When are We Being Spiritual?

When I first opened to learning aboutpexels-photo-751077 spirituality I threw myself into the study of it and dedicated time to do spiritual things.  And as I did, I hoped and believed I might become more spiritual.

There were times when I thought I was “being spiritual”, and times I thought I was not.  For example, when at the office I never would have thought I was being spiritual.  pexels-photo-588561However, while meditating or doing yoga I thought I was.  I created labeled compartments and moved in and out of them throughout the day.  Now it’s spiritual time.  And then I’d cycle through what I thought were my spiritual practices such as meditating, journaling, doing yoga, reading inspirational newsletters.  

However, my opinion and experience around this belief shifted.  Being spiritual is all day, every moment, no matter how I’m behaving or what I’m doing or what habits and practices I’m choosing to enjoy.  Whether I’m at my best or stumbling to a full-out face down ooopsi.

When we have a bad day, get frustrated driving in traffic, or annoyed by our boss, we are not any less spiritual than we are when we’re calmly and peacefully meditating.

Because…

We grow from all of our experiences and how we are being in them.  pexels-photo-289998This includes the frustrating moments when we are not at our best as well as the moments when we feel love, peace, and joy.

It’s all good because eventually, we start learning from our struggles, feelings, self-imposed roadblocks, and even our most beautiful experiences that many of us strive for.  We grow.  Consciously and unconsciously.  Whether we notice our own growth or not.

Of course when the various parts of our lives are working well we are enjoying being our higher self.  How we bring our higher self about in more and more of our experiences is up to us to discover.

I believe we’re here to uncover more of our light in order to effect the most profound change that will endure.  To do the deep work and move our spirit and humanity forward.pexels-photo-884977

There’s no on or off time.  It’s both when I’m looking and when I’m resistant to looking, when simply feeling a lovely breeze, meditating, painting, conflicted, annoyed, waking up next to my husband, happy, scared, feeling down, feeling silly, or whatever.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What do you feel?  When are you being spiritual?

 

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Practicing Mindfulness on Vacation

I’m writing this post while on vacation up at our family cabin.  A little place and beautiful spot that’s been in our family for over 60 years.  My husband and I share ownership with my sister and brother-in-law.  Our parents had it built in the 1950s and we’ve spent entire summers here as kids, and had our summer jobs near to here.  It was a place I learned to love nature, water, boating, trees, reading and developed a love for solitude.

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At some point, our parents age and health circumstances would no longer allow them to spend their summers here.  Fortunately our spouses love it here, as do my sister’s children and their children, so it continues to be used and loved by the family.

There are many fun memories of our parents packing a lunch and taking us on day long boat trips through the U.S. and Canadian islands.  We’d take in the continual view of rocky islands with pine trees and beautiful river cottages and boathouses.  Dad would get his charts out and take us out in his cherry and mahogany 1928 Hutchinson boat named “Poisson”.  We all mispronounced it “Poizzon” and it wasn’t until high school french class that I realized I was mispronouncing it.  I chose to continue to mispronounce it because it added to the fun experience of that boat.

When I moved to New York City to begin working I would still come up here for three day weekends.  NYC was hot and stinky in the summer and the water surrounding Manhattan offered a view of buildings.  Not my thing.  I tried a half share at a beach in New Jersey but it couldn’t compare to “The River”.  To get back up here I’d take a taxi to Port Authority.  Bus to the Newark New Jersey airport.  Plane to Syracuse.  Then a car rental for another hour and a half drive.  I did this every other weekend for years.  Even when I moved to Northern Virginia I’d either fly or drive up every other weekend.

But everything changes.  My sister and brother-in-law sold the Hutchinson.  A few years later I sold our other family boat.  I had decided to make more of a life for myself in the summer nearer to where I lived.  The 1000 Islands are a long way away, plus sharing with my sibling and her husband and back then I struggled with speaking up for myself.

I decided it would be easier, more affordable, and more practical if I would learn to sail on the Chesapeake Bay which was only an hour away rather than the 7 hours to our cabin in NY state.   And that’s when I met my husband, while sailing.  When we were dating I brought him up here and now he too loves the 1000 Islands and our 60+ year old place which is now slightly (ok very) crooked, with somewhat unsafe decks and ramps.

Our old place needs a lot of work and we’re all wondering how we can make it spiffy again.  Restoring it to it’s original splendor is a desire we all have.  My husband and brother-in-law are more than handy but they’re supposed to be relaxing up here not doing back-breaking construction projects.  Maybe a miracle will happen and it will all work out.

In the meantime, when I take the rickety crooked ramp up to our room in the little tree house cabin I repeat “I am safe, protected, and secure” over and over again until I’m safely off the ramp onto our deck and into our room.

The mindfulness part?  About 15 years ago or so real estate lot next to us was sold and two families built their homes away from home including a boathouse and one U-shaped dock on steroids, plus another dock.  There went the pristine cove, shoreline, and privacy.

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Everything is just a little too close to the little shoal we named Happiness Island.  I know I don’t own the water, the cove, or our special little shoal.  I also know I’m really fortunate to have this place so I shouldn’t be complaining that we have neighbors and such nice ones at that.  Sure Happiness Island is special to us with tons of memories.  We’d swim to it and our golden retriever would swim out to stand on it and look down at the water, and paw it as he watched the perch swim around.  The only thing you’d see all around was trees and shoreline.  Because Happiness Island and our cove is now full of structures, to me the private and special vibe of the tiny cove is forever changed.  Well short of winning the big lottery, buying everyone out and removing cabins, boathouse, and docks.

But I don’t have to let the vibe change.  I have a choice.  I feel grateful for our place, appreciate what it offers even with the additional people, loss of privacy, and noise.  I still feel uplifted and connected to the outdoors and nature that I so love.

I know it’s impossible to feel joy and gratefulness while feeling resentment.  It’s impossible to enjoy my time up here when I’m irked.  It’s impossible to have a beautiful moment continue when in the very next moment I’m feeling annoyed.

Today I’m practicing.  This is the moment I’m choosing to let something go that which I have no control over and only mars my experience IF I LET IT.  I know I can’t be joyful and ticked off at the same time.  I practice reminding myself how fortunate we all are to be in this beautiful setting.  I’m sure our neighbors feel the same way and have their own special feelings, more recent memories, and reasons for why they love it here.

Are you ever challenged to let something go?  Even when you know there’s nothing you can do about it and that it’s in your best interest and perhaps someone else’s best interest for you to just . let . it . go.

Today when I look at all the stuff in the cove and feel irked I choose to breathe and remember how fortunate I am until I’m no longer irked.  And I’ll keep practicing this.  I instead focus on the breeze, the sound of the bird calls, watching the pine trees move with the wind, gaze at the occasional ship going by.  If I see one of our neighbors I will choose to wave and then park myself and just take in the beauty and feel grateful because I’m really fortunate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first radio interview

Thanks to a friend, this past week I had an opportunity to be interviewed on the radio for The Gallery for Inspiration™.   This was a first.  pexels-photo-270288I’ve never been interviewed on the radio before.

It was nice that I wasn’t obsessing about the upcoming interview.  I went on about my days doing my usual things and only preparing a small amount in a way that felt right to me.  I felt both calm and excited.

 

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No surprise I enjoyed myself.  The two radio hosts were super friendly.  I felt welcome, really enjoyed the experience and appreciated the opportunity.  Honestly, I was a little naturally high as I was experiencing this new experience.

If anyone out there reading this has experienced living with anxiety as an everyday companion you know the challenge it brings to your life.  But, in my case, it didn’t have to be a forever thing.  Years ago I started looking to become clear about past experiences that had contributed to my limiting self-beliefs. Out of this work I learned more about my patterns and eventually moved forward to let go of my old limiting stories.  And this work is still paying off every day, from feeling less anxious to experiencing a pretty incredible life.

That day on the radio, instead of squirming with fear and doubt, there was just me showing up to enjoy the experience and at the very least, learn.  Learn more about giving a radio interview.  Learn how to spontaneously answer questions without being scripted (however I did bring some talking points).  Mostly, to be ok with not knowing how it would all turn out.

When I was sent that MP3 file I listened with great curiosity.  I’d forgotten how I answered some of the questions and was more than curious (ok maybe even a little worried).  As I played the MP3 file I waited to see if I was embarrassed.  I wasn’t.  Overall, I feel it went really well.

I just don’t have the ambition to be perfect anymore.  Trying to be perfect was making me miserable especially in the situations where I’m not all that skilled yet.  I’m just me and if that includes my (charming?) stumbles and quaint memory losses in mid-sentence, the mispronunciations, the dreaded brain freeze, then so be it.  But because I was willing to be myself in that interview I relaxed and I didn’t experience too many of my charming stumbles.

One more thing about inventing reasons to be afraid and anxious is that the experience unfortunately becomes all about us rather than the real reason we’re doing what we’re doing.  Imagine obsessing about I hope I don’t forget what I want to say.  Jeez I’m scared.  What if my body makes one of its (charming?) noises?  Will they like me?  I’m not qualified to do this.  Why did I agree to this?  I hope I don’t let ______ down.  What if I embarrass them or myself?  What if I fail?  And my personal favorite (even on the radio- jeesh), How’s my hair look?”  Funny but it’s exhausting!  I’m ok with being less buttoned up because it’s allowing me to relax, use the freedom to change direction, even while leading a workshop.  That’s a good thing for what I do.

After listening to the interview, I walked around my house watering plants while talking to my guides, sharing that I felt we did great and that I had a lot of fun.  And I felt that now familiar confirmation from them that showed me they were pleased I felt that way.

It just makes everything so much easier and fun when we kick a little butt.  Such as in stepping up and doing whatever it is that we love doing or, at the very least give ourselves the space to improve.

Speaking of but! … For all you fellow strivers and perfectionistas there’s one BIG caveat.  We can’t force ourselves to feel confident and secure.  We have to be ready.  And that takes looking at where our old perceptions come from.  It takes work to be being willing to let the old perceptions go and choose to allow for the stronger, more confident, more joyful, and a more amazing version of ourselves.

Do you have any limiting self-beliefs you have that you’re ready to look at, to learn from, and when ready, let go of?  Don’t assume you’re damaged goods or the only one out there who feels this way.  Even all the whoop-tee-doo gurus and our supposed leaders have had to look at themselves at some point (…or not).  It is a choice.  Everyone grows when learning about themselves and taking action from that place.

The more of us learning about and letting go of our fears, the more we can more fully enjoy our lives and make our contributions.  Let’s go for it together.

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If you want to learn more about how to create great possibilities for yourself, and you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, check out one of my upcoming workshops here.

Allowing for true gratitude

There are so many tips on how to practice gratitude.  Funny isn’t it?  That we human beings are in such need to be coached on how to experience gratefulness.

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Today I was noticing the newly green trees, shrubs, bushes, woods, and the lushness of it all.  It was a sight to behold.  If you know me at all you know that my being in the presence of the outdoors has always spoken to me.

I sat there appreciating and had my moment.

There isn’t a day I’m not grateful for something in my life.  It was just that today the nature around us seemed even more beautiful.  I’m also more than grateful for our lovely divine guide team who assisted us in finding this place.  Therefore there was a little bit of a love fest in my heart going on.

Taking a minute to spontaneously feel grateful for whatever wonderfulness we’re experiencing just leads to more wonderfulness.  We can’t schedule those moments.  It’s more about noticing in the moment.  The more we notice, the more we feel more naturally occurring moments of joy and contentment.  All the while appreciating the beautiful support that assists us in creating what we’re experiencing.

You know that expression “my heart is full”?   Perhaps that’s what I was feeling.  I felt such love and such gratefulness and I could feel that energy concentrated within my heart space.

This feeling of connection and love has been happening more and more, and often while in meditation.  When I first started experiencing these sensations in my heart space it was unfamiliar.  I hadn’t felt that anything like it before and started to strategize how I could make that happen again.  But now I allow for it to be for however long it lasts.  It’s only a moment or so and I don’t get too attached to why it shows up or what it might mean.  I only know it’s related to some lovely thoughts I’m thinking or an experience I’m enjoying, connecting with a presence from within.  This is no time for analyzing.  I just go with it, enjoy the experience, and feel, yup you guessed it.  Grateful.

“Teach Me/I’m Not Enough”

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Our choices are speaking to us through how we feel.  I’m feeling that my choice of attending certain groups is not serving my best interest.  I’m feeling that if I have to listen to one more someone, or many someones, offering something to assist us I just might scream.  While the intention comes from a good place, I’m over it.  That’s just me.  But could it be you too?

It’s a balance worth creating; working on oneself and being joyful.

For example, I’ve noticed I’ve been sliding out of balance.  I’ve been frequenting women’s groups and networking events.  The upside is I’m meeting some very nice people.  The downside is I’m surrounded by women striving to be more and being spoken to by women wanting to teach us to be our best (better) selves.  More financially successful, more skilled, more better at something.  You may wonder if there’s a problem with that?  Well, frankly, yes!

Because I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of “I’m Not Enough” energy and I FEEL anything but empowered.  I FEEL yucky.  And, surprisingly my growth feels stunted not expansive.

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There are multitudes of women in these groups selling their gifts of skills and knowledge.    Could one of us possibly be their next client?  Could we be the one who is lacking in some skill they’re qualified to teach?

I dream of inciting anarchy by imploring my fellow attendees to bolt.   My plan is we sneak out before the dreaded 30-second elevator speeches start.  We meet at the nearest coffee or beer joint for a regular old-fashioned conversation where no one is giving their testimony or selling their wares.  While smiling, I gently smack my fellow anarchists upside the head and shout…

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  • Stop trying so hard!
  • You’re already perfect (in a very normally imperfect way) so relax
  • Ease up on working on yourself so much ok?
  • Have way more fun, be lightness and you’ll create your dreams
  • You don’t NEED to become more
  • Learn but only what you really feel drawn to and don’t be drawn to EVERYTHING!
  • For crying out loud, you have the answers, you just have to LOOK for them
  • You have to do your own (inner) work – there’s no shortcut!
  • But you can totally do “this”
  • Your teachers are only offering their suggestions and tools
  • Learn from them sure, but at some point, you’ll discover your own best tools to assist yourself.  I promise.

My attending these women’s groups is no accident.  I’m learning how strongly I feel about what I’m writing about in this post.

When given the opportunity, I stand up in front of people as I teach through talks, classes, and workshops.  And oh man do I teach you can do this yourself because that’s exactly what I’ve had to learn.  Because I’m a recovering learner junkie.

I had to learn how to grow in the most empowered and joyful way.  And I’m still learning this.  Instead of being in a structured women’s group, I get more out of going out for coffee with a couple of women.  And, that’s because we’re truly connecting in a genuine way and conversational way where we get to know each other and LEARN FROM EACH OTHER.  But that’s true for me.  You may have an entirely different experience.

All I’m saying is pay attention to how you FEEL when you’re attending these types of events or sitting with a friend or acquaintance.  It’s your feelings that are teaching what’s best for you.

I feel that the best thing we can all do for ourselves is allowing for more joy, more fun, more US in the best way possible.  Rather than focusing on what you’re not good at.  Choose what it is you want to learn and just work on that one thing.  Take a class, get a coach, or read a book.  But learn when to switch things up to bring more joy in by paying attention to how you FEEL.

You may want to improve in a certain skill, improve your relationships, feel better about yourself, deepen your experience with life, or discover meaningful work you’d like to be passionate about. HOWEVER, what will assist you the most, is keeping an eye on maintaining balance in your life and being joyful by doing those things that bring you light.

It’s hard to be light and joy when you’re sitting smack dab in the middle of “I’m not enough” or “I need to be more” energy.  Get out of it by going for a walk.  Doing your hobby.  Create joy and light to ensure a healthy balance to FEEL good.  Because when we’re in a lighter mindset we bring more opportunities, lessons, experiences, that contribute to our growth and happiness.

It’s impossible to feel light when we’re working so hard on ourselves.  Years ago when I was working on looking at some heavy issues from my past, it was a small percentage of inner work and a larger percentage of cultivating joy.

I made time for my inner work and the rest of the time was focused on learning how to be joyful.

Open to what’s best for you rather than what you think you need.  So if you can learn and be light and joy at the same time go for it!  Be aware of how you spend your time.

Be judicious about what energy you’re creating and how you feel as you sit in that energy.

“There Must Be More To You…”

The following paragraph is from one of my favorite books.

“…spiritual growth is learning to make your life work in every area, from your relationships to your career, as you put your spiritual light into everything you do, bring awareness and love to all your activities, and turn every experience into an opportunity for growth, you are being your higher self.” 

Years ago I hadn’t learned how much action, the steps, that growth takes.  I didn’t know that it takes work, awareness, looking at me and my patterns, habits, and experiences.  Instead, when I initially started opening to new ideas I was mostly just a sponge, watching others, and studying to be more like them.

I thought I only had to soak up information from reading, attending classes/workshops, and listening to spiritual leaders and then I’d have awesome mystical experiences that would knock my socks off, and result in a deeper experience of life and myself.

But no.  That’s not how it works.

And yet I persisted in looking anywhere but at myself.  I watched the “spiritual” people who not so much walk but seemed to float into rooms.  You know the ones that speak as if they’re right out of a Kripalu course catalog?   My focus was on them not me.  I assumed these beautiful ethereal individuals must have deeply meaningful lives and feelings of well-being and I wanted that because, back then, I so didn’t have that.

 

As I watched these seemingly awesome people I wondered, what was in their drinking water?  Where did they learn to speak the flowery way they did?  Their yoga poses were perfection, and their outward appearances exuded the epitome of calm, peace, and hipness.  Frankly, they annoyed the s_ _t out of me.

At some point, I tired of it all. The yoga studios and their spiritual growth workshops, the best selling books, the advice and philosophy from various leaders throughout the world. It was all well-intended but no longer attractive to me.

It was time to grow from my own experiences.  As a trusted individual pointed out to me, “…the big learning you came here for”.

 

Photo by SerrNovik/iStock / Getty Images

Sometimes I still need reminders to stand in my own power.  Just last year I had an awkward meeting that served as a friendly reminder to stop comparing!  It involved a new acquaintance who thought we’d have a lot to talk about.

How was it that after that meeting, I went home to have lunch with my husband and started to cry into my salad?  My confused husband gently asking how can you meet someone for an hour and come home crying?   That made me laugh and now I was laughing+crying+eating.

What had bugged me about that encounter was the more she shared her amazing man-person-legs-grassdramatic mystical experiences, the more I started to feel un-terrific, uninteresting, un-special, and fell right back into comparison mode.

I realized that after she shared all her numerous incredibly incredible fantastic mystical experiences, she had shared details about her life.  And I got it.  Her actual everyday life didn’t match her amazing stories at all.

She would have benefited more from compassion rather than envy.  I would have benefited from seeing the connection more clearly rather than making it about who I thought I wasn’t.

Do you ever bring yourself or anyone else up short, based on a lot of nothing?  Perhaps it’s about the size of one’s office, or the title they have, or recognition they’ve received, or vacation they’re taking.  Comparing ourselves to others, it’s not great right?  All day long we have opportunities to compare but those are the same opportunities to see non-comparatively and stay in our own power.

Cool stories or not, what matters the most to me is how I experience my life, and how good it feels.  That’s the “more” to my story because that’s what’s more important to me.

Three Bears Experience in Finding Support

Are you someone who has made big changes in your life?  Perhaps you’re opening to consider a bigger picture and there’s not a lot of people you can talk to about your experiences?  It’s natural to want to be around others who are also in a good space.  Or perhaps you’re struggling and could really use some support right about now.

It’s clear to me who the friends, acquaintances, and others are that I want to share all, or only certain parts of me with.  So it’s very important that I make time to meet with genuinely supportive people where I can bring all of me.

Connecting with someone can make our day, whether it’s on social media, or at one of those old school networking events, or meeting someone for a deeper conversation over coffee or lunch.  However, for me social media is not my first choice to connect with someone because typing into a little box to abbreviate myself is right up there with the all to common time-weary 30-second elevator talk.

That’s why a simple casual in-person meeting the other day meant so much to me.

All I did was get together with a couple of women for conversation and it was just what I needed.

In little more than one hour we shared what we’re experiencing and traded information and ideas.  We talked about how our work is going, what we’ve been learning, where our challenges are, and how we’re figuring things out as we go.  It was fun to honestly share that I truly have no idea what I’m doing and totally figuring it out as I go and yet that seems to be working really well for me.

Finding support is a little like the Three Bears story.  As I’m out and about connecting with others, some connections are just not quite right, or too much/too little, or oh hell nopexels-photo-207891

Sometimes the best connections can come from the least likely situations.

I imagine the Universe rubbing it’s hands together knowing that I’ll be learning a lot about myself and others as I put myself out in the world more.

It worked out that I decided to meet with those two women because our connection was just right.  Maybe it worked for me because I’m learning to listen with an open mind, realize that our experiences don’t have to be similar, I no longer water myself down because it’s not really an issue if someone doesn’t “get” me or visa versa.

And I trust that the right people will show up at the right time, especially as we let go of our less supportive relationships.  We all have some of those right?   Are you letting go of the limiting relationships in your life to make room for more fun and supportive connections?