What Does Your Mental Diet Consist Of?

Many of us are fairly aware of and put some thought into what types of food we put into our bodies, whether we make changes or not. What about the material we feed our minds with though? We are exposed to a great deal of negative material on a daily basis. The thing about it which disturbs me the most is that so many have become desensitized to violence, negativity and hatred. Even further, many have adopted it as a normal part of their own interactions with the world at large.

I stopped watching the news for the most part years ago. I try to take a quick glimpse at headlines now and then to see what might be happening in the world so that I know where to send loving thoughts and energy, but otherwise I avoid the news. For a long time, I was in the habit of watching it daily and after a while, found it too disturbing/depressing. It was impacting the way that I viewed the world and the people in it-and I didn’t like it. Getting rid of the news habit was a good move for me mentally and spiritually. It eliminated a great deal of stress and feelings of fear/distrust when I stopped consuming a regular diet of “what is wrong” in the world. I’m not asking you to agree with this-just sharing something that was better for me personally.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads when it comes to my mental diet. Lately I’ve been increasingly avoiding one particular social media site due to the amount of negativity, violent attitudes, and hate speech that is becoming more and more common. Each time I sign in, I find myself cringing at the amount of hatred that I see being disseminated. It isn’t that I think that it’s wrong to dislike something or the way that a person conducts themselves. What is becoming too hard for me to swallow is the way that our society has seemingly confused voicing an opinion and being outright hateful and sometimes threatening.

The questions that all of this raises in my mind are these:

Have we become so accustomed to this type of speech and behavior that it has become the new norm?

If this is true, what can we do about it?

I realize that I cannot change anyone other than myself. So, the conclusion for me is to eliminate another source of disturbing material from my consumption. It is my belief that what we focus on becomes our reality, and what I’ve been seeing on an ever increasing basis in my feed is not acceptable for me as a reality. So, my quest is to find the best solution in making sure that I will be exposing myself to the material and people who feed the loving and joyous parts of me-that are catalysts for positive change as opposed to dissension.

I’ve been asking myself more and more lately about my intake, actions and thoughts to see what changes need to be made in order to create a more positive and compassionate world. I’ve found several things which I’m working with now, and am looking forward to the shift of my personal reality as I continue making these discoveries and changes.

The reason that I’m writing about this is to help create more awareness around what we are feeding our minds with on a regular basis. Simply ask yourself if the things which you are exposed to on a regular basis make you feel positive or negative. You will gain incredible insight as to whether your mental diet is a healthy one for you. This isn’t about finger pointing or judgement. It isn’t my job or desire to do that. One of the things which means a lot to me, and always has, is the importance of bringing people together. It is our thoughts and mental attitudes which have the greatest power to accomplish this, and that is what this post is about.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The First Step In Helping Others?

There are a lot of people out there, myself included, who feel called to help others. Speaking from experience, as well as countless conversations with others who have a similar calling, there is a pretty high incidence of what can only be called burn out or self depletion which happens-especially in the early days of doing the work. Anyone who has ever flown will remember being told that the first step to take in the event of an emergency is to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help anyone else.

For some reason, while it makes sense to just about anyone that the advice is sound for those flying in an airplane, there seems to be a stigma around tending to self first in any other arena-especially when it comes to spiritual practitioners, healers or when it comes to doing any kind of service work. It doesn’t matter whether you’re flying, helping others spiritually, working as a healer or even in your personal relationships with others-if you aren’t caring for and tending to yourself, your efforts with others will not go as smoothly as they could. Not only that, but you will be setting the stage for exhaustion and even physical illness.

While this is true for everyone, those who have high levels of sensitivity and empathy should be especially vigilant about holding space for themselves on a regular basis. There will be people who will attempt to induce guilt, because they will feel as though they aren’t getting what it is that they need from you when they need it. Plus, chances are good that you’ve spent a lot of your life not tending to your own needs and when you change that, there will be some who will resent it. As with all things, we have to use discernment. There are always exceptions, such as when someone is in a true crisis or has a real emergency. As long as self-care and development are a regular part of our routine, the rest typically falls into place.

As time goes by, many begin to recognize that caring for ourselves and caring for others are not exclusive of one another. Culturally, there is a lot of training which takes place that tells us that we are selfish for tending to our own needs and even pleasures. The interesting thing which I have observed over the years is that it is often the ones which preach this concept of selfishness the most who look out for themselves the most. By getting others to do things on their schedule and according to their desires, they free up a lot of time to do what they want to do.

The important thing to remember is that not only is making sure that you are okay not selfish, it is the first step in being able to effectively help others. Not only that, it will ensure that we are not using service to others as a reason to avoid things that may not be all that easy to resolve within ourselves and in our own lives. As time goes by, caring for yourself gets easier as you begin to see the difference in the two ways of living. Not only will you feel better, but you will see that your ability to help others increases as you help yourself. The hardest part is giving yourself permission to let go of the feelings of guilt long enough to get started.

I’d like to leave you with one last thing to think about, to put this in perspective for those who really struggle with thinking about themselves or putting themselves first.

When you neglect yourself, how do you think that impacts the people in your life who truly love you and have your best interests at heart?

 

 

The Magic of Love

Before those of you who know me get too excited-nope, I haven’t met someone. Don’t feel sorry for me. I assure you that I’m happy with things the way that they are in that respect right now. Okay, I will admit that I’ve had the desire to have company lately, as there have been moments that my solitary lifestyle have been a little too solitary for my liking. So, I’ve asked an old acquaintance from a stitch and bitch group that I used to attend to help me to get a roommate…of the feline persuasion. She is connected with a few of the local shelters and has fostered several sweet kitties, so when I thought of a new friend, she was the first person who came to mind. Luckily for me, she is more than happy to be of assistance. As soon as I’m a little further along in my healing process, I’ll be contacting her and it won’t be too long. When it happens, I’ll be sure to take a few photos and introduce my new addition. So if this isn’t about finding new romantic love…what is it about?

It is about the very real magic that comes from love in all its forms. Lately, the concept of love has been a very big and very real part of my life experience. Without telling stories which aren’t mine, I wish to say that this post is largely inspired by a few dear people who have taught me more about love than I could imagine. The past few weeks have been among the most emotionally challenging and inspiring times that I can remember. Honestly, the challenges have been fairly steady for the past few years.

However, the challenges are not the focus…not for this post…and not in my heart. A lesson which has been slowly taking hold in my life has turned into a crash course in recent times…and a switch has been irrevocably flipped. The lesson is that love truly is the most powerful force that exists. It has the power to get us through tough times, to turn the tides which sometimes feel as though they will sweep us away, to take a really shitty day and help us to find something positive in it…no matter how small.

More than ever, I find myself choosing to walk in love, even when things within me or around me aren’t easy. What I’ve discovered, with the help of special people and life lessons is that when I choose love…what seems like a bad time becomes something which can be transcended, or at least walked through with more ease. There are those who walk among us who handle life which so much grace that you can’t help but be inspired to take up the mantle.

Trust me, I am well aware that life is nothing short of damned hard at times and I’m not telling you that you need to be happy about that. The particular school of thought that we can magically think things better has never been my style and likely never will be. This isn’t about that. It’s about the way that we decide to travel our path when the going gets rough. Whether we choose to find a gentle way of traversing our trials in which we remember the presence of love…or we take each step kicking and screaming…it isn’t going to make something un-happen or for words to be un-spoken or necessarily for things to be made well again.

What happens when we remember love is that we change the state of our minds, hearts, and spirits. To make it simple, think about having a bad cold. Now, think about your approach to the cold. If you decide to dwell on how crappy you feel and go about the day thinking of your misery…inevitably you find yourself snowballing from feeling bad from the cold to being in a completely foul mood on top of it…which does nothing to help. If you decide to acknowledge the cold and remember love by taking care of yourself and indulging in a little pampering in whatever form you choose… you still have the cold, but find your day taking on a feeling of more relaxed ease. This is what love does.

Oh yeah, I know that remembering the love when you have a cold is a lot simpler than remembering it in other situations. The effect however, is the same. Not only does remembering love change the overall feel of our lives, it truly is magic. How so? Love heals wounds of the body and spirit. It has been shown to have very tangible effects on our physical bodies. When the physical body simply cannot be repaired, love has the magical ability to teach us and those around us that love is what matters. The best way that I can think of to sum this up simply, in a way that makes sense is this:

Everything in this physical life of ours is temporary. Things change from minute to minute. Jobs come and go. Relationships begin and end. People get sick, and sometimes they get better…and sometimes they don’t. The magic of love is that it never dies. Love lives forever, and has way more power than any other force that exists. What could be more magical than that?

We feel what we need to feel…that is part of our humanity and it isn’t a shameful thing. There comes a time however, when that feeling presents an opportunity…a choice…to walk in love and allow it to transform us and those around us with the power of the most profound beauty and grace imaginable. Of course the choice to go in the other direction is always there. That’s free will baby.

As a result of the events, lessons, and experiences of the past few years and especially recent history…I’ve decided to throw the gates open and issue an invitation to the magic. What you decide is up to you and there is no judgement from me. Just know that even when we choose to ignore it…love is still there. Many think that it walks away from them…when the opposite is true…it is always waiting right there for us…the most loyal companion ever.

 

 

What I Want You To Know…Never Give Up

While the flu is what I am recovering from at the moment, I have a few chronic illnesses and conditions which I’ve talked about from time to time here. Being sick has, of course, exacerbated some of the symptoms of my other conditions. My fatigue and pain levels have been higher than usual while I’ve been ill. For the past two weeks, all I could do each day was remind myself that it would get better and not much more. Thank goodness, my brother in law was kind enough to go to the pharmacy and pick up meds and juice for me…and my sister…yes, she had it too…which sucks. I don’t know what I would have done without him. If you read this post brother…thank you! I’ve still got some recovering to do, but at least I’m seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

For the first time in my life, I have zero guilt over all of the stuff sitting there waiting to be done. This is big for me. Before the fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, immune issues, and degenerative disc disease got to the point that they constantly interfered with my life, I was a total type A personality. Now I’ve reached a certain level of comfort with being where I am at any given moment, instead of agonizing over where I used to be or where I wish to go.

What I want to help you to understand is that we can thrive from right where we are…it just might be different than it used to be or how we envisioned it in the past. For example, I used to work at a corporate job and was constantly on the go. As the years went by, I had to take more time off from work…and then a car accident totally tipped things over the top and the corporate world had to go. While my creative, metaphysical , oddball (happily so) self was never a good match for the corporate world…it paid the bills. Looking back, I wonder how in the world I managed to survive in that environment.

Speaking of environment…when I was younger I used to be very involved in environmental activism…putting together campaigns, doing public speaking, and traveling to conferences. When things really hit the fan with my health, I felt like I was without an identity. Even worse, I felt utterly useless. The reason that I am so candid about this is that I know that there are a lot of people out there who feel similar, for various reasons. I’m here to tell you that it gets better in time, and that there is still so much that you have to offer to the world. Do not let anyone make you feel any differently, including yourself.

In the years since I had to leave my traditional workplace, I have dived into my spirituality and creativity…worked on rebuilding my life. I’m not going to tell you that it has been easy, but I will tell you that has been worth every last bit of the time and effort. What I have found is that I am more truly in line with myself now than I have ever been.Trust me, there is a big learning curve. There will be times when it feels too daunting, and these are the times which teach us more than we could imagine. So what can you do when you can’t do what you used to do? Your answers will be different, but here’s what I’m up to.

I’ve just finished writing a novel which is in the editing process now, have had several articles published in an online magazine, the bare bones of a non-fiction book I started in November is sitting there waiting for me, I am perfecting a few forms of art which I have found an affinity for, and I also do spiritual work in the form of readings, energy clearing, and mentoring.  The financial part will come, I just know it. The most important part is to keep moving forward. I’ve gotten frustrated more than once…and have almost thrown in the towel. Each time though, I come back stronger, and with more knowledge of how things work best for me. Most recently, I discovered that I needed to put better boundaries in place, and I’m so glad that I saw the real problem. I almost walked away from everything I’ve worked so hard on in the past few years with my spiritual practice. Not gonna happen.

As for the environmental activism I have found some great online sites which circulate petitions (which make a real difference). I’ve also written letters to or called elected officials about key environmental issues. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be having a good enough day that I was able to get out and walk in the March against Monsanto. That felt great!

Granted there are times in which I am too sick to get much of anything accomplished for weeks, times in which I can only do one small task before needing to take a break…and I’m telling you this because it is important to understand that it isn’t always easy. The point is that each of us has things inside of us which we can still contribute…no matter how small it might seem…and it all matters. We all have our own set of passions, abilities, and gifts…and it is up to each of us to find what those are and find ways to put them to use. It might take longer…you might have to be more creative…there will be down times…but the rewards are great.

In the future, I’ll be putting together more articles about thriving from where you are. They won’t all be quite this wordy (but some of them will…I can get chatty). I used to write more about topics like this in the past and wish to bring some of that back. Why? Because helping others to regain a sense of purpose and dignity means a lot to me. I’ve got years of experience in doing this for myself and I want to share what I’ve learned. Most importantly, I wish to share with you my sense of hope. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great weekend. See you next time.

Inside Out

There has been a lot going on in the world, and with people. To say that there has been a lot of disturbance would be an understatement. This is not an easy time that we are living in. It is a time of great change. The shifts that are going on are epic. Not only are we seeing and feeling it as people, but the planet itself is shifting. We have reached a time in our history which many would describe as a crossroads.

Think that I’m going to go all gloom and doom here? While it might seem like it, by the time you reach the end, you’ll see that I’m not. Yes, this time is difficult. Yes, there are a lot of things happening which at times feel crushing and scary. Trust me, I feel all of that too. The more that I think about it though, I keep reaching the same conclusion…and it keeps getting affirmed and fortified. We have finally reached the time in which business as usual no longer works. What does this mean?

It means that our ways of thinking…our ways of doing…our ways of reacting have to change. As a matter of fact, they are changing with or without our permission. We can choose to be a part of the process, rather than letting it happen to us. The things which we’ve been conditioned for so long to see as priorities no longer have a place at the top of the list right now, because the very foundations that these priorities were built around are crumbling. We see it in our economic systems…in our ecological systems…in the ways that desperation and fear seem to be more and more dominant. Change is here.

As human beings, the changes need to happen from the inside out by reframing priorities, being more conscious and present, shifting to a space inside in which we begin to understand that all of these things which we simply feel we must have are mere things, that love and compassion are the keys. How in the world are we going to know more joy, more health, more quality of life if we remain enslaved to our material stuff and get swept away in the waves of fear  which are washing through our societies? When you look at the increases in violence, hate, indifference…this is all fear. Fear of the uncertainty we are all feeling as we watch things grind to a halt…as we realize how little control we have.

With everything going on around us it is becoming more apparent that our outer selves…our outer lives…are a reflection of what is happening inside. Now more than ever, the focus on the external which we’ve all become so comfortable with…well, it is no longer comfortable. The choice, as far as I see it, is to get swept up in the fear and discord…or to turn our focus inward…to work on looking beyond our differences and difficulties…and to finally get to the heart of what matters. And what matters is so simple.

What matters is love, the interconnectedness of all life, compassion, caring about the big picture and the consequences of our actions on others. I am not advocating a life of monastic selflessness…not digging out my hair shirt, or asking you to grab your own. The first step begins within each of us. When we turn our lives around from the inside out…this is when the magic happens. When things are right from the inside…how can the outside do anything but react to reflect the inside? To put all of this simply, we each have it within our capability to decide what we are going to reflect outward into the world.

While this time presents a lot of challenges, it is also presenting a tremendous gift…and that gift is the opportunity to rise to the occasion by hearing the call for acceptance. To stop fighting and bucking, and make the shift toward love and unity.

 

Themes and Confirmations

Every year on October 31st, I choose a theme for the upcoming year. This year, the word “Listen” kept repeating itself in my head as I ruminated on what I desire to focus on in the months ahead. After spending all day with it, the answer to what that meant came…in a dream. It was an interesting experience. A woman spoke to me in my dream about what it was that I was to be listening to.

My eyes, ears, heart, and mind are all to be open to what my soul is saying…what the universe is saying…what the Earth herself is saying…what other people are feeling. I was confused by this word a bit because I’m being led to write a book, to work on projects that will involve output on my part. This felt contradictory to the word listen. What was clarified to me is that while I will be putting more out there, I will taking my work to a different level.

I’m to be absorbing that which is around me and that which is within me, and then letting the words come out. It is a call to take the process of living intuitively even deeper…of pulling back and taking the time to devote to more in depth study of the topics that I’ll be sharing. Even though it has all been coming together, I’ve still felt as though I was missing something. Well, over the past few days there have been some things which have popped up that have helped me to see how to put this theme into practice.

I’ve had several encounters recently with people who just needed to be heard. There have been others which were needing to hear things and I was able to lead them to their own answers…from within themselves…because I had been listening. This has made it easier for me to release the conversations as well, because I have a deeper awareness of not being responsible for carrying around other people’s stuff in order to be of assistance. There have been times when I have stayed quiet and taken in what was happening around me and taking time to digest it…which led me to knowing what needed to be done or said at a later point…or not…sometimes just taking in is enough.

Tonight, a truly beautiful thing happened which  feels like the final confirmation that “Listen” is indeed my word for this year. The timing worked out for me to attend this month’s online soul “Soul Party” with a group of great people. This group is called Soulful Life Sanctuary, and is led by Jodi Chapman and Dan Teck. Earlier today I had been sitting here paying bills when out of nowhere, I had a memory which I thought that I had gotten past. Instantly, I was angry…it was around finances and other people.

This Soul Party’s theme was forgiveness and has been set for about two weeks. When I got into the group page to attend, it hit me. Whoa! I just had  one of those moments which needed forgiveness today. Jodi suggested to me that instead of questioning myself as to why I let this drift back into my consciousness, that I look at it and ask what it is that I need to examine about the situation. Ah-ha! I wasn’t meant to engage myself in a litany of self doubt and wondering why in the world I was dredging that up. I needed to “listen” to it and hear what I needed to hear in order to take the process to the next level. Just stopping to listen to what that memory was showing me was great. I have part of the picture, but not all of it yet and that’s okay. That’s the part that I love…that it’s okay!

It has been an interesting several days, and I am relieved to be clearer about this whole listening idea. It is already making easier to flow with things. The process of listening is active, yet it isn’t rash. So many things are shifting these days for me and for many of you that I can’t claim to have all of the answers. Not even half of them. What I absolutely know is that what my journey is requiring of me at this time is to open up and allow things to unfold naturally.

A good comparison would be to think of when you are talking to another person. The one who truly listens will be able to help you the most. The one who is trying to figure out what their response will be and how they can fix things before they even hear you out fully is not much help at all. This is where I feel like I am in life and with my work. Slow down…listen…take things in…then think about the action or words, even if it takes a little while. I can feel myself relaxing more already, even as I am working on more projects and ideas than usual, because I am not feeling the pressure to have it all figured out in that instant.

When it comes to your life, are you actively listening?