some fears of the unknown and fears that we won’t be able to stay in the new thought. The first tendency might be to turn the other way, to go back into hiding behind the old frame of mind where it’s familiar and seemingly safe. That’s my habit sometimes. 

But, the second step is to stop. To breathe. To remember. To align our new feelings with the new thought. 

Ahhh. To relish in that space. 

The third step might be to share it with someone. As soon as you give voice to it, the resonance deepens and starts to become part of your physical, emotional and spiritual vernacular. 

A little bit today, more tomorrow and so it continues as you listen with a more familiar ear for those bells of Epiphany to toll until they become part of your life’s symphony. 

When was your last Epiphany? State it in the comments if you feel like sharing. Would love to hear from you.

 


Are You Living In Your Divinity?

Here are a few ways to find out...

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I was marveling during a recent email exchange with some girlfriends at how things are really cooking for them, whether it's dream-coming-true career opportunities, new potential love interests, new connections with conscious people and a general feeling of high-vibration purposeful wellbeing. I asked them what's changed in their daily lives, what have they been doing differently for all of this good stuff to be happening. They both talked, separately, about how a deeper surrendering to their connection to spirit, to God, to the divine has been the game-changer. And, a result more and more they are tapping into their own divinities

I recalled an interview awhile back with Sheryl Crow. "He was in his divinity."  That's what she had to say about watching Michael Jackson in action. She toured with him early in her career and remarked about standing in the wings off stage, witnessing his genius at work, how he seemed to go to a different place. "He was in his divinity."

You may know, or have seen, people who seem to be doing exactly what they were put on this earth to do.  You know it when you see it. There's nothing sexier or more attractive than a man or woman in his or her element. Sometimes they even appear to glow. They are grounded, confident and things drift easily to them, whether it's opportunity, money or circumstance.  

It got me thinking again about purpose and mission and why-are-we-here. We are here to evolve into our higher selves and to continually seek our own divinity or genius element. When you're there, you're connected to the cellular you, your divine purpose.

"Trust and value your own divinity" Wayne Dyer

Have you had a glimpse of your own divinity?

Slow down for a moment and think of a time when it felt like all cylinders were clicking at once; when time and space became inconsequential (because in the place of divinity, time and space don't exist); when you felt closest to, or one with, God; or when you felt a sense of ease like never before. Everything flowed from one moment to the next to the next.

Sometimes the divinity lasts for only a moment. But, when you're doing what you were meant to do it can stay with you. Your consciousness raises to a place where you're most connected, tapped in and turned on to the divine. When it happens over and over again it becomes your own vortex of divinity, generating a force of energy that brings more of the same to you, so that eventually it's where you live.

That's your genius at play. Your genius thrives on a higher plane, where all of our higher selves live. 

How to get there? 

It's an everyday study where you continue to ask yourself the deep questions. Deepak Chopra says if you truly live the questions, the answers will present themselves. 
It's slowing down and recognizing the divine moments when they happen. Where are you? What are you doing? How do you feel? Track it backward to remember how you got there. 

It's getting off the grid. Turn off technology for a while. It's noise that interrupts the flow in the divine place.
It's releasing all judgment, of self and others. 
It's focusing on nothingness. Slow down the brain and meditate into nothingness, as in practicing yoga or prayer. Out of the nothingness comes centered focus that leads to higher thought.
Pray. It's worth saying again.
It's striving for excellence in everything you do. Excellence in one thing leads to excellence in all things.
It's being in, living in a state of love. Divinity can't exist where love does not abide.

“From a mind filled with infinite love comes the power to create infinite possibilities. We have the power to think in ways that reflect and attract all the love in the world. Such thinking is called enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a process we work toward, but a choice available to us in any instant.” Marianne Williamson

In moments of doubt, go back to that place; remember your personal divinity, your glorious purpose.

Can you imagine a place where we all are living in our divinity? Where a sense of genius is commonplace and expected? Where expectations and judgment don't exist? Where we are free to be? Where love rules the day.

Oooh, I'll meet you there. We'll have a playdate.