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The cycle of love.

For many people, Valentine’s Day can be a pretty stressful day.

If you happen to be coupled, the social pressure of acknowledging your love for each other can easily become filled with expectations and disappointments. And if you happen to be single, Valentine’s Day can be a loud reminder of your loneliness.

Either way, it seems to me that for a day that’s supposed to be all about celebrating love, the people who get the most value out of the day are florists, chocolatiers, and greeting card makers.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t become a day we dread. It shouldn’t be a day filled with pressure, anxiety and depression. Remember, it’s about celebrating LOVE. Love in all its forms.

Our world is in trouble. And not from all the bad things we hear on the news these days. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 18% of the population suffer from depression related illnesses every year. We are in trouble because so many of us feel lonely and depressed and we aren’t willing to admit it or talk openly about it.

For some people, depression is a result of a chemical imbalance, and thankfully, there are drugs available to treat that, but for the rest of us who walk through life feeling unfulfilled, disconnected or depressed, drugs aren’t the answer.

The answer is Love.

Only love can cure loneliness and depression. But the problem is that we seek to receive love from outside of ourselves and become dependent on people, places and things to experience love.

We seek more “likes”, we crave attention, we say yes when we mean no, we people please, all for the sake of feeling love.

But that’s not real love. That’s a temporary fleeting illusion of love that leaves us empty and hollow.

To bring more love into your life the first step is to examine how loving are you with yourself? What is your relationship with you like? If your life is filled with worry, anxiety, self-doubt or lack of self-confidence, chances are that you are not doing such a great job in loving yourself.

People who truly love themselves are naturally confident. And not in a cocky, narcissistic way. They possess the kind of confidence that generates a strong belief in self and that results in access to courage and creativity.

The more you love yourself, the more you will believe in yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less you will listen to your fears.

Someone once told me that fear is a terrible consultant. So why do we keep listening to fear? Why is it so hard for us to stop believing our fears and simply trust love?

That’s because trusting love requires courage and faith. Fear doesn’t. Fear, when unchecked, feeds on itself and grows like an uncontrolled virus. Fear keeps us small and stuck in our wishes and hopes. Fear, when in charge, feeds our anxieties and depressions and worst of all, it drowns out love.

I’d like to suggest that this Valentine’s Day, you begin to bring some attention to the way you love yourself. Stop waiting for love to come from other people. No one is going to love you if you don’t love yourself.

I know that loving ourselves is much easier said than done. But it’s so worth it because when we love ourselves we kickstart the cycle of love.

The cycle of love, if you're wondering, is the idea that once we love ourselves, we are then capable of being loved, and then are capable of loving others, which makes us love ourselves even more.

But something else happens that is a beautiful side effect. Things in our life begin to flow better. Our value of ourselves increases to the point of influencing the choices we make in our personal and professional lives. We begin to attract the kind of people who value who we are and what we do.

When we love ourselves, we value ourselves, and when we value ourselves, we make different choices in every area of our life. We don’t compromise who we are and are able to say no without fear.

So, how is it done? How do you bring more love into your life? You practice. Because if you want to be good at anything, you must practice. And this Valentine’s Day is a perfect excuse to start.

One of my favorite self-love practices is taking myself on artist dates. The Artist Date, according to Julia Camron’s Artist Way book, is the idea of making time for yourself, once a week, on your own, to do something 'enchanting'. To play, have fun, or do something that nourishes you.

I take myself to the theatre (you’ll always get a great seat buying one ticket!), or a movie matinee, or a museum visit, or a used bookstore where I can spend hours looking for old books I can cut up and use in my collages. Get the idea?

Your first Artist Date may have all the awkwardness of a first date. But don’t give up. Give this process a chance. Go on at least four consecutive weekly dates and notice what happens. You may find that you are starting to feel more fired up about your life, more interested in new things and feeling more inspired and creative overall.

My wish for you is that you fall madly in love with YOU so that you may experience love in everything you do.

May this Valentine’s Day be the day you kickstart a new cycle of love. And may this day be a new step towards bringing more love into your life.  

"Love Yourself" art by Lim Heng 

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 Happy Solstice.

Solstice speaks that change prevails.
Dark alters Light -
Day into Night -
Inhale to Exhale.
Nothing remains.
Travail may vanish with the rising sun as
Living dances with Itself.

Solstice honors Darkness-time -
lying fallow, growing still –
Reflecting. Welcoming
shames and doubts and judgments home.
These are the things that give us Soul.

Solstice glorifies the Light.
When Night seems deepest and so long,
we wonder of the flame’s return.
It burns so dimly –
offering little warmth or peace
but, know the ember smolders strong –
waiting for the breath of Faith to set it blazing
bright enough to light our way.

Solstice celebrates the Future.
As the trees release their leaves,
the earthly manger cradling her seeds,
we surrender habits, fears
and we forgive -
creating room for New Life in the coming year.

 

Poem and painting by Kat Sawyer, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Author of Voices from the Mat - Yoga Poems and Meditations 

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How do I know that I am on the right path?

“How do I know that I am on the right path?” she asked as we began our Heart-to-Heart session. “I’ve been working in my business for years now and it feels like I am stuck. I’ve made so many mistakes, and even though I sometimes feel like I am making progress, I don’t know if this is the right path for me”.

“What is the right path?” I asked.

“It’s the path that feels right” she immediately replied. She then got quiet for a moment as her gaze shifted somewhere towards the horizon, as if there is a better answer there and added: “the path that brings me high fulfillment and high income”.

Even though we were meeting on a Skype video call, I could sense her frustration with her life coming through my computer screen. A frustration that is keeping her up at night making her question everything she is doing.

“So what fulfills you in life?” I asked.

“My design work fulfills me. And even though I’ve done that for a long time it feels like I am running on a hamster wheel.”

“Well that doesn’t sound very fulfilling to me” I said.

“Yes”, she agreed, “I keep trying to grow my business and every time I try something, I keep failing miserably.”

“And what does failing miserably look like?” I asked.

“No income.” She quickly replied, “It’s exhausting.”.

High income is directly related to high fulfillment. In fact, the level of income that you are currently experiencing is in exact proportion to the fulfillment you are receiving from what it is you do in the world.

We were taught that we have to work hard to earn money. That we have to compromise our heart and settle for “enough” as long as long as we meet our basic needs. But doing that only stops us from dreaming. It stops us from listening to what our heart wants and from making the choices that fulfill it.

This woman may feel a sense of fulfillment from her current work but that fulfillment is not really full. It is partial fulfillment.

Seeking fulfillment is something we all have in common. There’s a billion dollar industry out there that caters to those who lost their path and seek truth from outside of themselves. There are never-ending choices of teachers and gurus that will gladly take your money and sell you their formula for finding fulfillment.

I know this because I spent so much of my adult life seeking fulfillment. Heck, I even took a two-year sabbatical and traveled the world for the sake of this search. I met teachers, and guides, and gurus and muses--everyone had opinion and advice. But no one had the right answer. No one had MY answer.

Only my heart did.

I realized I was asking my brain all the wrong questions. My brain could never know what my path is or what I should do or how I should do it.

Our brain is a learning supercomputer. We feed it constantly and expect it to give us the answers to every question we have. Like a computer, our brain has a logic board, called “our mind”. This logic is powerful. We make many choices from this place.

But not all choices require logic.

The choices our heart makes may never be logical. When we make logical choices we answer to what makes sense, to what fits into our brain’s way of seeing the world.

We need to stop asking our brain what fulfills us. Our brain can not possibly answer the questions that our heart is asking. Our heart is the most authentic source of intelligence we have. And yet, we hardly ever mine its full wisdom.

It wasn’t until I stopped asking my brain and began to ask my heart “What is it that really fulfills me?” And it wasn’t until I began listening and acting from the answers that my heart gave me that my life truly changed.

When I made choices that were aligned with what fulfills my heart I began taking bigger risks that lead to bigger changes.

And my life hasn’t been the same since.

Because when our heart is fulfilled, we are in total alignment with our path and our purpose.

It’s that simple.

Fulfillment is knowing what it is that fulfills you and living into it, no matter what the outcome may be.

The problem is that when money gets in the picture, what fulfills us becomes less important. Money is the outcome that we hope to get from whatever it is we do. When we give money the power to influence the choices that we make, we live in a reactive way, forgetting that we have the ability to create whatever it is we put our minds and hearts into (including money!).

What fulfills you, may not seem like something that could make you money in the future. But guess what? It wasn’t either for people like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. They were simple dreamers, just like you, before they became the men as we know them today.

Not knowing what the outcome is, didn’t stop all the people you compare yourself to from doing what fulfills them in life. They were willing to risk safety, risk security and risk being comfortable for the sake of what their heart wanted.

Because they had to.

They had no choice because the path they choose to walk is the path of their heart. They didn’t listen to their fears, to their self-critic, to people who don’t believe in them. They trusted their heart enough to know that when they listen to what their heart wants and act from that place, they are always on the right path.

 

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Living a should-less life. 

I love words. 

Because every word is a universe onto itself.

Our words create our reality. The words we speak and the words we think. 

Positive words make us grow. Negative words hold us back. 

For my 50th, I decided to give up the word SHOULD and begin living a "should-less life". 

I will never SHOULD again. And with that, everything that comes with this word will go away. 

Everything.  

The self-judgment, the self-criticism, the self-pity, the self-hatred, the depression.

 

I am letting go of the shoulds. 

I should make more money.

I should write a book.

I should have a kid.

I should spend less money. 

I should give more money away. 

I should call my mom.

I should be debt free.

I should not spend my savings. 

I should take a vacation.

I should spend less time on Facebook.

I should buy a house. 

I should go out more often. 

I should meet more people. 

I should lose weight. 

I should work out more. 

I should look good. 

I should care more. 

I should care less. 

 

You get the picture. 

 

"Should" is a powerful word. And a toxic one. Every time I speak it, every time I think it, I hold myself back from being who I am destined to be. 

I'm going to stop "shoulding" all over myself. 

Because every time I use negative words like "should", I put myself in a toxic space. The vibration around the energy of the negative words effects my health and well being. 

 

You could spend hours, days, years, practicing yoga, visualization or meditation, and that practice would be offset by a vocabulary that is organically toxic and negative. 

If the words you use towards yourself are hostile, you will experience a hostile way of being. You will feel hostile and negative, especially towards yourself.  You will feel like you are not enough. You will feel less than. You will feel unworthy and unloved. 

Stop using toxic words and your depressions will be much less. 

Stop using toxic words and your life will transform.

Choose to get up every day and bless your day. Say to yourself: "I have no idea what this day is going to bring but it is blessed, because I am alive, and I am here." 

And then choose words that are powerful. Words that inspire you. Words that heal you. 

This choice alone will take toxins out of your heart. 

This choice alone will transform your day. 

 

What are the toxic words that you say to yourself? Words you must never utter again? 

 

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Who do you want to become?

When I was a kid, the adults used to ask me “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. 

They never asked, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” 

But here we are, all grown up, and we’re so busy doing that we forgot who we wanted to become. 

Who did you want to become when you grew up? 

What did you dream of before the voices in your head began to tell you that you’ll never be good enough or that you are not worthy?

When did you begin to please everyone around you so you can feel loved or to know that you matter?

Are you living who you wanted to become?

Do you even remember what that was?

I meet grown-ups every day who forgot who they wanted to be. They walk around as if in a trance. Busy working in jobs they hate or own businesses that don’t give them joy or profit.

They stay in unhealthy relationships and are afraid to take real risks in life.

These people complain. They become people pleasers. They live in fear of the future.

These people are stuck.

They forgot who they wanted to be.

They compromised.

And fell asleep to life.

But sometimes, they feel stuck for a bit too long. They arrive at a moment when being stuck no longer works.

The boredom and lack of passion in whatever they are doing stops fulfilling.

And even though they have no idea of what the future may bring, they find themselves willing to take a risk. Maybe for the first time ever.

Take a risk and change something so big, that it throws their entire echo system off course.

Sometimes we need to get to that low place so we can wake up to our life and do something risky. Become who we've always wanted to become.

Become a writer or a filmmaker, or a coach, or a chef, or whatever their soul has been asking them to do and they have conveniently never listened.

Simply become.

Remeber when we used to hear "you can be anything you want to be"? When did we stop believing in that?

I believe we can. I believe we all have the tools we need to become the best versions of ourselves. The tools are there. All we need to do is use them.

I'll explain what these tools are next week.

Thanks for being.

 

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