Life & Love

It's the Mother Lode of Mother Loads

  Annie-spratt-210644-unsplash

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. 

 


Allow This to Be Your Guide When Feeling Overwhelmed

Matthew-henry-64794-unsplash

A recent discussion with my niece solidified my inklings around this thought changer. It was her birthday and we got to talking about how we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed. Her, with her increasing responsibilities at her new job. And, me with my numerous projects in various stages of incompletion or development. 

It hit me after we hung up about how much overwhelm is self-inflicted. I know for me, when I involve myself in the energy of the too-much-ed-ness, the I-have-a-full-plate-ness, the I’m-so-busyness, I become the overwhelm. It starts to define my presence, the monkey mind takes over and internal chaos ensues. Fun, right? 

So, I determined it was time to step back. To reflect and feel into what’s going on. The word that sprung to mind, and the notion I was noodling for this post before my niece and I spoke, is Synchrony. Or more to the present point, being out of sync. To me, that’s the epitome of the overwhelm.

The truth is, we also know the feeling when we’re in sync with life. It's different for everyone. To me, it’s when things connect, when they make sense, they're in flow, when I'm in flow. There’s a vibration to it. A sustaining resonance. The word even sounds rather mechanical or even musical.

Synchrony 

When something is synchronized it hums, like a well-oiled machine. Hmm. Now, I get what it means when someone says “we’re humming along.” Or, “Things are going well. I’m humming.”

It means synchronization and synchronicity is in play. Events, situations, projects or opportunities align themselves in such a way that they connect, they fit. And, when you pay attention by honing in with your intuition, then you’ll start making choices that are synchronistic for you and your life.

"I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path." ~ Dalai Lama

So, how does this help as you’re feeling overwhelm? How do you get back to the hum? To my way of thinking, reprioritizing things using your energetic intuition, synchronizing with your soul, might be the way to go.

Feeling Into It

I decided to do some “synchrony testing” with my list of projects. The same can be done when making a decision or a life choice. Through experimentation, what it does is allow flow. Allowing flow means synchrony takes the driver’s seat. The rightness falls in line by surrendering to life’s flow in the moment and by listening to your own energetic wisdom.

"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life." ~ Eckhart Tolle 

My dear friend, Lisa Greenfield of Truth in Hand, suggests a form of body testing when you’re choosing between options. You write the thing or things you’re considering on separate pieces of paper or 3x5 cards. Lie down on a flat surface (I lay on the floor) and one by one, place each paper just below your rib cage, on your solar plexus. Your solar plexus is your soul’s power center. 

As you do, ask the question, "Is this (...) the most synergistic choice right now?" Whether it’s a career move or choosing between two houses, whatever it is. I asked which project is the top priority in alignment with my purpose.

It’s subtle, but as you pay attention to your body’s reaction to each one, you may notice either a settled or unsettled feeling in your stomach. Or a calm comes over you. Or you feel your engine getting revved up with excitement.

How does it resonate?

What feels in sync with your current goals or your greater purpose?

Another method is to muscle test the idea. My dear friend, Ferrell Marshall of Spotlight Coaching, uses this technique and taught it to me.

Stand squarely. Hold the piece of paper to your heart. Or simply ask the question you’re weighing as you hold your hands to your heart, right over left.

  • Is this the right job for me?
  • Am I to go to Paris?
  • Or on a safari?
  • Is this a healthy relationship for me?
  • Is today the day for this conversation?
  • Should I take this class?
  • Is this the right time to launch my seminar?
  • Is this my top priority project?

Make no deliberate moves but rather rely on your organic energy to move you. If your body sways forward the answer is yes. If your body sways backward, it’s no. If it wavers with no definite move, it’s a maybe or a not right now.

I’ve tried both methods of testing. The first and vital thing they both do is to get you present and out of the monkey mind that feeds on the chaos. From that slower in-the-moment place, I have made decisions based on what my energy flow was telling me. I know it sounds a little woo-woo. But, all I can say is it they’ve often been decisions that felt right and in sync for me at that time.

And, it eased me out of my overwhelm, so there you go.

To quote my niece when I asked her, at 28, what advice she’d give her younger self:

“Be real and be open with yourself, and with others.”

Another way to stay in synchrony and in flow.  Great advice, Peanut!

 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash


The Power of Re

S-w-459136-unsplash

I overheard a woman speaking the other day in the elevator. Well, didn’t exactly overhear, it was a confined space and she was speaking loudly. She kept talking about how exhausted she was and that she needed to regenerate. She must have used the word regenerate ten times. At some level I could relate. In fact, the other nodding heads in the elevator gave credence to this articulated common denominator.

I love me a good “Re” word. Case in point, there are 26 of them in this piece.

It got me thinking about the impact of a good Re. It can be powerful and allows you to live your life rather than your life living you. It’s taking control of your life.

The power of the Re is that it places new energy in a new way toward, well, toward anything.

There are a lot great Re words, but here are some powerful ones to Re whatever needs a redo or a rethink or a reframe. I could go on…

  • Reinvent yourself by getting back to your foundation, what you love and why you do what you do.
  • Reinvest your time in a new and charitable way.
  • Reclaim your dreams, keeping them alive by articulating them on a regular basis.
  • Rejuvenate your attitude, turning can’t into can and don’t into do.
  • Refocus your energy by pausing, taking a deep breath, perhaps meditating or journaling.
  • Readjust your thinking, allowing yourself to come at a project from a fresh angle.
  • Retool your personal brand, your resume, your career intentions. A fresh approach can bring fresh results.
  • Recharge your physical battery; exercise, take walks midday or even rearrange your commute on the way to work.
  • Reignite your vision, like gently blowing on cooling embers. It’s always there, gently wake it up and bring it to life by pursuing it in thought and action, a little every day.
  • Redesign your plan; remove what’s not working and try something else.
  • Reframe your perspective, adjusting your view to gain new intelligence.
  • Refresh your relationships by reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. And, by being present in every exchange.
  • And, Refuse to quit on yourself.  

"Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit." ~ 
Napoleon Hill

Oh my, there are just so many. Review. Release. Renovate. Redecorate. Recreate. Reimagine.

Every day, you have an opportunity to hit the reboot button, in whatever way you choose.

In the way our skin renews itself every 24 hours, embracing the Re allows us to do the same thing in our lives. And, the good news is you can do and redo it again and again.

It’s truly the cycle of life. Or, in this case, the recycle of life.

 

[Photo by s w on Unsplash]


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?


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.


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.


How Not Having Kids Shaped My Legacy

Allef-vinicius-woman on road
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

 

We all want to matter. It’s innate for us to want to leave a mark on this world that will have meant something when we’re long gone. For loving parents, having children is often a principal and driving force of their purpose and legacy. I’ve asked so many friends who are parents this question, and many have said their children are their legacy, which always makes total sense to me.

My grandmother would have been 114 this past week. I thought about how proud she would be if she could see all that her family is doing, her son and daughter, six granddaughters and seven great grandkids. I can just feel her joy as she watches the active and meaningful lives they’re all living. Her legacy is alive and well, and growing.

It got me thinking about the existentialism of legacy, if you don’t have children, which I’ve thought a lot about as a childless woman. Is your legacy only partially fulfilled, without offspring? It took a bit of a journey to arrive at how I feel about this now. So, this is my story.


EPIPHANIES WHILE GETTING PEDICURES
“Wow, look who’s a Grandpa,” I said. I was looking at Facebook on my phone while getting a Mani Pedi with my girlfriend. We were sitting in very high-backed white leather chairs, feet soaking in bowls of aqua glass about three-inches thick. They weren’t motorized tubs, which I kind of missed because I liked to hold my toes against the jets. But, the smooth glass felt good against the bottom of my feet. My manicure was already done and my nails were still tacky so I’d been careful when I’d clicked open Facebook so I didn’t dent my polish. My manicurist had taken such great care with every stroke of her tiny paintbrush that I didn’t have the heart to be the one to destroy one of her masterpieces.

The look on my friend’s china doll face was one of understanding because I had no doubt she knew where I was heading with my thoughts. The Facebook post made a happy announcement of grandfather-dom. And, the grandpa was my college sweetheart, my first fiancé, the owner of my cherry.

And, now here, all of these years later, like three decades later, he has three children and a grandson that bears his middle name as his first. Henry. That’s the name we always talked about naming our little boy, when we had one, of many, we said. Henry, and we’d call him Hank. I still think it’s a great name.

Now, when I looked at the sweet, squished red face of this baby whom I don’t know and never will meet, I felt a pit in my gut. Not because I felt I missed anything with the old boyfriend. But, because that’s something I’ll never know. I’ll never know the pull of a grandmother’s love, of that special feeling that only grandmothers know when their child has a child. Because here I was all these years later, looking at this flat photo on Facebook, and I’m childless. I can’t have children of my own, and will never experience that scene in that way.

There was a numbness that took over when I thought about it. A numbness that I’ve taken to mean acceptance, because really what else could I do? I refused to have a pity party so the numbness had become the norm. A small cotton ball near my elbow probably had more feeling right then than I did.

But, the truth was I think I was afraid to go beneath the numbness. Because staying numb kept me safe from feeling. I was numb so I didn’t feel. I always described myself as an emotional person, a woman in touch with her emotions. But, not about this. This. I’d grown to like my numb. Love it, even. My numb was loyal and steadfast, providing me a calming hum when she knows I need it. I know what to expect from numb. When the numb is removed what is there?

And, there it was. What I felt was a one-ness; what I felt was a projected alone-ness. Not lonely, but a sense of, it’s me and me alone. I see big family photos on social media of grandparents in their 80’s, with a huge brood of kids and grandkids and great grandkids, all wearing red t-shirts because they’re at some annual family reunion in Wisconsin, and I project ahead three decades me, myself and, and I think; I’m alone. A woman, a would-be matriarch without a family legacy.

And, even deeper than that was a longing to make a generational and meaningful contribution to humankind, and the question of what that is supposed to be.

There was a little girl next to me with bright green and blue nail polish. She was with her mother. It was sweet. But, I also realized that I don’t want that anymore. My friend — who also doesn’t have children — and I have often talked about how it’s interesting how many of our friends don’t have kids of their own. And, I think, you fill your village with some others who are on similar paths.

“Do you wish it was with you?” she asked, referring to the Facebook photo.

I shook my head. Nope. The pedicurist reached for my right foot. And, I was back in the world. And, that’s the moment when my shift in mindset started to settle into place as the question of legacy dug deeper into my consciousness. As a woman unable to have kids, does that lessen my purpose or make my existence as a woman less-than because I’m not fulfilling the natural legacy of my biology, of co-creating the next generation of life?

It caused me to examine deeply my path, the mark I will leave on this world and my relationship with being childfree.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE IS 20/20
When I was a little girl, like nine or ten, when other little girls were playing with dolls and pretending to clean house and get ready for their husbands to come home for dinner, I was playing office. I have a specific memory of being at my grandparent’s house where I’d created a small office. I’d received a toy phone for Christmas and I was giving it a run. I sat with authority at my tiny desk, answering my toy phone with confidence.

As I glanced around my make-believe office from my helicopter and historical perspective, I saw that my dolls and stuffed animals were my co-workers and subordinates, all lined up behind me, in various shapes and sizes, as I bossed them around, telling them what to do. The seeds were being planted in my young mind of wanting to be a leader and reach for the corner office, which eventually I did do. And, what I loved most about that job was the nurturing, the mothering, working with and guiding those in my stead. Legacy?

When I dressed my Barbie, she was a seriously cool single chick, with a kick-ass job and social life with numerous Kens. Yes, she was looking for her truelove Ken (still is), but that didn’t stop her from having a full life.

In my 20’s, while friends were starting to grow their broods, I was growing my career, watering the seed that had been planted early on. I enjoyed watching them, but from afar in the sense that I didn’t feel connected to wanting that for myself, although I figured I probably would at some point, after all that’s what I was supposed to do. In fact, when I met my ex husband, we agreed that we both wanted kids, but even that felt a bit like fantasy, out of my reality.

I watched my sister struggle through numerous miscarriages and I felt deeply her pain and longing for children. Then, my niece was born and I fell madly in love with her, followed by her brother whom I was crazy in love with too. That feeling of overwhelming, protective, I’d-do-anything-for-this-kid love was the closest I’ve come to wanting some kids of my own. 

After I found out I was pregnant, my husband-at-the-time and I entered the fantasy phase of what to expect while we were expecting. I surrendered to the innate part of my womanhood that wanted to birth a human, to take part in the natural course of things, by the standards and traditions of those before me as well as the possibility of fulfilling the dreams of parents/soon-to-be grandparents. I became excited about it and was enthralled with the changes in my body. And, as I’d hoped, it brought my husband and I closer in what was a bit of a bumpy marriage at the time.

For the next several weeks we drifted into that zone where expectant couples live: eager announcements, morning sickness at the smell of paint and toast, books on the stages of pregnancy and baby names, nursery furniture, shower dates, endless chatty discussions about bodily functions with anyone who would listen. Cramping. Spotting. Sleepless nights. Ultrasounds. Ovarian tumor. Emergency surgery. No more baby.

What I gave birth to, rather than a bouncing baby boy/girl, was the numb. A numb that softened the mourning over how my womanhood had failed: failed my body the chance to fulfill it’s expected destiny, failed my husband, failed my parents/soon-to-be grandparents, failed my sister by not gifting her with the same kind of love I feel for her kids, and failed a family history that would not continue with me. Failed my legacy?

But, here’s what’s interesting. I think deep down after that happened, I knew I most likely would not have a child of my own. My husband and I never seriously talked about trying to have another child. And, the loss of this pregnancy is what signified the beginning of the end of the marriage. It opened a chasm in which to see the framework and scaffolding of it all and there were too many broken pieces to fix.

So, I was on my own again, alone. I was still buying into the ingrained pressure to have a child and that I would not be complete until that happened. So, I made a promise to myself, and declared it out loud to my close circle, that if I was still single and without the prospect of a mate when I was 42, I would look into having a child on my own.

Then, I filed that away and got on with my life, a life I relished in so many ways. A big move across the country, new jobs (including the one with the corner office), a deepening love and commitment to writing, new ways to expand spiritual growth that have taken me far outside of my comfort zone, traveling alone and with others, dating, not dating, big crying, big laughing and bouts of loneliness which provided the contrast necessary to be able to embrace the non-loneliness of being alone. Learning is revealed through contrast.

CHILDLESS MOTHER
As 42 approached, I kept to my own word. I wasn’t in a serious relationship that might lead to long term so I started digging and researching what it would take to have a child on my own. I read books, attended seminars on how to adopt children from Guatemala, Russia and China. I interviewed adoption attorneys on the adoption process in the United States as well as spoke with some of their clients about their personal experiences. I checked out the reputable sperm donation clinics in Southern California, going as far as filling out a profile as to what kind of “father” I would want for my sperm baby. I bought a two-bedroom home with a nice big yard.

Then, I woke up one day and realized I didn’t want it badly enough to do it alone. I’d done my due diligence and there was a true sense of freedom in that.

A few years later I had to have a hysterectomy, which closed the chapter on any lingering inkling that I might be missing out on something. My friend, the same pedicure friend, did a painting for me that showed the figure of a woman taking flight. On the back on the painting was a picture of Saint Majella, the Patron of Childless Mothers. Ah, this was truly a new chapter.

Childless Mother. This is something I could embrace. I loved nurturing people, and even though I didn’t have children of my own, I love kids and knew then and there that I would always have them in my life, somehow. Did this have something to do with my legacy?

It was another redefining moment as I looked at both motherhood and legacy through a fresh lens.

THERE’S MORE TO A FAMILY TREE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Not too long ago, my parents, sister and I did the Ancestry DNA test, sharing the interesting results with each other about our origins. My mom took the opportunity to fill in the family tree on the Ancestry.com site. She and my grandmothers had done extensive genealogy research into our family, going back to the 1500’s, stretching across Europe, so the family tree looked quite impressive; sprawling, uneven branches of life with names that have repeated and regenerated often.

My finger traced along our branch: my parents, my sister and her husband, their two kids, and me. And, again it hit me. My little branch was dangling out there, alone, like a stump. It felt like a stop. But, that’s when things became crystal clear.

A LEGACY IS A LIVING THING
What I felt next was a full embodiment of something that felt embryonic and full of promise and at the same ancient and foregone. What I felt was my purpose. As a creator, a writer and a storyteller, the messages and missions in my stories, those define my legacy. What became so clear also created a new sense of urgency. Because, now knowing this, writing is not only my passion; it’s also my responsibility: to my legacy, to my mark on the world. It’s my sense of belonging and my contribution to history, and yes, to my family tree. 

My legacy is now alive, and what I birth will live on long after I’m gone.

My grandmother, the one who would have been 114, her legacy stretched far beyond the future reaches of her offspring. She started teaching in the 1920’s, in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Kansas. In the 40’s she started college, taking one extension course at a time, whenever one was available in her small town and when she could fit it in while raising her family.

It took her until 1959, but she got her Bachelor’s Degree at the same time as her son, my dad. She went on to be selected as a Master Teacher, an honor bestowed to the top teachers in the state of Kansas. She was passionate and touched many lives during her career. Her legacy made a difference.

YOUR LEGACY IS REALLY NOT ABOUT YOU
My path to understanding my legacy may seem roundabout, but in fact, it’s the natural course of discovering your purpose. For me, it’s writing meaningful prose that will help people to think about things in a new way, to improve their lives. It becomes about them which is so much more meaningful. 

Your legacy is the impact you make and the imprint you leave behind. We all have a legacy. And, the truth is it can be either positive or negative. There are numerous examples of people who are/were notorious for doing bad things, things that have a ripple effect. They go down in history as such. 

Your legacy is how you’re remembered. The lesson is that when you’re aware you’re modeling your life for your legacy, you pay attention. When you take an active part in creating and living your legacy, it becomes a meaningful adventure.

HOW DO YOU LIVE YOUR LEGACY?
Take a look in the metaphorical mirror at your life. Ask yourself:

  • How are you an original? We all are unique, and what’s your special sauce?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • How can you make a lasting impact on others? Look at the impact you currently have on people in your life, directly and indirectly. Don’t belittle the significance you have in your world already.
  • Will your lasting impression help or change the greater good? How?
  • What lessons have you learned that you find yourself organically teaching to others, whether it’s merely giving a friend, child or parent advice, or whether it’s a more global imparting of your knowledge?

Your own path of self-discovery, as mine has, will help answer those questions. Any or all of these help to comprise what is your legacy, your gift to the world. 

Give it space. Allow your legacy to find you as well. Sometimes we can be so busy seeking we miss what’s coming directly to us. 

Be a Living Legacy. And, remember that the actions you take, the words you speak, and the impressions you make launch a ripple that ebbs and flows, continuing long after you’ve moved on to the next action, word or impression. Armed with this knowledge, you’re empowered to take an active role in creating the legacy you were born to create. 

ONE LAST THING
The truth is, the inkling is still there, just once in awhile, when big things happen in the lives of the important young people in my life. I put myself there, what would that be like if I was their mom. And, here’s what beautiful. I can still be a nurturing mentor or influence with them. There are so many opportunities for that. I know this is part of my legacy too.

And, who knows? Perhaps my next life mate will have kids and I’ll still get to be a grandma, of sorts. How great would that be?

Most of all, I believe the best legacy is a life well lived, in service to others and to a higher calling. Create from there and you’ll be unstoppable while having a meaningful life.

 


Life Isn’t Like You Thought It’d Be, and That’s Okay

And, other advice for my younger self.

Julia-caesar-15081

I’m finding that some of my most treasured time these days is spent listening to, advising, encouraging, mentoring and enjoying young adults. It’s happened organically, sometimes out of the blue, as so often wonderful things do. I find myself, when in these situations, wanting to give them shortcuts, to tell them what I’ve learned along the way that might give them a leg up or that might save them from the angst or hardship or heartache that I went through when I was their age.

Then, of course, I realize I can’t “save” them but can perhaps shed some light on a different or experienced perspective. I still remember those loving influences early in my adult life, often recalling the gems, now metaphorical or thematic, that still guide me.

It got me thinking, as I’ve counseled these incredible, curious, bright, seeking, voracious people, is how often my words are echoes and whispers of what I would have told my 20-something self, given the chance.

So, on this birthday in the midst of my fifth decade I decided to do just that.

I had to laugh because once I got started it became a pretty darned long list of things I wished I’d known at the time, things that would have definitely saved me from a headache or two.

For the sake of time and space, here are 12, plus one from one my most trusted life guides.

1. Don’t dim your light or dumb yourself down for anyone. This one’s big and happens way too much.

You may find yourself in situations when you feel others are cutting you off or belittling your opinions or points of view. Two remarkable young women in the last two weeks shared stories about this happening in their jobs. If you feel someone is trying to sniff out your light (you know who the light-sniffers are) know it’s usually because they’re afraid of their own. They feel threatened by you because they only want to shine too. By standing powerfully in your own presence, fully, you really allow them to do the same. They still may not be comfortable around you, but that’s okay.

You were brought into this world to shine in your own unique specific way. To use your gifts as no one else can. The God source in you is infinite and powerfully bright; when you dim it in order to make others feel more comfortable or less insecure, you also dim your God source. You cut off your divinity by being less than who you are. And, over time those external voices can start to become your own negative self-talk.

2. Women, help other women. This goes hand in hand with the above. Nothing is more disheartening than when you see a woman not giving other women a chance or opportunity to be seen, heard or hired, because of her own insecurities and limiting personal power. The thing is when a woman clips another woman’s wings, she clips her own. We need to help each other. It goes for men too, but I see it as an epidemic with women. 

3. Don’t hide your gifts from the world for fear of not being enough, or worse, of being too much. Playing small is doing you and the world a disservice.

4. Trust your own inner voice, your God voice. It is your best and highest counsel. Seek its wisdom every day. It always knows what's best for you and the situation you're in. Get quiet and listen. Often. 

5. Life isn’t like you thought it would be – Let go of what it’s supposed to look like. Surrender to the flow of life and you’ll be less disappointed and more engaged by life’s twists and turns. They’ll be a part of what is beautiful about life.

Michael Singer talked about this in his book The Surrender Experiment. He was as a ponytail-wearing yogi in college when he made the decision to surrender to life, to be present with each moment and to see what was being asked of him in that moment. And, he’s had a very big, roller coaster life where he built several businesses, one of which became a billion dollar public company that went through serious trials and tribulations, things you and I will hopefully never experience. And, he became the best-selling author of The Untethered Soul. All the while, surrendering to what life brought his way. “Over the years I had come to see that I really had no idea where life was going to put me. And, in truth, it was none of my business. My job was to simply continue surrendering and serving what was put in front of me.” BTW, he's still a ponytail-wearing yogi. So relax, let life flow.

6. When you mess up, own up – and as quickly as possible. This is a repeat from my birthday post last year, but worth repeating. It keeps your side of the street clean so you don’t keep stumbling over obstacles you create, or co-create. And, don’t ever throw others under the bus. The blame game keeps you small.

[Last year's post: On Being Born to Run... and to Create and Play and Love and...]

7. Give credit where credit is due. Honor and champion others for their ideas and contributions. It fosters trust, loyalty and authenticity in your relationships.

8. Don’t ghost on people. In other words, don’t just disappear or not respond when you’re afraid of rejecting someone or if you don’t want to do something. When you do ghost, it’s the ultimate rejection. Just state your truth and move on.

9. Make your life’s mission about how it will make an impact on others. When you do that it will be the guide post and touchstone for a meaningful life. It becomes your legacy.

10. Self-love is the most important love. It’s the strongest foundation from which to build any relationship. The only foundation, actually. You really can’t fully love others until you fully love yourself.

11. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. And, think. It’s pretty simple. Be with people who fill you up.

12. Focus on your attitude. You often can’t control what happens. The only thing you can control is how you react to it.

Fellow birthday girl, my beloved Mom, who turns 80 today, has a wonderful life full of wisdom, laughter and love. By the way, Mom is rehearsing to sing a solo ("Hello Dolly") in her theatre company's upcoming show. I mean, this woman! Happy Birthday, Mom! So, of course I asked her what she would tell her 25-year-old self. She said:

13. Don’t worry about the small stuff. And, be more patient. Things usually work out for the best.

The simplest thing I would tell myself is Life is meant to unfold. Learn, educate yourself, continue to seek and strive for excellence, but life is going to happen the way it’s going to happen.

And, everything will be okay.


7 Re's to ReAwaken Your Life

Huntington-spring-2013_roses

By Cindy Yantis

A day spent at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena was more than I expected it to be. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. I was there recently with my dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, who wanted to go for inspiration. She's currently in the one-woman play "The Belle of Amherst" in which she brilliantly portrays Emily Dickinson. I joined her at the last minute because I had an inexplicable yearning to be outside in that beautiful nature. I felt like a bear reemerging after a long hibernation.

Because of Emily Dickinson’s lifelong fascination with roses, we focused particularly on the massive rose garden enlivened with over 1500 rose varieties and hybrids, examples include the Passion Rose, Jump for Joy Rose, Exquisite Rose and the Marilyn Monroe & John F Kennedy Roses, which with a stroke of garden humor were placed next to each other.

Breathing in the fresh growth and deepness of new that surrounded us and greeted our hungry senses at every turn, I had a new feeling of life within, a rebirth and renewal.

The Power of RE

It got me thinking about the power of the Re words. I’ve reflected about this before and it hit me again at Huntington Gardens how deeply ensconced Re’s are in the development of spring, and therefore in our lives at this time of year. For sure, in my life right now.

The truth is I have been hibernating, more than usual in fact.

When I broke my wrist on Christmas Eve it meant there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, the most crucial being – at least to me – I couldn’t type because I couldn’t pronate my left hand. So, it made writing – my passion and my why – very complicated. Sure, I could “voice type” straight into a document and write longhand (thank god I’m not a lefty). But, instead, I decided to take it as a sign to stop for a while and to surrender to all that my rehabilitation meant on a deeper level. 

I slowed way down, took a couple classes, did some reading, plenty of soul-searching and spent a lot of quiet time alone. Staring at the wall. A. Lot. Of. Time.

My rehabilitation and recovery (two delicious Re words) allowed me to hibernate deeply in my own truth. And, the reality of my truth is much simpler than the reality I was living before I broke my wrist. 

Related: How A Broken Wrist Changed My Life

So, this brings me back to this season of Re. What I love about the Re is that it brings a fresh lens, attitude, appetite and perspective to whatever you’re doing at any given moment. Or more to the point, a refreshed way of being.

Here are 7 RE's that come to mind to reawaken you:

Re-calibrate your spirit by getting back in touch with nature. It can be really simple. Walk barefoot in the grass. Gaze at the sun. Sink your hands into the soil. Bury your face in a cluster of lilacs.

Reaffirm your goals that are most important by getting rid of those that aren’t.

Reclaim your dreams by keeping them alive every day. Talk about them. Write about them. Take action.

Reignite your relationships by devoting time and energy in those that mean the most to you.

Rejuvenate your system. Get 8 hours of sleep. Meditate. Clean up your diet. Replenish your supplements.

Refocus your game plan by clearing out the extraneous projects; and

Remind yourself about what you love & why you do what you do.

Tis the season to Revivify your life. What Re’s can you add to your list?

Emily Dickinson wrote, “We turn not older with the years, but newer every day.” It makes me wonder if Emily was sparked by the Re as well. I like to think so.

BelleIf you’re in Southern California this week I highly recommend seeing Ferrell Marshall in her luminous performance as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst. It closes 4/23. Tickets available here.