Many Doors, One Sanctuary: 10 Doors to Active Wellbeing: Doorway # 2

When my kids were quite young (6 and 2) their father and I decided to take them for a short camping trip.  We choose a campground that was on the outskirts of Moncton, NB, involving only a couple of hours of traveling – not too far away for this first expedition.  We bought a tent, gathered our camping gear, packed the two of them, toys and car seats and blankets and food all, into our red Bronco II and headed for the campground.

Our afternoon was full of fun and games.  The children enjoyed the playground and splashed in the pool.  Supper went well, everyone was hungry and everything, even canned Irish Stew, tasted better outdoors.

When it was time for bed we took the children into the tent, wrapped them in their special blankies, and began our evening sleepytime ritual.  Our plan was to get the kids to sleep and sit around the fire for a couple of hours.

That is when my son announced, Okay, let’s go home now.

No, Mike, we are going to sleep here.  But where’s my bed?  

You have your blankets and your pillow, try to go to sleep.  But I need my night light.

Okay, let’s read a story (I get out the flashlight to read the book).  But Mommy, I can’t go to sleep here.

Nobody slept that night.  We were waiting – tent, and camping gear and kids and toys and car seats and blankets and food all, in our red Bronco II, in the parking lot of MacDonalds as the morning staff arrived to open the doors for breakfast at 6am.

Creating Sanctuary…

What is my point?  Well, by now, I think our patience with physical distancing is wearing thin.  Having time off work is old news.  Watching tv and surfing the net is getting boring.  We are well-rested and (at least for some of us) our house is cleaner than it has ever been.  Pets are so well attended to that even they are wondering when we are going to leave.

As this crisis creeps closer to home, we are beginning to become restless.  We need to get outside but are afraid of what waits for us there.  We must get groceries.  Some of us must have medications.  Kids are beginning to whine and fight for recreation.

Even those of us who identify as introverts are becoming a tad bug-eyed…

We want to go back to the way things used to be.

Here is how I see the difference:

It is different when we choose to stay inside.  It is different when we consider our home a retreat from the world, not a fortress against the world.

We feel like we are a boat without a rudder, floating along on an unknown sea, and we are reaching the point where the growing wave in front of the bow begins to break.

When will I be able to go back to work?  How will I pay my bills if this goes on much longer?  Holy crap, what if my company goes under?  Or my investments go down the toilet?  Should I take the kids outside to play?  My mom is in a nursing home alone.  This virus has no cure…

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…

This pandemic is a serious threat.  If we don’t practice physical distancing and adhere to the protocols as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, more will die.  This is not a possibility, it is a probability.  It is wise to be deeply concerned and to act like we are contagious and don’t want to spread this virus to anyone else.

Creating a home Sanctuary means providing an oasis of wellbeing for us and our families.  This is a dedicated practice for a peaceful warrior.  We become relentless in our pursuit of peace.  We practice with the 5P’s in mind:  Fearless faith, focus, and fortitude.

It involves active engagement, nurturing the body, mind, spirit.  It involves opening doorway #2 that leads to enhancing our immune systems and mitigating stress through conscious, healthy consumption.  Open the door and discover the good things of life.

I invite you to consider these suggestions as you endeavor to fill your mind and spirit and body with good things:

2. Active Consumption

Media:  Perhaps it is time to limit our consumption of the news?  Remember the saying, If it bleeds, it leads…applies to media.  To back away from social media?  To stop reading about and joining in the discomfort of others?  To stop sharing complaints?  To actively use the wonders of our online connections to others to share what you know will give them a boost?  

Food:  Be strategic.  Shop for groceries once per week to lessen your chances of spreading this contagion.  Make a comprehensive list.  Pick foods that are high in nutrition and give you value for your money.

This is the perfect time to stretch your groceries out by eating less.  Practice the Japanese way of eating called Hara Hachi Bu.  This means eating until you are no longer hungry, not eating until you are full.  There is a world of difference.  In North America, we have been conditioned to eat until we can no longer eat another bite and believe this is beneficial.  All of the longest-lived societies in the world practice some form of calorie restriction.  This is part of the eating practices in what has been described as the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), which applies to all of North America.

Conversation:  This is the perfect time to Facetime with friends.  To meet on Zoom or Skype.  To share your support and encouragement with someone who is sheltering at home alone.  We need each other more than ever.  It always feels good to realize you are needed and you are loved.  This is the perfect time to give to others what you would love to have for yourself.

Reading:  Ebooks are a superb way to enlighten your mind and pass the time in an active, constructive manner.  Check out Audible.  Check out Youtube – many books and magazines are available for free online.

Next post will include thoughts on #3 Active Thought!  🙂

Stay well and keep spreadin’ the love, my friends!

 

Point of Impact

What is the point of it all?

Everyone must find the answer to this question for themselves. The only way to answer it is through living and exploring your precious life.

Approach it with the mindset of a contributor. Consider your potential…what you give may be the catalyst for something wonderful happening in someone’s life. You never know what this means to you until you act.

A perspective that you share may open someone’s eyes, a smile may brighten their day, a kind word may cause them to step back from the brink of oblivion.

You may be the reason that another person learns to be kind because you allow them to be kind to you…

Everyone says, Think big! What impact can I make on a global scale? I want to change the world!

The choice to walk creates the path ahead…

I believe it is important to focus on the point of engagement that is right in front of me…and find the Something Colored Beautiful moments in my ordinary day, those mundane points of impact that I have come to understand as blessings in disguise.

Until we are willing to do that, to be quiet and listen and observe and serve, our ego runs the show. It is our ego that screams, Be important or die!

In this way, it is speaking its truth, because everything is a deathmatch to the ego. Problem is, in its world, everyone dies.

This is what I have found to be true in my life – If I release my need to be important to everyone, I can focus on being important to someone.

I believe it is important to not spread yourself too thin…build your impact one by one person at a time…the people you see before you are your point of impact.

The ego hates to hear that. It hates to be last, or even second best. It must win. If you let it win, this drive will cost you your life, because for our ego even first is never enough.

Engage each person from your power-point, your point of impact. Make every interaction a quality engagement. Whatever flows from that point…if you influence one or grow your impact to reach thousands or millions, you will have built it on a truly solid foundation.

Then, friend, you will have the satisfaction of answering your own question.

Who’s Driving The Bus?

To be or not to be?   Why do we spend so much time searching for the reason for our existence?

We ask and the ego answers.

I consider the ego as psychologist Carl Jung described it – a mask, or persona, that we present to society. Things can get confusing when we take this persona too seriously.  We need our ego to negotiate the world, but things get tricky when we give it too much power.

The ego is always searching for a reason to exist. It needs constant confirmation that it is the most important part of a human being. If we accepted that we are living our ultimate purpose now – that we have come to life simply to live it and that life takes on the meaning we give it – we wouldn’t need our ego nearly as much.

Our fragile ego, defined and defended by our wounds and confusion, needs drama in order to survive. It is in our mask’s best interest to scream and defend itself.

This Art of War has been perfected by humans from the time that time began. Everyone we know has been trained in its tactics and strategies. Our lineage has taught us well.

Like with any other part of our human selves, offer your ego compassion. What a horrible way to live…always filled with dread, in the most basic, reptilian way. Your contempt makes it fight harder.

You see, it is perpetually terrified of one thing…its death. Keeping us freaked out about protecting it – for any reason other than the simple one – keeps us in fear mode – the only home the ego knows. It lives in fear.

I consider my identity in an artistic manner…it is mold-able and fluid, like clay. I invented myself, so I can reinvent myself. If I allow my mask to solidify that is when things get tricky. The key is to remain open and accepting of change, to go with the flow, and not take things too seriously.

Accepting that the ego is part of us, a poor driver that we allow to sit at the back of the bus, puts an end to war. It positions us above the battleground where we can understand the actual function of this part of us and not give it any more importance than is absolutely necessary.

Keep in mind that we have the choice of who drives the bus.

Always Arriving

In a recent interview, modern thought leader and author Brendon Burchard described a meeting with Oprah.  Before anything else was discussed, she asked, What is the intention of this meeting?  

As Brendon explains it, Oprah is always seeking clarity – clarity of purpose and of time expenditures.  Well aware that there are only 24 hrs (or 1440 minutes) available in each day, she demonstrates that she values her precious time by seeking clarity in every interaction.

As Brendon teaches, every high performer knows that if they take care of the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves.  By clarifying their Whys, they can clearly map their Hows.

Why then do so many of us get bogged down?  Why is the “devil in the details” more apt for some of us than it is for these high performers?  Why does attention to detail bog us down instead of freeing us to do our best work?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions?  Or perhaps we are afraid to ask any questions at all?

Question Everything – this can be an open-minded, freeing way to live, or it can also be the means to close us off from the very things we are seeking.  The nature of your questions matter more than you may be aware…

Why am I so dumb?
Why can’t I stop eating junk?
Why can’t I be like my brother?
Why are people so hateful to one another?
Why does everything have to happen to me?
Why can’t I overcome this?
Is there anyone out there who loves me?
What if I never feel like I’m enough???

Is this line of questioning coming from a place of abundant curiosity, or lack of hope?  Haven’t you already decided before you asked the question?

And what happens when we are so afraid to speak up or so afraid of not being able to handle the answers, that we never ask the questions?

Truly, there is a devil in the details here, and it is fear.  Question the source of the questions.

Another reason we are afraid to seek clarity is that in order to do so we must admit that we don’t know what it is.  If we are afraid to ask questions because we may look dumb or incompetent, we become that which we fear.  We cannot feel competent and confident in our ability because we have chosen to pretend that we are something we are not….something limited.

How can you discover that which has the potential to fill you if you pretend that you are already full? 

You have chosen from meager offerings (the limited options you see before you – the ones you have already lived) and out of fear of being exposed as a poser you have fortified your position with mute defense.

You can’t unfold a flower with your hands…

Inspiration is the result of surrender to the natural flow of events. Fear of being discovered as not knowing blocks knowing.

Open yourself to what is possible.  You always have that choice.  Learn from the examples of the highest performers among us.  No matter what their age, level of success or intelligence or station in life, they seek clarity in all things.

An elegant mind does not accept detours, because it is always arriving.  It does not attempt to make the road shorter, but travels in such a manner that every action leaves the land more fertile and the landscape more beautiful.

Seeking clarity is a lifetime pursuit because each situation is always new.  You and I have never lived this day…in this way…before.

With this in mind, we are always arriving.

Designed to THRIVE!

 

What could be better than self-accomplishment?

Accomplishment is a super energizing and confidence-building practice in an elegant life designed to thrive. However, when a person uses their personal accomplishments to demonstrate, encourage, and support others in creating their life design, it takes on a much deeper dimension.

 

 

Service to others is a vital component in a life designed to thrive.

A fresh, new year awaits us.  A new decade awaits us!!

What better gift can we give to ourselves?

What better gift can we offer to others…than the gift of a life designed to thrive?

The Gifts of A Writer

We read to confirm.  We read to learn.  We read to gain entry into sacred space. Sometimes we are truly blessed by the writer who blends these into a breathtaking kaleidoscope of support, discovery, and inspiration.

When we find ourselves searching for confirmation of something we believe in our hearts is true, we find our truth in the writing of others.

When we are searching for meaning and a reason to get up in the morning, others teach us, through their words, how to survive and thrive.

Their words offer us Something Colored Beautiful in a day cloaked in wrathful shades of gray.  We feel their hope, their confidence, and their competence so deeply that we make it ours.

Writing is a solo act.  Sometimes, when we feel most alone, the words of a fellow writer offers us encouragement, support, and company.

Writers know.  As artists, writers, dreamers, and creatives…we know that the spirit of reciprocity is life itself.  We share the best and most brilliant part of ourselves because when others feel it, we keep feeling it too.  

These are the gifts of a writer.

What is a story without a Shakespeare?
A novel without an Atwood?
A song without a Lennon?
A philosophy without a Socrates, or Watts, or Krishnamurti or Buddha?

So many times we are so blinded by our faults that we cannot see our own beauty.

When I read your words we share sacred space.  A glimpse of your beauty reveals my own.

Thank you.

Still-Point Painting – Chats With My Constant Traveller

I do some of my best thinking when I am painting.  Not landscapes, or portraits, or abstracts, or still-lifes…I enjoy painting walls.

I consider it a contemplative, still-point exercise.  As I apply it, the act of painting itself stills me.  The focus and dedication and change and patience and breath and commitment to excellence with which I approach painting stills me.  Life, expressed through this action, stills my wild heart.

If you were to observe me as I am painting a wall which, I believe, would be a rather lackluster decision, you would be led to believe that there is nothing still about it.  Painting is all action.  But therein lies the paradox – the outward action that stimulates inner flow is achieved through a still-point state.  And deliciously, it sets up a flow that is best described in circular terms – state leads to action that leads to state that leads to action…

This is how flow creates endless moments.  We interpret these endless moments as still-points.

If this seems cryptic or out of reach for you…don’t worry.  Just paint. 

You have decided that it is time to paint a room.  Perhaps there are scuffs on the walls, or your partner wants to change the color.  Whatever the reason, you will be there with yourself for the duration of the task, why not create a space in which you enjoy it?

Any task that has been performed in the history of the Universe has begun as a gleam in the doer’s eye.  Offer it your non-resistance, give up yourself wholeheartedly to the exercise.  Observe your thoughts.

Observe when, where, why and how in the painting process that your resistance bubbles up:

When did you begin telling yourself that you don’t like to paint and dreading the day when you have to begin?

Does your resistance to the task make it easier to do the things you must do to prepare?

Do you feel you are not a good enough painter to do the job?

Perhaps you should call a professional painter?  Most likely they will be a much better painter than you are, but you don’t want to pay a professional to paint your room.  You don’t have their experience.  You may be right.  This may be a reason, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse.

Having trouble choosing the color of your paint?

What if the color you choose is too dark, or too light, or doesn’t turn out the way you planned?  What if you choose the wrong color and nobody likes it?  This is the perfect opportunity to ask yourself, Why do I care?  This is my home, not theirs.

Have you begun at the beginning?  Exercise the 5P’s – proper planning prevents poor performance.

Proper prep begins with moving furniture, taking down wall art and clearing the room of accessories as well as taking off light switch and thermostat covers, taping off areas on which you don’t want to get paint.  This can take a while, especially if you are taping off baseboard, crown molding and other trim.  Also, it is wise to purchase a drop sheet to collect any spray.

Once the prep work is complete painting is a much easier task.

Are you impatient to get on with other things?

Resistance to painting generally means painting as quickly as you can so you get the distasteful job done.  There are always more important things to do when a person decides that they dislike painting.

Do you work incrementally?

Exercise your options – paint one wall at a time or one room at a time.  Give yourself the gift of time.  Perhaps you have given yourself a deadline – now you only have a weekend to get this done.  Why did you decide that you had to finish it this weekend?  What is the source of your stress-pressure?

Do you get frustrated when you make a mistake and paint outside the lines?

Some painters have such a steady hand and can wield a paintbrush with such precision that they can cut (painters use this term when they are painting along trim and other boundaries) free-hand, but many of us cannot.   Perhaps you cannot hold your arm steady for an extended period of time or to apply the focus that is required.  Maybe you no longer have the eagle-eyed precision to clearly see the lines.  That is why they made painter’s tape, my friends.  I enjoy working with painter’s tape.  There is a bit of skill that is necessary to apply as well as remove the tape, but the time it takes to do so can lead to super results.

How good are you at settling into corrections and reapplication?

It takes at least two full coats (with a 24 hr drying time in between) to get optimum results.  The wise painter approaches the second coat with the same dedication to excellence as the first.  Decades ago, when I began painting I would go so fast and create so much spray that I was cleaning tiny paint drops off windows and floors for days afterward.  Spray still happens (we will always miss some), but maximum enjoyment equals minimum cleanup.

Unless you are painting with the same color paint as your trim, there will be times when you will need to touch up.  You don’t want to leave that Sky Blue smear on your crisp white trim.  By this time you can see the end of the painting task and really don’t want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary making corrections.  This is not the time to let impatience and frustration get the best of you.

Are you Slap-Happy?  Consider the importance of developing a personal Standard of Excellence…

My mother had a term for those who rushed through something in order to get it done (I believe she may have created that term for me!).  She described those folks as slap-happy.  They would give it a lick and a promise and then move on.  I have seen many rushed paint jobs in people’s homes (heaters smeared with paint, receptacles painted over, cupboards covered in paint where the wall met the wood…door knobs and window sills…) as well as in businesses where it was clear that the owner did not allocate funds to hire professional painters.

As a coach, I believe in establishing a unit of measurement for evaluating performance.  I advocate for the development of a personal standard of excellence.  Why?  Because your time is valuable, your energy is valuable, you are worthy of your best effort, and you are better than a substandard performance…or paint job.   Taking the time to clarify how you demonstrate excellence in what I describe as the Thoughtful, the Expressive, and the Active Domains enables you to see it, and be it, and act with integrity in every task you perform.

Are you prepared to deal with disaster?  Sometimes the painter moves really slow, and sometimes really quick…

I practice being methodical and Zen when I paint, however, there have been times when I have inadvertently tipped over a small container full of paint, stepped in my paint tray (I still have the socks to prove it somewhere…), sat on a paintbrush, and snapped myself in the chops with the roller handle.  I have had to wash kitty feet and tracks when one of my cats decided to jump in the paint tray.  However, the most intense mess was the time I was on a ladder and my paint container fell onto the floor below, splashing about a litre of paint all over the floor, the wood trim and a closed door.  I reacted as I normally do when something like that happens, I began focusing on my breathing as I climbed down…and tried to be all cool about it.  However, when I realized how rapidly the latex paint was drying into the porous pine door…and was hit with the realization that I may have to sand the door if I didn’t get that paint off faster than now…I did freak a little.  And I may have uttered a couple of 4-letter cuss words during that time.  Paint on, paint off, Paula-san…Mr. Miyagi would have had a chuckle…

Do you celebrate a job well done?

A goal achieved is a reason for celebration, but it is not the only one.  The ability to create a goal is also a reason for celebration.  Waking up on this side of the grass in order to paint is a reason for celebration.  To have your own walls to paint is a reason…to have the extra funds to afford paint is a reason…

Working hands and arms and feet and eyes are stellar reasons for celebration.  N’est pas?

Another reason I enjoy painting is that painting is perfectly grounding.  It brings you up front and center.  When I follow my paintbrush strokes and consider every roller stroke… when I pay attention to how I load my brush or roller with paint…when I observe how my hands and knees and legs and shoulders and back feel…I realize that not just painting, but any task, can be utilized in this manner, transforming ordinary tasks into my version of extraordinary art.

With spring renovations right around the corner, I invite you to try still-point painting.  It’s all very Zen.