Category Archives: Change

Learning to Commit

Hello everyone!

When I last posted I mentioned that I had picked up a book titled Staying Put: Making a home in a restless world by Scott Russell Sanders.  While I am only into the second chapter I will tell you right now that this book is a gem.  It is a book to read slowly and savor because it will get into your head and linger there. Mr. Sanders writes beautifully addressing the struggles many of us have as we navigate through our lives.  It is a book about putting down roots and creating a sense of place.  The book, while written in 1993, has even greater relevance today.  Our world has become even more restless and now, sadly,  much more violent.  This book is a comfort and a call to commitment in our lives.  I have no hesitation in telling you that this book will  help you to discover your own sense of home, place, and what matters in your life.  Also, be sure and check out the author’s website at http://www.scottrussellsanders.com.  Please take some time to look at his website.  His writing is thoughtful and engaging  and I was delighted to find he has authored many  books over the years.  If you can’t find the book locally, you can get it new or used on Amazon.  Let me know what you think.  I will share some of my favorite passages in a later post.

Speaking of restlessness, I want to put yes another plug in for meditation and some resources to help you.  It seems that meditative things have been appearing often in my life lately and I have been trying to pay attention to that.  As I have mentioned before, just the word meditation brings up and expectation for most of us; one that I sometimes think scares us off before we even get started.  There are many formalized practices of meditation and they all have their benefits and I am in no way discouraging you from learning or practicing them.  But sometimes it is better to ease into some disciplines that we may stay with them and flourish slowly.

A friend mentioned that even just doing a few seconds of meditation is helpful for her in situations like driving.  Taking a few breaths and quieting the mind briefly can be immensely helpful.  Try it when you get flustered or feel overwhelmed with things that need to get done.  It might be just the little break you need.

One of the churches close to me sits on a large piece of land and they have created a walking meditation labyrinth.  I believe walking can be meditative, but walking through this labyrinth has been a wonderful experience and has often helped me settle my mind and mysteriously provided clarity.  While you many not have access to a formal labyrinth, perhaps there is a circular path nearby or a space in your yard to create a repetitive walking path.

Another plug for my favorite beginning meditation and mindfulness book.  Mindfulness in Plain English by Ghante Henepola Gunaratana will eases you into the meditative process step by step.  I read parts of this book everyday and I never fail to learn something new.

And lastly, a resource that has been very helpful to me and good for those who like guided meditations.  Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey to their 21 day meditation events several times a year.  The last one was all about getting unstuck and has been one of the most helpful and insightful series  have done.  They cover a variety of issues in our lives and are a good combination of helpful words, a daily thought and meditation; easy session lasting around 20 minutes.  They are also free with the option to purchase the session once it is done.  Here is the link: http://www.chopracentermeditation.com

So what are you waiting for.  Mediation and mindfulness are what you make it. You don’t need special clothes or music.  Just a comfortable place to sit.  Give it a try today.  Start slowly. If you are just wanting to do a sitting meditation start with 5 minutes and gradually build up.  It will be worth it I promise!

Afternoon Visitor

Hello everyone and happy Tuesday!

I have so many topics I want to discuss with you in upcoming posts, but first I want to revisit my last post where I suggested that changing your physical space might help to remove blocks in your life and foster creativity and productivity. Did anyone give this a try? If you did, let us know what you discovered by shaking up the energy in your space.

Lest you think I might not practice what I preach, I made a good start on making over one of my rooms this weekend. I decided to start in my bedroom since it was one of those sad rooms I previously talked about, and I haven’t really paid much attention to it since unpacking my clothes and organizing my closets. Most of us don’t use our bedroom for projects or work, but I believe it is important to create a calm and relaxing space in which to sleep and restore so we don’t drag through our days lacking energy from poor sleep.

My room was crying for some color, some artwork and better flow. So the first thing I did was treat myself to a new comforter set and some new pillows so my bed would look fluffy and welcoming. Then I spent Sunday rearranging my furniture. I felt that my bedroom, while large, had no flow and things just weren’t in the right spots. Doing some online research on some feng shui websites and Houzz, I moved everything into better spots, put my new comforter on and created some softer light. All I can say is wow. I kept walking into my bedroom just to enjoy how different and welcoming it looked! I still have art to hang and perhaps a rug or two for the floors. But now it is a room I feel happy in. And slept much better in! For someone who struggles with being a poor sleeper, this was a pleasant surprise. And of course it has made me realize I need to move along with the rest of my house a little at a time until I am happy walking into all areas of my home and feel like they encourage me and help me to be energetic and creative.

I didn’t have to spend very much money and just a Sunday afternoon to make my room look  and feel completely different.
So if you are hesitating about diving in and changing some things around your house, I highly recommend doing just that. Move one lamp or table, change the color of the throw on your sofa. See how even a little change can have a big impact!

So an interesting event happened as I was working on this post that I want to share with you. As I was typing, I happened to look out my window and was treated to a deer walking through my backyard. Now deer is my spirit animal, so I don’t ever take these visits lightly, and while I am sure they wander through my yard at night, I don’t see them as often during the daylight hours.   Amongst other gifts, deer bring an awareness of the inner child, of sensitivity and intuition and the beginning of new adventures. When deer appears I know it is a sign to trust my instincts.
My very next post was going to be about remembering and reconnecting with the enthusiasm for trying new things and being able to live more lightly as we did when we were children. I guess my visitor is here to support me in my endeavors and for that I am very grateful. She is now resting under some trees further back in my yard where I like to think she is watching out for me. Here is a photo of her that I think you will like.

deer for wordpress

So remember everyone, be aware of what goes on around you. What are the small and not so small messages appearing to you. Give them there due, and see what wisdom they bring.

Take a Look Around. Is Your Space Blocking your Creativity?

There are many ways in which we block ourselves from pursuing our dreams and passions. Engaging and sustaining our true selves takes work. Most of my suggestions are for ideas we can do mentally and spiritually to get past fear and other dream inhibiting thought processes. Right now though, I want to talk a little about the physical space where you work and/or live.

Yesterday I made banana bread. I used my Mom’s recipe and it came out great. I will share it with you at the end of this post. It is really very easy and my Mom had one “must do” that I think keeps this bread moist and flavorful. After I put the breads in the oven to bake, I looked around at the mess I had made which was substantial. Now I am usually a very neat cook and baker. By the time something goes in the oven or is simmering on the stove I usually don’t have much clean up. I pondered this as I loaded the dishwasher and tidied up and came to the conclusion that my kitchen isn’t quite finished. It needs some tweaking or fine tuning. Yes, it is done in the sense that it is brand new and has great cupboard space and brand new appliances and everything else. But I have yet to make it my own space in the sense of effortlessly moving through recipes and having everything in its easiest and most accessible spot.

Having been in my house now for about 3 months, I am what you could call unpacked and moved in. The reality is that it does take time to make a house a home and a reflection of the people who live there, and while I am happy with some rooms, I still have a ways to go. Outside I’ve planted pots of flowers and filled my big window box, but have been watching the yard to see what comes up and how the sun shifts during the year. Next year I will start creating a garden for the birds and butterflies (and chipmunks!)

My home feels like a space where parts of it have only  half come together. I have just sort of been sitting with things the way they are , believing that decorating and a more pulled together look will happen in time. The problem with this is that I seem to be having all these creative ideas I want to pursue, but much of my space is not yet fostering and furthering the process for me. I am lately realizing that I am a little backwards in my thinking and this has been holding me and my project ideas hostage. My ideas are not going to bloom unless my surroundings reflect who I am and provide the type of space that I need to foster new directions in my life.

While I know folks who are in new spaces, not everyone is starting from scratch like me. Still, take a look around your house, your studio, your kitchen. Do you have a favorite spot for the activities you pursue, or do you constantly move around trying to get comfortable and settled? What in your physical space doesn’t flow and augment your life? Do you need different colors, more art, more storage, less stuff?  Do you ever walk into a room and it just seems sad or a bit neglected?  Certainly adding some new life to rooms has to be good for us. Even if we just feel happier walking into them we will create more positive energy in our home and the world.

If you need inspiration pick up a magazine or two. Visit some home decor places or shops that you find inspiring. If you like perusing online definitely take a look at http://www.houzz.com .  You can see photos of all sorts of renovated rooms here and can even request photos with certain colors, styles, or size of room. I recently looked at a magazine showing personal work spaces created by women. These were serious and incredible spaces and beautifully photographed. And while your room(s) may not need a complete redo, sometimes simply moving a piece of furniture or adding some new art or new pillows on a chair can do it. Fresh flowers can be powerful in their color and scent. If you have a garden now is the time to take some cuttings and let them bring freshness and color into your home. I love geraniums and sometimes just pick a few leaves to crush as the scent is always soothing to me. Even a good cleaning can change the energy in a room; open a window and clear out the dust bunnies. See if that doesn’t let some inspiration come scampering out from the recesses of your mind.

I have decided to become more proactive in creating  more workable  and happier rooms for myself and fine tweaking a few others. I hope that you too will take a look around your home and/or work space and try even a few small changes that might make things flow easier. In order to make changes in our lives we are working at cleaning out the clutter from our brains and getting rid of negativity and patterns that don’t work. Doing the same with our surroundings is going to help that process! Let me know how it goes!

Now here is that banana bread recipe.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a few drops of vinegar)
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
2 cups sifted flour
3 large ripe bananas (mashed lumpy)

Mix in the order given. Pour mixture into 2 small loaf pans that have been greased and floured.
Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees.

The key to this recipe is to mash the bananas with a fork instead of with the electric mixer. I have even used a potato masher. Then just fold them gently into the other ingredients.

Hello Again

Hoping there are still some of you out there, a big hello to my faithful readers.

With the sincere belief that absence makes the heart grow fonder, I apologize
for my lengthy break and hope you won’t be too hard on me.

For those of you who don’t know, last winter I moved back to my hometown of
Kalamazoo MI. I am grateful to be here and look forward to sharing my journey
with you as we go along.

But for now I will be short and just say that changes happened rapidly in my life and,
amidst the whirlwind, I did not stay with my writing. While I can now
say that was definitely a mistake, I am once again putting pen to paper
to help us all find ways to accept, create, and embrace change in our lives.

Everywhere I look it seems to me that people are making big changes in their lives, or working
toward change. I know people who have moved to new cities, people who are changing
jobs or looking for a job (yours truly included). Others are fine tweaking what they do, little changes, to make what is already satisfying and fruitful to them even more so.

Change, even when we are embracing and accepting it in our lives can still leave us feeling a bit frazzled and frantic. When we are working and being productive in our lives it seems that all we want is to not work; to have our days free to pursue all the things we love to do and don’t have time for. And now perhaps we have that and don’t enjoy it because we feel guilty that we shouldn’t be doing fun things when we aren’t spending every last second trying to find work.

As long as you are being proactive in looking for new work, why not enjoy the extra time you have instead of being in a constant state of worry. Creating balance between just enough worry to keep you motivated while enjoying yourself and being open to new experiences as you continue along your path is the goal. It’s about making your entire life work so that you get up every morning and do what brings you joy in life and makes your heart sing. If new work isn’t coming easily, maybe that is a sign that you should be thinking about a different direction in life; digging deep inside to create a new path that brings joy along with a paycheck.

Who knows what good things can come out of pursuing something new or expanding your involvement in something you already love. I took a knitting class, mentioned that I was looking for a part time job and the very next week a woman said her son was opening a new restaurant and looking for people. Turns out it wasn’t what I was looking for, but one possibility in one week from a group of three people isn’t bad.

Am I going back for open knitting evenings? You bet!

Stay tuned for more about job searching, becoming fearless, letting go of perfection and a host of other topics to help you navigate your way through this wonderful world we call home.

Take a Breath

Sometimes, no matter how focused we are on moving forward and creating change and new adventures in our life, we are forced to deal with some sort of setback or event that blindsides us and leaves us rattled.

When that setback involves past relationships and/or events in our life, it can throw us off balance, make us question our place in this world and wreak havoc with our self confidence.
So,how do we prevent inevitable run-ins with our past from sending us into a spiral of defeat, self-criticism and panic?

Many of you know that the last year has brought many changes in my life. My Mother passed away, somewhat unexpectedly last year, while I was in the midst of packing up and getting ready to move from Florida to Colorado. In May of this year I moved back to Florida to deal with a house I own. I also went back to a job I previously held, as a fill in person on call. While I know and accept that my life is in transition, I have been struggling at times with feeling like I am right back where I was 5 years ago. In reality this isn’t so, but does create some anxiety and unsettled feelings to my days. Add to the mix an encounter with a past relationship, one that I thought was on friendly terms but was apparently quite wrong, and the self-defeating murmurings in my brain became a 10 on the anxiety and the lack of confidence scale. I was grateful for nice customers that day, but by the time I got home that evening I was feeling like a fish out of water and in need of some restoration.

So, the burning question is how did I handle all of this and how can my experience help me to be better at encouraging all of you to not let one bad day bring you down.

And the truth is actually that I made it harder than it had to be. It was only a single day, and to let what happens on any one day impede your joy or calmness of the next day is not staying in the present moment. Nothing I did that evening helped me find my center and feel peaceful and the next morning I still wasn’t back to rights.  So what did I do? I took myself to breakfast and treated myself to french toast and bacon and numerous cups of coffee. I smiled and chatted with the waitress and other diners near me. I got back out in the world and carried on with my day. My anxiety lessened, I remembered that I will have everything I want if I keep paying attention and remember that as I have my own path to follow, so does everyone else.  I did my best to stop overthinking the previous day and focus on make the new day a successful one. Once I was able to release the events of the previous day, my confidence returned and I no longer held on to that desperate feeling of needing to create reactive change; instead letting change unfold as it will while still remaining proactive and positive.

Some ‘notes to self’ that may be of help to you or encourage you to make your own ‘notes to self’

We are all in this world together. Every person we interact or cross paths with during the day has their own life to figure out. A smile and a friendly word or two can make someone’s day and help you too.

Remember or find your mantra. I have a few that I use at different times. A new one I just picked up that has been helpful: “History need not repeat itself.” From TUT- A note from the Universe (sign up at TUT.com).  Thank you Mike Dooley for once again giving me a morning Note from the Universe which was just what I needed.

I make things harder than they need to be and hold myself back…ever find yourself doing that?

Thanks for reading everyone! Remember, change takes time. We all backtrack or feel confused at times. Just don’t stay stuck in that place and try and use it to motivate you instead of paralyze you.

Next up I take a look at Dan MIllman’s The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book that I keep close and have re-read many times. Let’s see how it can help us let go of defeating behaviors and thoughts.

Excuses…Banish Them And Start Facing your fears.

 

Today’s topic is not likely to be enthusiastically received by you, my readers. So before reading on, take a deep breath and try to finish the post without a “yeah, but…” right off the bat.

Excuses are use for a myriad of situations.  They make us feel better or ease our conscience, supposedly relieving us of blame when we don’t fulfill an obligation or don’t make progress forging ahead with a dream or goal.  But the relief is only temporary and sooner or later we need to let go of our dependance upon them if we want to live a life of joy and freedom.  Excuses allow us to not face up to the real reason we don’t get where we are wanting to go, and become disenchanted with trying to transform our life. And I’m betting that most of you know the real reason.  It is fear, plain and simple. That is the big ugly monster in the closet. And until we stop making excuses, fear will lurk in the background dumping rain all over your parade and happiness in your decision to change your life. Little scary isn’t it?  The only way to get past fear is to stop with the excuses. Every time you start to make an excuse that keeps you stuck you need to stop yourself and re-focus. Remember, small baby steps will get you there.

While the list of excuses is endless, the two that are used the most often should be no surprise to us. They are time and money. So how do you begin to banish not only these excuses, but others that are holding you back?

If you have been reading my prior posts and done some soul searching and work to discover what it is that you want to change in your life, then you hopefully have created a mini-plan or outline to help you attain your goal. Remember my last post about setting goals rather than expectations? I’m hoping you all took that to heart and moved your dreams from fantasy to acknowledging that you need to start doing some work to make them happen. Excuses will only prevent you from doing this work and leave you in a stagnant situation.

The more focused you can be in pursuing your goals and the more they become a part of your daily activities, the easier it is going to be to rid yourself of these two excuses. There are many ways to make your dreams the focus of your daily life and still be productive at your day job or other obligations. It may sound silly, but list them out and tack them on the fridge…on the wall in front of your desk. Use them as a bookmark or keep them in your wallet purse. Make an acronym out of them if you are able. Whenever you are having a down or discouraging moment just repeat them to yourself. Have faith in yourself and what you can accomplish.

A simple pen and paper exercise can help you begin to release both the time and money excuse from your mind.  Just for a day or two record the time you spend on all your activities. This means Facebook and social media, exercising, just sitting, cooking, work, reading or anything else you spend your day doing. Do you see any areas where there could be improvement? Do the same thing with money. Record every dime you spend for a couple of days. From bills to coffee to parking meters, to online orders, add it all up. See any places you could cut back.
While this is a relatively simple exercise, it can lead to many questions and force you to look at your entire life. While monetary obligations are real when we own homes, cars, and other material goods, are all these things worth the cost and time it takes to keep them? Only you can answer this question for yourself. Do you love your job. You may love your work and your dream may involve a goal that uses the skills you have now. So time spent at work might be valuable to you. Then you need to look at how some time periods may be used more productively so you have time to focus on your goals. If you are spending time doing things you don’t love, or working to have material things that don’t bring you joy, this is the time to work towards changing that and creating the life you desire.

I also want to recommend a blog post to you on this subject. It will challenge the resistance you have to letting go of the money excuse. It is by Shawn Blanc, one of my favorite bloggers. You can find him at Shawnblanc.net.  The blog post Fear not Money can be found by clicking on the archives.

 

Setting Goals instead of Expectations

By definition, expectations are almost guaranteed to bring you disappointment. Expectations involve a disregard for reality while harboring a belief that something should or will happen simply because we entertain a thought or desire.  If you have ever watched a toddler throw a fit because he didn’t get the candy or ice cream he thought he deserved you are seeing total disappointment of an expectation.  Gradually we grow out of throwing tantrums, but sometimes it is harder to get rid of expectational thinking and we wind up being just as disappointed as adults as we were as children.

Choosing to set goals will lead you to your desire often times faster and with fewer mistakes since goals involve directing our efforts towards the end or outcome we desire. Setting a goal will still involve that original idea or desire, but instead of thoughtless and unplanned pursuit of that desire, time and effort must play a part.  Working towards and attaining a goal helps us become more confident and move forward be creating more goals in our lives.  This allows us to leave that disappointing realm of expectations and create real change and purpose.

It certainly isn’t wrong to envision the attainment of our desires, and one helpful step is to create a vision board. Simply cut out images, or print them from your computer, of what it is you want and attach them to a poster board or cork board. Anything and everything you desire  in your dreams can go on this board. Vision boards give us something concrete and material to look at; they take our dreams out of our imagination and provide a visual reminder of where we want to go.   They can be a first step in the journey of making the changes you desire in your life.  Once you are able to take a first step, the next one will be a little easier.

Taking our dreams and desires seriously demands that we act in a way that will bring them to fruition. Choosing to live in the fantasy world of expectation will bring disappointment and discouragement almost always. To have success in any area in our life takes dedication, hard work and planning. That is what goals are made of. They require that we learn new things, pay attention to our surroundings, and learn from others how to create a successful and joyful life.

As a means of encouragement I urge you to do something every day, no matter how small, to get you closer to your dream.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Feel free to expand upon them or share your own ideas with the rest of us!

Mind map your goal
Write a business plan. Start small and expand it as your plan grows. It can even be one sentence to start.
Don’t be afraid to talk to others who have expertise in your area. Many people love sharing their knowledge about how they fulfilled their goals.
Take a class.
Meditate
Get enough sleep.
Don’t worry, worrying is a waste of time.
Be organized. Know where your information is and where to access it.
Be focused.
Read everything you can about what interests you and what you feel passionate about.
Let your dream evolve and take shape as you increase your knowledge. and gain confidence. Don’t remain rigid in your thinking.

I imagine that many of you have books that you find inspiring and that don’t stray far from your reading chair or night stand. One such book for me is “Infinite Possibilities, The Art of Living Your Dreams”, by Mike Dooley. I have read this book several times, and often just pick it up and let it fall to whatever page it will. Mike Dooley’s enthusiasm is infectious and he will definitely get you thinking outside of the box and help you change your perspective into one that will help you live a joyful and purposeful life.

Animal Wisdom and Medicine

In my last post I suggested that a spring cleaning of the “closet” in your mind could be beneficial when trying to bring about change in your life. Letting go of old issues and resentments creates space for all kinds of change to begin to take place. I didn’t really make any suggestions for how to release all the old stuff that weighs us down, so I thought with this post I would start looking at ways we can move forward that will be energizing, fun, and not too time consuming.

Have you ever noticed an animal showing up in your life unexpectedly?  I’m not talking about the cute  kitten or puppy a friend believes is the perfect buddy for you. I’m talking about the natural world and animal kingdom all around you. Perhaps a ladybug, or a certain species of bird, reptile or mammal? Have you ever given thought to why that animal keeps appearing? The medicine and healing that animals carry with them, is a gift to us if we are paying attention and aware and open to the ways in which they can help us. Each animal on this planet has a unique role in the spiritual realm and in its power to bring balance to the world and to us.

Last week I was sitting on my patio taking a break to enjoy the newly blossomed lilies, when I notice my cat inching slowly closer to my gate. Fearing a snake, not uncommon in Florida, I went to scoop her up. Instead of the feared pit viper, a turtle ambled out of the bushes and onto the patio. Relieved, I escorted the turtle outside of the gate and on its way to wherever it was rambling with no drama involved. Returning to my chair, it wasn’t long until I began to wonder why the turtle chose that time to wander out of the greenery and show itself to me. Curiosity aroused, I went and got my favorite book on animal symbolism: Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews. What I read about the turtle resonated in an important way about every situation in my life right now. “Take your time” the turtle says and “let the natural flow work for you.” A timely gift from my turtle visitor.
There is not ever nothing going on in the animal world.  Everything is always changing and animals are always adapting to different circumstances. Getting out of your head and paying attention to the wisdom and healing a specific animal is bringing you can lend a big hand in getting out of situations you feel stuck in, or helping you let go of an old issue or pattern that is not allowing you to move forward in your life.
Pick up a copy of Animal Speak. It is so much more than a listing of individual animal powers.  It will help you connect to the natural world around you, become grounded and learn to understand the importance of symbols in the world around us. It also provides help for you to discover your animal spirit or totem if one hasn’t clearly presented itself to you.

Spring Cleaning

It is a pleasure  to use and be productive in a room that has been cleared of clutter and unused/unwanted items.  The same can be said of our mind when we are ready to make decisions and create lasting change in our lives.  

With the arrival of spring, we start opening doors and windows to allow fresh air and new energy into our living space.  And while we don’t often do those intensive spring cleanings of years past, our search for lighter jackets and summer sports gear often leads us into giving the closet a good clean out.  Realizing what a cluttered mess it has become over the winter we dive into vacuuming, dusting, reorganizing and tossing unused items.  I would like to encourage you to do the same with the “closet” in your mind.  Ask yourself how old issues, tucked into the recesses of your mind’s closet are serving you.  By its sheer ability to take up space and prevent new ideas and plans from coming to light they do you no favors.

When you begin changing the energy in your physical space by cleaning out a closet, it can make a difference in how the whole house feels.  This one small change often energizes us to further clean and organize cupboards, garages and attic spaces.  By allowing your mind to let go of old issues and give attention to unsatisfying situations, you create spaces for those changes you desire to start blossoming just like spring flowers.  And when just one of those changes occurs it will motivate you to keep changing until you are leading the life you desire and deserve.  So get busy!  What are you waiting for?  Spring has arrived and with it the potential for a fresh perspective in which to move forward in your life and follow your dreams.

Nurture your dreams

Nurture your dreams