Listen to your heart -is it just an empty cliche?

Phew! Things got really busy over the last few months I haven’t been able to keep up with blogging like I desire. I feel so delinquent of my few readers. So once again I am promising to pull my boot straps up and settle down into a clear rhythm where posts are concerned. How about once weekly the least and 3 times a week at best …um mm …rethink, how about once weekly? Once going once….twice…there it’s settled, once weekly is the aim.

In the next couple of postings I hope to be doing a series which I will call “The ONE thing” . Basically, the everyday people I meet on the train, street, event, church wherever, I will do a mini interview (prodding, coaxing, questioning) to find out the one thing that changed their lives or influenced them to live their truth or just had a great impact. Also, I will be featuring street style and talking about my favorite shops or those I come across in the city and surrounding.  I guess you can say the blog will evolve into something …..but at the end of the day I hope it will encourage us to release our inner essence, shine in our uniqueness and embrace all our good, bad and in-between stuff. And those who have not found their purpose or call or path in life they will be closer to it even as they embrace all that they are.

Today let’s talk about listening to your heart. Yes I know it sounds cliche and even a little corny maybe but this is big. I recently read a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf “Who switched off my brain” it totally floored me. I had no idea the heart was more than a muscle or pump….who knew that it had the ability to reason and communicate with the brain. In fact, she says the heart is like another brain and in science there is reference to the “brain in the heart”. “The brain in your heart acts like a checking station for all the emotions generated by the flow of chemicals created by thoughts. It is proving to be a real intelligent force behind the intuitive thoughts and feelings you experience” says Dr. Caroline. This is major and it makes sense of “listening to your heart”. I always thought though that the heart we should listen to was some kind of inner voice in our center but now I am realizing it is the actual heart. Listening to our hearts is really being true to ourselves. I had a real struggle with this just yesterday. There was a great opportunity before me to be a part of something that could impact my career and life significantly. I came home from the meeting after spending all day seeing how great this thing before me was. My head said jump in but my heart was not doing back flips. I had less than 12 hours to give my decision and my head and heart were at odds. Since I had recently read about the heart and listening to your truth it was clear what I should do. I prayed on it and really tapped in on my inner dialogue. My heart just wouldn’t let me accept what looked like a great opportunity, one after the other all the reasons why I shouldn’t began to surface. As we know there is this peace that comes when we go the way of our inner truth. That is the heart signaling to us that we made the right choice and that there is harmony between or thoughts, words and actions. Any time there is a lack of peace it is because there is disharmony between what we truly believe and are doing. To get heart answers ask yourself “what do I really really want”, “Is this what I truly believe deep down”, “How do I truly feel about this”, “Do I have peace about this” ? Then truly listen to the answers coming up. It will take honesty and surrender if your mind is saying something contrary but there is benefit to following that little inner voice. Happy listening!

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The gift of self-compassion

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite people to date, I know she is gone but her work and words live on. If you every saw an interview of her you would see firsthand the radiance that comes out of a person who has given way to their true essence. I admire her so much… the memory that is left of her. In this post and the next let’s dish on two of the quotes she introduced me to, one from the mind of the great playwright Terence and another from her grandmother. These lines will wrap in tightly with the topic of self-compassion and compassion and form a lovely gift of love to ourselves.

“I am a human being, and nothing that is human can be alien to me” Terence. Terence known as Publius Terentius Afer was a playwright (195/185-159BC) . Yikes he was around even before Christ, aged wisdom indeed. If we really chewed on the truth of this it would unfold several key things for us to digest. I am a human being! To really acknowledge this is to embrace our fallibility our imperfections our potential our ability to grow. To embrace it is to give place to self-compassion. There is no shortage of people who are beating themselves down day after day. Some don’t need a reason or any help from the critics. Where self compassion is lacking it takes longer to get back up after a failure because there is always a dwelling on what could have, should have ,would have been done. Regrets thrive in the absence of self- compassion and it hinders forward movement. Scientists are finding that lowered self-esteem anxiety and depression are likely to affect those who are overly critical of themselves and wouldn’t cut themselves some slack. The list goes on and on. Do we really need to be bashing ourselves day in day out when there are so many willing to do it for us (sly grin).

I used to be very hard on myself and it used to take long for me to recover from the blows of life. When I came to this realization that I should be loving myself the way that God loves me it was an eye-opener. Let me say it was an epiphany. I meant it wasn’t something that I went around meditating on . I took it for granted that I knew what “loving myself” meant . A person may say Yeah I want nice things for myself I take care of myself. Really? What benchmark are you using? To first know the benchmark for self-love we must first know how God loves us. Does God beat us down and rant on and on when we fail or fall short? No we will feel uncomfortable because he points it out but once we address and change that thing it is a done deal. But some of us do not deal so kindly with ourselves and it is very damaging whether we realize it or not. Also, a good starting place is to treat ourselves the way we would treat someone whose good graces we want to secure. Sounds cheesy but it works.

The other half of the quote “….nothing human can be alien to me” really encourages compassion for others. Truth is though, we will eventually use the same harsh standards on others that we continually use on ourselves. Perfection would be an idol all around. We first have to embrace our own humanity and then have understanding for the humanity in them. When we agree that nothing that has touched someone else s’ life is exempt from touching our own, we are forced to be more understanding and patient. After all, maybe if you had the same experiences, same background, same fears, and identical situation you would have had the ‘same’ response.  This thought pattern will cause all rigid judges to relinquish their self appointments, to listen with sympathy and look with eyes of goodwill on those experiencing their hard place.

At this the start of a New Year, step onto a new page, I suggest making it a point to be more compassionate to self and others. If things from last year are still plaguing you, look at those silly mistakes and disappointments , breathe.. wrap your arms around yourself and say…  “I am a human being….” . Happy New Year to all ! Bless yes!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePodNjrVSsk

Serve what?

In most restaurants, the highest tips go to wait staff who have mastered the art of serving. Every day, cash is doled out because it feels good to be served and waited on. Marianne Williamson coined a phrase in a poem, I cited it in an earlier post, she says “your playing small does not serve the World” . I am chewing on this today , walk with me.

There is a long list of definitions for the word serve but two will do the trick for the sake of this discussion. Serve- to be of service or use and to meet the requirements or needs;satisfy. We all serve each other in different capacities at different times but every relationship is based on satisfying some need in another. Gifts and talents are our human inheritance and no person is lacking in them. It doesn’t matter how you came or through whom, you came with something unique and instinctive to you , that thing you don’t have to think twice about doing well. Yes that ability that everyone tags you with in their mind. We are gifted and we know it. It appears though that we are gifted to give. OK it sounds blase’ but to really meditate on this can be quite sobering.

Everything created has something to give, serving it is a rule in the Earth and when this is not done things go out of balance. What if the rain decides to hold back or the trees decide they are spent and refrain from bringing fruit? And if the Sun doesn’t shine, or wind doesn’t blow or nature decides to hold out on us? It is stating the obvious but we have all seen short-term effects of minimal holding back by nature. It can easily become a spectacle and a dilemma! It would be a crisis not only for the larger populous but for the source itself. To stop producing or serving affects the server first. We have a responsibility therefore to serve with what we have innately, it is understood by some unspoken terms that this is why we have it. Whether we overlook it or not we seem to be here to serve the World.

Many times the word “small” carries a negative feel and this is one of these times. But it sounds even more unattractive when “playing” is dragging it along. “Playing small” , this gives a picture of shrinking, misrepresenting,limited, irresponsible, cowardice. Really none of these words are a true description of a human soul in its true essence, because we are limitless and designed for growth and expansion. The potential and the learning capacity within us is astonishing. We are potent and powerful! Playing small is something that happens in the mind it is a twisted perception and not a reality. As mentioned in earlier posts, most misrepresentations are fueled by a story, a story that the individual has managed to convince him/herself all the while usually dancing around or avoiding a deeper issue. No one can truly “play small” without holding on to such a story.

We look at some of the greats present with us and some who have gone on. What characterizes them all and causes them to stand out is their serving. Greatness is the ability to serve and make a significant impact on lives. Not all who have touched many are considered great but all who are deemed great surely have touched many. Our gifts and talents are our responsibility to develop and to expand and serving is a duty but by and large our prerogative. In each of us is a gift crying for expression, desperate for release and significance. It is not something we can alter, the need to be utilized is within the DNA of every gift and talent. Sometimes the voice is drowned out and deferred but still existent. But for any who will be courageous and serve it up in some way there is a measure of fulfillment and possible greatness.

 

Excuse me my story, you are no longer my excuse!

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post for this blog. The reason is somewhere between writer’s block, technical difficulties and recovery from anxiety related self-disclosure. It’s the afterthought that hits you the next week after a self-revelatory piece eg “Omg did I put all my business on the world-wide web” . There is always a certain vulnerability attached to sharing your story, it’s the fear of judgement that causes it. So talking about story,this is what I am touching on today.
So we all have a story; a series of events and experiences that served to mold us into who we are or at least impacted our lives. Some parts of our stories are great, some challenging and lots heartbreaking and hurtful. So let’s look at the great stories first.
Usually, this is characteristic of a high time or great season in one’s life, kind of like a summer season. With the Midas touch there is gold marking your every involvement. Things are fruitful, there is productivity it’s a happy time, it’s a prime time and you are on a roll baby! Then as seasons do, they change ,life happens and things shift. Could be a great marriage ended, a change in body image after having children or health issues came on or the loss of a fab job, or change of financial or social status but the vicissitudes of life spun its dice and it fell on you. Myles Munroe an awesome author and mind said that the enemy of your next victory is your last one. (Zo’s translation) .
It is very common for us to get stuck on” what was” , not understanding why these good times had to end, causes one to get lost between the ebb and flow. Life is meant to be progressive and even in nature there is a life and loss cycle that is our example it’s called growth. For a baby to come into this realm the womb must experience loss, a butterfly is released but the chrysalis is dried up and the caterpillar is no more. There is no change without a letting go of something else. It’s like an exchange. ..I give this up to become this. If we will ride the changes and flow with the seasons we will see that to everything there is a time, trouble doesn’t last always. So instead of focusing on what was, we can unfasten our eye from our” heyday” and live in the present and learn to work with what’s in our hands now. Ok I am now single it’s a different ballgame, how do I adapt, what lessons are in this for me, what do I need to work on to be a better partner next time? All these things I never got to do when I was married let me do them now ,etc etc. This is just an example.
So the opposite scenario would be grieving extensively over a failed marriage, refusing to adapt to a new status, still living like you are in that life, failing to see the lessons and learn them, failing to embrace the healing and all the new things ahead . It’s the rhetoric of” when I was married” , honey let it go…let that vibrant you emerge after that reasonable time of mourning, get your mojo back.
The same holds true for other good stories, yesterday is gone its time for even greater things.
So how about the challenging and the awful stories? The ones that make you cry for that person because their misfortune is so difficult to imagine. Each heart knows its own sorrow, so no story should be trivialized or discounted.
However, it’s so easy to let our story become a crutch if it usually gets us attention or pity from others. There is a time to mourn and a time to cry, but there is also a time to laugh. It means sorrow has an expiry date! We are not physically or emotionally built for extensive mourning . I have had some traumatic events in my life and my story is one such story that would bring tears. To be frank I am only here , and in my right mind because of God’s grace and protection but I learned to let go of my story. For a while it was my crutch but now it is my reference just to share a point or to help someone. Somewhere along the path I recognized that I am either going to be a victim or I am going to be an over comer. But not both, I opened myself to receive healing, and did the work to recover from brokenness. There were people to forgive, memories to let go of and I had to change my expectation and my thinking. (I will explain in upcoming posts) . I had to give myself permission to live and to shine I had to take back my power.
If you, well not you someone you know *wink. If someone’s story and past misfortune is monopolizing their conversation or is center and focus in their mind; if the person is still mad about something that happened 10 .5 years ago or still struggling with why they had to go through something; if people only see them and give them a pity face; if in life a person feels dragged along rather than making choices these could be signalling a loss of power. The story may be in control! It may have become a crutch and a hindrance to healing and progression. I am not reprimanding or making trivial, but with pure concern I say, every day stories are cited and poured out effortlessly as the excuse and reason why we can’t go on or grow or progress. To shine, we need to have control, not our story! Bless-yeah

And what of wallflowers?

Along beautiful old walls in Southern Europe, cling clusters of yellow, orange, brown red or purple fragrant flowers. These are numerous herbs of the mustard family affectionately known as wallflowers. This name was first coined in 1578 because they were often found on old walls, rocks and quarries.
When we use the term wallflower today, we make reference to women who hug the wall at a dance longing for a partner or to shy to engage socially. We have Mrs Campbell Praed to thank for this popular comparison which she first made in her 1820 piece, called “Country Ball”.

Each person that came through the corridors of the the womb and made it into this world came full of potential and gifting. We clung to our mothers chest, in a blanket, a seed carrying seeds. Everything was in seed form and with time grew into much more and keeps on growing. We were made for growth and enlargement, we were made to showcase the brilliance, creativity and mastermind of a creator. His versatility speaks through our palms, finger prints, eyes, voices, teeth, personality and the list goes on, no two people on the Earth are replicas because of these aspects of design. We are all originals…..am sure you have heard this a million times so whats the point of this reminder? Well every gift can be developed from seed form and has potential for greatness because of the individuality and the originality of the holder. None of us are made at a disadvantage even though we may feel so at times, there is something in everyone that can make them “shine”. Yet its up to us to work our gift or develop it from seed form.
If you read my first post, you will remember me making reference to Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our greatest fear…” . She alludes to the fact that greatness , a part of God is not just in some but in everyone of us! The thing is, many of us are beautiful wallflowers, vibrant, colorful, brilliant, talented but holding for dear life to our walls . Or we find a spot of comfort on the wall away from the dance of life. A wall is anything we hold to for preservation and comfort, but it confines it limits it delays and hinders the flow in and out. What is it that caused us to resign to this place that is far less safe that it seems? Our fears, our misconceptions sometimes our disappointments, whichever and whatever it is we were not meant to be on the sidelines but in the dance. For a while I was a wallflower but the day that I embraced the fact that I was here to shine and serve the world with my gift I gave myself permission to be and to receive freedom from my fears. The truth came in and changed my thoughts, and this is the first step. Yeah! So let the wallflowers come forth and be the “Belle of the Ball”!

Blow my cover!

“Its our light not our darkness that most frightens us” ….I felt like someone had read my mail. I could visualize them removing a curtain of protection from around me and shouting for everyone to hear….”there she is”. This is how I felt after reading this wonderful illuminating piece by Marianne Williamson called, “Our greatest fear”.
I realized i was a walking paradox, on one hand I was yearning to break out of the box and find expression and on the other I had so carefully crafted a cozy little hiding place behind mental bars. I found myself stuck and half alive. I penned many poems about being me, breaking forth all with a similar tread of the desire to live authentically. What is authentic about cowering so as not to stand out in the crowd? Downplaying your strengths, watering down your passion ….what is inspiring about hiding?
With some honest deduction and soul searching, I realized that there where two major issues that were causing me to hide from life.
1. I had a fear of standing out which ultimately rested on a fear of being rejected. I was a very smart child and held the position of first place in academics in every class I went into. I even skipped a grade because the teachers felt I was ahead of my year. But my moms proud smile was not enough to override the rejection at school, it was not a match for the misconceptions that eased into my impressionable mind. I learned somehow that great accomplishment comes with pain at its heels. It hurts to stand out sometimes. My mom was a single parent and she had so much to tackle, I never bothered her with such feelings. However, I never acted on these feelings,or digressed till after she passed away, when I felt truly unprotected and marked for rejection.
2. There was a deep seated feeling of unworthiness. Like in the poem there was an unconscious question, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented”….. It may sound cliche but I believe it stemmed from lack of a father, not having someone to affirm me in my gifts and talent and in just accepting my unconventional qualities. The fact is people frown on difference and standing out; for children or teens to become secure in their difference it requires someone affirming them and letting them know its OK and that being different doesn’t make them bad or unworthy.

I wish someone had told me this in my adolescent years or i had read a book that made these things clear. Everyone has feelings of self doubt sometimes but when this becomes chronic and affects your social interaction or causes you to be stuck in life it needs to be addressed. So this poem brought me into a brand new awareness and I began talking to God about my freedom. In my later posts I will touch on other things related to these fears; how you can identify them in your life, how this hinders purpose etc. This blog is basically dedicated to those who are hiding, coming out of hiding, have hidden, now giving themselves permission to shine and stand out and serve the world with their gift. If its not your own experience perhaps you can help someone else by passing this on to them. Am so excited and looking forward to sharing and going on this journey with you.