Previous month:
February 2018
Next month:
April 2018

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


Stick to Your Lane

  Robb-leahy-512379-unsplash

"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way. 


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?