I’m so excited to announce a new workshop series! In this interactive online workshop you will learn to:
Identify Limiting Beliefs and Move Beyond Them
Overcome Obstacles that Prevent You from Moving Forward
Move Toward Achieving Your Dreams and Living Your Best Life!
One of the first questions that people have is – What’s the cost? The answer is simple – Whatever you want to pay. That’s right. I want this workshop to be completely accessible to everyone that is interested, and I absolutely do not want money to be an obstacle.
This Workshop begins Tuesday May 29th at 6pm PDT
Sign up today to start your journey!
Today I choose to make my life sacred. By focusing on the beauty and the sacredness of life, I can move away from the fear and uncertainty.
“It feels good and right to lift our faces to the sunlight. It feels good and right to follow our hearts. Something in all of us ignites when we live this way.”
Sarah Blondin takes us on a beautiful journey of making our life sacred in her podcast Live Awake. Blondin, the creator of Live Awake focuses on the sacredness of life in her podcasts.
“She decided after waking from what felt like years of sleep, that nature was responsible for loving her awake. She decided the earth breathed its grace up from the roots of her feet. The trees gathered together to give her grounded strength. She decided the wind carried loving whispers from the divine to her slumbering ears. She decided the sky showered her with wisdom and mirrored the boundless nature of every soul walking this earth. She decided after waking from what felt like years of sleep, that she would live forevermore wide open to all that came to be in front of her. She decided that living awake was a choice, and in that moment she became free. And in that moment she chose to be the beam of light that reaches toward all other life, to be the beam that assists the earth in breathing and loving others awake.”
I invite you to listen to the podcast here, on Soundcloud, Make It Sacred. It’s a beautiful uplifting podcast. There are several Live Awake podcasts available on the wonderful free app – Insight Timer. There are hundreds of guided meditations by wonderful teachers available on this app. I recommend it whole-heartedly.
I’ll close this post with another video from the Live Awake archives, Choosing Harmony. It is a lovely way to spend nine minutes.
Let me know your thoughts on how you make your life sacred.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
Once again, I have so much to be grateful for, in terms of what my sons have taught me. This time, I am grateful that both of them pushed me to explore the wonders of podcasts. Of course I have listened to podcasts, I’ve even been interviewed on several, but it’s been a half-hearted effort. On their last trip home, over Christmas, they downloaded a podcast playing app and steered me in the direction of several podcasts that they enjoyed. And since then, I have been playing podcasts on every trip I take in my car. I’m hooked! Mind you, as most of you know that have been reading my blog for awhile, I’m an addict at heart, so everything I do, I often overdo! But at this point, I’m loving it and it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm.
I was so impacted that I bought Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations. A wonderful book that I highly recommend.
In an article in Daily Good, Ostaseski describes his journey:
“Over the past thirty years, as the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, people who were dying generously invited me into their most vulnerable moments. They made it possible for me to get up close and personal with death. In the process, they taught me how to live. I distilled their wisdom into five heart lessons for living fully and without regret.”
The message in the book has five invitations to us from what Ostaseski has learned from people dying.
1. Don’t Wait.
2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing
3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience
4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things
5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind
The idea of the first invitation, Don’t Wait, seems obvious. If you are dying, you can’t wait to do things, there is an immediacy to everything. But this has a message to all of us:
“This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness. We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, “I love you” more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.”
When I think about the second invitation, Push Away Nothing, that feels very hard. My logical mind says, but what about the horrible stuff? I don’t want to welcome the bad stuff. Ostaseski explains though:
“In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality. At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”
Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience is a good invitation for me. I often hold back thinking I have nothing to offer here, I don’t know how to deal with this. I believe if I can’t contribute some kind of knowing to something, then I should not contribute. I know this is from ego, that I want to look good if I’m going to contribute. But Ostaseski explains gently:
“We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance. Yet more than once I have found an “undesirable” aspect of myself — one about which I previously had felt ashamed — to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity. It is not only our expertise, but exploration of our own suffering that enables us to build an empathetic bridge and be of real assistance to others. To be whole, we need to include and connect all parts of ourselves. Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.”
The fourth invitation, Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things, is a wonderful reminder for all of us I think. After listening to the podcast with Tara Brach, I downloaded another app to help remind me to find a place of rest in the middle of thing. The app, Insight Timer, has meditations on my phone to help me find rest in the middle of things, to remind me and aid me to rest.
And the fifth invitation, Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind is a Zen flavored invite, one that describes a mind that’s open and receptive, one that is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations.
“It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge — it’s always there in the background should we need it — but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control. The night before my open-heart surgery, my 26-year-old son Gabe and I had a tender conversation. Our sharing was filled with reminiscing, kindness, and laughter. At one point, Gabe became quite serious and asked, “Dad, are you going to live through this surgery?” Now I love my son beyond words, and like any father, I wanted to reassure him that I would be just fine. I felt into my experience before answering. Then I heard myself say, “I’m not taking sides.” My answer surprised us both. What I meant was that I wasn’t taking sides with life or death. Either way, I trusted that everything would be okay. I don’t know where the words came from; they spilled from me without censorship. I wasn’t trying to appear sage or to be a good Buddhist. Yet we both were reassured by my response. I think it was because we knew we were in the presence of the truth spoken with love.”
These five invitations are a gift to all of us, supportive in our life. They invite us to continue to explore and understand what it means to be alive now; not just to cope with death, but to live. And I whole heartedly agree with Ostaseski, they are relevant guides to living with integrity. Yes, we need to live these invitations, to be truly understood, they need to be lived and realized through action. They indeed are “five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.”
The conversation with Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski is truly inspirational, and I invite you to take the time to watch it now.
Let me know your thoughts on these Five Invitations.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
― Anaïs Nin
I was sitting in the seat of the car, looking out the window, pouting. The day was not going as I had planned it in my head. He should have known! He must have known how I wanted it to be, after all we were married and he should know . . . he should be able to read my mind . . .
Lennon and McCartney tell us that Love is All You Need. But in the case of romantic love, is that true?
Alain de Botton describes why we created and still live by the inaccurate, and often disastrous image of romantic love in his NYT article: “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.”
In the past, people married for practical reasons, but in the 1800s, we replaced practicality with the romantic version of love:
“For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.”
Romantic Love tells us that we all have a soul mate out there and it is our task to find our one true soul mate, and we will know when we find him or her because we will have that very special feeling. Botton describes this search for romantic love in his very entertaining talk “On Love” from ‘The School of Life.’
The reality is though that what we are looking for when we fall in love is familiarity. We are not necessarily drawn to people who will make us happy, we are drawn to people who will feel familiar.
“What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.”
For a relationship to last, we need more than that out-dated version of romantic love. So what do we need to make a lasting relationship? Well for one thing, we definitely need good communication. The day out with my husband would have turned out a lot differently if I had communicated my vision for the day instead of assuming that my husband should just know.
But aside from good communication, science is showing us that lasting relationships come down to two things: kindness and generosity.
In Atlantic Magazine’s article ‘Masters of Love’, psychologists John and Julie Gottman describe their work. Together they have studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. From the data they gathered, they were able to separate the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.
The masters felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. Whereas the disasters were in a state of ‘fight or flight’ even when they were not fighting. It’s not that the masters had a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.
“Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird. The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that. People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper.”
Gottman explains that masters have a habit of mind in which they scan the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes. And it’s not just scanning the environment, it’s also scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or wrong; criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.
The Gottmans have found that contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them will eventually kill the love in the relationship. On the other hand, kindness glues couples together. Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated. Kindness makes us feel loved.
So if we are looking to live happily ever after together, we need to ditch the antiquated version of romantic love and move forward in the spirit of kindness and generosity.
I’d like to close this post with the video by Alaine de Botton that I mentioned above. It is well worth the watch, both amusing and insightful.
Happy New Year! I think the general consensus is that 2016 was a rough year for most people, on so many levels. But in this post I don’t want to focus on politics or difficulties, but instead on cultivating gratitude. A new year is the perfect time to be cultivating gratitude and a renewed focus on what you appreciate. And 2017 is in particular a great place to start because from a numerological perspective, 2017 is a “one” year. (In short: 2+0+1+7 = 10 = 1+0 = 1.) Numerology looks at time in nine-year cycles, in which a “one” year begins a new nine-year cycle of creativity, learning and growth. It is a time of intentions and planning for the next phase. The intentions and foundations you build in 2017 can help shape the upcoming years. A “one” year is the perfect time to set intentions and goals for yourself. It’s an important year to take time for yourself and clarify the direction you want to travel. And a perfect time to focus on gratitude for what you have. My new years message talks about this and about the importance of silence in your routine. You can read more about that here in my newsletter. And if you want to read more about the science of silence, you can read about that in my article in Thrive.
Cultivating gratitude is so important as we enter 2017. Psychology Today defines the benefits of gratitude as:
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.
Another good reason to cultivate gratitude is:
“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.”
And when you pay attention to what you are grateful for, that becomes your experience. It becomes your experience that life is good and full and wonderful.
I have often quoted Melody Beattie here but it is so appropriate, I have to do it again.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Gratitude is independent of our objective life circumstances
Gratitude is a function of attention
Entitlement precludes gratitude
We often take for granted that which we receive on a regular basis
Gratitude can be cultivated through sincere self-reflection
Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, enhances our experience of gratitude
Our deepest sense of gratitude comes through grace, with the awareness that we have not earned, nor do we deserve all that we’ve been given.
If you are looking for a way to focus on gratitude as 2017 unfolds, I suggest getting a ‘Gratitude Journal’ – and start by just writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning before you even get out of bed. And if that feels too hard, then just think of 3 things you are grateful for before you get up. That’s a great start!
If you are feeling more ambitious, I can suggest a wonderful course on Daily Om! It’s a new course I have authored and it’s available here. The course is offered with the option of selecting how much you want to pay. No matter how much you pay, you’ll be getting the same course as everybody else. Daily Om believes that people are honest and will support the course with whatever they can afford. And if you are not 100% satisfied, they will refund your money. So what have you got to lose? It’s a great way to start the year.
I’ll close with a YouTube clip describing the course so you can get a better idea of what it is about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you cultivate gratitude and it’s impact on you. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
– Anne Lamott
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope …
My book is published today, April 26th 2016! My book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, my very own book! This Way Up took ten years to write, 10 years. There were plenty of times when I was in the dark and all I had left of this dream of publication was stubborn hope. It was not an easy journey. I began the book because my son Lukas, at age 12 challenged me to. I felt backed into a corner, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was or I would feel like everything I had been saying to my sons for years was a lie. So I started writing.
I started writing and deleting; and feeling not good enough to write a book and feeling like a fraud. When I finally finished my first draft about 5 years later, I started looking for an agent. Oh my God – talk about sitting in the dark with nothing but hope! I had months and months of rejection letters, too many to count, the darkness got darker, the hope fainter.
Then finally I found an agent in London, I signed a contract and I was over the moon! Now, I thought, now the hard work is over, I have someone else to do my work and get my book out there. It took over a year, lots of frustration and more darkness, but finally my agent was able to land a publication deal with a small publisher in London. I was thrilled. I celebrated and believed the time had come.
About a year later, after jumping through hoops, working with an editor and inching closer, my agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore, that the publishing landscape had changed too much and was not working for him anymore, so I lost my agent and lost the deal with the publishing company that he had handled. I was back to square one, and decided I couldn’t do it anymore.
Then about two weeks later I heard a small, still voice in my head while I was meditating; the voice instructed me to ask an old college friend who lived in LA for help. I wasn’t that close to her, and had not been in close contact with her for years. But we were friends on Facebook, and I have learned to trust that small voice, it rarely leads me astray. So I messaged her and she messaged back the next day. She recommended She Writes Press. I had never heard of them, but when I read about them, my pulse quickened. They sounded perfect – the website describes SWP as: A publisher of books – for, by and about women! I contacted Brooke Warner, one of the founders of SWP, and we scheduled a Skype. She said my book sounded like a good fit for SWP. I signed a contract and I started working with the amazing women at She Writes.
I still had a steep climb though, luckily the climb was accompanied by some truly magnificent women: Brooke Warner, a power house and visionary; Annie Tucker, editor extraordinaire; and a host of truly talented authors. The fellowship of authors at SWP is fantastic, they are generous of spirit, freely give advice and tips and we cheer each other on every step of the way. I am grateful beyond measure that I ended up with such a wonderful publishing house.
And now, today April 26, 2016, my book is here. It is truly a labor of love; and an extreme act of faith that kept me going. I believed that if I just kept showing up and kept moving in the direction of my dream that the dawn would come. And it did. So I am here to tell all of you – Don’t give up! Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, whatever they are.
I’d like to close with a video that is very close to my heart. My very first video that I’ve ever uploaded on to You Tube. It continues to be a steep learning curve!
I’d love to hear about your dreams and what helps you to keep moving forward. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Gross National Happiness has become a movement!
This message, the movement is about happiness and well-being that comes from living in harmony with nature, living in harmony and balance with others around you, and being in touch with your deepest sense of self, your highest wisdom, which transends culture and boundaries that are man made. Possibly our best way forward in our survival as a planet. It is about our truest, deepest sense of self in unity with all others.
Tho Ha Vinh, program director of the GNH Center in Bhutan describes GNH like this:
GNH is a kind of medicine, to heal the illness of our times. The first message of GNH is about reconnecting with our natural environment – in a way that we acknowledge, respect and value the sacredness and the interconnectedness of all life forms. The second message of GNH addresses the economic crisis, which is more of an ethical and moral crisis than an economic crisis, so the second message is about creating a caring economy, an economy based on altruism and compassion; collaboration rather than competition and destruction. The third message of GNH is reconnecting with ourselves, with our deepest highest potential.
What a beautiful message. What an amazing philosophy. It is believed that a lot of the meaninglessness that we experience in modern life is a direct consequence of our disconnection with nature, with others, and most importantly with ourselves.
It is time to reconnect with self. That is the beginning. It feels impossible to change the world! How can we get anyone in power to focus on GNH instead of GNP? But it starts with ourselves, today it starts with me!
Thank you Jayne for sharing this with me, she’s always there to help, and I really appreciate her friendship!
Please take the time to watch this wonderful video. It’s so inspiring!
I’d love to hear what you thought of the video, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
The importance of love – and remember to love yourself first; Live life fearlessly; and remember love keeps you safer than fear does. What wonderful messages.
I have been preparing for my book launch, so sending out short writing pieces about finding purpose after feeling purposeless; about empty nest and other major life transitions; and a lot about the Seven Tools from my book, This Way Up as I get closer to my book launch date (pssst it’s on April 26th if you didn’t know! You can order it now on Amazon)
I talk about the concept of finding purpose, about love being stronger than fear and about living fearlessly to just about anyone who will listen. So I was quite thrilled when my friend Jayne sent me the link to a TED Talk called Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani. Anita went into a coma and almost died – and now thanks the cancer which riddled her body for saving her life. Moorjani states it was that near death experience which taught her the meaning of life. Moojani explains that what we focus on, what we pay attention to is what our life reflects.
She states that the five main lessons she learned from that experience are:
The main thing we should be focusing on is Love. And it is vital to love ourselves first.
Live Life Fearlessly (and remember love keeps you much safer than fear does!)
Focus on humor, laughter and joy
Life is a gift. Live each day as a gift.
Always be yourself. Be the best You that You can be.
I think this TED talk is amazingly inspiring. Thank you Jayne for sending me the link – and thank you all for watching it. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.
I’d love to hear about ways that you life fearlessly. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.
Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it.
Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.
– Hermann Hesse
One of the things I love about starting a new year is making intentions. One of the intentions I usually make is to pay better attention. Which means that for the first few weeks of the year anyway, I’m paying closer attention to life, being more mindful in what I do. Wish it lasted longer than just a few weeks, but baby steps, right?
And along with intentions for the year to come, I love to look back on the past year and see what insights I’ve gained. One of my insights from 2014 is that I always feel better, more connected when I’m paying closer attention to the present moment. Another insight from this year is how much better I feel – body, mind and spirit – when I’m alcohol free. So once again, I’ve decided to abstain from any alcohol for awhile. This is not a new behaviour for me. Alcohol and I have quite a history. This isn’t a typical ‘New Year’s Resolution’ – this has been coming for quite awhile, I’ve been alcohol free for several months now. It just feels like alcohol doesn’t fit within the context of who I’m becoming.
I like reading the articles that come out in the new year about the ‘bests’ of the year that has passed. And I love learning about other people’s insights from the previous year. So it’s no surpise that my favorite article is from The Greater Good Website. Not only do I love that site! But the article combines those two things, the best of and insights gleaned. The article is based on the annual list of the top scientific insights produced by the study of happiness, altruism, mindfulness, gratitude – the science of a meaningful life. The article – The Top 10 Insights from Science of a Meaningful Life in 2014 – is wonderful. It’s well worth reading the whole article, but for those of you who like things put in a nutshell, here you go:
Thank you so much Devin for sharing this incredible video with me. In an age of “sharing” everything and being “known” universally, I believe that as a species, we have never been so lonely. Such a fine line, all this social media, and yet such isolation.
“We’re a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people”
Let’s all choose to pay attention, to be present, to take in our surroundings and make the most of today.
It only takes five minutes. Please take the time to watch this video . . .
“Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined, go out in the world, leave distractions behind. Look up from your phone, shut down that display . . .”
Then go out into the world and connect with someone, eye to eye.
Please let me know what you thought of this video, I’d love to hear from you. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.