29 February 2012

Unlisten, Relisten

It's really easy to listen to a familiar song and let it be about some entity outside of your present self. Maybe that song reminds you a certain time in your life, or someone who has since left. Every time that song comes on, we sink into a familiar association and aren't really listening anymore. It becomes mechanical, and the true meaning gets lost in the one we have attached to it.

Tonight, on my way home from yoga, my body and mind were flowing into open water - just melting into the world. I felt extremely open, physically and mentally. I turned on the radio and Lifehouse's "Hanging By a Moment" was playing. I let the song engulf me, and suddenly it took a whole new meaning. I decided to listen through myself, rather than through a past experience or thoughts of someone else. The song was about me - about me falling even more in love with myself and my oneness with the Universe and its being.

Try cracking open your being and listening to music with new ears.
Here is a link to Lifehouse's song, and the lyrics are below. Enjoy xo

Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you

Forgetting all I'm lacking
Completely incomplete
I'll take your invitation
You take all of me now...

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

There's nothing else to lose
There's nothing else to find
There's nothing in the world
That can change my mind
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
There is nothing else

Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you....

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

Just hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment here with you

28 February 2012

Less Stuff, More Happiness

Today I watched a short, but sweet TED Talk by Graham Hill, called Less Stuff, More Happiness. Graham is a writer, designer, and founder of TreeHugger.com. His goal is to help push sustainability into the mainstreams.

In his video, Graham lays out a simply equation...
Less stuff, less space = 
Smaller footprint (CO2), More money, More :) & ease in your life
Like many others, my first reaction is to mentally put all of my stuff in a pile, wrap chains around it, and lay down in front of it, as if to defer a bulldozer. MINE! ALL this stuff. I don't want to let go of ANY of it. I just want to clean around it every weekend and wait for a weird costume party to wear that ugly shirt... 

C'MON! That's pathetic and silly. When I snap back to reality, all I really want to do is go through my closet and get rid of all the things I never wear. It makes me want to cover all my wood floors with a million pillows and invite all of my friends to live with me like a commune. We don't need as much space or crap as we let ourselves believe we do. 

If you think there is comfort and security in having "stuff" and space, think about what Graham says about travel. You take a suitcase-worth of things and stay in a small room in a hotel without all of the amenities you are used to. But it's still wonderful, and even stress-free. When you go camping, you stay in a tent and are probably more elated and content than you are in your own home. I guess I shouldn't generalize this to all people, or assume that everyone feels this way. Because there are definitely people who put up these huge mansions and fill them when items not meant to be used or touched, and then wonder why people like me feel so cold and lost in their space. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm not free from blame. I'm the MacGyver of making tons of clothes fit into very small rooms. But I am halfway there to editing my life (as Graham refers to it) - I do love small, cozy spaces WAY more than big, consuming ones. I just need to learn to let go of some of my "security blanket" stuff. Because needing physical entities to feel comforted and safe is a RIDICULOUS story that I've concocted in my head. I would definitely feel ecstatic to have 1/2 my wardrobe cleared out so that I can actually have access to the things I like to wear. BAM - MOTIVATION!

What will you give up??

You can check out some amazingly small, but efficient and clean spaces featured on Graham's Life Edited website.

27 February 2012

Choosing to be One with the Universe

Today I watched this amazing TED Talk about a neuroscientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, who describes how she began to experience the world differently when she had a massive stroke and her brain functions began to shut down. As scary as a stroke may sound, undergoing this bodily trauma changed Jill's life and worldview forever, and I think that listening to her story can help us realign our thinking too.

Jill starts the Talk with a description of how the two different hemispheres of our brain perform separate functions. Each side cares about and thinks about different things. Per Jill, the right side is all about THIS present moment - right here, right now. It thinks in pictures and learns through the movement of our body. It experiences things via the 5 senses. It says, "we are energy beings connected to each other." It's thought is that in this moment, "we are perfect, we are whole, and we are beautiful." Conversely, the left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically. It's all about the past and future. It totally picks apart the beautiful collage created by the right side of the brain and categorizes all of the details into "hey, remember this!" and  "you need to do that!" The left side of the brain says "I am,"  and consequently we are separate from the energy flow around us. When Jill has her stroke, the left side shuts down.

Because she is a neuroscientist, Jill is able to very accurately describe how the switching on/off of the left hemisphere of her brain completely changed how she saw things during the stroke, such as how she perceived her in body in relation to her surroundings. When the left side of her brain would turn off, Jill describes feeling one with everything around her - everything is energy... there is boundless fluidity rather than separate entities. She says that she was unable to depict the boundaries of where things started and stopped. She was in awe of this new way of viewing her world. And then suddenly the left side of her brain reactivated, and she snapped back into problem-solving mode ("you need help," "something is wrong")...

I won't describe the whole experience - you can watch the video and hear it from her. But, how INCREDIBLE would it be to shut OFF the side left side of our brain? To be more connected to how our energy is one with the Universe, and not segmented into a million little tasks, descriptors, and boundaries? What if we could visualize the world around us like an ebbing and flowing ocean, perfect in this very moment and guiding us to exactly where we should be? I was so moved by this video - I immediately realized that (most of the time) I resort to lists and check marks and boundaries and entities to experience my world, to feel something moving, to communicate with people. Now all I can think about is how desperately I just want to melt into every moment and be ONE with everything - to experience things by being a part of them, not separate from them. To feel the force field of energy that I am and let everything around me just flow right through me. How beautiful would that be? No... how beautiful COULD that be? I am going to read more about getting in touch with the right side of my brain and disabling the limiting, calculative left side of the brain.

Here is an amazing quote from the speaker:
"(Referring to the right part of her brain) I am the life-force power of the universe. I am the life-force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is. Or, I can chose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere, where I become a single individual, a solid. Separate from the flow, separate from you... these are the "we" inside of me. Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time that we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemisphere, the more peace that we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be ” -Jill Bolte Taylor

I would love to hear your thoughts about this, and if you have been able to have the kind of fluid, beautifully connected experience that Jill describes (not from a stroke...). I yearn to rewire my brain so that I too can experience this, and on a daily basis. 

24 February 2012

Soul Mate... Revisited.

I am happy to say that I have already found a couple people who I consider soul mates in this short life I've lived. It almost feels like I have only been truly alive for a couple years when I think about the incredible story arcs and transformations that have recently transpired for me. (I guess all of the other years leading up to these pivotal points are not to be discounted, though.) The more beautiful and trying experiences you go through and the more life lessons you embrace / allow yourself to learn, the better you come to know yourself. The more you know yourself - inside and out - the easier it is to attract soul mates, purely by exuding your own energy and drawing in compatible energies. If that isn't motivation enough to be honest and open to the core, I don't know what is.

 Happy Weekend, everyone. I pray you (and I) prioritize knowing and loving yourself enough to unlock the possibility of meeting your soul mate(s). For no one compares to the people who speak to your being in such a natural way and make you feel on cloud nine just because you are each being your true selves. 
Christina Perri - Arms

22 February 2012

#23: Life Secrets and Tips

No pain, no gain? I don't know if I buy into this tip...
The Rubberband Method. This is the third and final way to rid yourself of negative thoughts (hopefully by now you have figured out that this is very important!). Place a rubber band around your wrist and snap it against your skin anytime a negative thought finds its way into your head. This operant conditioning technique associates a slight pain with negative thoughts like Pavlov associated food/salivation with the sound of a bell. Sounds a bit cruel at first but it only stings for a second, I promise. Plus the outcome, having only positive thoughts, far outweighs a little slap on the wrist here and there.
If I did this every time I had a negative thought, I would have a sore wrist. If I did this every time I wasn't present, like having longing or regretful thoughts, I'm not sure I would have much of a wrist left to snap. Looks like I need to recenter this weekend. I just received a book recommendation in the mail, and I think it would be a great way to get started (Who Switched Off My Brain? Revised: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions). My pile of must-reads is stacking up though. Luckily, it will be warm and sunny this weekend! Makes for perfect outdoor reading and meandering in my own head.

Though seemingly simple, even small posts like this are wonderful "verbalizations" of my priorities and encouragements for a transformation...or twelve.

Keep on loving, friends! Yourself included. For there is no true love of others without loving yourself first.

21 February 2012

#22: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Travel. Anyone who has ever gone anywhere will tell you that traveling is one of the most exciting and life-changing activities that you can do. Observing a different culture will expand your mind while making you further appreciate the life you already live. This goes back to becoming an explorer: this world is your jungle, so go explore! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a place you love so much that you decide to move. Imagine the positive repercussions a new environment could have on your life.
I cannot wait to experience my first trip out of the country this summer! I feel like my mind lives in a very small, confined box of the <10 states I've been to. It's seen pictures and heard stories of beautiful, mysterious places, and it's growing antsy to actually experience them first hand. Especially since I've cracked my world open to incredible new possibilities, I am raring to travel more than ever. I want to breathe the air of a new place. I want to talk to people I never dreamed I would meet. I want to hear native languages and taste cultural foods. I want to feel the dirt of somewhere new between my toes. I want to learn about different traditions and beliefs, which may try my own and/or inspire new ones in my life. I want to hear new sounds - feel a new location's energy and rhythm. Euphoria washes over me at the thought of such wonders! Brazil and Argentina, my heart skips a beat when I imagine our introduction.

I love what today's tip says about the possibility of falling in love with a place so much that you even consider moving there. These are the kinds of things that many of us don't even consider. What IF you actually loved somewhere more than you love LA? PLEASE. I imagine that is extremely easy to do. What IF you chose to live your life without such rigidity and stale expectations? What IF you didn't confine yourself to what is comfortable and easily accessible? The idea of starting a'fresh in a completely new place sounds terrifyingly exciting (the best kind of excitement there is). Disney Latino, here I come?! I am open. 

Where are you going to travel? I'm sure you have a whole list of places you want to travel... but where ARE you going? Make room in your life to explore the unknown and taste the fruit of a new place. I believe it nourishes the soul (and I haven't even left yet!).

New Moon

Each month we have a New Moon, followed by a Full Moon about 14 days later. When a New Moon occurs, it's the time to begin new projects, initiate contracts, make important phones calls, write up a proposal and do anything that requires a starting point. When the moon reaches its fullness two weeks later, this is the time your efforts will bear fruit and come to completion.

In your horoscope, a New Moon in any area of your life urges you to focus on issues that require your input.Check out your monthly forecast on Astrology Zone and see what it says about how you should utilize today, February 21st. 

Excerpt from Astrology Zone for my follow Aquarius:
The new moon of which I speak will appear in Pisces 3 degrees on February 21, will light your second house of earned income and possessions, and will appear very close to Neptune. This same new moon will also send amazing vibrations to both Jupiter and Pluto. Jupiter is in your fourth house ruling real estate and also the "end of all matters" that have been going on a while. Pluto is in your behind-the-scenes sector ruling confidential talks. You may ask for a raise and get it, or you may negotiate for a new position with a higher salary. You may make a big purchase now - and it may be for a valuable piece of art.

With Neptune so close, you do have to work with your lawyer to find, delete, or change troublesome clauses. You both also have to decide what is NOT in the agreement. Neptune has the power to make things invisible, so what you are not thinking about could be more troublesome than thorny items you do see in the contract.
As said, Jupiter is currently in a real estate house and is making this time an excellent time to buy, sell, renovate, update, repair, or change your space in any way. Jupiter is in Taurus, ruling flowers and greenery, so you may order new landscaping - it would turn out beautiful with Jupiter so near. Start looking at estimates now, with the aim of launching your plan in late April, after Mars is direct.

16 February 2012

#21: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

I'm always open to learning new ways of dispelling negative thoughts from my mind. Here is an interesting visualization method that I like a lot. I am a visual/hands-on learner, so anything that I can imagine or actually do with my hands is sure to stick.
Utilize ‘The Burning Method.’ Whenever a fear or worry or complaint comes to mind, close your eyes and imagine writing down the thought on a piece of paper. Then proceed to light the paper on fire and watch it disintegrate. Even better, actually write it down and burn it. You won't have any problem ridding your mind of the thought after doing thing.

Anyone have a lighter?
What are you 'burning' today, now and forever?

15 February 2012

The Secret Language of Birthdays

While spending the weekend with my grandparents, I found a gem-of-a-book nestled among their vast collection of interesting reads. The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary and Aron Goldschneider. I loved it so much that I ordered a copy for myself on Amazon.
Combining astrology, numerology, and pure psychic intuition, The Secret Language of Birthdays is a wholly unique compilation that reveals one's strengths, weaknesses, and major issues while providing practical advice on spiritual guidance. 
If you are at all interested in the dynamics of personality, I think you will really enjoy this book. Every day of the year has a two-page spread with a description of the personality, strengths, weaknesses, advice and more of people born on that date. It's eerie how accurate it is for the 10-15 people I tried it on. Note that depending on the time of day you were born, you may identify more with the previous or following day of your birth (for example, I was born at 10:52pm on Feb 5th, and therefore identify more with the description for Feb 6thers). Of course, not everything will always be dead on. But it's another wonderful way to open up your mind and to ask questions about who you are as a person. You may discover things about yourself that you never realized and/or decide to prioritize certain aspects of who you are, while downplaying other ones. (From my pages, I was reminded of how important acceptance is to me. My instinct was to seek out this acceptance and confirmation of worthiness from other people, and therefore I had been making my happiness and fulfilledness the responsibilty of others. What a terrible way to live! But if I flip around my perspective and instead prioritize gleaning acceptance from within, then I can satisfy this deep need while remaining self-empowered). 

This book is also interesting for the purpose of delving deeper into the functionality of your relationships with others. After reading the pages of friends and family members, I was able to see why we are so compatible, or conversely, why we may butt heads. Since I am extremely interested in the astrological compatibility of people, I also purchased The Secret Language of Relationships. I can't WAIT to get this book in the mail.

If you want to see an excerpt of what this book says about YOUR birth date, go here: http://www.thesecretlanguage.com/birthdays/

The site doesn't have all of the details that the book does, but it should still give you a taste. There is also a birth date matching site under the Relationships tab. Check it out.

Let me know what you think when you check out your birth date on the site! (P.s. feel free to come over and check out my books when I get them in the mail!)

Just a side note that it's important to look at these kinds of readings and tools as inspirational, not critical. Don't try to fit into every description like a jacket that's too small. Get comfortable with "holding up the mirror" to yourself and accepting what you see in the reflection. Work on the parts that inhibit your ability to love and accept yourself and others. Embrace the parts that open your heart. I honestly believe that we can do ANYTHING that we set our hearts and minds to. You just have to genuinely want it bad enough (and want it more than you want to talk about doing it).

30 Simple Ways to Help Yourself Out

A dear friend shared this list with me from a wonderful blog called The Simply Luxurious Life, and I wanted to pass it on to all of you. So many great reminders for us, from speaking kindly of others, to treating our bodies with respect and learning to love ourselves. My friend printed these out for me in one convenient list so that I have a daily reminder of ways to feed my soul with love. Please do so for yourself if you feel as moved as I did!

1. Drink more water
2. Take deeper breaths
3. Respect your feelings, assess what you are truly feeling and why, then respond accordingly
4. Let go of the past
5. Stop spending so much money in hopes that it will bring more happiness
6. Depend upon yourself to discover happiness, not others
7. Move your body – walk, run, take a zumba class – move your most precious gift – a healthy body
8. Involve yourself in relationships that are uplifting, healthy and respectful
9. Stop the competition mindset and instead focus on improving upon your past behaviors.
10. Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to just be by yourself
11. Care about someone or something (pet, charity, etc) as much as you care about your own life.
12. Pick up anything you take out immediately after use
13. Unpack as soon as you get home
14. Read
15. Cook more meals at home
16. Let go of jealousy and instead recognize and foster your own gifts
17. Say less, listen more
18. Stop being involved in gossip – whether sharing or receiving
19. Change your oil every 3 months and rotate your tires
20. Keep your standards high instead of lowering them to be accepted
21. Clean up the kitchen after each use
22. Tell the truth
23. Send thank you cards
24. When upset, give yourself time (a few minutes, 1 hour, a day) to collect your true thoughts and sift through the emotions to determine the true reason you are upset before continuing the conversation.
25. Stop seeking approval and approve of yourself and your own life choices
26. Limit your alcohol
27. Let go of perfection, and instead simply do your best
28. Take responsibility for yourself – stop blaming others
29. Don’t lend money to friends and/or family
30. Accept that you will have to work hard to attain what you desire and then get busy



09 February 2012

Brené Brown

Brené Brown is the wonderful research professor who gave the TED Talk on the Power of Vulnerability that I posted last week on my blog. Today I decided to dig deeper into her work, since I felt so moved by her presentation. I really want to be that wholehearted person she describes. As a recap, her research poses the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
I discovered that Dr. Brown has written two books! The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who We Think We Should Be and Embracing Who We Are and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power. The first book is her "guide" to living a wholehearted life. I asked, and I received! I have added so many books to my list in the last couple of weeks - they are filling out my bookshelf at home. But The Gifts of Imperfection might have to take over the #1 spot. I want to be able to confidently declare, "I am enough" and really believe it. I am open to and excited about learning what barriers I am currently putting in my own way. Are you? Do you fully embrace and accept all of your self-proclaimed "imperfections?"

#20: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

This is a nice way to wake up on the RIGHT side of the bed, every morning!
Start your day off right. Wake up and set aside an hour for personal development activities (meditation, self-introspection, observing nature, etc.) Do the things that make you feel blissful, optimistic, and empowered so that you can set a positive tone for your day. I guarantee that once you start doing this, your days will be more enjoyable and fulfilling. Today is going to be the best day of your life. Duh.
The morning really does feel so much nicer when you can take your time getting ready, soak in the sun a little bit, and possibly get all of your "worrying" out of the way. The days that I rush out of bed to get dressed and fly into my car, I feel like that all day - go, go, go... oops, forgot to smell the roses. I hate those days. When I used to wake up early to go hiking in my neighborhood, I always felt so much more centered and awake for the day by the time I needed to get into my car and start the day's grind. Taking in some nature and/or having a cup of tea in my kitchen without any time crunch is so soothing before a busy day. My only excuse for not doing this every morning is lack of sleep. So I just need to get into bed earlier to have that blissful morning. I can do that!What are your favorite morning musings?(love this song to start a relaxed morning)

06 February 2012

#19: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Okay, okay. Today's tip is easier said than done. But take some serious time to brainstorm or journal about this.
Figure out what your goals and dreams are. So many people wander aimlessly through life, simply going for whatever small thing they want moment by moment. Instead, decide what your perfect life consists of and begin to put the steps in motion to reach that place. The most satisfying thing in the world is overcoming a challenge and reaching a goal. We are the happiest when we are growing and working towards something better.
Of course, your interests may change as you pursue different avenues. And that's wonderful - nothing to get discouraged about. Sometimes life experiences (e.g. the career world) is more a process of elimination than constantly aiming for the bulls eye. Figuring out what you don't want is just as valuable as those light bulb moments when we discover that something/someone truly speaks to our heart. It's important not to get discouraged when we have those realizations of "this isn't working for me." Give it some deserved thought - what do you want for YOUR life? Lay the ground work for those goals early on, and be patient as you work towards them. Tell people in your life what you are up to so they can cheer you on and hold you accountable. Make a vision board of everything you want for yourself so that you can start to mentally illustrate what that "success" will look like. But, definitely stay present as you work towards meeting your goals - meaning, don't get so caught up in the future that you sacrifice being actionable and realistic with yourself in the present. What can you do TODAY to move yourself closer (even just an inch) to achieving something important to you? Is it going to the gym or signing up for an exercise/dance class? Is it writing a letter or picking up the phone to say 'hi' to someone special to you? Is it spending a few hours looking at career sites? It is reading a book that recenters you? DO IT.

This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose...

03 February 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

Vulnerability - capable of being wounded or hurt; susceptible to attack or injury; being exposed; weakness in defenses

After reading those definitions, you may be thinking, "Why on EARTH would I ever would be to vulnerable?!" I'll tell you why. And so will this amazing TED talk below. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable means that you are 100% open - to both "good" and "bad." Open to people, open to discoveries, open to growth, open to learning, open to feeling... It means putting yourself out there wholeheartedly and embracing the present as the most wonderful opportunity you'll ever receive. Because it very well could be. 

Something I discovered in watching this video is that there is another layer to being vulnerable. I feel that I am pretty good at giving my best effort to things/people/situations, even if the outcome has the potential to be painful (doesn't it always?). But when you are vulnerable and you have self-acceptance (or feel "worthy"), then you are golden. And by golden, I mean that you are setting yourself up for a life of happiness, peace, and fulfillment. It seems as though accepting oneself and the ability to be vulnerable go hand-in-hand. How can we be completely open to the Universe if we are holding back love from ourselves? Love of our bodies, our needs, our beliefs, our family... Once we can truly love all parts of ourselves, then not only can we see love in everyone else, but we also empower ourselves to be worthy of receiving love from others. What a beautiful cycle. 

Please comment with your thoughts on the video! I particularly love that this comes from an empirical researcher (like myself) who struggles to let go of the "control" and "predict" that are embedded in research. I'm a walking contradiction! And I love it.

TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability

01 February 2012

Welcome, February!

The start of February always brings a big smile to my face and hopeful excitement for a wonderful birthday month. However, I also know this particular month is going to be a little rocky for all of us...
Mars started retrograding on January 23 (it reactivates April 13)
Mars energizes other planets or houses of the zodiac; the aggressive, forceful, energetic, courageous planet - its retrograde may take away some of our gusto and determination

Beginning February 7, Saturn will retrograde too (until June 25) 
Saturn is the planet of concentration, permanence, tangible rewards, tenacity, ambition and productivity - its retrograde could mean little or no progress

Mercury will also go retrograde March 12 to April 4
Mercury represents non-emotional, highly rational objective thought - its retrograde scrambles information and causes static and confusion
This month, things aren't going to move as fast as we hoped, and it may be hard to stay motivated. But, that's okay - it's what the Universe intends for us. There is a reason that we need to put on the breaks and experience deeper inner reflection. Those conscious and accepting of the planets in retrograde will embrace this as a time to really be watchful of our thoughts and decisions this month. We all have the power to slow down and really listen hard to our intuition. Focus on breathing in the love that infuses this month and just being present to what your body and mind is leading you to do.

Want to read more about what this month has in store for you specifically? Visit Susan Miller's Astrology Zone: http://astrologyzone.com/forecasts/

Sometimes you need to read your monthly forecast a few times to really take it in. Perhaps read it now, and then give it a few hours or perhaps a whole day before reading again. I like to mark off all of the important days on my calendar to keep my mind active and in tune with the Universe throughout the month. See if that sounds nice and encouraging for you. :)