The temp read 101 degrees as I pulled into Ralph’s parking lot. It was a challenge as usual to find a parking spot which was further exasperated by the fact that I was hot and didn’t want to walk a mile to the door. So, again as usual, I trekked up and down the rows of parked cars watching for brake lights indicating someone was pulling out.
I turned down the last row, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a ramp. I have no idea why I had never noticed this any of the numerous times I’d been to this grocery store, but today it felt it had been put there just for me. It led to underground parking and as I drove down the ramp it was like finding a secret passage way. I found a spot right by the door so I whipped my Mini Cooper S into place.
I grabbed a cart and rode up the elevator next to a man with a beard and a twinkle in his eye that made me think of Merlin the magician, or a young Professor Dumbledore. I said, “This is the first time I’ve parked down here. It’s like a whole new world.” Without skipping a beat, he said, “a whole new world that’s a whole lot cooler.” Well said, Professor.
It got me thinking about what can happen when you look beyond what you already know, or think you know.
How often do you find yourself thinking something won't work because the thing you tried, failed to make it happen? Or a solution to a problem feels less than satisfactory, but it was the general consensus so it's what you go with? Or you've fallen into a habit or routine that used to work for you but it's lost it's power or value, however you keep doing it because it's what you've always done? Or you just can't figure it out so you quit? Or you can't find something, so you give up?
We've all done it. No judgment here. Heck I didn't even know there was underground parking at a shopping center I've been going to every week for almost two years!
But, what I experienced made me realize - or remember- that there's always another way. There's always something beyond what we already know. There's nearly always another way into it.
Do this one thing and it will change the way you live your life. And, it's simpler than you might think.
photo by Isabela Kronemberger
By Cindy Yantis
I was going to be seeing some people I hadn’t seen in awhile, a couple of them with whom I shared some history. Enough history that I had some angst about seeing them. Enough so that I started rehearsing dialog in my head days before, playing out various scenarios – some good, some not so good – and rummaging in my closet to decide what to wear so that I looked more at ease than I felt.
Ever been there? Sometimes it can take over and become another character in the room, the character that plays out the scenarios which stops you from being present with what’s really happening in the moment. Stops you from being you.
At a recent women’s retreat I was part of fabulous discussion where we tapped into a notion that flipped a switch for all of us. The idea of being Available. Wha??? Certainly, it's a word we're all familiar with, but this way of thinking about it was new and enthralling.
To get to that aha moment, we acknowledged where in our lives we were not there, where things felt stuck or stagnant or scary. Where we stopped ourselves from moving forward or from having a tough discussion or from asking for what we want/need. Where we had showed up halfway for fear of the not knowing, or where we edited ourselves down to being a fraction of who we are because of wanting to avoid conflict. Where we were trying to control the situation so much that we put others off and eventually lost control in a bigger way.
So we asked, what’s the shift that will change who we are in those circumstances? It’s more than being authentic, although that’s vital too. It’s more than being present. It’s more than being open.
It’s being actively present and open, which we determined meant being Available.
Being Available means being actively present and open. That unlocked the gateway. Or rather, blasted it wide open!
Then, we gave it voice, which birthed a mantra that carries you boldly into any situation. It literally calms and revs your energy at the time. It centers you, gives you confidence and allows your heart to lead the way. And, being mindfully available is a starter, not a stopper. And, it’s simple.
Follow “I’m available” with whatever you’re about to do, or what you're desiring to make happen.
I’m available for this meeting.
I’m available for this discussion.
I’m available for my next, better job. I’m available for this interview
I’m available for, to and in this relationship.
I’m available for this phone call.
I’m available for this date.
I’m available for my body to be healthy.
I’m available for and to my best life.
Try it! I’m available…
It makes it even more powerful when you incorporate it into conversation with people. "I'm available to and for creating the best solution for all of us." Taking ownership of your availability is so incredibly empowering.
Being in a state and mindset of availability allows you to really show up. It can be a baby step toward fulfilling a big goal, or toward conquering a fear. Just be available for the baby step, and just the baby step. Then, the next step and the next. And, when the big opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and AVAILABLE!
Being available - and stating that you're available - helps to release expectations and false foregone conclusions.
Being available means being undefended, knowing there's nothing you have to defend. Being defensive or defended closes off your availability. You're just available and that's enough.
Consistently being available makes what seemed impossible much more possible. It removes the chains that have held you back from all that is possible for you.
Thus begins a new way of thinking, of showing up for ourselves and to the world. I do it all the time now and guess what? I'm available!
And, here are 8 steps to start leveling up in your life.
By Cindy Yantis
"Level up!" This was the attention grabber in a recent email I received.
What is actually said was, "Level up, Libra!" It began the week's horoscope full of "time for a mid-year reboot," and "the new moon will bring a boost to your professional life." Okay, I'm in!
I love the phrase "level up." Not only is it motivating, but it got me thinking about what that might look like in all areas of life.
What does it mean to level up?
Simply put, it means to improve your current station in a way that feels like a powerful shift. And, it starts with a change in thought, a shift in mindset, followed by brave action. And, the fuel that drives all of it is Passion.
No sooner had I begun pondering this question when an another email popped into my inbox with the subject line, "Level up the passion in your life." Well, now I'm really paying attention. The email was about a yoga retreat and this Nelson Mandela quote was front and center.
“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
So, with passion powering us, here are some thoughts about leveling up.
Start with the questions - Take time with your journal. In these areas of your life, where do want to step, or leap, to the next level?
Career/Purpose - stretch your wildest dreams
Health/Wellbeing - get real with where you are and where you want to be
Relationships - current as well as future-desired
Spiritual - where you desire to be more mindful and conscious in connection to your Source & Self
Life Enrichment - skills you want to learn, places you want to travel or live
Define the big step - ask yourself what feels like a big step. I took 10 minutes and made a list of 25 actions that feel like big steps for me, in all areas of my life. What is for you? Is it making that phone call you know could change things for you? Or booking a venue for a new program you want to launch? Or asking someone out? Or booking the dream vacation? Or having a difficult conversation? Or going back to school? Or quitting a job that doesn't fulfill you? Or hiring a trainer? Go to the place that scares you. Start your big step from that place.
Say YES to the things that feel like a level up - and say NO to those that don't. Some aid you and some stop you. This is where you trust your gut and intuition. When you slow down to listen to the voice of your body, you'll know which is which.
Acknowledge the Yeah-Buts - we all have them. These are the fears, which feel real but mostly are imagined. The yeah-buts are simply expectations of outcome that we've made up to protect ourselves from those fears: I'm not good enough, they won't like me, I don't have enough time, I'm too old, it's too expensive, I'm too fat, I'm too young, I don't have enough experience, I don't like to fail. Leveling up is recognizing the yeah-but and then doing it anyway. That's brave. So, meet the yeah-but with -
Oh yeah? - it's the self-pep talk to squash the yeah-but. Oh yeah? Here's what I know I am good at. Oh yeah? My people, my divine right matches will love what I have to offer. Oh yeah? I have the time because I make the time. Oh yeah? I'm not old I'm seasoned! I'm not old, I'm wise. Oh yeah? I'm not too young, I'm smart and eager and ready to go. Oh yeah? Here's what experience I do have. Putting the focus on where you rock paves the way to your next level(s).
Inhale the future, exhale the past - don't stay stuck in old stories and patterns that have held you back in the past. It didn't work then and it certainly won't work in moving you up.
Visualize you - living at your up level. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? How's the air up there? See in your mind's eye a day in the life of you, living your big life.
Give someone else a lift up too - offering others a hand up as you level up pays dividends exponentially. It's just good karma.
And, as with all things, do it from and with passion.
“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi
Passion, joy and love. After all, isn't that what life is all about anyway?
Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...
Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again.
Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.
To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.
I had no choice but to just stop
What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.
The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!
But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.
Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity.
So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.
As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.
But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!
Going From Multi to Monotasker
Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.
So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with.
And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.
Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.
Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Reminders abound for us to change our clocks to standard time again this weekend. And, always when that happens, I stop for a second to remember whether I get to sleep in an hour longer or need to get up an hour earlier. Then, I recall the old adage: In the fall you fall back and in the spring you spring forward.
So we’re falling back into standard time. There’s a certain comfort in that, as if things are setting into the way they’re supposed to be, into the solid foundation of time.
It got me thinking about my own foundation and how important it is to feel a solid base underneath, a smooth platform from which to create, to thrive, to live.
The truth is it hasn’t felt so solid lately.
How do I know this? I notice little things slipping, like home routines that keep my house in order, and self-care commitments like journaling, meditating and exercising, and responding to emails and messages in a timely manner.
And, I haven’t been writing. When that happens I know something’s off. It pokes holes in my foundation because all of those things are vitally important to me and are the elements or standards that I fall back on. I start to feel a sense of disconnection, from myself and from others.
Seismic Shift in Foundation
There are many things that can cause this shift on the personal Richter scale. Internal conflict and expansion of consciousness can both be uncomfortable and take up space and energy. Those I prefer and welcome because to my way of thinking they are signs of growth and the louder they are the better because that means change is coming.
But, for me I think what’s creating craters the size of potholes in my foundation is external. Certainly, it’s easy to get overloaded with obligations and opportunity. However, something else has crept in that has been a shock to my very being, and one that I didn’t see coming. And, I know I’m not alone.
It’s the divisiveness, fear and hatred that have surfaced so fully in this election season. It has rocked me to my core. I watch as it causes hateful exchanges on social media between “friends,” creates deep rifts in families and fosters a canyon-like chasm of discord throughout humanity.
There’s almost a gladiator mentality that has descended upon us, where you watch incessantly and feed rabidly on the lowest of the low, of what began as a need to be informed and to know the truth, became an insatiable addiction to dribbles of manipulated truths, conspiracy theories and one-upmanship for digging up the worst stories possible about the other. It’s worse than politics. It’s dirty pool. It’s cannibalism of the human spirit.
And, it saddens me deeply, simply as a human being. I find myself in a constant state of disbelief because in my heart of hearts I know it’s not real. Is it? That this fear-driven chorus won’t last. Will it?
Well, with potholes and cracks in my personal foundation it’s easy to see why things have been slightly askew. For me, is started with forgoing my beloved morning routine of meditating, journaling and exercising for waking up, rolling over and flipping on the morning news. It just spread out from there to other areas of my life.
Time to Reflect, Reframe and Rebuild the Foundation.
Deepak Chopra said recently that you must have “willingness to let your consciousness and awareness expand.”
When I heard this, the first word I thought of was compassion. Ah, that made me breathe deeply. Those breaths of compassion started to slowly fill the holes in my foundation, like liquid settling into place. And, as this happened I felt an opening.
This started with feeling compassion for the fear flooding the ether right now; compassion for the people in fear who lash out in pain and hate; compassion for leaders, compassion for followers, compassion for those seeking a better existence and have no idea how to get it. And, compassion for myself as disgust fills my mouth and tastes like metal and as I feel my own raw humanness. Compassion then leads to understanding, tolerance, love and a sense of center.
The power of compassion, along with the notion of time falling back into standard, got me thinking about the elements or standards of a strong foundation, and remembering them is bringing me back into alignment, back on solid ground.
7 Standards of Foundation:
Core Values – remind yourself what really matters to you, what base values are non-negotiable. For me it’s respect, for self and others, living and speaking my truth, understanding and honoring differences and being kind.
Wisdom – guidance from your higher self that all will be okay, within. And when the within is solid and firm with personal conviction based on core truths, the external shite won’t and can’t annihilate the foundation.
Soul Food – what feeds your soul and fills you up? Re-focusing on that which makes your spirit sing fosters a feeling of wholeness. For me it’s all of those things I’ve been missing of late: writing, self-care and home routines. Maybe it’s running or teaching or being with family or knitting, whatever it is for you, make it front and center.
Deeper Connections – this means heart-to-heart, person-to-person connections, intimate relationship vs. crowd surfacing on social media, piano bar vs. rock concert. For me this will mean disconnecting to connect, spending less time online and more time face to face.
Presence – being fully present with what’s real and happening each moment in your life. This means recognizing and letting go of distractions. They’re everywhere and can weaken your foundation.
Conscious Languaging – how you speak to others, including comments and posts online, and how you speak to yourself. Ask yourself if this is the highest vibration of conversation you can possibly have. If you hesitate, take a moment and reconsider. This is not about holding back your voice, but rather giving your voice it’s highest power to communicate, to heal, to value.
Solid Surroundings – only allow environments and people within your inner sphere who are going to nourish and strengthen your foundation.
So, as the clocks fall back into standard time, consider this:
How is your foundation? What do you know you can fall back on, solidly? Where are your convictions? What are your core values? What feeds and deeply enriches you? What makes you feel connected?
Fall consciously into your own standards of foundation. It’s nothing less than home.
Utterances by their very nature are often said in passing, not meant to stick around, not meant to be given weight. An utterance is defined simply as “a smallest unit of speech.” And, stringing together a series of utterances constitutes a complete thought, whether it’s our side of a conversation or an improvised speech at a podium or simple off-the-cuff observations. We often don’t give much mind to our daily utterances.
But, we should.
A word. It’s such a small elemental thing. But, can have such a tremendous impact. It’s the impact that lingers, has weight and sticks around for as long as the impact has an effect on someone. Words matter.
And, it’s not just in this day and age of the fast moving Internet, where words travel at the speed of a Tweet and Retweet. The truth is words secure history. They define things like character and reputation and acumen. Since the beginning of recorded time, words have taught, inspired and marked the foundation of beliefs that people still follow and hold true today. Words have also led fear-based revolutions that destroyed governments and created generations of people lost and without hope.
It’s easy to think of historical figures on both sides of this spectrum that have had an impact, positively or negatively. Yes, actions define a person and there is truth to the adage that sometimes actions speak louder than words. However, words are recorded in history and are carried forth from generation to generation. In many cases, it's the words that have defined characters in our human life history. We’re still quoting people who lived hundreds of years ago and are still moved and motivated by their words. It’s probably why #quotes – or many variations: #lifequote, #quoteoftheday, #words, #todaysthought, #wordstoliveby, etc. – are the most used hashtags on social media.
And, it’s why there’s such raw credence to the simple truth that words matter. We feel words deeply, which is why people often have such visceral reactions to what is said, either to them or about something for which they feel strongly.
Words can hurt or elevate us, enrage or sooth us, drive us or stop us in our tracks and make us laugh uproariously or cry hysterically.
Someone said, “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” I don’t know who first said it, but it’s so simple and true. We can’t control how our words land or how they’re interpreted. The only thing we can control is what and how they come out of our mouths.
Then, things got crazy! Beatlemania took off to the point where they needed to find a place large enough for their growing surge of adoring fans. The first concert at Shea Stadium happened in 1965 and arena rock was born.
Paul McCartney: “We didn’t plan for anything.”
Ringo Starr: “We just went with it.”
They just went with it. In other words, they leaned into what was working. And, kept leaning in as things kept working. Until it didn’t. Paul said the reason it ended, is it just got too complicated. In other words the energy shifted as they each made the choice to lean in other directions.
It got me thinking about leaning into what’s working in our daily lives. As illustrated by Paul, Ringo and the rest of the Fab Four, when we keep going in the direction of what's going well and focus on that which is igniting us, then more of the same will keep coming and propelling us upward and onward. It’s the very basis of the law of attraction: what you focus on expands, what you attract is also attracting you. Until it’s not.
Sometimes, however, we invest energy into something and keep investing energy even when it’s not working. We keep trying to make it work. When, if we really check in with ourselves, we know it’s not right, at least not right now. Right? What can often happen if we keep investing our time and energy in this kind of scenario, is that we give away part of our personal power and we run the risk of closing ourselves off to other invitations or opportunities or relationships that are willing to meet us where we are.
I've certainly experienced this phenomenon from both perspectives. And, I gotta be honest, not only can it be simply awesome to ride the wave of explosive rightness; it can also at times be rather derailing when it's not working, shaking me to my core, rocking me temporarily off course, particularly if it's something that is truly desired, like a special opportunity or a deeper connection with something or someone. Occasionally, I have invested my time and energy into something that has come into my path in which I saw potential and great value. So I leaned in, fully, in anticipation of receiving an equitable return on investment. It worked initially so I kept leaning. However, eventually in some cases, I wasn’t met there with equal investment or energy, a mutual leaning.
When you find yourself at this juncture, a suggestion (which has worked for me) is to lean back. Then, assess the information presented so you can regain clarity about your original intentions. From that place of inner wisdom, pull back the energy, acknowledge the gifts this situation gave you (because there always are some) and then let go of its active hook in order to allow your energy investment to move on toward where it’s working and flowing, toward the invitation and the acceptance, the equitable ROI.
Certainly, there are ebbs and flows in experiences, jobs, opportunities and relationships, where one side is more invested than the other at any given time. But, if you’re consistently not met where you feel satisfied, encouraged and in alignment, then leaning in another direction is a valid and powerful choice. At least for the time being. It can always be revisited at another time, but then it's from a fresh perspective, a renewed sense of value and purpose.