31 December 2013

Living Powerfully in 2014

Hey blog world... is anybody out there? Been slacking on the posts, as I'm sure you've all noticed (hello?) ANYWAYS. 

Happy almost 2014! The end of the year always inspires both reflection and intention setting. Instead of mulling over what I've learned, I'm going to start by sharing what I am letting go of, and, then, what I am creating in 2014. 

Putting out into the universe what you intend to create/do/experience is WILDLY powerful. As soon as the commitment leaves your mouth (or keyboard, for this matter), it's one step closer to becoming a reality. At the end of 2012, I said that I wanted to go to Costa Rica in 2013. A few months later, my mom won a free trip. THAT is the magic of living like anything is possible and really believing in the power of positive thought. 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

This little quote from The Alchemist is by far my favorite reminder of what it means to live with intention and follow your dreams. When you have integrity about what you want and listen to your intuition about the things and people you are drawn to (or conversely, repelled from), the universe lends you support. How awesome is that??? Now what IS it that you want? Here are my initial thoughts on what I am committed to:

I'm Letting Go Of....

  • The need to control
  • Body scrutiny
  • Complaining
  • Rash, emotional communication
  • Resentment
  • Trying to do it all, right now
  • Pleasing everyone
  • The need for acceptance from others
  • The need to feel safe

I Am Creating....

  • Deep self trust - listening with a sensitive ear to my instincts and developing a higher level of consciousness
  • Peace of mind - the ability to "turn it off" (it, usually being the ego)
  • Self love
  • A job working in empowerment and self esteem
  • More balance - between personal/professional, time alone/time with others, health/indulgence, reflection/expression...
  • Travel (Thailand, Chicago, Nashville, Europe)
  • Intimate, open, honest, enriching relationships
  • A powerful, marvelous life

Here's one more Alchemist quote that I relish:

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” 

What are you going to do with your precious moment?

Mood song:
"Life Round Here" by James Blake

Favorite song of the moment... (or past million moments):
"Black Out Days" by Phantogram

29 September 2013

Setting Intention, Taking Risks

Lately, I have noticed myself having such a negative, resistant reaction to the question, "how are you?" How was your week? How have you been? I immediately want to redirect the attention to the other person. Give a short answer, and then lob the question right back. I don't want to rationalize or explain how I have been. I don't want to have to express all of the "ughs" that immediately come to mind. I don't want to vocalize the protesting thoughts I have and risk sounding like a martyr or a downer. Because, I have done that many times over the last couple of months. I go on and on, regurgitating the narrative of unhappiness and dissatisfaction that I dish out to everyone who asks the simple question of how I am, how I've been. 

Earlier this week, I read a quote that was simple, and perfect for how I've been feeling. 

"Don't complain, create!" - Michealene Cristini Risley

The best part of this quote, other than the fact that it totally commands that you take responsibility for the things you want to change (awesome), is who said it. A quick Google search revealed that Michealene Risley is a real life superhero and someone that I really look up to.

Michealene Cristini is an award winning writer, director and human rights activist. Her first film, Flaschards (a short film on child sexual abuse), won numerous awards, screened in the Shorts du Jour program at The Cannes Film Festival and was picked up by American Public Television for PBS stations. Her new documentary, Tapestries of Hope (follows social activist Betty Makoni in her efforts to help sexually abused young women in Zimbabwe through her foundation the Girl Child Network) has also won numerous awards and launched in 107 theatres on Sept 28th for one night only. The film is also being used as a tool for grassroots efforts with over 45 groups to push Congress to sign and FUND I-VAWA (International Violence Against Women Act) one of those key partners is FACEBOOK who actually helped her to get out of prison in Zimbabwe. 
A member of both the Writers Guild and The Directors Guild, Michealene also co-authored the best-selling book, "This is Not the Life I Ordered", selling over 50,000 copies. Miss Risley also blogs frequently for the Huffington Post on issues of Women and Children, Human Rights and Africa. She was recently honored as One of Silicon Valley's most influential Women.
RIGHT?! This woman is incredible. Talk about CREATE. Michealene is a human rights ACTivist who has fought hard to educate and shift the conversation, expose injustices, and facilitate huge strides towards change. She has risked her life to expose the unjust treatment of women. She was imprisoned and deported to South Africa by the Zimbabwean government for the footage she shot for Tapestries of Hope. But this didn't douse her spirits or her intentions. As soon as she returned safely to the U.S., she hopped into action and became a large part of the push for the passing of the International Violence Against Women Act. THIS woman does not complain. She creates new possibilities and new efforts to enact change. And, coincidentally enough, much of her efforts are to support the empowerment and proper treatment of women and children, which is extremely close to my own heart. 

Reading about Michealene and being reminded of so many powerful women who have paved the way for change was a big wake up call to me: no one has ever accomplished anything great by complaining about the things they want or pointing out the obvious obstacles to achieving them. Then, the message hit home again last night when I explored the topics of "desire" and "risk taking" in a women's group. Everyone shared something that they desired, something that they desperately wanted to create in their lives, and then naturally shared the reasons why that can't happen or how they are being tripped up. As the listener, it's so easy to hop in and offer an encouraging nudge and remind them of the power they have and the possibilities that await for them in the wings. It's easy to put a positive spin on "risk" and talk romantically about how the body craves change and loves to be jolted awake by healthy, follow-your-heart risks. 

But then, when I reflect on myself and my desires, and it's my turn to put on what the women are offering me, it's not so easy. The doubt seeps in and I retreat back to the place of security, the place I know and can comfortably operate in. And then, like clockwork, seeps in my resentment/complaints/'stuckness' and desire to RUN (not walk) away from that place entirely. But I don't. I just complain. It's a vicious circle... the inherent habit of craving change, but staying in the 'safe' place to avoid conflict, harm, or surprise. It's like cavemen survival instincts that are etched into our being, but no longer applicable. In fact, often times, it's actually it's detrimental to our happiness and wellbeing to not take those risks. Every time we avoid risk, by default, we are also forfeiting all of the magic that could unleash if we trusted our gut and took those jumps. Will we always land on our feet? Will it always be greener on the other side? Absolutely not. In fact, it may be terrible! But guess what? We can try again, and again, and again, until it's not terrible... until it's wonderful and everything we imagined. We can manifest that and draw it into reality if we keep taking small leaps to get there. But we sure as hell won't get there by standing still, remaining in the state of desire without action. 

All that being said, I would like to drink the "risk kool-aid" and take the first step towards change -- changing the conversation I have with myself about what is possible. I have written up a personal narrative that clearly communicates what I desire to do professionally and how I would like to spend most of my time and energy. I am posting it here to make it more real, and less of a fantasy or unattainable desire. I am also posting it here to hold myself accountable. So instead of asking me how I am, you can ask me how I am taking strides towards making this intention a reality.

Setting Intention: My Commitment

It is my deepest passion to make an impact on others, with love and encouragement as my tools. I want to enact social good, breathe life into others’ dreams, and to lift people up to experience their true potential. What a warm, embracing world we would live in if everyone was in touch with their own inner magic. I think that the most crucial time to experience this tingling realization of ‘potential,’ our inherent power and endless possibilities, is as a child. The young mind is fresh, expanding, and welcoming. It is also very vulnerable and susceptible to the impact of outside factors - love and encouragement, unkindness and judgement. Therefore, it is essential that the young mind be well-versed in the greatness of itself, such that it can easily embrace the good and confidently ward off the bad. The young spirit should feel its power and use it to deeply love and cherish itself and others, before it is buried beneath doubt, coercion, and fear.

Why am I so committed to this? I didn't meet my inner magic until after my childhood. I starved for the attention and acceptance of others, never knowing how wonderful I was at my core. It took a lot of hard falls and soul searching to realize that the power I was searching for in my boyfriends, in my grades, in my friends, at the mall, in my parents... was nestled within myself all along. There’s a bit of a learning curve when you learn this later in your life (it’s hard to teach an older dog new tricks). It is a struggle every day to remain tapped into my inherent power. There are days that I deny its existence, feeling like a victim lost in my own life. I make excuses so that I don’t have to be the one accountable for my own life. I give the power to someone or something else, and I marvel at their control. But then there are the days when I feel my inner strength and I exercise it. I don’t feel stuck or dependent on anything or anyone else. Rather, I feel like anything is possible. I feel limitless and radiant with happiness and possibility.

Muscle memory is real. When the body learns what it feels like to BE the creator and the fulfiller of possibilities in its life... it does not forget. The brain reminds the heart, the strongest and most hard working muscle in the body, of that raw power and pure bliss. It remembers what it feels like to be woken out of that slumber and gives you purpose. Connectivity with that inner power induces the release of creativity and vivaciousness from within, and it creates a desire to help unleash those things in others, too.

And that’s where I am. I have lived on both sides - letting things happen to me and feeling (un)lucky, and also making things happen and feeling unstoppable. I now have a desire to help others to release their power. I feel particularly drawn to tween girls, who are young and most susceptible to a society that has positioned them as lesser in many ways. Living powerfully is the most beautiful and freeing way to be a part of (and experience) this universe. To know and own this power at such a young age and have an early start on being the commander of your own life... now that would be world-changing.

10 May 2013


Whoa. My last post was in Decemeber (5 months ago?!) I have missed this safe space for sharing very much, and I'm going to make a concerted effort to get back into my writing groove. Why? Mostly because when I don't put my feelings/musings into complete sentences and give them the attention they need, they swim round and round in my head until I become so dizzy that I avoid addressing them.  That's actually what I'd like to write about.

In my yoga class a couple of weeks ago, my teacher read a great quote that resonated with me on a deep level. It's been on my mind ever since, but I haven't really taken the time to mull it over fully. So, here 'goes...
"What you resist, persists."
  BAM. RIGHT?! What you are resisting, will continue to persist. What you avoid, what you sideskirt, what you attempt to bury... it will keep knocking at your door. It will not give up. It will continually pester you until you address it - until you look it in the eye and take responsibilty for what it is, or maybe - for what you made it mean.

Something I noticed that I had been resisting for a while is saying "no." I would "yes" and "sure" and "no problem" to no end, short-handing myself and all the while finding myself in a constant state of resentment and frustration. The whiny victim in me asks everything from, "Why am I expected to finish this project so quickly when I have five other things on my plate?" to the ridiculous, "Why do all my friends and family members want to spend so much time with me?!" Feeling strapped for time, feeling rushed, feeling overwhelmed, feeling unheard. All of these sentiments are things that I must own, and refrain from putting on ANYone else. Why? Because all of these feelings are as a result of not saying "no" when I really should have. They exist because I haven't put my foot down and been authentic about what I can commit to. Whether it's making a deadline or making a birthday party, I am 100% responsible for communicating to others what I am cable of - what I want to do - what I will do, and what I don't want and won't do. 

It seems so simple. Say "no" when you can't or when you simply don't want to do something. Feeling like you need some personal time? Say no to that invite. Feeling overwhelmed at work? Push back on the things that need to wait. Don't apologize, it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. Easy peezy! 

Not really. Human beings (my mermaid self included) have to struggle to be authentic on a daily basis. It is a living and breathing challenge to be honest and real with others, especially if you've gotten into the nasty habit of using lies (whole lies, white lies, half truths, the whole gamut) to avoid playing the good old fashioned honesty card. Why tell the truth, when you can make up a whole facade that seemingly wipes your plate clean of any real guilt or responsibility?! Yuck.

There have been countless times that I've used a white lie to get out of something because I'm too much of a coward to trust the integrity behind my "no." I make the "no" mean something. It could mean "I'm being rude," "I'm bring selfish," "I'm not X enough," "I am going to disappoint..." The list goes on and on. But really, what does "no" really mean? It means just that. It means "no." Period. You can go on and on about the reasons behind the no - you're tired, you need time alone, you don't have enough time, you don't want to. Doesn't really matter! Because at the end of the day, it doesn't involve anyone else. So don't let it involve anyone else. You're just doing yourself and the others you drag in a big disservice. 

And, something beautiful I've discovered in the past couple weeks of really practicing my "no's" and honesty is that it feels SO much better (ultimately) to be real with others than it does to keep up a running tab of lies and excuses. And, people appreciate the honesty and respect you for it! Maybe it will startle them at first, especially if you're an award winning excuse spewing machine (oops). But I'm finding that it isn't easier to be inauthentic. Even if it's been somehow ingrained into our heads that we should animorph into whatever the person experiencing us wants us to be. Your body, mind, and spirit truly do blossom and warm from the inside out when you are are authentic, including the times when you say "no."

Ask yourself what you've been resisting. What is something important to you that you've been giving up? What have you been pretending? Face that reality! Don't resist it anymore. It will persist and continue to nag at you until you get real and address it. It will weasel its way into the most unexpected places - your office, your home life, your familial relationships, your friendships, your productivity, your motivation... Resistance kills your momentum. So stare that beast square in the eyes, and watch it run away in fear of being discovered. Resistance can only thrive while you continue to live your life like it's not there.

P.s. I know you loved that use of animorph.

Sending love to all of you tonight!