My father-in-law used to say, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got them.” And they do. Whether it’s good or bad depends on what side of the opinion you’re on. Sometimes it’s neither but there’s still a comment that didn’t have to be made. I’ve let people’s opinions knock me off my course and hurt me. I believed what they said because I thought they knew better, had more experience = knowledge and I’m sorry now. It’s hard to stay true to your own compass at any age but especially when you’re a teenager or young adult.
One such person was a professor I had in college. I was an art major and he was not only my professor but also Chair of the Department. I knew his reputation early on, but he taught many of the classes I had to take and so there was no way around escaping his classes or attention. Soon enough, he showed himself the tyrant that I was warned of. One afternoon, he went around the room critiquing each student’s assignment from the previous week. He stopped in front of mine and completely tore it apart telling me I had no idea what art was and I had no talent. This was the latest in a series of derogatory and humiliating criticisms I heard from him.
His comments of my work and my abilities was particularly harsh, and I decided I was done. That was my last art class and I changed my major the next day. Reading that, you may feel I was weak to have done so, or just not passionate enough to stay with my art. Trust me, I thought the same things about myself then.
And so do the kids who are told they are stupid and can’t learn anything; the young adults that are told they’ll never make anything of themselves if they don’t have a job; the girl who’s told she’s not pretty enough until she loses weight; the boy who won’t grow up to be a “real” man because he doesn’t like sports.
I didn’t believe in myself enough to stick with it. It’s not about pride—it’s about believing that you can do something and if not now, then one day. This can be taught to us only so far by our peers but there’s also something within each one of us that needs to recognize it and own it. Sometimes we do, but it’s not until much later in our lives.
It’s never too late or too early to believe in yourself and what you can do. I bet there is something each one of us was told we couldn’t do or be, which changed the directions in our lives.
Every day, every hour, every conversation, every argument, every person you meet, every relationship you’re in and every situation that presents itself is an opportunity and a chance. Take it, run with it and believe in yourself.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I think a part of that is because I’ve always felt September and October were more like a new year than the actual January 1 New Year’s Day. To me, September is the month of beginnings. Even though I’ve been out of school for many years, I still think of September as the beginning of a new school year and with it new opportunities and adventures. Then there’s the changing of the seasons and temperatures and of course, moving into October, the gorgeous transformation and front row seat to nature’s fashion show.
For the first time though, this year feels different to me. I’ve noticed a deeper awareness of events and an acuteness to the days’ wanderings that feel more heightened than ever before. Maybe it has something to do with how much faster time seems to be going. So many people I know have said the same thing and how, especially this year, time feels as though it’s speeding up and almost out of control.
No one can avoid growing older and the growing pains and warts that come along with it, but how we view this parade of changes is what can make a world of difference in our experiences of them. One way to do that is through our humility, which can lead to a deeper and richer level of wisdom and acceptance. Humility has its own quiet power in its ability to provide strength in the awareness that each one of us is a part of something else. Contrary to what many believe, the universe doesn’t revolve around us or is holding its breath waiting to make its next move based on our decision. It doesn’t work that way no matter who you are, who you know, how much money you have, or businesses you own. The Earth will still turn and the sun will rise and set in accordance to its own laws, without any help from us.
Practicing humility is not about lowering yourself and having feelings of inadequacy. On the contrary, humility is a quiet power that lies in the sublime modesty of one’s own potential and view of oneself. Some people see humility as a weakness, with feelings of unworthiness and lack of pride, but I prefer to think of it is a strength of being able to see ourselves in context and in right perspective with others, and finding that we are not lesser or better than anyone else.
By embracing humility we can we move into life’s moments with wisdom and grace by giving up the need for vanity and self-righteousness. This Autumn has become a season of deeper reds, more vibrant oranges, and fiery yellows of a changing landscape that is within me as well as around me reflected in nature, and I hope that today’s Focus will deepen your own personal Autumn and be a season of change within and without as we learn more about and practice humility.
Though the way may not be as clear as you would like, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a path, a way to get there. Don’t stop believing even though you see no reason to. Some call it trust, some call it blind faith. Does it really matter what label it gets? No. We think we’ve got all the answers and if we don’t see a way, then there is no way.
Deep inside of each of us is a trace of the stardust from when we were born and it’s this compass, this connection, that reaches beyond biology and logic and is the map to your possibilities.
Say yes to what is happening to you in the moment. Act as if you are already there without judgement and without trying to change anything. That is when things will begin to shift. So keep believing. It is really quite simple. Engage in any activity in the moment and the path will build itself. Notice where you are and don’t dwell on where you’re not. This is the beginning of the unveiling. Interact as if you are there.
Take each day and rope life like a cowboy and hashtag it with a #whynot.
There will always be a corner, there will always be a door, and there will always be a window. What you believe is on the other side is up to you.
On this Friday’s Focus, set your sights on a star and believe. When you do, it’s only then that true transformation and satisfaction will shift from your imagination and dreams to your reality.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about intention and surrendering and have been making a more concerted effort to be conscious in my intentions of what I do and say. These two words seemed to be in front of me in enough books and articles I’ve been reading that I started to wonder if it may be more than just a coincidence.
A few weeks ago, we decided to take a much-needed vacation to the Catskills for some down time and just to get away. It took me a couple of days to completely unwind from the harried pace I’ve been existing in, and so early one morning, I decided to just grab a chair and sit on the front porch of the B&B we were staying at. I was trying to release any last residual pre-vacation angst and just let go. As I watched the sunrise and marveled at the beauty of the coming day, I grabbed a journal I brought with me. I wanted to get back to journaling on a regular basis and thought what better time to start again than a vacation?
With all sorts of thoughts in my head and not sure where to begin or what I really wanted to say, I started to write about what was literally in front of me—the two squirrels running around the tree, the sunlight rising over the brook, and the different bird songs I was hearing. I let my pen take me wherever it wanted and soon enough I noticed that two words kept circling the page—“surrender” and “intention”. I felt a tickle of intuition that I was on the cusp of something, and it was but a moment later that I found myself writing the sentence—“Surrender to your intention.” Something deep within me released as I read the sentence over and over. I was stunned by the simplicity. It never occurred to me to connect the two! Once again, I was reminded of the humor and the ways messages can come to us when we need to heed something. No wonder I kept running across these words! I suspected that this was something I needed to pay attention to but it wasn’t until I really stopped and thought about it, that I finally got the message.
Setting an intention and surrendering means being conscious in your thoughts and your speech and in the way you act and react. It’s being mindful in the moment. Discovering your true intention and acting in accordance with it is only a part of it though. To really be in full alignment with yourself, I’ve learned that it needs to be inline with surrendering as well.
When you only surrender, you go with the flow of things and accept the movements and hiccoughs as life’s general “I guess that’s the way things are.” But this can only carry you so far.
By the same token, just working with intention, it, too, will only get you so far. It can certainly help set your sights on where you really want to be and do, but if you still fight those intentions especially unconsciously, and do them grudgingly, the intention is really just surface-based and won’t last long. Being on a diet is a perfect example. Which intention will last longer—dropping those 10 pounds so you’ll look better in your jeans or dropping those 10 pounds to lower your risk of Diabetes?
Each of these things are important enough in their own ways but by putting them together, they become a powerhouse. To honestly live in accordance with the right alignment of your energies and your purpose, you must discover your true intentions in everything you do and surrender to them. Surrendering here does not mean giving in or giving up. You’re surrendering to the story that you’ve been living that may not have been serving you very well or gotten you as far as you want to go. It now becomes about creating a new story—one specific to your vision and your purpose and not anyone else’s.
When you’re in alignment with the right intention, the shift in personal energy is palpable enough that it would be hard to deny or ignore. In my personal practice, since that morning of journaling discovery, I’ve found myself almost automatically distanced from my attachments and fears that I had before and the clarity of my perspective on what I thought was important had changed.
If you’re not moving and living in the direction you deeply and sincerely desire, finding true intention for your actions and thoughts and finally being able to live them by surrendering to them enables you to create a story that will no longer trap you but will empower you instead. It will help keep you from being caught in your own web.
So how do you start? It’s actually pretty simple. Begin by asking yourself some of the following questions:
What is my intention today?
What is my intention for eating this? For drinking this?
What is my intention when I pray?
What is my intention when I meditate?
What is my intention when I respond to that email?
What is my intention for buying this?
Answering these kinds of questions can be tough and you need to be really honest with yourself. Don’t be afraid to keep digging for the answers—don’t stop at the first answer that pops into your head. Question it again; take it deeper. Once you gain an understanding of what the intention is behind a motivation, surrender to the absolute truth of it and consciously apply it to your actions and thoughts.
Use meditation or simple reflection to help you answer these questions.. Experiment and find what works best for you. Keeping a journal is also a great tool. Let your thoughts come as a stream of consciousness and just write—keeping the pen moving in a doodle or in words. Most of all, don’t edit yourself. It’s there, in that hollow, that you’ll discover your deepest intentions and revelations.
In surrendering to your intentions, you’ll find that there comes a natural realignment of your energies. One that is finally working with your soul’s compass in finding your True North and where you can find your way to where you really want to be and need to be.
As children, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up and as we grow older, the question broadens into What do we want out of life? For some, the answer comes easier than others and sometimes the answer changes depending on what stage we’re in with our life.
We’re so busy thinking about the end result of who we want to be and where we want to be and what we’re going to do or buy or have once we reach our goal that oftentimes we overlook the path it takes to get us there.
For example, if you what you want is to be wealthy and have abundant amounts of money, you may end up in a business or banking career where you’ll have the money but you’re working all the time and don’t have the freedom to enjoy your wealth. You got the money you wanted but you’re not happy and you spend each day with the nagging feeling that there’s got to be more than this. The energy that was behind that end desire created a path that wasn’t exactly what you envisioned. There are many paths to get what you want out of life. The Universe has a funny way of giving us exactly what we ask for but not so much in the way we imagined it sometimes.
Right now, take a moment and think of the path you want to take to get what want out of life. Taste it, smell it, hear it, feel it; envision each day down to the mundane tasks of the everyday minutiae down to what bank will you have your accounts in? How does your day begin and end? What kind of food will be in your refrigerator? What type of friends will you have? What does your home look like? Your office/studio?
Really put yourself into the life you want and feel yourself going through the activities. Shakti Gawain talks about creative visualization and using all of your senses to picture what it is you want, putting it into a pink bubble and releasing it into the Universe. There is energy behind our thoughts and intentions that are powerful enough to create what we desire. Even our fears can draw what we don’t want to us by the sheer energy of the emotions behind them.
With today’s Focus, I want you to really picture what you want your path to look like. Sitting quietly or in mediation will free up your imagination and intuition and you may even discover paths you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It’s important to sit quietly and put real energy into how you want to get to what you want out of life. Don’t just picture where you want to live but feel what’s like to walk across the room—is there carpet or hard flooring? What kind of couch are you sitting on?
You don’t need to know exactly how each step will unfold but steep yourself in the intention and the emotions behind the steps on the path and the energies will find their way to provide you with what you want. Practice already putting yourself into the life you want rather than just making a wish.
If if helps, use tools such as scrapbooking, Pinterest, or even creating a vision board and keeping it someplace where you’ll see it often. Let yourself step out of your own way and be open to possibilities you might not even be aware of yet that can turn up in a moment’s notice.
Envisioning what we wish for just a little but deeper.
And it all comes down to this.
The grass will always grow through the cracks in the sidewalks and the vines will reclaim the landscape from the concrete and steel.
It’s all just a matter of time before there comes a balance again, when we can catch our breath as we stand between the wall and the cliff.
There is a balance that is always there, but it is not not always equal except maybe in our delusions. Even then, nothing stays the same for long. Everything changes and sometimes they can be so subtle it seems like nothing has changed at all.
And it’s then, when we look back, do we see that it wasn’t so much the situations that changed. Instead, it was us and our perception of our own landscapes of concrete and steel that changed and we saw the grass through the cracks in the sidewalks and the wildflowers in the playground.
Today’s focus is about the trust that things change whether we want them to or not. It’s our perceptions of our landscapes and the necessity of finding the stillness within that will determine whether we are gazing at weeds or wildflowers.
In other words, think it, imagine it, believe in it, and it can happen. What is something that you have been wanting to do or travel to? Just because you haven’t yet doesn’t mean you won’t. If traveling is in your dreamscape, then start looking up airfares or bus schedules; sights to see; even the temperature of your destination and act as if.
Putting it out there with solid intention is the first step in telling the Universe you are ready.
If it’s going back to school, getting a new job, look into the logistics of the times of classes and how you would register. How would you commute? What would you need to wear or do you need a new backpack for commuting?
What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t think was possible?
Have a great weekend!
These last few days have been a series of postponements, withdrawals, and redirects for commitments I made and tentative plans penciled in, but late last week situations arose that almost immediately tested my best laid intentions. For a few days, I was flexible and rolled with the changes but there came a point I knew it wasn’t going to last and I needed to make some decisions.
I was torn between “I can do it all!” and the more real thought, “I can do it all, but either I’m going to wear myself out or the projects committed to will suffer.” I know all too well about burning the candle at both ends and burning myself out in the process and I wasn’t keen on going down that road again. Giving my word and commitment to someone and something is important to me, but the way things took a zig from its normal zag recently in a plan still known only to God and the angels, I decided to put aside my can-do zealousness and listen instead to my instincts for guidance.
I sat and thought and prayed and listened deeply to what I wanted to do and what I needed to do, and without any hesitation and the loudest cheerleader of all, my instinct gave me the answer right away. I knew what I had to do and that my decisions were fair not only to myself but to those people and projects I committed to.
Sometimes our instincts go completely against the things we want to do and yet we hush and ignore them only to have regrets later. Maybe the next time you get a gut feeling or your instinct is kicking up about something, listen and trust it.
Whether you want to believe that whisper is your guide, God, an angel, a favorite relative that passed over, or your higher Self, listening to your intuition—that voice—is a decision that will never steer you wrong and you won’t regret. I know I haven’t.
Have a good weekend!
Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way…