Wisdom

Flip the Switch To Reveal the 2019 Word of the Year

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There's quite a bit that goes into choosing a word for the year. Inspiration, feeling the need to improve on something or selecting a greater theme that will help to powerfully guide the next twelve months, are all factors that weigh in while narrowing down the word. I find it enthralling, particularly since it becomes a writing guidepost as well. 

My word for 2019: Mindfulness

I tossed around several words, and what I found is that underneath each of the intentional words I was drawn to, was the running current of mindfulness. In other words to successfully embody anything empowering, one must be mindful to attain it.  

Mindfulness is a word that is loaded and is bandied about a lot. So, let's unpack it.

Often, for me, being mindful is what I think of after I do something that is usually a result of not being mindful. Such as when I grabbed a banana instead of my keys as I walked out my front door. It wasn't until after I locked myself out of the house and noticed the banana in my hand that I said, "Cindy! Pay attention. You need to be more mindful." Or after I tripped and twisted my ankle because I wasn't being mindful about my footing. Or when I've inhaled my meal, not really tasting it. 

So, my intention by picking Mindfulness as my 2019 word, is to being mindful as a forethought rather than an afterthought. Like buying insurance before you need it, rather than regretting not having purchased it when you realize you're unfortunately caught without it.

What does it mean to be mindful? To my way of thinking, it's being fully present and engaged, while making a thought or action that serves the moment's highest good. And, then doing it again and again.

Mindfulness and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says, "Mindfulness is presence of heart." Mindfulness symbol

He illustrates this with the Chinese symbol for mindfulness. The top symbol means presence and the lower symbol means heart. Presence of heart.

Flip the Switch 

Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as turning off the automatic pilot. Continually returning to the present. I like that. It's a simple switch. It's not a constant "on" switch. In other words you don't stay in a state of mindfulness. You return to a state of mindfulness.

Kind of takes the pressure off, don't you think? The invitation is always there to be in mindfulness, we just have to flip the switch in the moment. 

It's also defined as “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

There are certain attitudes and self-regulating indicators present when one is mindful. That of being open, curious and accepting.

Mindful.org is a wonderful place to be reminded and inspired. They say “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindfulness solidifies strong character by causing us to slow down and think before speaking and acting. 

Mindfulness fosters creativity by weeding out the superfluous and extraneous clutter.

In his book, "The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation," Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive... Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” 

He also says, “Mindfulness shows us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and in the world. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others.” 

Mindfulness generates kindness. Kindness was going to be my word of the year, and then I realized that kindness is an essence and expression that is also generated from mindfulness. So, I played with that a bit and expanded my platform. While mindfulness is the word of the year, kindness is the theme. I intend to infuse everything with kindness and to recognize and celebrate kindness in others. Mindfully, of course.

Which led to a rather delicious portmanteau, and the name of my 2019 platform: Kindfulness. The state of mindfully being kind, being fully present in the act of kindness. 

So, I pledge to be mindful, return to mindfulness, about, well everything. Such as:

Start the day mindfully by meditating, journaling.

Make mindful choices that stem from kindness to self, to the group think and to the greater good.

Engage in mindful thought, actions and conversations.

Eat mindfully.

Be mindful in my to-do lists, keeping them clutter-free and on purpose.

I'm already noticing mindfulness and kindness - kindfulness - at work in my daily life. I'm leaning in to wherever this takes me.

What's your word or theme for 2019? My wish for you is a mindful exploration for one that feeds your soul and elevates your year. 

Title Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash


Some Healthy Year-End Perspective

 

Palm springs overlookMe, enjoying the perspective, at a Palm Springs overlook

Sometimes to move powerfully forward it’s helpful to examine with perspicacity what’s in the rearview mirror. The truth is we can’t drive skillfully without that rearview mirror.

It turns out this was a good year to gain perspective. Perspective was my word for 2018 and it proved to be useful as I landed there, time and time again. I kept reminding myself to pull back and to look at a situation through a different lens, to heed a microscopic, eye level or eagle view. It often led to epiphanies, large and small.

So as part of my year-end perspective I thought I’d use all of those lenses to reflect, glean and analyze what I learned and then let go of what’s not useful anymore. It’s using that gut instinct (what felt good and what didn’t) that we all have, to discern what to take into 2019 and what to leave in good ole 2018. It takes a bit of patience to cull through the cornucopia of hills and valleys in order to mine the jewels and the evergreen value, but if you take pen to paper, add a little curiosity, and allow the awe and the grime rise to the surface then pretty soon you’ll have a list of lessons that resonate.

For me, what shines through now are the gifts that came from the lows that then bolstered the highs. Here are some of mine. Hopefully it will inspire some of yours as well.

Life Is Buoyant

It was between the fray and the calm, when subtle inner whispers crescendoed, where it continually became apparent how buoyant life is. 

Creativity is My Phoenix

On day 28 my laptop was stolen, which felt like a virtual house on fire, primarily because it wasn’t backed up. And, on day 38 I found myself in deep gratitude for the phoenix that rose from the ashes. That phoenix was my creativity, it’s what saved me.

Gratitude Floats

I found that gratitude floats, as does love. Lighter than air, they are both high vibrations. And, when we infuse some gratitude and love into our down times of sadness, grief, low self-esteem – all low vibrations – it can’t help but raise our spirits. Sometimes it’s simply a question: What am I grateful for right now in this experience? What can I love about myself right now? Then, wait for a soft feeling of relief. We are resilient creatures and gratitude and love are what make us so.

Love is Unstoppable

With so much negativity that pervaded our national psyche this past year, it was the greater love, agape love, that got so many of us through. Surging love for ourselves, from ourselves to the greater love of all we hold dear is what helped. It’s become a movement; talking about lifting ideas, spreading kindness and focusing on what’s good in others and in our lives. That’s a perennial movement worth carrying forward.

We all have the capacity for that kind of love.

Self-Healing is Self-Evident

While I, and so many of my peeps, talked about aches and pains, none compared to what I watched my dear friend go through when she became very ill this year. I felt helpless as I witnessed her mysterious ailments multiply and as her team of doctors grew. It was scary for her and all who love her. Thankfully, after weeks of tests it was not a dire prognosis and her condition is one that is manageable. There have been days when getting out of bed was a chore, yet I continue to marvel at her and her strong will and constitution. And, her dedication to self-healing. She actively engages her health team and her circle of friends and family. It’s been a journey for all of us, as we dove into TLC with a vengeance, and it was a testament to staying fervently on the road.

Stretch Beyond Personal Horizons

Travel was a captivating part of my year, making a cross-country road trip with my sister, traversing the Loire Valley of France with dear friends and taking a Mexican cruise with my parents. Each took me out of my little bubble of comfort and stretched my horizons, not just the travel aspect of it, but looking for the whimsy, while leaning into new rhythms and contrasts truly elevated my life experience. More of that please!

Focus of Where You’re Relentless

As a person who has a to-do list that’s much too long, there were times when I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing all that I wanted to do. But, as I sit here on the bridge between 2018 & 2019, writing down all that I did do, it’s evident that the relentless passions that fuel my soul are what drove my year’s high points, and are what are catapulting me into 2019. And, what I say to myself about those key items that didn’t get done, I say: “Not yet.” I also say, to quote a dear friend of mine, “streamline.” In other words, remove some of those things from the never-ending to-do list that only drag down the anticipation of the yet.

Going through this year-end perspective exercise will make trimming the to-do list so much easier. Whatever I’m not relentless about goes away. Avocations become more vocational.

Simplicity and staying centered on what fascinates and enriches my life, these are what I’m carrying forward. Being intentional, with hopefully a little luck thrown in for measure.

One thing I really enjoyed over the year was my Quick Sunday Read newsletter where I included a Word of the Week, a word that was floating around in the zeitgeist, words that were examined and reframed into interesting uses. I used all of the year’s words in this post to honor that! They are underlined (unlinked). The only one I haven’t used yet is portmanteau, a word than means a mashup of two or more words that then creates another word. I was trying to think of one that would be great to end with, just for shiggles.

So, before I ring off to watch my favorite dramedy, I decided to chillax, ponder an emoticon or two (decided that was Jabberwocky) and just say, hope you had a great year filled with much goodness that you look forward to carrying into next year.

And, thank you so much for reading and sharing Thought Changer. It means the world.


Embrace Your Pace: Life Lessons from the Turtle

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“I’m procrastinating,” I said. “It’s my inner nemesis.” As soon as I said it, I got a stomach ache, like I was revealing and also judging an integral part of myself.

And, my brilliant writer friend said, “Process is tricky.” Ah, you said a mouthful there, sister.

A few days earlier I'd received an intuitive reading from the wise Dina Strada. One of the hits she got was that “things are going to take longer than you think.” And, I thought, Grrr. How much longer? It feels like it’s taking forever for things to happen, as in career, love, body health, etc.

Then, she said, “Keep doing your work and surrender to your timing.” Ah. “You can’t rush it.” Double ah. It literally made me exhale. Rather than feeling more frustrating, it felt true.

I believe in divine timing and it’s something I discuss often with friends, colleagues and clients. And, I also often find myself trying to beat the clock, divine or otherwise.

Interestingly, the moment after Dina said it - you can’t rush it - the image of a turtle, a grand old tortoise, popped into my head. I mentioned it and it brought the intuitive message to a whole new level for me. Embracing my pace. Just like the tortoise.

Some lessons from the turtle

It sent me discovering, to see what kind of guidance the wise turtle has for me and other tortoise-like folk. Ted Andrews, in his book “Animal Speak”, says turtles symbolize longevity and wisdom. They’re in it for the long haul. “Long life and groundedness…on some level, the turtle knows it has all the time in the world.”

Lesson: She teaches us to look at our relationship with time. Where to slow down, to speed up, to surrender to the pause. Sometimes the pause is the best thing to serve the pace.

Turtles carry their homes on their backs. They never leave their home, but more importantly their home never leaves them. They already have everything they need to survive and thrive.

Lesson: Read previous sentence.

When a turtle gets flipped onto its back, everything gets tossed askew. But, the turtle literally uses its strong neck and head to lift and flip itself upright again.

Lesson: Trust your own wisdom and knowledge when in a bind. Use your head. And, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.

A turtle is opportunistic and takes her time to notice when an ample opportunity crosses her path. In the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” sometimes the hare is moving so fast, with her eye on the prize, that she misses opportunities as she whizzes by and she’s so busy trying outwit and outrun and to be the best, that she exhausts herself.

The tortoise is at her pace so she can slow down and seize moments to explore. She goes within herself, literally, to assess. The tortoise doesn’t try to be the hare or to buy into the hare’s latest online program, “Six Simple Steps to Win the Race Every Time.” That may work for the hare. This is not a judgment on the hare; the hare has a different process which works for the hare. But, it doesn’t work for everyone. The tortoise has the goal to cross the finish line too, but in a way that works within the tortoise framework. In a tortoise lane. On the tortoise clock.

It's funny, I often say, "I gotta light a fire under my butt," as way of motivating myself to move faster. Hmm, I wonder what would happen if you lit a fire under a tortoise's butt. Turtle soup? I'm just saying.

Lesson: It’s not about winning, because that often becomes about someone else’s race. Following someone else’s get-rich-quick scheme or shortcut to success may not work for you, at least not until you slow down enough to know what resonates and what feels right. For you.

The turtle is low to the ground and feels the vibrations of all that’s around her. It’s in that place that she trusts her pace, whether to speed up, slow down or pause.

Lesson: listen to your own vibrations and when you do listen to other's input, pause to listen to your own decision. Don’t be rushed.

No excuses

There’s a shadow side to the tortoise energy. It’s using all of this as an excuse, relying simply on this knowledge that things happen as they happen, resting on laurels with the hope that somehow your brilliance will be discovered.

A wise healer said to me one time, “There’s no shortcut to enlightenment.” The same goes for trusting your own pace. Divine timing isn’t esoteric. It’s doing the work that pulls you, that’s in your heart, that’s in your lane. And, trusting that the next levels of enlightenment or success or completion will unfold at the right time, your right time.

Then, when it does happen, it’s deeper and richer and more meaningful, as well as being authentic.

I’ve experienced this over and over again in my lifetime. My family has always said I march to the beat of my own drummer. Yes, that’s true. That’s because I’m a frigging tortoise! I’m a slow build, in it for the long haul. And, what’s interesting, when there have been times of fast success or a quick leap up, I often have to pause to catch up with myself. Gotta say, the turtle does that too!

Watch the work, not the time

I recently watched a documentary about artisans in France, designers who create and supply the design houses with very specialized elements, like pleats. An entire company and all they make are pleats.

Or an outfit that creates only the tiny artificial flowers that adorn a larger design. This artist said, “It’s under my skin, this work. It takes a lifetime. And, there’s history behind it.”

One atelier, a milliner, who makes the most beautiful couture hats, struck me. He created a wooden mold in its completion in order to build the perfect hat. He said, “You don’t watch the clock. You watch the work. Every one takes the time it takes.” I’m guessing he’s a turtle too.

Embrace your pace

So, back to my friend’s comment about process being tricky, it’s so true. You can’t judge it. Sometimes, it isn't procrastination, it's a necessary element, part of the project or work's unfolding. 

The freedom, the permission, is knowing that pace is part of the process. We turtles take our own sweet time, but we always get there.


What's Through That Portal?

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What's behind that door? Looking at these spectacular doors it's kind of a delicious mystery. 

When I was in France recently, I found myself taking numerous photos of doors. Doors that were weathered by history and by the lives of those who had ventured through them. Some wandering aimlessly, some with direction and purpose. Some opening to welcome in weary travelers and others entering with the relief of being home. 

Doors that seemed to be portals to other times, certainly to other worlds and memories of other worlds.

The doors in these photos were in seemingly frozen-in-time villages in the French countryside and Loire valley that I simply fell in love with. I could see myself there, passing over one of these thresholds, creating a life there.

Portals fascinate. What lurks on just the other side and beyond? What answers lie in waiting? Are there secret codes or keys that unlock their gateways and life treasures? 

There are so many great portal stories in literature, where the hero or heroine passes through one and finds a whole new adventure, a new way of being where choices made change lives. Think of Dorothy's front door in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or the wardrobe in Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There's something powerful about the sense of wonder that takes over, a freshness of spirit and Vivre, as one embarks on life's new direction.

I'm thinking about portals and pathways a lot right now. As various life choices present themselves. 

And, as it so happens and as I write this, we are in the midst of a powerful cosmic portal. It's all the more timely, this notion of doors or gateways or portals opening. A dear friend shared this with me this week and I've become a little obsessed with it.

It's called 8-8 Lion's Gate. It happens every year on August 8th, but this year it's auspicious because three days later on 8/11, the Leo New Moon partial solar eclipse takes place, the most extraordinary since the powerful lunar eclipse on 8/11/99. And, in the meantime, there's a massive convergence of planets taking place that "brings the potential for healing your relationship with your essential self."

So, on 8-8 the Lion's Gate cracked open, which signifies a huge cosmic shift, change coming, and invites an opening for transformation and manifestation. There are a bunch of articles on the internet that explain it much better than I could.

Like here, where she talks the meaning of the numerology too: "8 is the number for the balance of power and infinity. 11 is a gateway for transformation. A powerful combo." 

And here: "this can be an influx of divine wisdom."

And hereI love what he says, "The positive energies combining 8-8 Lions Gate with the Leo New Moon Eclipse create a groundswell of heart expansion, creative pursuits, and explosive new growth. Deep dive into the spiral momentum of rapid ascension."

Basically, the time window between the 8/8/18 Lionsgate and the lunar eclipse on 8/11/18 provides a portal for deeper understanding, letting go of what doesn't serve you anymore and calling in your higher purpose.

Sign me up!

Portals are also internal openings into your own truth. In other words, a phrase or thought can crack open an opportunity for growth.

“Vulnerability is the portal to feeling. Feeling is the portal to strength.” ― A.D. Posey

A portal of communication is also an opening for open-hearted discussion and relationship.

Transparency is the portal to real authenticity.

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." ― James Joyce

So, how about taking a bit of time this weekend, while in the midst of Leo the Lion's Gateway of transformation, and ask for what you want in life. 

Light a candle. Feel the energies in your body. Interestingly, you can feel it if you get quiet and still enough.

“Praise is the portal to the presence of God.” ― David Brazzeal, from Pray Like a Gourmet: Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul

Meditate and pray to let go of what isn't working in your life and then to receive your higher calling. It's a powerful prayer and one that's worth repeating. A lot.

Then, release it all under the new moon. 

Enjoy this portal. I'll see you on the other side. It's a wonder what awaits! 


A Bit of Midyear Perspective

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Perspective can either keep you present, or not.

Since I chose “Perspective” as my word and theme of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to check in on things, at midyear. So, I'm reviewing, dialing in on meaning and expanding views. 

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

“I realized I can find my way to the MRI room by the ceiling tiles and the exit signs.”

This is what my dear, dear friend said to me during her hospital stay. Her perspective is reeled in, tight and small, exactly as it needs to be. Her perspective is, as with all of us very close to her, laser-focused on what is happening in the moment. Pain management. More IV needle prodding. More meds. Code calls. More questions than answers. More doctors/specialists/surgeons being added to team. More note taking. Then, more answers. More prayers. Finding humor in the tunneled view.

And, more trips to the MRI room, "go 20 ceiling tiles and turn left at the exit sign."

We talked about how what was and is happening to her is sharpening her perspective. Making her braver. Cherishing deeply her sister who is steadfast by her side. Receiving love and support as true medicine. Raising her self-advocacy to a level she didn’t know she had in her. I’m in awe of her strength and marvel at her capacity for continually falling back on her inner work, her spirit. 

It's true that Perspective gives you a helicopter view of things, the big picture, the long stance.

But, sometimes all you can handle is what's directly in front of you. Moment to moment. Conversation to conversation. Tile by tile. And, that's exactly how it should be in that moment. 

I found I was beating myself up because I wasn't meeting my writing goals, things that are a part of my helicopter perspective. But, when I reeled it in, got really honest and acknowledged that my view is on my friend and that is my intended perspective right now, I was able to let it all go. It’s perspective that starts the process of letting go.

This is where I am. 

I had referenced in the earlier post that "Perspective is your canvas," meaning that on the grand canvas of life, your wise and knowledgeable prospective is the base coat and then is augmented by the various colors with which you use to create your story and pave your path. 

Sometimes, the canvas shrinks, out of necessity or out of choice. And, you feel like you're out of paint, or you've turned the paintbrush over to others, as information and input bombards you. This could be as lab test results keep rolling in. Or by incessant news coverage of depressing world events. 

For me, I need to shrink the canvas so I don't lose sight of myself. For starters, for me that means turning off the news. Perspective gets wonky when it's clouded by frustration, anger and sorrow over what's happening. 

And, shrinking my canvas means being present with my friend.

That's when inner perspective takes over. Inner perspective is moment to moment. It's trusting that more will be revealed in the right divine timing. It's the white space on the smaller canvas.

In time the larger canvas, the glimpse of the helicopter perspective, the wider lens will be beheld again. 

Until then, this is it. Tile by tile. And, it's enough. 


A Life of Intrinsic Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


In Remembrance of You

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Yourself

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

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

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

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

A few thoughts to ponder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Allow This to Be Your Guide When Feeling Overwhelmed

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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


When Your Soul Speaks, Listen

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“Does your soul have a message for you today?”

That was the question the meditation teacher asked during session.

It turns out my soul did. It often does, when I’m paying attention.

Usually, the messages are so simple I almost miss them. Or I judge them. Or second guess them. That morning, I decided to just shut up and receive what was given to me. By my soul. Yep. I wasn’t judging it, or questioning whether it really was my soul guiding me, nor was I second guessing it, “Are you sure that’s all?” or “What am I supposed to do with that?”

It was pretty simple. I got quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Body against the chair. Sink in. Inhale. Exhale. When thoughts came that started to take me somewhere else, I floated back to my breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Then, I asked the question of my soul. “Do you have a message for me?”

Inherently, I knew to trust the first thing that came. And, here it was.

“You already have everything you need within you to receive the answers you seek.

Yes, it’s good to seek knowledge and experiences and connections that enrich your life. But, the truest answers to your deepest questions are not discovered externally. Those are found within your own inner and higher wisdom, through your direct connection to the greater knowledge that is source, God and universe. This is your truth, always.”

So simple. And, such a great reminder to trust. And, to not complicate things by seeking outside of ourselves.

Certainly that’s not a new concept, that you have everything you need within you. But, it was the message I needed to hear, right then.

The next morning I asked the question again and got another answer, equally as simple and perfect for what I needed.

That’s the beauty of this short and sweet daily practice. Each time the answer is different, the message is appropriate for what you need right then, on the day in that moment.

It happens when you’re in your body, as your breath connects you to being fully present and the mind is focused on listening and being open to receiving.

In that space, with the curiosity of a child, simply ask your soul what it wants you to know, in that moment on that day.

What’s interesting is that you can tell when it’s your soul speaking. If it sounds or feels like judgment or punishment, it’s your ego, not your soul. Soul speak comes from your highest wisdom and you know it when you hear it.

“Wise souls speak loudly in silence” ~ Unknown

What a profound way to create the day, on message. On your soul’s message. It paves the way for your divine purpose to unfold.

Simply, reverently, freely.


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

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

Wise words...

ON LOVE

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

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

“Choose people who lift you up.” Michelle Obama

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

ON SUCCESS

“Done is better than perfect.” Sheryl Sandberg

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

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

 

ON CHOICE 

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

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

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

ON POSSIBILITY

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

"I dwell in possibility." Emily Dickinson

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

 

ON VOICE

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

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

ON TRUTH & WISDOM

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

"Turn your wounds into wisdom." Oprah Winfrey

ON INNER STRENGTH & POWER

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

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

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

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

ON HUMANITY & COMPASSION

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

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

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

ON BEAUTY

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

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

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

 

ON LIFE

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

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

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

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

 

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