Life

Time for Spring Cleaning - of the Mind

Allef-vinicius-135031-unsplash

Spring is in the air. I had the pleasure of experiencing the first week of Spring in four different states. On a cross-country road trip with my sister, we drove a car load of my family treasures that were stored at her home in Austin to my home in Los Angeles, passing through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. I'm still mining the rich gems from that trip...

When I got home, I entered into some Spring cleaning in order to make room for said treasures. That meant cleaning out closets and drawers. It was at times mindless work, but I found my mind was anything but "less". In fact, it was just the opposite. I had to pause to journal because I had so much to capture from my amazing sister road trip.

So, pen poised over the page, and nothing came. It’s not that my mind was blank, it’s that my mind was racing. I felt the need to go from mind-full to mindful, which meant I needed some clarity.

Mind chatter is non-stop. If it’s not about the to-do list, it’s about a conversation we had or want to have. If it’s not about the email we need to answer, it’s about how we’re judging ourselves for it. And, everything.

If it’s not about the ache in our back or knee or shoulder, it’s about the movie we watched last night and our commentary on it; or the birds chirping or the lawn mower too loud at 6 am, or the cat sitting nearby, or what we’re having for breakfast, or how fat we feel, or how great we feel; or about the article we read on student activists, or the full moon, or the latest tech darling, or the rise of consciousness, or the fall of cryptocurrencies. We’re thinking about everything except nothing, which is kind of the goal when trying to clear the mind.

I realized when my thoughts were speeding around themselves, that my mind is like that cluttered closet or drawer, where things are placed to possibly be categorized or dealt with later. And if someone calls or starts a conversation, I need to store what's on my mind at that the moment so I can get back to it later.How many thoughts do we keep in there, just in case we might need them at some point, no matter how obscure the thought, or seemingly useless the information.

It got me thinking, clean out the closet or drawer, clean out the mind!

I took a gander into the storage shelves and was kinda surprised (and not) at all that was in there, besides the obvious stuff like pens, paper and tape. I also found: old glue, flower food, loose change, a 2016 calendar, recipes, gum (no idea how old), keys (no idea what for), batteries (probably dead), picture hangers, lens cleaner, magnets, cat toys, old coupons, menus (to places I’ll never go), loose nails, loose paperclips, 3 lighters, a door stopper, etc.

All stuffed in there haphazardly with the idea that their day will come; each item holding a glimmer of hope that it will be taken out and used for what it was meant to be. Not a chance of that happening while mired in the recesses of that closet!

The same can be said for our minds. There’s so much junk in there that the clarity gets buried alive, the brilliant ideas jumbled amidst the quagmire of waste. What junk are you stuffing in your mind that is not serving you and your highest good?

Clean out the closet, clean out the mind. Oh my, what to do with all of that open space? 

Empty everything out at once – It’s best to start with a clean canvas or an “empty drawer.” Meditation, the practice of clearing the mind, is a great way to start. If this has proven a challenge for you, start with just a few minutes. When the chatter comes in, focus on your breath. In, out. In, out. John Viscount in “Mind What Matters: A Pep Talk for Humanity” says the moments in a still mind are deeply healing and peaceful. He says, “In the silence between your thoughts, you will tap into the larger universal mind. This is where some of your greatest work on Earth will be accomplished and you won’t even know you’re doing it.”

Examine the contents – Pay attention to each voice participating in the mind chatter. Only then can you determine which are dedicated to raising your consciousness and which are ego-driven to keep you stagnant or small or stuck. Michael Singer in the book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself takes it a step further by saying “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it…If you watch it objectively, you will come to see that much of what the voice says is meaningless…a waste of time and energy.”

Give it a wipe down – Clean out the dust and cobwebs once it’s empty. Lose a bad habit; clean out your email, in other words, delete almost everything and unsubscribe from almost all of them; let go of an unhealthy relationship that clouds your mind; have the conversation you can't stop thinking about; or exercise to release negative and low vibrational energies.

Let the space breathe – Go off the grid for a while. Disconnect your phone, put down your pen, no email, no television and no social media. Spend time with just yourself. Don’t busy your mind with more incoming junk. Stay in the space between your thoughts. Listen to your breath, feel the energy in your body. I plan to do this a lot more often!

Be very selective about what you put in there – Now that you’re space is open and clear, you have complete choice about what you allow into your mind space. Be intentional. Only invite stimuli that will nurture your clarity. Monitor what your read, see and speak. Once you're mindful of this it becomes a way of life.

Do away with the Junk Mind – You don’t need it anymore. At this point in organizing a closet or drawer, this is where you would compartmentalize the items as you put them back in the drawer, in nice little neat compartments or dividers. 

But, with a clear mind you actually de-compartmentalize, doing away with the need for separation of thoughts and conflicting voices. With a clear mind, complete alignment with your oneness and universal purpose is not only possible, it’s unstoppable.

Get into daily cleaning - It's an ongoing process. When you see the thoughts gathering to dump into the junk mind stop, breathe and assess. Go back to #1. Meditate and get clear!

And, the bonus? You get to know your Self like never before, stripped bare and clean, open to all possibilities. Just think of the choices you can make from that place?

Happiness? Joy? Love? Peace? Contribution? Friendship? 

Genius.

Related: Start Today, Live Life Anew


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

Annie-spratt-167089-unsplash

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. 


Becoming Seasoned

Uros-jovicic-322314-unsplash

“She was a seasoned person.” That was how a woman was described at a celebration of life I recently attended. “She was a seasoned person.” And, everyone nodded in agreement. It was said in such a way that it was an earned recognition, a moniker that came after many, many seasons.

It got me thinking about what that means and what it might take to get there, to become seasoned.

So, what does it mean, to be seasoned?

Certainly there’s something to be said for the years adding seasoning. Experiencing season after season becoming really good at the thing. Vocabulary.com says “seasoned describes a person who has been around forever, doing what they do and doing it well - throughout the seasons.”

I don’t know about being around forever, but certainly when you want to know something about a topic or a skill or an area of interest, you ask someone who is seasoned, or a veteran, at that thing. You want to know about the best way to travel by foot through the south of France, you’d want to ask a seasoned traveler or hiker. You want to know how to craft a meaningful piece of prose or a photograph at dusk, you’d ask a seasoned writer or photographer. You want to find a leader for your sales force or legal department, you’d ask a seasonal professional in those fields for the best results.

When one goes through the seasons, there’s a maturation process that naturally occurs. So it stands to reason that being seasoned is a goal of maturing in life.

But, I love this idea of becoming a seasoned person in life. What is it besides experience in a field of study or industry that makes someone seasoned? Someone who has rich depth of character and possession of vast qualities. Someone who displays and lives a multitude of flavors when it comes to interests and conversation and relationships and tones of attitude.

What flavors add rich seasoning to the palate of life?

  • Yes, experience does add seasoning
  • Laughter adds seasoning
  • Pain adds seasoning
  • Grief adds seasoning
  • Deep love adds seasoning
  • Longing adds seasoning
  • Thirst for constant learning adds seasoning
  • Thought that leads to change adds seasoning
  • Contributing knowledge to new ideas adds seasoning
  • Seeing and feeling the colors of the world add seasoning
  • Having a difficult conversation adds seasoning

A seasoned person knows who they are.

A seasoned person trusts that their wisdom, knowledge and experience is embodied. It just is. And can be called upon at all times.

A seasoned person doesn’t play games. They don’t have to.

A seasoned person doesn’t care so much anymore about what people think of them or what they do or how they do it. 

Even when there is stress, a seasoned person handles it because they know they have the tools, the ingredients, to deal with it. 

A seasoned person that continues to enrich their lives isn’t afraid to add new flavors to the mix. In fact, they seek them out.

“The seasoned woman is going to offer a more seasoned character. “ Robin Wright

A dear friend was visiting for the weekend and we were cooking dinner together, trying a new recipe that included the pungent Egyptian dukkah seasoning, to be added to the roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage and onions. Okay, I have a sensitive palate so I don’t do spicy well. In other words, if something’s too spicy it ruins it for me. She, on the other hand, was a big fan. And, I wanted to be game. So, she suggested adding the heavy spice to half and lightly seasoning the other half. Then, if I tasted it and liked it we could mix the two together. So, I did and we did. It was intensely herby and delicious.

It got me thinking how being a multi-dimensional and layered seasoned person means trying new things, new experiences, new ideas that add to the mixture of life. New flavors tossed into the marinade.

The beauty of becoming seasoned is that it’s organic, it’s gradual. It’s natural human transformation. It’s evolving into being our most authentic selves.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Becoming seasoned is not settling, but rather grounding into purpose.

Do I feel seasoned? At times, you bet I do. What’s interesting is I’m living into it, embracing it, actually rejoicing in it, a little more each day. Those little moments that present themselves when I say, “I’ve got this. This is easy.” Those things that I’m able to do without laboring, without stress, and with calm and grace. 

And, those things that are a challenge but I trust that I know how to fortitude through.

Those things that I’ve practiced, studied, nurtured, worked, worn, expressed, chewed, swallowed, cooked, massaged, explored, exfoliated, babied, battered, battled, loved and owned. For years. 

“In time we grow older, we grow wiser, we grow smarter, and we're better. And I feel like I'm becoming more seasoned, although I don't have my salt-and-pepper hair.”  Usher

Yeah, I’m seasoned and damn happy about it. You?


The Subtle Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

Felix-russell-saw-102515-unsplash
Photo by Felix Russell-Saw

She had bright orange hair that kinked around the nape of her neck. She wore a black lace miniskirt, black tights and combat boots. With a smile that lit up the room and a hyena giggle that pierced it. She greeted everyone by name and with interest. She’s my favorite Coffee Bean barrister and on that day, when I was still sitting on the edges of victimhood after my computer was stolen, she woke me up and got me present.

As I watched her interact with a woman, going beyond your basic barrister and customer moment, I was surprised as I got tears in my eyes. I was suddenly really emotional.

It continued throughout the morning. But, what I realized is that they weren’t tears of sadness or loss. I had certainly shed several tears bearing those descriptions. No, these were tears of gratitude. And, hope. And little flickers of joy. Life. Humanity.

I choose this.

I was still feeling anger and wanted vengeance at some level. I’d just received a denial of claim from the valet company who’d parked my car when it was robbed, which felt like being victimized all over again. And, was getting no response from the garage company where my car was vandalized. I wanted to see the security camera footage. I wanted to catch someone to make someone responsible for the crime. Every morning I woke up with a nervous stomach. The butterflies of vengeance.

Then I saw this Lao Tzu quote: “Victimhood is staying in the suffering.”

Those feelings of gratitude, as surprising as they came, softened the edge of vengeance enough to see through it.

Gratitude reminded me that to dig deep into my own personal power for what to do next. Gratitude reminded me that people are good and most often want to do the right thing.

I appealed to a person at the valet company, with kindness, with directness. And, it worked. They paid for my broken window. Gratitude.

My insurance company (Liberty Mutual rocks) took care of me. I felt heard, believed and resolved. More gratitude.

I felt empowered. Which I realized was the antidote to the suffering. The key to unlock the gate in order to leave victim-hood.

But, could I put it behind me? The nervous stomach still persisted. It still gnawed at me that someone needed to pay for what they did. But, I noticed that what was really underneath the nervousness was something more.

The thing is, I really wanted to just move on. But, I felt guilty about that. Was I giving up if I let them get away with committing a crime against me, and who knows how many others? Why did I want to pursue it? Because, I felt guilty if I didn’t.

Is it giving up if I let it go? Or if I let it go, is that giving up?

It got me thinking about the difference between giving up and letting go. It seems there’s a fine line between them yet they’re vastly different. It comes down to the feeling behind it, the intention inside it, and the embodiment of it. It's a mindset shift.

Then, it got me thinking about all of the other areas in life where giving up or letting go can either hold you down or set you free. Where things didn’t happen like you’d planned. Where a dream fell short of realization, over and over again. Or when you wake up one day and look around at your life and things aren’t what you thought they’d be. 

In this context of giving up:

Giving up is staying stuck in the what ifs. The if-only’s. The I-won’t-be-successful-unless-that-thing-happens. The expectations that start to feel unhealthy.

Giving up is the stomach ache. It’s catching your breath and holding it. It’s shoulders that hug your ears. It’s the energy that gets stuck. It feels heavy. Like being deep under water and holding your breath, in the moment right before panic sets in.

Giving up feels sad and like failure. Falling just short, or way short. Always wondering what could have been. It feels like letting yourself down or letting another down who might have invested time and energy.

Giving up is a never-ending feeling of not quite getting there, of feeling less than.

Giving up is rooted in regret.

It can live in your psyche and permeate everything. Giving up shackles you to the very thing you’re trying to release.

Giving up keeps you in the past.

Letting go, on the other hand, is a beautiful release.

Letting go is acknowledgment of the ending of something, a moment, a life phase, an exhausted effort, a situation that doesn’t serve anymore. Whether it's a relationship or a job or a long ago goal imagined in a former self.

Letting go is releasing what isn’t working anymore. What you have no control over. Events in the past that have nothing to do with the present. That can’t be changed because they’re over with, gone, dead and buried in the past which has nothing to do with right now.

"Letting go is the exhale." Andrea Quinn

Letting go feels like a full breath with an exhale that courses all the way through the body. It feeds the present not the past. It fills it up while at the same time creates alive energetic space where the “stuff” has been taking up room.

Letting go is an unlocking.

It’s the oxygen tank under the water.

It’s air.

It’s the turbo fuel injection.

It’s freedom.

With letting go, comes clarity. It clears the fog.

Letting go is removing yourself from the one-foot-in-one-foot-out syndrome. You know that place, right?

The profound gratitude was the beginning, the way in, to letting go for me.

I was still holding the grief and violation in my body so went to see a wonderful reiki healer who helped me to work the energy out, to release it.

It was during that session when I felt a complete and full feeling of gratitude that it all happened. I actually felt grateful that the event happened.

I released the attachment to the violation. It was something that happened to me, but I let go of the suffering. And, the guilt for wanting to move on.

Letting go put it in my past where it actually is anyway.

Letting go is a 4-letter word. Letting go is love.

Related: Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word where I go into more depth on the subject of Letting Go

Giving up or letting go is a matter of choice.

What’s the solution, not what’s the excuse?” Jack Canfield

Sometimes, it’s a deep-seated desire or lifelong dream that you’re not ready to give up on. The feeling of giving it up can feel like you’re giving up on yourself. Believe me, I'm a lifelong proponent of not giving up on your deepest dreams. 

But, this is where letting go becomes a powerful tool for not giving up on yourself, where you move out of victimhood and into empowerment.

The language of victimhood is full of blame and self-pity and resentment and regret and excuses.

The language of empowerment is about the solutions and taking back your power and letting go of the energy that’s keeping you stagnant.

"When you don’t want to let go of it yet, trust that there’s a better way." Dina Strada

The empowering choice is to let go of old expectations around it, of what you wanted it to be or thought it would look like, all those years ago.

The empowering choice is to change the thoughts within the dream or goal or relationship. It all starts there. 

Give that desire or dream or goal or relationship a fresh conversation. Bring it into the here and now. Modernize it. Give is a new wardrobe. Apply today’s technology to it. Reframe it. Be open to a new way.

For me, the clarity that came from letting go of what happened with my computer, and all of the stuff that come along with that situation, has freed me to look more closely at what's really important. To inventory other things I've been hanging onto, dreams and otherwise. Reviewing and releasing some. Reframing, changing the thoughts and conversation around others. Recommitting in a new way.

That's letting go, not giving up. 

 


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

 Tim-marshall-heart hands

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.


The Moon Had a Message - It Was Simple and Profound

 It could be meant for you too

Ganapathy-kumar-163082

The moon woke me up.

4 a.m. and I was wide awake. I could practically feel its energy and like a magnet, a moon magnet, a lunar longing, it pulled me out of bed and outside in robe and slippers, just as the eclipse of the super blue blood moon was beginning.

I texted my sister in Austin to see if she was watching. She was, so we texted as we watched it together.

I tried taking pictures, to capture the view that my naked eye saw. But, nothing came close so I gave up and stayed with the moon. It was incredible as a deep, blood orange veil eased over the pale blue orb.

It was chilly so I got in my car and continued watching through the moonroof. And, it was in that container, my car, that I was able to self-contain and connect to the truly awesome cosmic experience. 

For several moments the moon remained blood orange as I thought about how it woke me out of a dead sleep. It almost felt urgent.

So, what the heck, I decided to ask her. "Is there something you need to tell me?"

I recalled a man I know who once had a profound entheogenic journey with the moon. He was in the middle of a spiritually transformative experience while utilizing the ancient plant medicine, Iboga, an African shrub root still used in rituals and healing journeys, when the moon gave him a deep message about his life.

It wasn’t through plant medicine that I felt this deep connection to the spectacular moon before me, at least not this time, but I felt like if I listened intently there might be something there for me too. It's often said that during a full moon it's a good time to release what isn't working anymore and to set your intentions, your goals for what you desire in life. But, in that moment, sitting in awe of her strength and beauty, all I wanted to do was question her.

What do you want to say? I asked. What am I to know? What can I receive from you? Is there something I should be doing? I asked these questions and more, out loud. And then I shut up. My eyes locked on her and I listened. Just listened, for a long time. 

It got me thinking about the power and life of the moon. For that remarkable moon event to occur a lot needed to meet all at once. It's been a long time coming and the moon showed up effortlessly to do its thing. Just think about all that had to happen for these to take place in concert: a supermoon (extra large because it's closest in it's orbit to the Earth), a blue moon (the second full moon in a month), a total lunar eclipse (when the sun, Earth and moon line up) and a blood moon (the moon turns red as it passes through the Earth's shadow).

Lots of preparation had to take place, astrological planning and movement and alignment had to happen precisely to meet this particular window of opportunity, this moment in time. This was her moment. And she was ready for it.

She seemed to be waiting for my stillness, for my full attention. Then, I got it.

The moon itself was illustrating its message: This is your moment.

My whole body relaxed as I opened up and received the following message from her. And, the hit I got was that it most likely wasn't a message just for me, which is why I'm sharing it. 

The Moon's Message:

This is your time.

You’ve done all of the prep work. In fact, you’ve spent a lifetime in preparation. Everything you've done has brought you here, to this moment in time. You’ve spent a lifetime of intake, studying, learning, watching, improving, gathering input.

Now is the time for output, for visibility, for communicating, by expressing intimately as well as globally, with one person and many. For imparting what you know.

You have the knowledge and wisdom. Within your stories, and you have many, you have much to share. And, you know, you know how. 

It’s all coming to you. The more you use your voice, express your thoughts, share yourself, teach others, the more will come, is coming. It’s already in your field of ownership. In your flow of momentum.

Trust what you know. Trust your life experience. Trust that you’ll do it your way, authentically. Don’t worry how others are doing it. Trust your intelligence. Trust your voice. Trust your words. Trust your body, it always knows when you’re in the flow, in alignment. Trust your mind. Trust your spirit. Trust yourself.

Trust what you love.

This is your time. Everything is in alignment with where you’re supposed to be and what you’re to do, right now. And, when it’s not, trust that you’ll know that too.

No more waiting, questioning, doubting, worrying.

Own your shadows. Behind the brightness and light there is always shadow, where growth takes place. And, sometimes, as with the moon, your shadows are going to show. That's okay. Don't judge them. Don't get lost in them but rather mine the gems and lessons. They will serve you in your best moments. 

"We are all like the bright moon. We still have our darker side." Kahlil Gibran

Embrace the decluttering. This is the reason things have been removed from your field of ownership. To cause a pause, an opening, space, more room to settle into what's real. [For me, it was a stolen computer. Think about where you've cleared or cleaned out space, or perhaps something you might have lost.] 

So, go deep, into deep wisdom. Communicate from there. Love from there. Live from there. Be, from there.

It was like getting a permission slip from the grand master teacher.

What happened next brought it all together in a way that only moon, the sun, God and universal source could do.

As the moon set, from where I watched the entire western sky was a luminous pink. What the super blue blood moon manifested by shining in her moment, in her time, was absolute splendor. A splendor that spread over and permeated everything within its sphere. In fact, as the moon set, the sky in its rich glow, remained. The moon left a lasting impression, an impact that touched so many, just by being all that it had prepared to be.

The message continued:

When you are in your time, in alignment with your truth, your soul's work, your supermoon divinity, the result is a splendor of life riches which will have a lasting impact not only on you but on everything and everyone you come into contact with. 

Then, as the moon hung for a final few moments, it greeted the most glorious sunrise. It was as if they both acknowledged each other’s beauty and purpose in their collective duty to serve the universe. It was as if the sun said, "Well done." And, the moon responded, "You take it from here." It was awesome to witness.

The next morning as I left home before dawn, the still super blue moon was hanging high above a crystal blue horizon. Once again bidding a bonjour and adieu to the sun as it rose with a gold and orange fanfare.

And, it got me thinking about how she's still in her moment, this moment. It’s still her time. She showed up to do her job. She didn't sit back and rest on her laurels, convincing herself that her moment had past or stop herself out of fear that she won't be able to live up to her previous splendor. No, because what happened the night before only further solidified her purpose, her power, her strength, her time, as she just continues to express herself, shining her light as only she can. She's the friggin' moon. It's always her time. 

As I drove toward my destination I passed a billboard that said, and I kid you not:

#ThisIsYourTime

You just can’t make this stuff up.

It was a sign, on a sign.

So, if there was something that resonated with you in that very cool message from the moon, that stayed with you, that hit you where you live, then it's definitely meant for you too.

This is your time. Trust it. Be it. Live it. Own it.


A Stolen Laptop, a Cautionary Tale and a Phoenix

Ben-white-199953
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Where are the cars parked?” I asked the valet attendant.

“Behind the restaurant, inside a garage,” he said.

“So it’s secure? I have my computer in here,” I said. 

“Yes,” he said and nodded. For whatever reason, I felt safe enough to take his word for it. To trust.

Two hours later, you guessed it, when the same driver brought my car back around, the passenger window had been shattered and the one thing taken out of my car was the leather bag containing my MacBook Pro, which had been placed in the dark bag on the black floor, in a locked car inside their secured garage. To say I was suspicious was an understatement. And, believe me, I didn’t like feeling that way. I believe in people. I trust in people.

I’d like to say I was clear-minded, pummeling questions at the driver and his manager. I’d like to say I had the wherewithal to investigate. Instead, I crumbled, right there on the street outside The Village restaurant in Studio City. Thankfully I was with my dear friend who had a much clearer head than I did. She supervised the situation and helped me navigate.

She said, “Please tell me you’re backed up.” The blood drained from my face. Mouth cotton dry. Crying loudly on Ventura Blvd. Feeling stupid and angry at myself and then scared about the unknowns that surrounded me. Who took it? Why did they take it? Was it just for the hardware? Identity theft? It was a deep pit in my stomach.

This is what violation felt like.

Because here’s the thing. I knew the instant my computer was gone that I hadn’t properly backed it up. And, so much was lost. Beyond the photos and memories, so much deep writing. Gone. A novel I’d been working on. Gone, along with all of my notes. Drafts of screenplays. First drafts of articles not yet published. So much creation. Gone.

Then, I entered the phase of police reports and insurance claims and claims against the valet company and changing passwords and Lifelock memberships and phone calls to Apple and texts and calls from family and friends offering support and advice and shoulders.

This was what violation felt like. This is what being the victim of crime felt like.

And, because I have no idea if the computer was wiped clean right away or if the thieves took a tour of my virtual home, I vacillated, still vacillate, between feeling like my virtual house went up in flames, and feeling like I’m stark naked with my intimate personal info stamped across my forehead as the sleazy characters stroll leisurely around, looking at me and everything else, and I can’t cover myself up or do anything about it.

I honestly think, after a week of wondering, that it’s the former of those two scenarios. Hardware wiped clean and sold. I’m actually now praying that’s what happened.

Also, in my computer bag were three journals, two old ones, some of the source material for the memoir I’m writing, along with my newest one. I had them all with me because that morning I spent some really great time writing at Coffee Bean before heading into the office.

The memoir, and all files associated it with it, also gone. Although, the first saving grace in all of this, and there are several, is I emailed myself a draft about a month ago. Grace.

Another, for which I’m so grateful, I still have my old laptop. So, older files, photos, original drafts and records are still there. For whatever reason, it doesn’t really matter now what it was, I didn’t back up my new one, for the past 2.5 years.

I went home that night and powered up my old laptop. And, in the midst of my heartbreak, which I couldn’t yet define, a warm feeling came over me, like after being embraced by an old friend. That old 15-inch Mac, my old faithful, with the wallpaper painting that always made me smile – Vladimir Kush’s Diary of Discoveries – gave me a place to land that night. It felt like restart point, or at least a familiar resting point.

And, then, after a couple of long days and sleepless nights, when I wanted to journal again, I pulled out an old favorite and started in the middle where I’d left off back then, 15 years earlier.

We Join This Program Already in Progress

It got me thinking about where I was after the loss. My first thought was that I had to start over, with all that was gone. But, the truth is I was starting over mid-scene. Mid-step. In the middle of the dance. Midsentence. In progress. As in, we are joining this program already in progress.

I can’t pick up where I left off because where I left off, as it was all written, doesn’t exist anymore.

I found myself wanting to dig and see what was there, what is still there, of what I’d created. What would rise out of the ashes of those lost files, forgotten words once expressed to be revisited another time, characters developed, broken down plots, heroines and heroes conceived and nurtured until they were on their own, photographs flashed to capture moments now passed.

I closed my eyes and suddenly the image of a phoenix appeared before me.

The Phoenix Rises

A phoenix is a magnificent, mythical bird with wild colorful plumes that burns itself to ashes every 500 years and then is born again, signifying regeneration and renewal. If someone or something is a phoenix, it means they return again after seeming to disappear or be destroyed. Out of the ashes of the disaster, a phoenix of recovery can rise.

What happens to the phoenix after it rises? What becomes of the ashes? Does a phoenix go back and sift through its ashes for remnants of what was left behind? All questions coursing through my mind.

"You've seen my descent, now watch my rising." ~ Rumi  

What is my phoenix?

I had dinner the next night with some dear friends, all of whom are successful writers, working professionals. I love these dinners. We’ve been getting together, the same group, for 18 years. We always do an around-the-table catch-up and it’s been a joy to be alongside them as their careers have risen. And, these women are killing it with lots of exciting things – bestselling books, TV shows, movies – out in the world and currently in creation. Usually, I’m a much more lively participant, giddy for everyone.

But, that night I still had ashes in my head and in my ears, which made everything a bit muted and cloudy. I kept thinking about all of my own creations that were in the ashes as well. And, that victim part of me that was still very much present felt like I would never catch up because I was going to have to start over.

I thought a lot about the dinner over the weekend as I purposefully stayed quiet, in meditation, prayer and with pen in hand.

And, here’s what happened. I was visited several more times by the image of my phoenix. And each time, something floated up from the ashes.

Creation. Over and again. Creation. Create. That was the gift from the dinner with my incredibly talented friends.

Remembering that creativity is my lifeforce.

Creativity is my resilience.

My phoenix is just that.

The Phoenix of Re-creation and Creation

And, the re-creation isn’t wracking my brain cells searching for the words and ideas I’ve lost. Not to wallow in the ashes of mourning. I have to believe a rising phoenix wouldn’t do that either.

But, rather re-creation is to mine the ashes, for the gold, for the wisdom that rises to the surface, and to trust that the best parts of creation will float up and remain, providing a new foundation that builds at the level of season, wisdom and embodied knowledge and ideas.

That’s where new creation begins. I can work with that. As my brilliant friend, writer/director/producer Kelli Bennett says all the time, “Create from what you have.”

I have to believe what’s coming from this will be more streamlined, focused and on purpose.

My higher-self showed me how much clutter was actually stored on that stolen laptop. I captured everything, every little wisp of an idea, saving it for a time when I’d get to it. And, most of them lived there, ignored.

It will be really interesting what plays out in all of this cleared space. One thing’s true. I can’t stop writing.

Phoenix Guiding Principles

So many things have bubbled up as a result of this crime, much of which will take some time to process and release: shame, anger and regret to name a few. But, what the phoenix is showing me, the way to heal is by remembering my own guiding principles.

To start by being present. To stop reliving the moment, rewriting the scene in my head, where I took the bag with me instead of leaving it the car. It’s over and done with. I can’t change what happened so replaying it with what I’d have done differently isn’t helpful.

And, then doubling down on the tenets I try to live by, the values that rise like the Phoenix, and take me from feeling helpless to feeling empowered again.

Gratitude
Kindness
Compassion
Truth
Honesty
Positivity
Creativity
Trust (I still do and will, only now with a bit more discernment)
Love


And, a really big one that is the gateway to finally letting go and releasing all with the ashes: Forgiveness. Forgiving myself as well as forgiving those who victimized me. Not quite there yet, but I know that’s the key to being free to really rise.

So, please, please, please learn from my cautionary tale. Back that shit up. Protect yourself. And, listen to that little voice, the one that said 'take your bag', the one that always knows what’s best.


How About Less of This and More of That in 2018

It Starts With the Word of the Year. And, the word is Perspective.

Perspective paul-skorupskas-59950
Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Perspective.

This is one of my favorite times of year, when things start fresh, slates are clean, the canvas is fresh, new journals are cracked opened, solid lists of resolutions and goals are constructed and the reset buttons are pushed.

But, I don’t think it’s really possible to completely start with a completely clean slate or canvas because old stories and patterns are still there underneath the surface, ready to become visible. Often it's when we’re just ready to breakthrough or soar that they rear their little heads.

This is where the idea of Perspective comes in.

It’s such a great word and I think is vital to make the most out of the transition from year to year, from an end to a beginning.

Often when someone has a shift take place in his or her life or career, it’s because of change in perspective.

I watched a recent interview with James Franco, who is soaring right now with his already awards-darling film THE DISASTER ARTIST. Franco, as he says, “from the outside perspective it looked like I had this great career,” and he did. At one point he was in a play of Broadway, making a film during the day and flying to LA weekly to teach classes. He couldn’t get enough and thought, as an artist, the more he did the better. But, he “was depressed.”

That’s when he slowed down long enough to look at his life and shift his perspective. It took twenty years, but now he’s approaching his life and career, which shines brighter than ever, with this: “Hard work does pay off. But what I didn't realize is that you need balance, and you cannot make your happiness contingent on work, or on anything outside of you, for that matter, right? At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's gotta be a more spiritual thing. I didn't learn that until a year ago," he said.

Without this point of view it’s likely he wouldn’t have been able to present such a nuanced film because the truth is your current perspective permeates everything you do. And, THE DISASTER ARTIST is all about perspective.

Perspective can make you lighten up and not take things so seriously, while at the same time Perspective can help you get really serious about the most important things.

Perspective gives you a helicopter view. This bird’s eye view allows you to look through history, even beyond the last year, without attachment (or less attachment) to the circumstance so you can extract the jewel.

And, Perspective is what helps you hone in to reveal the truth underneath your old stories including whatever pattern or emotion you have attached to it.

It’s Perspective that starts the process of letting go.

It’s been interesting, as I’m writing my memoir; Perspective is my number one ally, shocking, as it has been at times. As I examine my old journals I've found that over the years I wrote about some of the same issues, fears and desires, over and over again. Like over and over again. At first I was like, ‘Damn Girl, you’re stuck in your story. When will you get it?’

Then, I decided to remove judgment from the question, and it changed my perspective. It became, ‘Wow isn’t it revealing how attached I was to parts of my story and the spiral of comfort and familiarity of discomfort that came from telling it to myself and others?”

Now, that I can work with. In truth, each time I asked those same questions or pondered similar issues I was moving through and past something, working through a relationship issue or breaking through a life or career barrier.

And, I realized that each round of questioning, or even angst, started from the previous ending point because I had some experience and Perspective to lay the groundwork.

It can take some time for Perspective to form. And, it can take an instant.

Perspective IS the Canvas

So, what if rather than starting the year with a clean slate or canvas or blank page, what if Perspective is the base coat, the backdrop, the color with which you paint your resolutions, write your story and pave your path. What if Perspective is the canvas?

Use your Perspective to lift out, carve out the pieces that are useful and will serve your now, your present and your future.

It starts with culling through the last year and using the perspective of being a year more experienced and wiser to cut out the prizes, the things that worked, to carry forward and then leave the rest behind.

Betsy mccallIt reminded me of when I was ten and eleven; I eagerly anticipated the mail at the beginning of every month, for that’s when McCall’s Magazine would arrive. I quickly flipped every page, slowing as I came toward the back until I found the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls. Every month it would be a surprise how Betsy would show up and her outfit, which was cutout alongside her, would be a sign of the season.

Sometimes I would cut them out straight from the magazine; other times I’d tear out the page and then when I was ready I used my round tipped scissors to carefully slice around each tab and edge. Then, I would dress my paper doll in her new garb and take her with me on whatever adventure I'd planned. 

It was the same thing while looking back at the achievements, events, situations and relationships over the last year. I flipped through the metaphorical history book to cut out the gems, the prizes, the lessons. I then sliced around what wasn’t needed anymore, breaking the pattern and leaving the remnants behind. 

Or, remember the carnival claw machine, where after you put your token in you took control of the giant claw in order to try and grab the toy of your desire. ClawMachine It was hard sometimes to get that thing to mind you and to weed through what you didn’t want so you could capture the prize, which was sometimes at the bottom of the heap.  

While pulling out what worked and what I’m carrying forward into 2018, I found it wasn’t the circumstances or specifics that bubbled to the surface, but rather the perspectives, the lessons learned, that were the prizes that are providing the starting points for what’s next. The new foundation and starting line.

It’s Perspective that keeps you from going backward.

For example, breaking my wrist taught me to get quiet, listen within and the power of single-tasking over multi-tasking.

And, speaking up and asking for closure at the end of a brief relationship taught me how much the relationships we choose (and we’re always choosing) provide a very truthful mirror.

It’s Perspective that allows us to do better, be better. Perspective is where wisdom, experience and courage not only get you started on the next thing, but Perspective is also what takes you across the finish line.

It’s seeing patterns through the lens of your now wisdom to change your inner dialogue which shifts mindset and ups your actions. It all starts with Perspective.

Which is why Perspective is my word for 2018

I’m rereading Michael Singer’s “Untethered Soul,” which is a great companion to Perspective. In it, he talks about the inner dialog, the incessant voice in our head that judges everything. You know the voice. Stop for a moment during the day and pay attention. It literally never stops. The voice is what drives us through the day, through life, good or bad. It drives us crazy!

Singer says you are not that voice, You are the one hearing the voice, you’re “the witness.” He says the “only real solution” to change and improving our way to enlightenment, “is to take the seat of Witness Consciousness and completely change your frame of reference. To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem.”

The same can be said for patterns in old stories or the emotions that keep you attached to them. Witness consciousness and Perspective are what lift and change things. As Singer says, the incessant voice will never stop, but you can change your relationship to it.

So, if you continually look at opportunities and self-growth through the lens of Perspective then it’s your own wisdom that leads the way. Combine that with asking what your heart wants, it’s a winning combo.

This year, with Perspective, I’m thinking in terms of more and less.

Perhaps some will resonate and you’ll come up with your own. What are you so over and done with, and what do you want to increase to elevate your life?

Some of mine have to do with my personal lesses and mores. And, some have to do what and who I want to surround myself with.

More and Less of This and That

  • Less input; More output. This is number one for me. Too much input clouds the output.
  • Less resistance; More surrender.
  • Less social media; More real life connections
  • Less fear; More faith
  • Less busyness; More focused action
  • Less going with the flow; More flow within structure
  • Less being an island and going it alone; More collaboration, partnering and asking for help
  • Less judgment; More curiosity and awareness
  • Less negative; More positive
  • Less talking; More listening
  • Less talking; More thinking
  • Less chaos; More moments of stillness
  • Less drama; More peaceful expression of truth
  • Less weight on other’s opinions; More self-trust, self-acceptance and self-reliance
  • Less hierarchy; More knowing importance of self value
  • Less perfection; More just doing it.
  • Less competition; More just doing it.
  • Less indecision; More just doing it.

So... Perspective in 2018 is part helicopter pilot, part conscious witness, part paper doll artiste and part bold creator.

It’s looking good so far! Happy New Year!

 


I Took a Leap of Faith: 3 Major Things I Learned

What Happened Afterward Was the Clincher

Leap 4

"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." ~ Napoleon Hill

I pick my racehorses because of their names. I do the same thing when filling out my March Madness bracket, choosing the teams by the names that I like. Believe or not, I actually won the office pool one year by doing just that. I have an affinity for Jayhawks and Wildcats, so there you go! Names and titles inspire me.

So, when it came to choosing a challenge on the Ropes Course, I saw “Leap of Faith” on the list and jotted my name down without even thinking about it. Then, I asked which was the hardest one, and the woman said, “You just signed up for it.”

Now, if you know me, you know this is not like me. At all. I don’t normally do hard physical challenges that could put my life in danger, as a rule.

But, I was there, at the women’s weekend retreat Campowerment, to push past my own personal boundaries, to dig deep and move beyond where I’ve been, so I wrote my name on the line next to: “Leap of Faith.”

What exactly is a Leap of Faith?

Various definitions include, “an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.”

Or “an act of believing something that is not easily believed,”

Or, “to do or believe in something or someone even when the circumstances are not visible or touchable.”

Or, “to jump from, to, over and/or on an object that's at certain distinctive distance and height.”

This particular leap of faith started simply as the last one. I was to climb to the top of a 30-foot pole and attempt to stand on top before jumping for a trapeze bar hanging a few feet away.

But, it quickly became a stunning breakthrough that shone a light in all areas of my life.

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

 

The leap started when I made the decision. I had no idea what I was getting into. I just decided to trust and go for it. So, I showed up at the Ropes Course at the allotted time.

As soon as I saw other women scaling the pole and struggling to stand up, I mean really struggle, I began looking for excuses not to do it. “I broke my wrist a few months ago,” “I get vertigo,” “I don’t like heights.” Suddenly, I was so sick of those voices in my head that are so bloody brilliant at coming up with excuses. So, I escorted them off the premises and joined the support team on the ground, cheering on the women and prepping my psyche for what was to come.

There was really was no way to prep. The coach, whose name was Zen, was on the ground with words of encouragement all through the process. He asked me, “What are you afraid of?” I told him I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to balance. I’m out of balance. Whoa.

He said, “Trust your balance.” Okay.

After a relatively easy climb, until I reached the top and realized, without anything to grab onto, I had only my own lower body strength to rely on to hoist myself up.

And, I thought, there is absolutely 100% no way I can do this. I was completely stuck, hunched over the top of a telephone pole in the middle of a field tucked in the mountains of Malibu, California. But, the thought of the pretty picture I struck was the furthest thing from my mind.

Zen asked, “What are you afraid of? Say it out loud.”

I said, “I don’t think I have the strength in my legs to lift me up to the top.” He repeated it and acknowledged it and said, “Okay let’s think about something else. What do you want to do next?”

After a moment I said, “Put my right foot on top of the pole.”

“What’s there now?” he asked.

“My thumb,” I said.

“Okay, just look at your thumb and only your thumb. Don’t think about anything but your thumb.”

I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever focused so fully on one single thing, my thumb, and only my right thumb, which was pressed so flat and hard I thought I might leave a dent.

And, then as if it had a will of it’s own, my right foot stepped up and replaced my thumb. It felt like a huge victory. It was a solid footing.

So, I’ve got one foot on top and the other is glued to the rung on the side of the pole. At that point I thought; I’m good. I hit a wall and thought; I’m kind of done. I can’t go any further but I’m okay with that because I’ve gone further than I thought I would. If I just let go now, I’m okay with that.

That’s when something happened. The wall that I hit became transparent. The wall melted away and I could see the other side.

Just a glimpse of what it would feel and look like to stand on that doggone pole. So, I refocused.

It took everything in me, literally everything between mind and body, to lift and place the other foot on the 9-inch surface.

I stood up, albeit rather wobbly, but finally balanced and sturdy. I yelled, “I’m balanced.” Actually, I said, "I'm f*^king balanced," because I was blown away by how much I'd gotten caught up in the story of being out of balance, of not trusting my balance. Thank you, Zen! 

I spread my arms and look out at the horizon over the Pacific Ocean.

JUST REACH FOR IT

Coach Zen said, “Don’t look at the horizon. Keep focused on what’s next.”

And, “next” was to jump off the top of my pole, where I’d become quite comfortable, leaping to catch the  hanging trapeze bar. And, it looked far.

I felt a little dizzy at the prospects. Leap 2

‘What are you going to do?” Zen asked. 

“I’m going to reach for it.”

The awesome women on the ground gave me a countdown. And I leapt.

And, I caught it. Whoop. A sure hard grip. No residuals of the former broken wrist.

JUST THE NEXT STEP

When I was back on the ground, Zen asked me, “How’d you do it?”

“Just the next step,” I said, no hesitation. It was so simple, even when it was hard. I was elated; in a pure joy of knowing I could do something I seriously didn’t think was possible in the moment.

Just the next step meant pushing past the best of my last best.

My dad just to tell my sister and I, when we were up against something we were afraid of, or were challenged by, he said, “Mind over matter.”

Mind over matter. I finally got it. Just the next step was mind over matter. Will over substance. Not letting anything cloud or hinder what was next. Just the next step, and then just the next step. 

It felt huge and expansive.

WITH EXPANSION COMES CONTRACTION, THEN INTEGRATION

The major high lasted for a few days. Entering back into pedestrian life after a breakthrough can be tricky. You want the expansion to last and it can be hard to understand why it doesn’t, why you might feel a little sad, or all you want to do is take a nap.

I kind of crashed. And, I listened to others who were having a similar experience after their breakthroughs from the weekend, and there were a lot of breakthroughs. Some called it backlash.

Then, I remembered.

It’s completely natural to contract after a major expansion. In fact, it’s necessary during the integration process.

That’s when it hit me. The integration that takes place afterward, after the leap, after the breakthrough, is the most important part. And, contraction is a vital to integration. The backlash is the contraction.

Developing strong integration skills means understanding the contraction is part of the process. It’s important to embrace the contraction as a key phase in moving forward at the higher level you found when you took the leap.

The contraction is there to allow yourself to catch up, to take a breath, a pause, to fully incorporate the new mindset, the new feelings in your body, the new energy that wants to course through you. It gives the whole of you a chance to say, “Hold on, I want this and I need a moment – or a few – to sit in all of this bigness, this knowing that I’ve got this.”

A healthy reframe of contraction is to think of it as a pause. It may feel kind of icky and stuck, but it’s a pause so you can fully step in and inhabit the expansion.

In the past, I’ve been undone and done-in by the contraction phase, to the point where it’s stopped me, where it felt like stumbling backwards. But, this time, it didn’t last very long. I’ve done a ton of integrating the last several years, and have made it an integral part of my own evolution as a human being.

It was the leap, the leap of faith that was a culmination in which everything led up to that moment, that self-trust to move beyond what was before. It felt like the graduation to the next grade, to the PhD level of life mastery.

I thought the leap would be the victory, but it was just the beginning.

The full experience is to push through your limit and then to fully integrate the lessons learned from the expansions and contractions. Those lead to the next step up or leap where the process starts all over again.

Since Camp and the leap, I’ve noticed that I’ve moved forward. I’ve completed more things. I’ve put down over 50,000 words on my book. I’ve launched a new program. I’m written a lot more articles, and published them. I’ve made new connections and I feel my current relationships becoming more honest, deeper.

I feel different but the same. I feel the same but different.

I’m bolder while at the same time becoming gentler, more real.

It came at the right time in my growth, education, evolution. Unpeeling, unfolding to what's coming next.

THE THREE THINGS AGAIN

This breaks the leap or breakthrough down into three steps or phases.

  1. A leap starts to happen by taking Just the Next Step. Laser focus on just the next move, eye of the target, not the horizon. Nothing else matters in that moment. Nothing.
  2. To leap – Just Reach For It. Push past the best of your last best.
  3. Integrate – that’s the most important part of a breakthrough experience. It’s alchemical to integrate. Allow yourself to catch up. The actual change happens during integration, not during the leap itself.

A leap is a breakthrough. It ups your ante. Embrace it. Every time.

“There are many talented people who haven't fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” James Cameron


Gratitude is the Highest Attitude

 Here's Why & How It Works 

Gratitude zac-durant-302752
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

It’s very in vogue to talk about gratitude. Have you noticed? It’s kind of everywhere. People writing about it, talking about it, recording it in gratitude journals, texting in gratitude chains, creating memes about it and gathering around dinner tables to honor it.

The truth is, being grateful has never been out of vogue. And, there’s a simple explanation for that.

Because Gratitude Works

The law of attraction is grounded in gratitude. When you express what you’re grateful for, in a powerfully energetic way, the universe conspires and moves to give you more of what you’re grateful for. It's the simplest form of 'what you focus on expands.'  

Lack and Gratitude are Polar Opposite Energies 

When you feel you’re lacking something, the moment you shift to a place of gratitude you’re no longer in lack. Even if it’s just for a moment. So, when you think about, if you spend more time in an attitude of gratitude there’s more room for abundance and less and less space for lack.

It’s a pretty simple concept actually.

I interviewed a West African shaman a couple of years ago for a book project. His tribe, members of the Bwiti tradition, subscribe to one, and only one, simple prayer:

“Thank you for this new day.”

They begin each morning with the same declaration: “Thank you for this new day.” Each day is a fresh, clean slate, a new journey. With this simple prayer of gratitude, their minds are clear for what blessings are to come. He said “Every day we come with new thoughts, clear from yesterday’s thoughts."

It's such simple clarity. They live in the present moment in an attitude grounded in gratitude. They are happy people with a deep loving tradition of family and community. 

"Gratitude is heaven itself." William Blake

Living in The High Attitudes

An attitude is defined loosely as a feeling or way of thinking that affect’s a person’s mood or behavior. It's a manner or disposition.

To my way of thinking, you could also think of an attitude as a spiritual level of consciousness. Sometimes it’s easier to wrap your brain around the idea of shifting or adjusting your attitude rather than the notion of lifting your consciousness, which can sometimes feel a bit esoteric. 

The highest attitudes are those that resonate and vibrate at the highest levels of energy, leaving you with a fuller feeling of vitality, contentment and joie de vivre.

The high attitudes:

An attitude of love.
An attitude of understanding.
An attitude of grace.
An attitude of compassion.
An attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega of pinnacle attitudes. 

"I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I've never emerged." Patch Adams

You know when you, or someone else, is having a “bad attitude.” You’re unhappy, angry, finding flaw with everything around you, often having a hard time shaking the milieu of discontent. And, you may have heard the words (or said them to that someone else), “You seriously need an attitude adjustment.”

Here's where gratitude comes in. What you start with just voicing or internalizing a feeling of gratitude, in whatever moment or situation you’re in, being grateful leads to understanding and compassion and grace and love. Find just one thing in that bad-attitude moment to be grateful for. It starts the shift, the adjustment to a higher attitude.

The Bookend Effect 

And, here's the beauty about the bookend effect of gratitude.

Each of the high attitudes mentioned above, rises again to a place of gratitude.
You can't not be grateful, when you're in a state of love, understanding or compassion.

It’s a powerful cycle. It creates a continual cause and effect, a mobius, an infinity of wellbeing and enlightened living. Gratitude begets love, which begets gratitude. 

That’s why gratitude is the highest attitude.

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." Cicero

According to science, gratitude has some added benefits:

  • Gratitude boosts your health.
  • Gratitude makes your happier. 25% happier science says.
  • Gratitude fosters compassion and surging feelings of love.
  • Gratitude gives you more energy, higher emotional intelligence, feelings of being connected to something greater than yourself.
  • Gratitude makes you less anxious and makes you sleep better.
  • Gratitude creates a stronger desire for being charitable & generous.

Start and end with an attitude of gratitude. You’ll get used to air up there.