Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pushing the Trigger. New Weekly Wisdom for LIFE!

Another excerpt from the book LIFE:
Grace talks about triggers ... What are some of yours?
“Back at the deck, I told you that your parents weren’t the real problem; your thoughts on the subject were. I realize that hit a nerve, for which I apologize. But if you were living from your soul instead of the ego, you wouldn’t be affected emotionally by what your parents did or didn’t do, or what they said or didn’t say. You see, when you live from your soul, it’s not as if the world stops doing what it did previously to trigger you; the situations in your life don’t just morph into something ‘perfect’ and wonderful. Instead, your entire perception about life changes. So, even though others may be trying to push your buttons, as far as you’re concerned, there are no more buttons to be pushed."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tag I'm It

Rebecca Holfman's Blog

LIFE has been tagged by Rebecca Holfman, and I am supposed to answer these questions...
Okay Rebecca I'm game!! :)

1. What is one "mistake" that has changed you the most?
There are no such things as mistakes, just experience. And everything that has happened to me in my life has helped shape me into the person I am now.  And I love my life! :)

2. What is your dream car?
 Mercedes- Benz SLS AMG in Silver - like the one in Transformers 3!

3. What one thing do you wish to achieve in your future?
LIFE as a New York Times Bestseller!

4. What inspires you?
My family, my children, my friends, other writers. People who dance, laugh and play because they are authentic and because it makes them happy.

5. Do you prefer to write with a pen, pencil, keyboard, or some other utensil?
I prefer pen for freehand brainstorming and the keyboard for the nitty-gritty stuff.

6. If a multi-millionaire offered to buy you one thing, what would you choose?
An indoor swimming pool.

7. What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

8. Do you sing in the shower or dance in your living room?
Both - all the time :)

9. Quick, write down the first song lyric you think of!
'Dancing slowly in an empty room, can the lonely take the place of you.' Course I am listening to Lonely by Christina Perri as I type - so that might not be totally spontaneous.

10. If you could share one bit of advice with the world, what would it be?
Never give up on your dreams! Follow what feels good and have fun! :)

In gratitude,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hungry like a wolf!

When I was very young, I had a reoccurring nightmare of a black, shaggy wolf with red piercing eyes. I would hear him panting and snarling outside my window. When I tried to run out of my room he would pounce and land on my long, white dresser. Hackles standing on the back of his neck, he would just stare, his canines sharp and dripping as he held my terrified gaze. 

At night lying in my bed alone in the dark, my eyes would dart fitfully between the shadows and the looming window. I hated to be alone in that bedroom at night. The window took up half the available wall space and hid behind heavy, pink, floor to ceiling curtains. I was petrified that the wolf was lurking behind those closed curtains, that if they moved, he would be right there, staring in my window. If I had to get up for a glass of water or use the bathroom, my heart would pound and my hands would sweat just holding the doorknob. Was he waiting in the long dark hallway for me? Would he appear out of the menacing shadows to devour me?

As I grew older the dream faded. By the time I was a teenager the dream disappeared altogether. I was no longer the timid little girl I had been. I lashed out. I rebelled. I fought the man. I fought my parents. I broke rules, just because I could. I hung out with the wrong crowd. I swore, I ranted, I laughed, I danced, I played—I had a blast.

Then I grew older still, and I conformed. I caved in. I fell prey to other people’s expectations. I towed the line. I kept my mouth shut. I struggled to keep up with the Joneses. I repressed my desires, my dreams, and my passions. On the outside I appeared happy and content. I had the house, the car— the 1.5 children. But silently, inside I stewed and seethed. I was miserable. I was diminished. I was suffocating.

Around this time wolves began reappearing in my nocturnal journeys. No longer black with red eyes, they appeared in their natural form, in their natural habitats, lurking behind trees, watching from fields and valleys. While no longer supernatural, they nonetheless instilled fear in the dreamer me and I would wake with a thundering heart and clammy hands.

Theories abound regarding the purpose of dreams and their mystical interpretations. One theory suggests that whatever we are dreaming about is the nervous system’s way of releasing pent up emotions and feelings—things we were not able to confront and move through in our waking lives. On an outing to a northern aboriginal community I met a shaman. He told me I had been misinterpreting my dreams. The wolf was not trying to attack me or hurt me; he was trying to talk to me. The wolf was my ally. He was a messenger. He represented the anger I had been repressing and I needed to confront it.

We don’t always receive such vivid images and clues about the negativity we are holding inside—the emotions and feelings that are slowly and methodically eating us alive. Sometimes they manifest in more elusive ways like intermittent chest pain, back and neck tightness or gastrointestinal issues. Often we hear the term ‘dis-ease’—the concept that whatever is causing us ‘dis’-comfort is causing physical disease. Science has proven that stress can cause disease in the body, and it can exacerbate already pre-existing conditions. It is essential to recognize the wolves, tigers, piranhas or parasites that we are carrying around inside us—the negative emotions and feelings that we shove deep down inside, brushing them under the rug because they seem too huge, too overpowering, and we are afraid to confront them.

Whether you rely on a counsellor or physician to help you move through your pain, or find solitary constructive ways to release your negative emotions and energy by engaging in activities such as writing, painting, running, yoga or meditation, it is imperative to address them so you can release them from your body, mind, and soul.

I no longer have wolves in my dreams. I have learned how to constructively release my anger, frustration and pain by engaging in things I enjoy, things that are important to me like writing, yoga, dancing and laughing. We cannot allow pain to take up residence and move in. We need to let go of anything that has held us back from experiencing joy in the present moment and it is essential to address negativity the instant it occurs. Sticks and stones won’t break my bones, and names no longer hurt! I acknowledge when I don’t feel good. I put my emotions and feelings into words. If I am angry at how someone has treated me, I let them know—in an empathetic and respective manner of course! But I do not let the anger simmer and boil, and I never take it out on someone else. My anger, my sadness, guilt or frustration is my own personal reaction to a situation, and I always address situations that cause feelings of discomfort. I don’t wallow in second guessing; I don’t wade in sorrowful waters. I step out of the muck and let the sludge slide off—like water off a duck's back, negativity can’t stick to me. And if you can find a way to honour what is important to you, if you can stand up for yourself and your dreams and desires, if you make more time to enjoy the things you love, that you are passionate about, you too can walk away from the ravenous wolves forever! 

In gratitude,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heaven on Earth! New Weekly Wisdom for LIFE!

Enjoy another taste of LIFE!

“I know this may upset some people to hear, but Heaven is not up there.” Grace pointed to the sky and smiled. “It’s in those brilliant, beautiful moments when our mind stills. The idea is to make those moments last until we are living Heaven on Earth. When we experience that bliss, it is a loss to have our mental chatter take it away from us. The good news is, once our soul has had a taste of that experience, it will go out of its way to experience it again, drawing us to find that quiet centre. Our soul is compelled to experience joy, and it will naturally be drawn to things that make us feel joyful.”

“Do you mean like the joy I feel when I’m painting or gardening?” Eve asked.

“Yes, absolutely. For others it could be dancing, working out or playing with their children. Anything at all that allows us to feel joy in our lives is an expression of our soul shining forth.

“The point is to find more time to enjoy those activities that offer us the best chance for peace and joy. Unfortunately, we needlessly fill too much of our time with superfluous actions that make us seem busy. Think quality, not quantity, here. We will actually keep ourselves constantly doing something or going somewhere, just to avoid slowing down. Now, there’s a good, defensive reason for this. If we are not in touch with our soul, or true essence, if we are not living life in the centre of that wheel, then whenever we actually do slow down, our mind is filled with negativity, worry or just plain exhausting mental noise. Who wants to be in communion with that?”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Excerpt from Chapter One!!

Chapter 1—An Unprecedented Encounter

Eve stood looking out over the lightening water. The sun was just beneath the horizon, and the mist floated serenely above the lake’s surface. She sighed. It was the last day of her vacation, and she wasn’t in any real hurry to get back. After nothing but sun, sand and water, she felt a real reluctance about saying good-bye to the beach and the summer. It had been a wonderful vacation, though, and she didn’t really understand the feeling of melancholy that was settling deep within her bones. It’s not as if she thought the vacation could last forever. No, that wasn’t it. It was a disappointment of sorts, she assumed, but disappointment about what?

She considered the job she was returning to but waved that away with an imaginary hand. She liked her job—well, most of it anyway. Despite some minor tension with a co-worker, she loved what she was doing and really enjoyed interacting with the customers.

She felt anticipatory strain about getting the kids ready and off to school, but she was grateful that they seemed happy, or at least resigned, about their impending fate. She’d had a wonderful time with her husband, holding hands as they walked along the beach, kids splashing through the waves beside them. They even stole furtive kisses now and then as they sat side by side, soaking up the sun’s glorious rays. She even had a tan, which was nothing short of miraculous, given her very pale skin tone. She had light blonde hair and grey-blue eyes and had always been wary of tarrying too long in the sun. But this week she had thrown caution to the wind—well, as much as could be considered daring while armed with SPF 60—and had managed to acquire a respectably healthy glow.

She shook her head in confusion. No, she was happy with everything in her life, yet she could not deny the downward pull stirring from deep within, though she couldn’t tell from where it was coming or where it was leading.

“You seem troubled,” announced a voice from behind her.

Eve turned around to see an attractive young woman with long blonde hair that cascaded in soft waves down over her shoulders smiling at her from one of the beach chairs on the deck. She had the most striking blue eyes Eve had ever seen. They were a bright cerulean blue, like an icy glacial lake reflecting the brilliance of a noon sky.

“Yes, I suppose I am.” Eve shyly smiled back.

“Hard to leave, isn’t it?” She tilted her head slightly, her eyes gazing out over the calm, peaceful water.

Eve walked over, sat down on the only other chair on the deck and stared meditatively out over the lake. The first rays of sunlight were shining up over the horizon, breaking the mist’s caress on the water’s surface as it rose in feathery wisps.

“Yes,” she said resolutely, “it is.”

They were both silent for some time as they watched the morning sun crest the sandy dunes, its golden rays caressing the treetops as the mist and water shimmered with their beautiful dance.

“Do you come up here often?” Eve asked, reluctantly taking her eyes away from the view.

The woman smiled at her. “No, this is my first time here. It’s absolutely beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I’ve been on several vacations, but this is by far the best one I’ve ever had. It was a real joy just to be a part of these lovely surroundings.” She smiled back. Reaching over the arm of the chair, she extended her hand to the young woman. “My name’s Eve, by the way.”

“I’m Grace. Pleased to meet you.” She smiled and reached across the small void between the chairs, cordially shaking Eve’s hand. “You seemed deep in thought. If you don’t mind my asking, is something bothering you?”

Eve leaned back into her chair and sighed. “No, I don’t mind your asking. But to be honest with you, I’m not exactly sure what’s troubling me.” She looked over at Grace and shrugged her shoulders in defeat. “I had a wonderful week. Perhaps it’s just hard to leave, after all,” she answered.

“Hmm. Could be, I suppose, but you don’t sound terribly convinced,” Grace replied, looking intently at Eve.

Eve laughed. “No, I guess I’m not.” She sat in quiet reflection for a moment. How do I describe a feeling I, myself, don’t even understand? “I’m just down, I guess.” She looked across at Grace. “I can’t really explain it. I just don’t feel … right. I really did have a wonderful vacation. There’s just no rational reason for me to feel the way I do.”

“Being rational, I suspect, has little to do with it,” Grace offered.

Eve smiled politely but quickly dropped back into her silent musing. She felt a deep inner desire to just unload everything, to discharge, to release all her burdens onto this complete stranger. But wouldn’t that be selfish of me? she wondered, to encumber this poor woman with all my issues? Besides, how could this woman possibly relate to all the various intricacies in my life? Does she have kids too? Is she married or working? She doubted it, looking across at Grace. She seemed far too serene to be responsible for children, a husband and a career to boot.

“Are you here by yourself?” Grace interrupted her reverie.

“Oh, no, I’m here with my family. My husband took our two boys out fishing this morning, so I have the day to myself. What about you?”

Grace smiled. “That seems to be a popular hobby around here. My husband got up at a ridiculous hour to take our kids fishing down at the old mill. Perhaps they’ll run into each other in their quests for the prize catch of the day.”

They sat smiling at their shared coincidences for a moment. But when Eve’s eyes travelled back over the water, the veil of melancholy slipped quickly over her features again, and she let the mood pull her back down as she dropped deep into thought. She looked over at Grace and, deciding to throw caution to the wind, she inquired, “Do you ever feel as though you’re not completely fulfilled? That there is really nothing major to worry about or complain about and yet … and yet you just don’t seem happy?” She struggled to clarify. “I mean, I am happy. I’m happy with my life and my situation but …” She paused. “I just don’t know.” She tucked a wayward lock of hair behind her ear, searching for elucidation and feeling utterly lost.

“I used to,” Grace replied honestly, “but I don’t anymore. I found what I was looking for.”

“Really?” Eve’s interest was piqued. “And what was that?”

Grace smiled. “Why, the same thing that you’re searching for, I suppose. I wanted to feel fulfilled and whole, and,” she replied, her smile growing wider, “now I do.”

“And just how did you manage that?” Eve wondered.

“Well …” Grace stretched languorously. “I started looking in the right places.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are you afraid of?

Madonna. One word conjures up so many images, opinions, and judgments. When you add two more: Halftime Show, the world goes crazy! Let me be clear right up front, I love Madonna: always have, always will. But let me tell you why she inspires me as it pertains to living a life of happiness and fulfillment.

When we join this wonderful life experience, from the moment we are conceived to the moment we take our last breaths, we are subjected to everyone else’s opinions, judgements, biases, and prejudices.  The trick is to not let those beliefs influence us. When we are young this is almost impossible. We are heavily influenced by our parents, our siblings, our friends, the media, our society, our teachers, our government and our entire global framework. They send us a plethora of messages; we filter some, but absorb others thus creating an image, an idea about ourselves—who we are and how we fit into the world around us.

We tend to cling to that constructed image of ourselves because when we step outside other people’s expectations and opinions we run the risk of being rejected. Many of us will continue believing something, or saying or doing things that others want to hear or see, just to remain within their comfortable circle of influence. We do this out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of abandonment.

What type of clothes do you wear? What type of house do you want? What type of job is acceptable? Simple questions, but deep inside our choices are typically influenced by others. As a teenager, if you wore different clothes from your friends would your peer group ridicule you, or oust you? If all your friends have big expensive houses with fashionable furnishings, would you buy a smaller home that you could actually afford and place meagre belongings in it? Would you worry about inviting your ‘better off’ friends over for coffee? Do you want to be an artist, a singer, a dancer, a writer, but feel you need to get that executive position to prove to everyone you’ve made it? It’s rare we think this deeply about the motivation behind our actions and decisions. But what is really motivating those choices is fear. When we push against the current, when we stand up for what we want and what makes us truly happy, we risk rubbing those around us the wrong way. We risk censure or possible exile from our comfortable groups, from our comfortable lives.

Enter Madonna. I am quite confident Madonna has fears. And I am sure society’s condemnation of her actions on occasion has smarted considerably. But it has never stopped her from doing what she wants to do. It has never stopped her from being who she really is. She has passion, she has vitality—and she has guts. Guts to step outside of society’s comfort zone, guts to push against other people’s opinions and judgments. She may have fears, but she doesn’t let them stop her.

A lot of the backlash I read about her performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show stemmed around her age. At fifty-three apparently she needs to pack it all in and stop performing. Stop doing something she loves, stop engaging in something that invigorates and enlivens her. I hope at one hundred years old none of us stop doing what it is we enjoy—what it is we genuinely love.

Don’t let fear of rejection stop you dead in your tracks. Don’t let fear detract from what you want to do in life. Don’t let it influence who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, removed from everyone else’s expectations and judgments. Get out there on your own personal stage and give this life experience the best damn show on earth: YOU! 

In gratitude,