Category Archives: Reflections

The Funny Thing About Time…

Around 10 am this morning I was sitting on my couch, enjoying an iced coffee, and feeling very grateful for a relaxing Sunday morning. As I reflected on the morning I thought about all I had accomplished, yet felt very calm and content throughout the whole morning.

hourglassBy this time I had meditated, cuddled with my daughter for a bit, fed my daughter breakfast and two snacks, ate breakfast, got my daughter and myself dressed and ready for the day, went on a hike and took photos, did a few sun salutations and yoga poses, read 2 chapters in Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, changed a few diapers, drove through a car wash, vacuumed and cleaned the inside of my car, went grocery shopping, fed the dogs, completed some households tasks (washing and putting away dishes, washed a load of laundry, picked up toys, etc.), and sat and read to my daughter.

Considering that I can easily remember a time when I wasn’t even out of bed by this time, I would count this as a very productive morning. I also can remember many mornings when I did much less and felt stressed, rushed and frustrated. So what was the difference with this morning, when I did quite a bit, but felt relaxed and calm?

My state of mind.

Time is a tricky thing. Often we feel it is limited and probably use it as one reason we can’t get to things we want to do. When we look at our long to-do list, and focus too much on the past or future, time seems to shrink. It moves quickly, keeping us hurried and scattered, trying desperately to get as much crammed in as possible.

In today’s world we often feel hurried and overwhelmed by all that we “have to do”. This perspective leaves us moving through minutes, hours, days, month and years at a rapid pace. The tragedy in this is that we miss truly experiencing so much and never seem to do what we want to do.

However, we can make time expand by changing the way we think. When we focus on this current moment and simply glide from one activity to the next without looking too far ahead or letting our mind get too focused on the past, time seems to move much slower. We can accomplish more than we ever thought we could and truly enjoy it.

Time also feels different when we prioritize the things we want to do. While we may have to clean the house, we can take a moment to do something we find enjoyable like reading, creating or sitting with those we love. Many hobbies or activities we truly enjoy can be done around the things that are our responsibility but not our favorites. Even if it is just a few moments, sprinkling in the activities that inspire us can truly pull us back into the moment and make time move a little slower.

The way we perceive and approach time makes a difference in how it feels to us. Using a practice of present moment awareness can create a feeling of endlessness to the moment we are in. This will ultimately lead to being more productive and can give room to add in the things we love.

Are you missing the conversation?

I recently heard this incredibly beautiful poem from Ingrid Goff-Maidoff that caused me to stop and see how I was living.

God spoke today in flowers,

and I, who was waiting on words,

almost missed the conversation.

Aside from the beauty in the sheer simplicity of this poem, the stunning truth shook me to the core. She has captured here the tragedy we live so much of our life in – not seeing the beauty in what is because of what we are expecting.

Our tendency to miss much in life is centered on our expectations of how things “should” be. We wait and wait for things to show up in our desired form and become more and more frustrated that they haven’t come. All the while there is beauty and perfection all around us that we are not seeing.

We, of course, do this with God often. We pray and get frustrated when our requests don’t come when we want them to. Often, we are so tied to “how” we want our prayers answered that we don’t see the possibility in what is coming our way. We are waiting for God to speak to give us peace, instead of seeing the message in the flowers. The divine plan, however, is much more beautiful and complex than the human brain can comprehend.

I often sit in awe reflecting on even the most minuet details in my life and seeing how different everything would have been if things were shifted just slightly.   Every aspect of my life has lead to this exact second to be unfolding exactly how it is, especially those moments I didn’t like so much. I wanted certain things and have them, but never would have expected them to come the way they did. This is the beauty of being open to possibility and seeing what is in our path, instead of trying to design every minute.

We don’t only do this with God, however, we also do this with people in our lives. We are always trying to get someone to react the way we want them to or see things our way. One of my favorite lines in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is that we ask ”Grant that I may not so much seek… to be understood, as to understand”. We sometimes forget that no one on this earth perceives things exactly like we do. We all have different experiences that lead to how we think and act. We may find many that agree with us, but they don’t see it “exactly” as we do. Instead of trying to understand them, we want them to understand (and act) as we do. The world would be a very boring place if this wish came true.

Unfortunately our partners and family often get the brunt of this. How often do we get upset with a partner because they didn’t show us love in a particular way? The gift wasn’t thoughtful enough, they didn’t respond right to our concern, or they weren’t making us feel loved. All the while, we miss the subtle ways that they show us love, in their way. We are so busy looking at how we feel, we miss seeing how they are giving.

The shift from seeing the possibility of what is, versus living in our head of expectations can create a brand new world for us. It takes really no time, just awareness of our thoughts and the intent of seeing things as they are, while letting go as we expect them to be.

Be open to what is now – a simple, yet beautiful practice that will ensure we do not miss the conversation.

A Valentine’s Day Challenge

As with most people, I have always has a bittersweet relationship with Valentine’s Day.   As a teenager I revealed in the romantic ideals, swept up in this concept of demonstrating eternal love through flowers, jewelry and chocolate. Unless, of course, I didn’t have a boyfriend then I banished the holiday as a silly idea and I was appalled at the concept.

Over the years I have found the paradox in the day that baffles me. One day has the power to make someone feel whole and loved if his or her partner pulled off a romantic gesture. On the other hand, some end relationships entirely because the gesture didn’t live up to expectations. Then there is another group who have no partner and this day sparks loneliness and sadness. There are many people who are indifferent about the day but for the most part, it is an emotional windstorm based entirely on circumstance and others actions.

This day, however, has potential to grow into something new. I love the idea of a reminder to slow down and celebrate love, but it can explore a deeper kind of love within us. It can remind us that we are beyond the fear, doubt, anger and expectations. Strip away all the layers of thoughts and emotions and the truth of our being comes to light – we are love. We don’t need others to give us the gifts, promises or romantic gestures to feel the completeness that is already within us.

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you are in a relationship or not, I challenge you to give yourself a romantic gesture. Run yourself a warm and relaxing bubble bath, write a love letter to yourself or buy yourself something beautiful. Whatever it may be that calls to you, give yourself the reminder that you are love and the deeper you love yourself, the more expansive your life will become.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

Valentines

My Thoughts on this Presidential Election (and they may surprise you)

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and remembered why I avoid it during “political high times.” I got so frustrated. I shut my computer off and declared, “That’s it. I’m leaving Facebook till December!” I realize this is not productive or necessary since I am simply allowing what I saw affect me.  But it caused my heart to hurt and I truly wanted it to stop.

What did I see? Hate – and lots of it. I saw dozens of posts that were referring to the election and only one was referring to a candidate that the individual supported. All the other posts were mocking or throwing anger towards the candidates that they didn’t support.

While I understand this isn’t new in politics, or human behavior for that matter, I feel as though social media is a powerful tool we are abusing. Before these tools, we had to wait till we saw a neighbor or a coworker to share our frustrations with presidential candidates and it stayed within our social circle. Now we can create hurtful images and it touches thousands. Basically, we have become uncontrolled bullies on the playground while sitting at home in our pajamas.

I have gotten caught up in it myself. While I don’t typically post about politics, I have had my share of laughs at a comedian mocking a candidate or silently cheered when I see someone post something I agree with, even when it was hateful.

I have thought a lot about why this bothers me so much and it boils down to three things. First, I believe each and every candidate is a person and whether we agree with them or not, they share common humanity and deserve our compassion for that reason alone. We can state that we disagree with them in a loving way without personally attacking them as people. We want to teach our children kindness and effective ways to handle disagreement; this is a perfect time to lead by example. When we give into hateful thoughts, we not only cause suffering in others by our words, but also ourselves. This isn’t necessary and we do not need to cause so much pain. Even if the candidates are doing this to each other, we don’t have to participate.

Believe

The second reason is that we, as a society, have no idea how powerful we are. We have a tendency to push hard against what we don’t want, not realizing we are powerful creators.   The things we focus on, whether we like them or not, will come. Hate has powerful energy behind it and using it as a tool to “stop” something isn’t effective. We need to steer our focus towards what we do believe in if we want to see a positive change in this world. We feel better when we look at what we like, instead of what we don’t and this is amplified if we share in a positive way.

The third reason is very personal. I haven’t yet determined who I am voting for and am doing thorough research on the candidates. I would absolutely love to hear my friends, families and those I follow tell me who they believe is the right candidate and why. The truth is, I have no idea. For many of them I know who they don’t want and why, but that doesn’t tell me who will make the changes they want to see. Others mocking a candidate won’t sway my opinion, but I may be convinced if I hear a reasonable reason to support one. If anything seeing this hate causes me to feel compassion to each candidate because, no matter how thick their skin is, words hurt and can cause suffering.

We can do this differently. Please take this as an invitation. Use this blog post, or my Facebook page to share who you support and why. If you aren’t sure, do some research and share views that you agree with for each candidate. I will not allow any negative comments directed towards others or the candidates.

Lets see if we can shift the political tendencies and approach this election and love and compassion instead of hate and anger.

I Live in a Bubble

Last Saturday night my husband and I were sitting outside enjoying the crisp air. It was quiet all around and the stars were occasionally saying “hi” through the passing clouds. Suddenly we heard a woman a few houses down yell. Then we heard a cheer from another house. A few minutes later we heard from several other houses in unison.

My husband and I sat there and laughed for a moment. There was something happening that many people were extremely connected to and we had no idea what it was. I put the pieces together after I saw many excited people posting about the Cardinals game on Facebook.

This moment was a great reminder to me that I live in a bubble. We all do really. We are surrounded by our small social circle – our family members, our friend and our co-workers. There is a whole big world out there that we often forget about. Billions of things are happening right now that we have never had experience with, seen or even imagined.

We often fall into the habit of assuming everyone thinks like us, has experiences like us or wants what we do. Even though diversity shows up in our lives from time to time, it can be easy to forget how many things are happening at this moment and we have no idea about it.

Others Time

Moments like this, when I get a kind reminder from the universe that there is a whole world happening outside of my bubble, I like to take it as a sign to have more compassion. Even those closest to me can be seeing and doing something at this moment that I will never know about.

We only see into others lives through a small window, the one they choose to open for us. Often, what they show us are the parts of their lives that are similar to ours. It is human nature to connect over commonality and avoid differences. Ultimately, we have no idea how most people spend their time, even those closest to us.

It can be so easy to think the whole world has our experiences and perception, but each person has their own journey and suffering. It is helpful to pop our bubble every now and then, look a little deeper and truly see all that is happening in others lives.

So you didn’t win the lottery…Here’s the good news

This time last week lottery pandemonium was taking hold of us. As the pot was now estimated to be at it’s largest ever, most people jumped at the chance to play their luck. It was on the news, radio and on the tip of everyone’s tongue. We all knew the odds but somebody had to win.

The excited energy was in the air and we all were breathing it in. The best part for me wasn’t the chance at an extremely large amount of money or the fact that somebody (or several somebodies) life would change. The best part was the dreaming.

The hope of millions of dollars gave everyone the ability to dream without restrictions. As my husband said “You are just limited to anything you’ve ever wanted.” Peop
le all around took this opportunity to dream, and dream big.Conversations about quitting jobs, giving money to family, buying a dream home and helping the community was everywhere you looked.   Faces light up at the glimmer of hope when they opened their mind to this opportunity.

It was beautiful to share in this mass dreaming. The there was a light, hopeful energy and it was intoxicating. Then Thursday morning the majority went back to their daily lives with a sting of disappointment.

dream big

While most of us (myself included) didn’t get any money, we did gain something even more valuable. We gained a clear understanding of what we truly want. Without any restrictions, we explored how our lives would be different. We know where we truly want to spend our time, our energy and our attention.

Just because this didn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t mean it can never happen. We can choose to look at the world with an unrestricted, hopeful perspective; keeping each and every lottery dream alive. It may start smaller but you can still work towards these dreams and feel the same satisfaction.

For example, if you wanted to help your family you can start with giving your sister gas money instead of the car you dreamt of. If you wanted to quit your job so you have more time with your family, make a point to be completely present when you are with them or give them just 5 more minutes a day. It may sound silly to start so small, but momentum will build.

So I challenge you to not let this opportunity pass. Write them down, keep them in your thoughts and let your dreams come to you however they can.

Living fearless in a fear-filled world

I was heartbroken last week. As I listened to the news of the NAU shootings Friday morning my heart ached, as it often does when I hear of tragic events. My heart ached for the ones involved, their families and a whole community that is forever shifted. It seemed to be a week of many events causing this heartache and for a moment, it felt like too much. I looked in the backseat of the car, saw my daughter happily playing and I couldn’t help but feel the fear. Maybe it is that this news was so close to home, maybe it was that this news came after tragic shootings in Oregon, or maybe it was just that I know these things happen every day whether we hear about it or not. Whatever it was, my instinct was to run and hide. I wanted to pack up my whole family, move to a cabin in the woods and keep them safe forever.

Ridiculously unrealistic, I know, but it was my first thought.

I wanted to know everyone was safe. I wanted to keep them from the arms of a potential tragedy that seems to becoming “normal.” I thought of all the children in this world and wondered what exactly it was that we were handing off to them. Knowing that my fantasy was most likely not the turn my life was going to take, I asked myself quietly; “Then what do we do? How do we handle such painful events?” Softly the answer came; the answer I knew but had a hard time feeling.

We love.

It is often said in spiritual teachings that there are only two true emotions, fear and love. All other emotions stem from them and both serve a purpose. Love allows us to embrace the best things in life and live the truth of who we are. Fear is meant to keep us safe, ensure we stay out of harms way. Often fear was useful when we were in a different world; a world where dangers of being attacked by a bear in our sleep was the norm. In today’s world, while there still may be life-threatening moments when fear can step in and serve us, most of the time it is an illusion for the majority of us.

We are afraid of what may be lurking in the minutes, hours, weeks and years that lay before us. It causes us to make choices that may be blocking us from truly living from love, living in the moment and really experiencing joy. It may be a tragedy that triggers it and makes us overprotective parents or it could be something such as afraid of failing that causes us to misspeak in a presentation. The fear can also cause us to push so hard against what we don’t want to happen, we become consumed by what we are running from instead of creating what we truly want.

Loving through these moments makes us redirect and focus on what we do want, not what we don’t. This doesn’t mean that we bury our heads and hide from seeing what is happening in the world, it means using our fearful response to determine what we do want so we can shift our attention there.

So instead of being swept away with fear for your family, go home and hug them a little tighter. Spend more moments talking and less being distracted. Send love to those involved in a tragedy.   Don’t focus on the panic and what fear tells you should be done, instead ask yourself how you can use this lesson to love deeper. When fear arises, ask yourself what it is you truly want and shift your thoughts to that instead of thinking about what you don’t want to happen.

Even in the days when fear truly was saving us from a life-threatening situation on a regular basis, love could easily overcome fear if we had to protect our loved ones, proving that it is powerful enough to lead the way.

It is about time we let it.

Why I can’t remember my age…

With my birthday a few weeks away I am often answering the question “How old are you going to be?” Each time I find myself having to calculate it just as I usually do when I am asked about my age. I find peoples reaction to this very interesting, as many people don’t understand how it is possible for me not to know it immediately. To be honest, I haven’t known my age for a long time and the reason is very simple.

I don’t really care how old I am. 

Age has truly no meaning to me. It doesn’t define me, explain anything about who I am or give any insight into my worth as a person. I also care very little how old others are. In truth, I actually look forward to getting older. Looking at my life now compared to when I was younger, I wouldn’t trade it.

I love the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. I am more empowered, courageous and confident than I was even last year, let alone ten or more years ago. Too often we look to aging like it is a time bomb, ticking away to our last day. In actuality aging is a beautiful process of growth if we choose to see it that way.

We can have less limits to chasing our dreams as we get older, not more. We generally have more financial stability, more understanding of who we truly are and what we want. We may have more responsibility but we are also much more equipped to handle it. Our relationships and loyalties are richer and more fulfilling. I know so many people shifting careers, starting school or beginning families much later in life than “typical” and each one of them are doing it from a place of excitement and being true to their spirit which is sometimes lacking when we are younger.

The number one concern people tend to mention about age is the perception of our body’s deterioration. I have found that my knowledge on how to take care of my body is stronger than it has ever been, giving me potential of physical perfection that I could never have had before. While my body may have appeared to be thinner, have less grey hair or be less wrinkled when I was younger, I am far healthier now.

I know enough now to listen to my body when it talks to me. When my knees creak, when I am low on energy or when I see my skin looking tired, it is a sign of needing to take better care of myself, not a sign of “getting old.” I am grateful my body yells at me to stretch, eat better, and drink more water in the only language it knows, physical sensation. These things happen to us at any age, we often miss listening to it in our youth so as we age the signs become clearer.  Most physical ailments as we get older are a side affect of choices our younger selves made not some guarantee of body deterioration.

When we are young we look forward to our birthdays and getting older with excitement but somewhere along the way there is a shift when people begin to dread it. It is possible to still have that excitement for your birthday at any age if you chose to see the process as an exciting journey. I still think birthdays are worth celebrating but tying it to an age seems unnecessary to me.  We should celebrate stepping into a new year, not grieving for the past or feeling fear of the future.

Look forward with excitement for the potential it has instead of towards the past with regret and I assure you, you won’t remember your age either!

6 Spiritual Lessons from Our Children

young

Throughout the years I have dedicated a significant amount of time on my personal spiritual growth.  I have spent countless hours poring over development books, researched various religions and spoke with many spiritual leaders.  I have attended trainings and workshops on a wide range of topics and approaches in cultivating inner peace.  Throughout this process I have learned a lot, especially regarding those practices that tend to be common themes and “secrets” for achieving sustainable joy in life.  It is a constant growth process since all of these things require continued practice and while I have understood much of it logically, some areas have been difficult for me to feel.

As I have expanded my concept of “spiritual teachers” to include everyone in my life, knowing that each and every person has something to offer, I have found the clearest teachers to be children.  There is so much I have learned from seeing how we come into this world, what our natural state truly is and how we get pulled off track as we grow and develop. We so often look at our relationship with our children as one where we have to bare the burden of teaching them everything however if we shift our perception to a spiritual partnership, one where we teach each other, then the spiritual growth they can help facilitate for us is limitless. We can teach them how to interact per this world’s “rules” but they can teach us about our true nature and how to live it. They have truly helped me see how to apply some of the themes that were harder for me to grasp and serve as a constant reminder on practicing.

Fearlessness – Anyone that has seen a baby clumsily wobble around can see that fear is not something we are born with. It is something we learn. Children lead with their heart, diving into whatever action their heart guides them to without fear of pain, judgment or failure. All of these concepts are foreign to them and we can learn much from the “just go for it” attitude that children of many ages have. Letting our heart lead, and taking action without fear allows us to boldly live and revel in the rewards of new experiences.

Joy – Joy on the other hand isn’t something we learn, it is our natural state. A child’s general disposition is pure happiness. Eager to play, laugh and truly have fun, children embrace happiness and never question if they deserve it or wonder if it will last. As I have grown there are many times I have lost sight of the beauty in doing something just for the pure joy of it. Like many people I know, the to do lists can take over and keep me from fully living in the moment, especially when it is something as “frivolous” as having fun. What I have learned from children is that fun is never frivolous; it is something our soul needs.

Love freely – The heartache we feel in life can sometimes cause us to be guarded. Keeping love out completely or limited to those that seem “safe”, we lose the incredible gift that comes with a wide-open heart. Children don’t hold back love. If they want to give a hug, they give a hug. If a little baby wants to stare in your eyes and give you a smile for no reason, they do. There aren’t expectations of this love being returned, they just give it without condition. Each baby that comes into this world is the perfect love that we all hold in us and they show it however they feel guided to. We can begin to learn that this is our natural state from watching children of all ages embrace this emotion. It is who we are and the pain we learn is truly from expecting love back, not necessarily giving it.

Authenticity – Children learn the concept of “fitting in” from parents, friends and people in their life, they don’t arrive into the world with it. They are who they are. Many of us have seen a child want to wear outrageously bright, mismatched clothes simply because they like it and it represents who they are, never putting a thought into what others will think. Without the interference of judgment, children live completely authentically. This is something many of us spend years trying to get back to once we learn that what others think of us isn’t nearly as important as our own happiness. Children can show us that it is perfectly natural for us to be guided by our hearts and inner guidance, as it is how they live.

Curiosity – Nothing is more thrilling than seeing a baby look around, taking the world in and clearly demonstrating a complete sense of awe. They absorb everything around them without judgment so they can learn. They smile at every small accomplishment and are hungry to keep exploring. This is our natural state, a place of curiosity, bewilderment and awe. The world offers us as many unique things to learn and look at but often we become comfortable and lose the sense of wonder that we come into the world with. Children show us the incredible joy that comes from not being the expert but rather being a perpetual student.

Creativity – As adults we tend to lump ourselves into groups – left brain versus right brain, creative versus logical, structured versus spontaneous, etc. While all of these may be us having a tendency to being more comfortable leaning towards one direction or another, none of us are born into this world lacking any of these characteristics. All children enjoy coloring, making art projects, dancing to music or playing an instrument. They love bringing something beautiful into the world, and that doesn’t change just because they grow up. They play make believe games and daydream about the future. They demonstrate to us that a basic desire is to be in a creative space. Whether it is art, music, writing, inventions, machines or even new businesses all of us can benefit from allowing ourselves to be creative. As we grow, they way we express our creativity changes but they key is to never shut it out completely.

If we watch closely, children can show us how to get back to our original nature. Allowing ourselves to be our inner child, even if just for a moment, will give us an amazing gift of pure happiness.

With immense love and gratitude for all the children in the world – April

How Can I Serve?

Like everyone, I sometimes see certain aspects of my life very challenging. When I am in a circumstance that I don’t enjoy or feel isn’t necessarily aligned with what I want to be doing I can feel frustrated or even angry. The little kid inside me wants to kick and scream like those days when I didn’t want to go to school or the dentist (no offense to the incredibly valuable dentists out there). The resistance is sometimes a sign that I need to make changes in my life, however often those changes often can’t be made immediately. Patience is required and that can be one of the toughest things to practice in these situations.

In these moments, I have found it helpful to reflect back to something I have heard Wayne Dyer say many times “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Situations are only as bad as our perception is and in actuality, every experience invites us to learn and grow in different ways. I do truly believe in the divinity of every second so even those things that I want to run screaming from are openings to spiritual growth or guidance. As I have come to realize this I have found one particular question really grounds me and brings me back to a place of peace and excitement…

How Can I Serve?

This simple questions encompasses all of who I want to be, a person that supports and loves others and myself. Looking at the any situation, whether I like it or not, and asking this one question often opens up a world of possibility I didn’t see. Taking the focus off my dislike for something and shifting it to the benefit I can bring is not only empowering but also liberating. In looking at the world this way, everything becomes an adventure of kindness. It may be serving myself with a deeper level of love or it may be serving others with an act of kindness; either way is a gentle and fulfilling way to approach everything I do. This does not take away from the steps I need to make to remove the things I know don’t align with me, but it makes patience incredibly easier and I can enjoy the journey of growth instead of the suffering of circumstance.

This has now become my daily practice every morning, simply sending that question out and waiting for life to give me opportunities in response. I encourage you to try this question and see how it supports you on your path. If it isn’t this one, play with other questions that bring you back to who you truly want to be and you will be amazed on the shift this can bring to your life. Please share any questions you come up with below so my other followers can benefit from your wisdom.

With gratitude and service  -April

Change