Walk This Way?

Practice gratitude to feel gratitude. There is no other way.

You cannot give it service with your lips and expect to feel it in your heart.

Let’s ask a few interesting What if questions:

What if what you are talking about is what the Universe is giving you in return? Empty words devoid of feeling?

It is easy to read the wisdom books and memorize the correct terms. I have learned from experience that it is much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. Many times, when we say we know something it means that we understand it intellectually, but knowing something intellectually and actually living that way are two different things.

What if you substituted the word know as in I know what gratitude is, with the word live as in I live that way in everyday life…would the statement still be true for you?

This is what I mean – most people say they know what gratitude is, but do they really?

Intellectually I may know that gratitude means living with a grateful heart, but do I live my life with a grateful heart?

What if I am I pretending to be something I’m not?

People who live with a heart filled with gratitude practice gratitude every day, in every way they can. They know its true value.

They practice it so they can feel it. They share it so they can continue feeling it.

What if, in the words of Aerosmith, we were to Walk this way?

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.

What’s The Point?

Becoming a better version of myself than I was yesterday is a daily practice for me.

That doesn’t mean I’m not worthy now, but the more I know the more I realize there is to know.

It is like I am viewing a picture in a frame, in which I am viewing myself in a picture in a frame, in which I am viewing myself a picture in a frame…and so on…going deeper and deeper into the meaning of self until, at some point, it dissolves into nothing and becomes everything.

Simply, it means is there is always more to discover about yourself if you are willing to look. We can learn something that makes us more compassionate, more honorable, more open to others…a better version of ourselves…every day.

For me, that is the point of the journey as well as its destination.

An elegant mind is grateful that it knows more than it did yesterday and joyful because it knows less than it will tomorrow…

What does your elegant self look like?

Your Prime Motivators

expressyourself

I spend a lot of time saving my own life.  It is easy to fall into a trap and waste a lot of precious time, so I work on it every day.

I have chosen to invest my time into the things that not only save me time and money but also save my energy so I can experience the best that life has to offer me now.

I practice saving precious life-time for the good stuff.

What is the good stuff?  Back in the day, I didn’t have a clue.  For many years I reacted to life.  I wouldn’t have liked to admit it, but I was at the mercy of others.  I took everything to heart and overthought every interaction.  I was always defensive, generally anxious, and easily wounded.  Life was a battleground.  I didn’t live it.  It lived me.

A person can survive this way.  I am living proof.  However, being constantly vigilant… cycling between threat assessment and fight/or flight is no way to thrive.

As loss after loss and wound after wound began to pile up like cordwood, I realized that if I didn’t do something about what was happening, that I would always stay in survivor mode.  I would always be somebody’s victim.

That wasn’t good enough for me. That hateful story sucked. I wanted to be able to tell the story of a life designed to thrive, not merely survive, but I didn’t know how.

I wanted, with all my heart, to know better.  Somehow, deep inside, I knew that thriving truly is the ultimate survival.

Like a drowning person searching for a life preserver, I began looking for answers.  I explored places I wouldn’t normally have looked, listening to people who didn’t think like me or live like me, and in many cases, didn’t look like me.   It was an uncomfortable process that required many years of research and self-inquiry to clarify, but what I found there was worth the price of admission and is truly worth sharing.

Anyone with the ability to think, speak, and act can do this work.

My first step was to establish my prime motivators.  We may not be able to articulate them at this time, but every human being has them.  These are the main drivers of our actions.  They either feed or starve our energy levels.

This meant getting back to the basics and identifying my essential motivational drivers, the reasons why I do what I do when I do it.

As it turns out, my prime motivators are creativity, connection, and community.

What Are Your Prime Motivators?

What gets you so excited about a project that you cannot wait to begin it?
And cannot wait to work on it?
Why do you want to do this thing so badly?
What is the payoff for doing what you do?
What deep urge in you does it satisfy?

Deep down, what truly matters? 

You may find that much of what you value has been instilled by your family or culture. This is your opportunity to clarify what you value as an individual. 

Values are not objectives, they are active, best life practices. 

Your values keep you on your path and become the basis for your personal standard of excellence.  What you value determines your motivation.

The key to this exercise is to not measure what you value by whether it is “right” or “wrong” but to determine how each of these values works with your vision for your best life.

If you were to share the things that inspire, energize and give you a sense of a job well done, what would they be?

Consider the list below.  Circle as many as are applicable to you.  Add your own.  This is your longlist.

Take your time and create a shortlist.  Give your shortlist a lot of consideration as if you needed your 3 prime motivators in order to claim a fantastic gift!  This information offers you the gift of clarity, of knowing yourself better.  It is a gift that keeps on giving.

1. What do you value?

Authenticity        Achievement       Autonomy           Adventure         Balance

Courage              Compassion         Challenge           Connection         Community

Contribution       Commitment       Creativity            Curiosity           Citizenship

Competency       Consistency         Dependability     Discipline          Diligence

Determination    Efficiency           Effectiveness       Education        Elegance

Fairness              Fitness                 Faith                  Fame                      Fun

Friendship        Good humor      Growth               Grit                       Happiness

Honesty              Health                Influence            Integrity               Innovation

Ingenuity            Justice                Kindness             Knowledge          Loyalty

Leadership          Learning             Love                   Motivation          Mentorship

Openness            Optimism            Peace                 Popularity            Passion

Perseverance      Positivity            Reliability            Recognition      Religion

Reputation          Respect              Responsibility      Tenacity             Spirit

Security              Service               Spirituality          Self-respect         Stability

Success              Status                Trustworthiness   Wealth                Wisdom

Wellness             Wellbeing

2. Create your longlist. I suggest writing them on a separate piece of paper.  The act of writing them out helps you to get your thoughts in order.  Although many of the values listed above may apply, I suggest keeping this list to 20 items.

3. Create your shortlist:

1._______________________________

2._______________________________

3._______________________________

4._______________________________

5._______________________________

6._______________________________

7._______________________________

8._______________________________

9._______________________________

10.______________________________

4. Check your shortlist and group similar values together. Our values often fall into the following 7 categories.  These may be helpful as you choose your top 3.

Social             Family                Personal Development           Financial

Career            Physical              Spiritual

5. My Prime Motivators:

1.____________________________

2.____________________________

3.____________________________

 

I am a fan of the work of entrepreneur Tom Bilyeu.  His podcasts, Impact Theory and Health Theory are truly worthy of your precious time.  In the recent Mindvalley talk below, Tom offers us a dazzling masterclass on how to invite others to listen, incite them to embrace change, and inspire them to action!  In a masterful demonstration of excellence in motivating others as well as public speaking, Tom cusses a couple of times, but that’s Tom and they fit.

Without a doubt, this man knows what drives him and uses this understanding to his best advantage.  Consider, as you watch this, how Tom’s prime motivators have been the genesis of his off-the-chart success.

A Love Story

I often think about the people and critters in my life that have died, but not from the perspective of what I’ve lost. I keep their memory in my heart so I can appreciate what I’ve gained by having them in my life.

Life and death are eternally linked. You cannot have one without the other. It doesn’t matter if you are 15, 25, 65, or 95…we all experience death in some way.

The evidence is all around us. Each day dies to be born anew with the dawn. Some people are in our lives for what we feel is not long enough…it could never be long enough. Items get used up, some get broken. Things get lost or even taken away. Money gets spent. Critters we dearly love grow old and leave us.

For many people, it is too scary to look death in the eye and so we choose to put our fingers in our ears and sing a happy tune instead. This is especially true when we are young…even talking about the idea of talking about loss scares the crap out of us. We dare not speak it out loud, in case we attract it to us. Even folks who are not superstitious struggle with this topic.

One time I was at a rock concert and witnessed an angry young man walking my way. He had his fists clenched, his face was red, and his eyes were glazed, so he was probably stoned. It freaked me out so I turned away, as it looked like he was going to hit someone standing very close to me.

Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I flinched but didn’t turn around. They tapped harder, more insistently…

What do you think I did to you? I don’t even know you, I thought…I was coming up with all of my responses – he was a lot bigger than me and he was clearly on drugs.

I was up by the stage, standing in the middle of a frenzy of young people jumping and dancing and cheering. With the music blasting, he probably couldn’t hear me no matter what I said…

Then this person laid their hand on my shoulder. That really freaked me out, so I spun around.

It wasn’t him. The stoned guy was long gone.

You dropped this, the person said, and handed me my sweater.

I think of this story when I think of how I dealt with loss when I was younger. I was totally afraid to even think about it, let alone discuss it, but it kept tapping me on the shoulder, over and over, its hot breath in my ear, reminding me of my mortality. Reminding me of the mortality of everyone and everything I loved.

The day I turned to face the dragon, I discovered my older and wiser self in front of me. She accepted that we are not getting out of here alive, and she was okay with it. She reminded me that I came to life just fine, and I will leave just fine. That the natural order of all things is to be stripped of all things. She said to focus on the in-between, where you get to live, don’t waste time mourning that which you cannot change. She taught me how to celebrate life, instead of mourning death.

I have learned it can be viewed in two ways – as loss or gain. How you think about it is a matter of mindset. The longer you live, the more you naturally accumulate…you choose the meaning you put on this accumulation.

Considering this, I set about training my mind to transmute loss into gain.

Loss is a natural part of living and a wise person accepts this as early as possible. If it is a natural part of living then it happens to everyone, not just me.

Everyone’s mother dies. Everyone’s dad and gram and sister and brother will die. Everyone’s good ole dog dies.

The mindset of abundance allows me to consider what their elegant spirit graced my life to share with me. I thought about it so I could get my mind around their value to me, and how their presence in my life helped me grow. After all, I am still here. I still have things to do, people to see, places to go.

It was a mind-shift to choose celebration instead of mourning. With each loss, it naturally takes a unique period of grieving and adjustment. Embrace it. We are human beings – we love and feel the loss of love. This period must happen if the individual truly wishes to heal.

However, at some point, the resilience of the human spirit will allow us to begin the recovery process. We are not dead.

I have found that choosing to focus on celebrating the life of those who have died, instead of choosing to focus on the circumstances that led up to their death and my loss, was transformative. It opened me up in ways I could never have imagined before this process began.

Loss happens, but those of us who are still here can make the best of it.

Human beings are natural storytellers. Tell the story of how your life is better for having had those people in your life.

That is a story full of loving thoughts, worth telling again and a-gain.

Finding The Lost One: Questing With Byron Katie, Dr. Edie, and Your Constant Traveler

It’s interesting – the one constant in life is change.

What you see before you is only one possibility for your life. There are as many as you can imagine…the key that opens the door to new possibilities is curiosity.

Understand that you don’t know what you don’t know and when you do…everything will change. Why? Because you are working with change, the nature of the Universe.

Back in the 19th century, Thoreau wrote that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Interesting how the more things change the more they stay the same. I think that many people are living a life in crisis now, suffering in silence. You are not alone, there are many folks who have become lost on their Quest for something meaningful in life.

In fact, you are part of a growing tribe, many who have taken a different path than their ancestors, and now find themselves adrift in unknown waters without an anchor.

It may be difficult to overcome your feelings of lethargy, but you may benefit, in ways you cannot imagine at this time, from a true reboot of mind, body, and refreshment of spirit.

I know what it feels like to scramble to find your footing. I also know what it feels like to try to live a life defined by what I have rejected.

It can be done, but not with any measure of happiness and contentment.

So what works? Here are some things that worked very well for me:

Begin a dialogue and get to know your Constant Traveler (the most honorable and compassionate version of you that you can imagine at this time).

This is achieved in two steps:

Clear the confusion:

Author Byron Katie teaches that all war belongs on paper. I agree wholeheartedly. When you find yourself confused, conflicted and lost write about it. I highly recommend The Work by Byron Katie. It is offered for free on her website.

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Explore possibilities:

I developed a practice I call contemplative writing. I use a notebook to explore thoughts I find not only challenging but also intriguing and inspirational. In a space of sanctuary and compassion for myself and my journey, I open my mind and let my thoughts flow. I found my Constant Traveler there. She is much wiser than me.

Your Constant Traveler waits for you there as well.

Begin a group mindfulness practice – something that puts you in touch with your breath and physical body. This could be meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or any other grounding, stress-relieving practice. The reason I suggest a group practice is because, many times, lost equals isolated.

Begin establishing your anchor – fill your mind with inspiring, uplifting books that cause you to stretch and grow. Read books on subjects you normally wouldn’t, dive into philosophy or autobiographies, or a spiritual practice other than what is familiar to you. Life is relationship. Allow the lives and works of others to inspire you to action.

I highly recommend The Choice: Embrace The Possible, by Auschwitz survivor and triumphant thriver, psychologist Dr. Edith Eva Eger.

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Move your butt – set a goal and begin a fitness practice. This may be as simple as walking in nature. Much of our mental fog and internal angst is the direct result of our resistance to moving. We are energetic beings…no matter what our age, we need to discharge pent up energy.

There are many more ways to find yourself when you feel lost, but try these on for size.

You may find you like them. 🙂

Reach Out And Touch Faith

 

I had become a self-made woman.

I made and remade myself again and again in my own image, and, having done so, I lost touch with

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the essence that keeps my heart beating and fires my mind into communion with ecstasy.

I have admitted with deep chagrin and the desperation of the one who wakes up bereft,

that I have been complicit in something so heinous that if its words were ever to fall from my lips…

I will be rendered null.

I cast myself into the vastness of the void, and, having done so,

Committed The Ultimate Betrayal...the betrayal of myself.

Reach out and touch faith…

Depeche Mode shares an invitation to reach out and touch the faith that moves mountains and frees nations for ourselves.  As creative entities, these artists understand how it works.

Faith urges us to not only sing and sway to someone else’s tune, mouthing their words as if they are our own because we believe they are more worthy than our meager offerings…but to become inspired to create our own melodies.  To reach out and touch the essence of our own spiritual nature – to feel that movement that begins as a softly rising swell in the heart of every man and woman and moves through us on feral night winds to reach the destination satisfaction of the prodigal one inspired to return home…to herself.  To himself.

Entry into these sacred halls is gained by your willingness to move…to embrace a primal faith that ignites a force beyond genetics, beyond note and chord and discord.  Beyond silence.

To reach out and touch what is the nature of your nature…the creative force of the Universe.  It is yours to claim…

Be your own hero…

When you drop the tension created by doctrine and dogma of a world bent on its own destruction and set off into unknown territory, this can become the ultimate Quest.  It is vital that you explore this area and do not leave it up to chance.  That is…if you truly wish to reach any semblance of destination satisfaction.

Truly, you cannot make yourself.  Inspired art, you were born complete.

How does primal self-faithfulness manifest? 

A life, by definition, cannot be described by what it is not.  Turning away cannot define what you are turning toward.  This is your time to choose if the deconstruction is to be resolved through construction or chaos.

Have you:

A willingness to be led by Inspiration?

Trust in your personal resourcefulness?

Faith in your mission?

Faith in your elemental Why?

Faith in your loves?

Faith to your family, your community, your country?

Faith in the human spirit?

The above video invites us to explore what is at the core of our essential nature.  Who is our Personal Jesus?

To whom, or what, have you offered your allegiance?  Is it friend or foe?

Consider the audience in this video.  Has the band…the music…the lyrics that roll off someone else’s tongue…become IT?