Believing in More

For the most part I think we all wish to become the deliberate creators of our own lives.  We truly want to believe that we still have the freedom and capability to shape our own realities.
We all want to believe that we can succeed in whatever our dreams may be. Yet somehow we get stuck. Stunted by our limiting beliefs.
I’m too old.
I’m too young.
I’m not smart.
I’m not pretty.
I’m not handsome.
I’m not thin.
I’m not funny.
I’m not wealthy.
I’m not talented enough.
Beliefs that break our hearts and kill our dreams.
it-takes-a-huge-effort-to-free-yourself-from-memory-quote-1
But let us for a moment dissect what a belief is and what that “enough” might buy us.
Let me know if you agree. A belief is a thought that is backed by your confidence, faith, trust and acceptance – it is an assumed truth for you  and the best explanation that you have based on the evidence you have experienced so far in life.
The word “enough” is an opportunity to grow. Ask yourself, what would it require you to be “enough” of something. What would you need to be, to be enough? What would you need to believe? What would you need to sacrifice?
Take a moment to reflect. Are your beliefs a detriment or a benefit to you? That is a good question to ponder.  While you are at it, be honest about the emotional payoff you get from your beliefs.
How does “I’m too old” get you off the hook from embarrassing yourself?
How does “I’m not talented” keep you from failing before you even begin?
Perhaps believing that you are not athletic gets you off the hook from getting in shape.
Maybe believing you aren’t creative keeps you from the agony and frustration of trying something new and being a beginner at something like painting, drawing or dancing.
No matter how old, young or smart we are, we must experiment with our lives to build new beliefs about ourselves.  Grow baby grow.
In order to transform, one must pull all of these tragic beliefs by the root, weeding the garden of the mind.
Remove the seemingly innocent beliefs of . . .
  • “I can’t tell the truth because I may get judged…” Better to be heard, than care about being judged.
  • “I don’t want to get close to this person lest my heart gets broken…” Let your heart be soft and forgiving, beating and pumping that love juice. Love again. 
  • “I don’t want to ask for what I want because, I might be rejected” Rejection is your projection my darling. 
  • “I can’t trust people because I’ve been betrayed before…” But what if you aren’t this time around? 
  • “I can’t pursue my dreams because I don’t know what I’d do if I fail. I can’t afford the risk.” What is life but a risk?

2.png

You become what you believe you can be. Before you can begin to grow, you must believe that you have what it takes.

Featured Artist

Mai @glitchostrich

 

Judge Us Not

Judging others is something we all do. Breaking this bad habit is really difficult for me. I am not saying it is impossible but it is proving to be as challenging as getting rid of negative thinking.  That took me a while to do. That was a tough one.  A lot of practice, day in and day out, weeding out all of the cynicism and skepticism from my monkey mind. Making an attempt to be a better person, free and clear of the nastiest of faults, takes a ton of practice and a whole lot of hard work. It’s a retraining of the brain.

I am far from there, but it is the only horizon I can see that makes sense. If I am not at least trying to raise my standards, then what am I doing here?

Judging is such a lazy habit.  Judging seems to make us right about things. But what for really?  It’s such an easy way out. Judging is such a great excuse and way to let ourselves off the hook. It makes us feel like we are powerful and more superior than others.

I’m thinking about the measures I use to judge others. I judge others by what I value. I value a great work ethic and sense of self-responsibility.  So if someone appears to be blaming others for their problems or not working up to their potential (my measure of “potential”) than I judge them. In my eyes they are wasting their time, not giving the world the best of their talents and using others as a crutch.

However, what has all that judging done? Nothing really. Nothing for me and nothing for the person I am judging. Nothing for the world.

“The act of judgment is an act of pride. It involves looking to our own store of knowledge, putting together a few facts, figures or fancies, and coming up with some sort of answer or solution to a given problem or situation. All too often it is the wrong solution or answer, and because of pride, we refuse to correct course. You judge, and then to make matters worse, you believe in your judgment. You’ve looked at the evidence, you’ve made a judgment – it must be right! There couldn’t possibly be any other conclusion to arrive at but the one your’ve chosen, could there? What you don’t see, don’t understand, is that your judgment leads to suffering – your own suffering. It does not touch the person judged; he or she is free of you and your thoughts and your judgments. You cannot change their behaviour by even a hair’s breadth by your judgment.”

Read more here Stop Judging

if-we-take-judging-ourselves-and-others-out-of-our-life-we-will-mostly-be-living-in-paradise-quote-1

Featured Artist @welderwings

 

 

Removing What Isn’t Love

At any given moment you can give up your old stories of what love is or isn’t and redefine the way you feel. By Madeline Johnson

What do I know about love? Never said. No, no. no. Dad demanded respect and mom was angry at dad.  With all that yelling and screaming, it felt as if love was too weak walk the halls of our home.  Love was too soft for stomping feet, midnight tears and hands that punched the sky.

It wasn’t mentioned, or even whispered, because it wasn’t important. Not when there was work to do, bills to pay and good grades to impress. There was struggle to be had.

Love might have been dad working to provide and mom cleaning house and making meals.

There was a movie. Love Story. It was about a man and a woman and the woman was dying of cancer. Love was sad.

Something you lose.

2

The first time I felt something like love was when dad brought me home a puppy. The cutest puppy in the world. That felt like joy, comfort, happiness, until I realized that someday I wouldn’t have him anymore, because he’d die.

Because love is something you lose.

The second time I felt love was on Easter. Grandpa brought me a huge milk chocolate  bunny. It was almost a foot high and I sat on the floor near the bed, hiding and ate it all before dinner. I wanted that love safe, in my belly.

Because love is something that you might lose.

What did I learn about love?

Love was something that went missing. It went upstairs to the bedroom and it moaned and groaned from the pain.

Love was still in a casket. Death unexplained. I was too young to understand.

Love was painful. It hurt like hell.

And love was embarrassing. Thanks to you Bob.  Love was everyone knowing about the cum all over your winter coat.

Love was shameful.

Love was losing him to a girl with big breasts. Love was carving my initials in my wrist. Love still knew that I did exist.

Then love became an obsession. It was to be chased. Love became a distant feeling that I wanted to grasp and hold and cling to.

But it kept running from me.

Love broke my heart wide open.

Love was fragile, something I wasn’t worthy of.

Now, I remove all of what wasn’t love, to something much more defined by me.

1

 

Tell me, what do you know about love?

 

Featured Artist

@city_scum

From Painful Problems to Passion & Purpose

How to find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty. By Madeline Johnson

We must remember that the end of anything is the beginning of something.  The closing of one door, the opening of another. Endings are not final, they give birth to something else.  A bad breakup – the start of a fresh, new relationship (sometimes with ourselves); the loss of a job, the start of a brand new career path; the death of a loved one, the beginning of grief and transformation.

Every ending gives you an opportunity to grow, to reevaluate your relationships, your own performance and the direction in which you want your life to go.

Think about it. If your life were a Netflix or Amazon original series, what type of review would you give it? How many stars? A thumbs up or a thumbs down? It is time to be the hero and heroine of your own life.

Have you troubles? Welcome to the world.  What opportunities do your troubles bring? What could you do to create a plot twist, what could your character learn? What must you change about yourself to grow?

2.png

How do you find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty?

I own a home on the beach. It’s a lovely, beautiful home and it’s for sale. I have owned it for over 15 years. I raised my family in this home and we have all types of memories there. Beautiful memories, horrendous fights, near-death accidents, messy break ups, crazy breakdowns, demonstrations of great bravado, real-life family drama, the revitalization of relationships and memories of amazing, joyous moments.

Now the house is for sale, but unfortunately because the real estate market is slow and in order to pay the mortgage, I had to rent the house out to keep from losing it.

Unfortunately I rented it to a person who hasn’t paid me rent in two months and now going on the third month. She is officially squatting in my home.  Now, if you have never had this experience, well, all I can say, is I hope you never do.

At first I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw her out on the street, I wanted to do something to cause her so much pain. How dare she? What type of person does this? How could I have been so stupid to not check references? I was disgusted with myself. I called the lawyer, signed the eviction papers. I did everything I could think of and it became an obsession. I was the victim, beating myself up for being an ass for renting to her – until one day, I woke up and realized that all of this anger and rage is only making me sick. My heart and breath so tight. My mind racing. I could not allow the stress to take over my mind and body. I knew I had to do something. So, I thought about the situation in a completely different way.

How could I make this horrible situation- where I  am quite obviously getting taken advantage of –  become a power tool for my growth?

At that moment, I decided, I was lucky to still own a home. There’s the gratitude. It has been a big investment, our life savings. What I could do instead of complain and moan about the injustices done to me?

I could work smarter and harder to pay the mortgage and the rent where I am currently living. I would look at this as a temporary opportunity to double down on my career, focus on building my skills and take all the time that I spent obsessing about how much I wanted to strangle this crazy-lady-squatting tenant and do something good for me. 

Yes of course I put all the proper actions into place to get her out, but what I did was asked the question, how can I let this God-forsaken obstacle make me stronger? What opportunities does this challenge bring me? 

Well, first there is the lesson. Next time, I will be be more diligent about background checks and collect three months rent ahead of time.  Next time, I won’t have a lease. And, right now I will do everything to try to sell my home faster.

Now, there is still the challenge of paying the mortgage, another $3,200 a month to pay on top of my current living expenses. How? Where would I get the money? I rolled up my sleeves and dug into Upwork, LinkedIn and other sources for freelancers and began to work around the clock, seven days a week. I spent my time consuming less and creating more. Sooner rather than later, I found that this obstacle has helped me hone my skills, meet new clients and improve my career skills.

In a way, I almost want to thank the crazy-squatting lady for giving me this opportunity to double down on my life. 

I have employed this “opportunity” technique over and over again in my life. I allow the obstacle be the way.  Ryan Holiday wrote a damn good book about it. You can read it at The Obstacle is The way, The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.

3.png

 

Featured Artist

Paulina Galka a collage artist based in Wroclaw, Poland.

Living Life With More Meaning

Life becomes lived when you pay respect to the way it moves you. By Madeline Johnson

The first time I heard the phrase “to hold space” for someone was with Barnaby Ruhe.  Ruhe received his doctorate in shamanism and art practice, an interdisciplinary effort combining psychology, anthropology, art history, phenomenology and art studio action.  It was a Sunday afternoon at his loft at 55 Bethune street where he held power animal and soul retrieval circles.

holdingspace

The mere act of creating and holding space for yourself and another can actually open your hearts to immense healing and possibilities.  Think about it, when was the last time you felt like you really thought someone was holding space for you, that they were deeply and without an ounce of judgment there for you? Or how about yourself? Do you have a practice of  holding space for yourself? When was the last time you felt like you were really taking time to listen to your heart? Paying attention to your life as if it was permeating your soul.

I don’t know about you but I can’t recall the last time I felt like I let myself linger in the moment.  I do the contrary. I jump from one second to the next, always busy, always after a goal. Now life seems to be flying by fast, the weeks rushing into months and blending into years.  Frankly, I want to reverse that. I want life to slooooooowwwww down, so I can really dig in.

They say that time is relative to the degree of attention you pay to your life.

wisdom-quotes-you-dont-need-to-know-precisely-what-is-happening-or-exactly-where-it-is-a

It was one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Rob Bell, who brought up two very fresh ways of approaching life, new ways of experiencing life (for me anyway), that helped me think about how to slow life down, to savor each moment and to give my life more meaning.

2.png

Paying Witness to Your Life & Processing The Moment

The first approach is about taking time to observe our lives and the lives of others. To non-anxiously, without any judgement, pay witness to the things that are happening to us.

So often, when asked for advice from others, I am the one to quickly recommend what everyone needs to do next.  It starts like this – I will receive a call, a text or an email from a friend or family member to let me know what is happening with their lives. Typically it is about a problem that occurred. Someone offended them, something happened that got them really angry. They are overwhelmed with this and that. They are really stressed. They have reached out to me as a life line.

So, what do I do? Or what did the old me do?   I would quickly jump into solution-mode. “First you have to do this, then you do that and then all will be good.” I would charge in with answers instead of taking a moment to observe what they or I am actually feeling in the moment.  I did not take the time to sit and process the moment with them.  Sometimes that is all we need to do. We need to hold space for someone we love to process their lives.

Rob Bell explains it so well in this podcast “Is this Your First Accident?” Sometimes, we just need to process our lives, so we understand the meaning.  After listening to this podcast, I recognized that when I charge in with solutions, I am just trying to take control, to apply something I have learned to “repair” a problem. What is wrong with this approach? Nothing really, except that it is a limiting and sloppy and dare I say, disrespectful to yourself and others. Life becomes lived when you pay respect to the way it moves you. You need room and others to help you feel your way through the pain.

Taking a Thoughtful Pause

 

3.png

The second podcast from Rob Bell that I recommend you list to is That Pause.  Life is about what we learn when we become still and aware of the depths of each moment. When we slow down just a bit, we are placing our energies in a wider horizon of possibilities. We pause so we can create space for larger more divine energies to fill us up.

Featured Artist

Aykut Aydogdu

One Big Fat Lie and The Stark Naked Truth

Unravelling your self-deception begins with acknowledging how you are contributing to something you don’t like. By Madeline Johnson

It is estimated that the average person lies 10 to 200 times a day. Whether you consider yourself “average”, the fact is we lie all the time. We lie to ourselves and we lie to each other. Small lies, big lies, just to get where we need to go kind of lies.  This isn’t necessarily the big, blatant, in your face lying. It could be the sneaky “white” lying – what we consider to be harmless or trivial, and frequently said in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

Lying to ourselves according to Dr. Courtney Warren, stems from not being psychologically strong enough to be honest with yourself. 

2.png

We fool ourselves into believing things that are false,

and we refuse to believe things that are true. 

Listening to Courtney Warren’s Tedx talk “Honest liars — the psychology of self-deception” I was taken back, it struck a hard, deep cord,  but at the same time I felt inspired and relieved. It rang and rings so true. Frighteningly true.

So what’s the big deal about telling yourself you can have that third cookie because you worked out yesterday?

Lying to yourself keeps you stuck. Now I don’t know about you, but I want to grow.

The fact is, when you lie to yourself, you aren’t going to get anywhere, because you can’t change something you can’t admit.  Self-deception restricts you, limits you and steals your power.

How do you know you are lying to yourself and others?

You’re blaming others. “I wouldn’t have freaked out if he didn’t get me so mad.” You’re playing the victim. “I can’t believe she would do that to me.” You’re defending yourself.  You’re defending your ego, your deceived identity.

Read more on the 15 Common Defense Mechanisms.

Other ways you can tell when you are lying to yourself. Y ou have a strong emotional reaction or thought to someone or something. “I just can’t stand being around her.” “He just rubs me the wrong way.” Anytime you feel or think something in an extreme way is an opportunity to see how you might be deceiving yourself.

When your actions don’t match your commitments. Like, when you catch saying one thing and doing another. “One more glass of wine won’t break my diet.” “Sure, let’s have dinner next week.” “I’ll text you tomorrow.”

And of course when you overpromise. You go after things you’re not equipped to handle because you’ve over-exaggerated your abilities. You find yourself in situations where you can’t deliver what you said you would deliver. You tell yourself you can do anything. You’re not being honest about your skill set, personality or knowledge. Be honest about what you can and cannot do. What you can’t do today may be achievable in the future if you educate yourself. The key is to first acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know.

3.png

So, why do we do this? We are susceptible to self-deception because we have emotional attachments to our beliefs.

Wear a mask long enough and it becomes your face.

Play a role long enough and it becomes who you are.

Spend enough time pretending something is true and

you might as well believe it to be so.

Read more How To Liberate Your Life From Self-Deception

Unravelling your self-deception begins with acknowledging how you are contributing to something you don’t like.

Featured Artist

@psychedgallery on Instagram

Loving Without Limits

And if we could unclench our grip from the conditional agenda, we’d be able to appreciate true moments of love more fully. By Madeline Johnson

It takes effort to love without limits.
Love is an energy exchange between you and another, but it is not a transactional one.  It’s giving and receiving, but it is not built on conditions. When we are concerned about what we are getting out of a relationship and when we are attempting to control it with our own agenda, we are creating a transactional agreement.
Love is more like a gift.
The Gift by Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

When the love you are seeking is based on conditions about how someone you love behaves than you are limiting the possibility of your love.
Become aware of the energy of your loving intentions. What are your true intentions for loving another? Where is your heart in all of this? Why are you so focused on an outcome?
Marc_Chagall_-_the_blue_circus_43978c41-6397-49d4-bfbf-de35f7f8b9ed
Let what you do be done with no agenda.  Do not manipulate love. Let go of the rules. They do not apply in the game of love.
When we look at people as a means to an end, as a way get something that we think we need, we are loving them for what they bring to our lives.
Give up your expectations and love everyone in your life for who they are and no more. You will be a lot less disappointed.
care.jpg
Love fails when we want our loved ones to say a certain thing, behave a certain way, demonstrate their affection in a very particular manner. It is easier and more rewarding to step back and simply appreciate the ways in which they’re already doing so.
And if we could unclench our grip from the conditional agenda, we’d be able to appreciate true moments of love more fully. To allow our relationships to unveil more organically.
Love without limits is to truly appreciate people for all their behavior to cherish the good and forgive the bad –  before rushing to assign them a particular role in our lives.
love-one-another-quotes-unique-jewish-love-quotes-that-will-make-you-smile-jewish-food-hero-photos-of-love-one-another-quotes.jpg
Featured Art

Marvel At Your Life

Experiment and play with your life. Get your hands dirty – no better yet, get your soul filthy with experience. By Madeline Johnson

Trust yourself. Trust your inner guidance – it comes in the form of intuition. I promise, God won’t keep you guessing.

d7hftxdivxxvm.cloudfront-1

Listen to your life, see it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis of all moments, are key moments, and life itself is grace. 

-Frederick Buechner, author of Telling The Truth The Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy and Fairytale.

1

Examine yourself, and learn who you are, how you exist, and what will become of you. Discover the depths of your own true nature.

Pay attention to your life. Listen while it whispers to you. Your life is speaking to you all the time. It is trying to tell you something with every experience you have.

cblist284-Diners-de-Gala-cover

Your intellect may describe it, but only your instinct can find it.

6631b825b216cdc90c0df0261367b7ad

Strengthen your intuition with experience. Immerse yourself into your world. Dive into your life. Make it a journey of intentional immersion.

Feel your physical senses. What resonates and what repels? What gives you energy and what sucks you dry?

Take life for a test drive. Get curious – take a little action. Experiment and play with your life. Get your hands dirty – no better yet, get your soul filthy with experience.

 

Featured Artwork

Salvador Dali

In art as in life, Dalí broke with conventions and forged new artistic languages and methods capable of examining human psychology.

Creating Something Out of Nothing

Redirecting your energy is not easy, but it’s not impossible. You are responsible for breathing new spirit into your life. By Madeline Johnson

This is a moment to reflect on what it means to reinvent yourself. Taking time to breathe new life into your life.  Sometimes recharging our lives feels like we are creating something new out of nothing left.

1

Isn’t it painful to see how nervousness and stress can suppress your ability to express yourself, take risks and do the things you really want to do? Stress zaps the success right out of your nervous system.

It exhausts you completely and flattens you out. Stress can suck the spirit out of your day without you even knowing it.

2

Or worse yet – stress can show up and weight you down so that it’s difficult to get moving- to the point that you’re not growing anywhere.  You can feel it manifest when you are stagnant and stuck in a rut.

As you get older you tend to lose more of that inspiration, spirit, energy and enthusiasm you had in your youth because the so-called demands of living get in the way of letting you design the life of your dreams.

2

Redirecting your energy is not easy, but it’s not impossible. It begins the moment you realize that you need to do something more, something different, something that feels more ignited. You are responsible for flicking that switch, for breathing new spirit into your life. When you do, you will realize that – fresh, new spirit turns into inspiration and energy that will take you to new places.

All of a sudden you are creating something out of what was once nothing.

3.png

That “something” starts with an idea. The ideas that have yet to be born in your mind. The ideas that you need to give birth to, those ideas. You see, the most unique thing you have is the ability to think your own authentic thoughts.

this-is-your-life-motivational-quote_a-G-9760631-0.jpg

Revel in the vastness of new ideas and creative inspiration.

 

Featured Art

Bruno Pontiroli

From the artist. . .

Imagine a world based on a different logic; a universe composed of the absurd and paradoxes. 
A dream in which plane crashing into clouds and snowmen model with a human body using flakes of skin. 
My love is turning to the narrow view of the world while we are in the world. 
Distorting a symbol or mixing opposing universes allows me to question the identity of things so that I can reinvent them. 

 

 

It Starts With Self Approval

Approve of yourself and appreciate your life now.  Be grateful embrace how valuable a single moment really is. The time is now. By Madeline Johnson

If you want to become the brightest version of yourself than you must remain devoted to the path of learning and self-discovery for the rest of your life.

Try Self Authoring

It is all up to you. Promise yourself that you will remain focused on living up to who you think you should be and make a real effort to look after yourself daily.   Make a commitment right now that you will devote your time wisely to learning more about who you are and what you need and what you want in this precious lifetime. You don’t have time for fear or self-doubt.

self-discovery-quotes-pin-by-amna-bisiac287-on-quotes-pinterest-of-self-discovery-quotes

Repurpose your pain. There is nothing that cannot be used in the process of life development. All of the nonsense that we have experienced and will continue to experience can be viewed as the compost in which we seed and grow our new life.

If we can change our attitude about the problems and pain we have gone through we can respond differently to what is happening to us.  This is in and of itself is the beginning of change.

Do not seek approval from others. Ask for feedback instead. Find people who will care about you and support you.

brenebrownquotes

Approve of yourself and appreciate your life now.  Be grateful for the time you have and embrace how valuable a single moment really is. The time is now.

Commit to squeezing out the best of the 1,440 minutes you have in each day.

 

Featured Artwork

Ellen Pau

A self-taught video artist, Ellen Pau inhabits many roles in Hong Kong art scene, as an independent cinematographer, curator, and art critic. Her single-channel videos and video installation works are extensively exhibited worldwide. Pau is the founder of Videotage and a director for the Microwave International New Media Art Festival. In recent years, she expanded her research to Asian new-media art and worked as an art consultant with her newly founded company Inter-Act Arts.