It’s All For You

Here’s a way to get through the hard times. Imagine if everything is happening for you. Madeline Johnson

Here’s a way to get through the hard times. Imagine if everything is happening for you. Even the suckiest parts of life. That crazy client you just can’t make happy? Teaching you patience and understanding. The partner that just won’t commit? Raising your standards about what you will and won’t tolerate. The unorganized boss who does everything half-assed? Demonstrating ways to avoid disaster. Fair-weather friends? What true compassion and understanding means to you.

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Everything in your life is leading you to a better tomorrow. While it might not feel great in the midst of moment, you have faith that if you learn from the hard times you will grow stronger and better into tomorrow.

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Featured Art

@cult.class

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.

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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.

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Tell me, what do you know about love?

 

Featured Artist

@city_scum

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

Paying Attention to Your Life

You cannot fight your life and live it at the same time. It takes acceptance. By Madeline Johnson

Becoming the best version of oneself is not for the lazy and undisciplined, or those in denial.  One does not simply declare that one will be kinder, better, healthier and happier.  It takes work.

Best versions come with the act of owning one’s life while taking responsibility for everything that happens. It takes courage and humility.

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Self-reflection and self-examination takes time and trust. Trust in yourself.

If you are truly committed to transforming your life, you must ask yourself .  . .

What is the greatest expression of myself that I can present to the world today?

 

or in other words. . . .

What must I do in order not to shrink back

into mediocracy? 

Reflecting on this past week, I have noticed some habits that I must change. The habit of fighting my life. The habit of waking up in the morning and feeling overwhelmed about how much I must accomplish in a day – work, chores, family. . . I am so habitually tied to the “woe is me, I must do it all” track in my mind that I become small, resentful and victimized.

No more of that. You cannot fight your life and live it at the same time. It takes acceptance.

Of course there is so much to do. Welcome to the world of the living.

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I also notice that when I look in the mirror, I do not like what I see. This makes me incredibly sad. My body is not perfect enough, my eyes look tired, my shoulders are stressed and sore. My clothes aren’t new enough, my hair is a mess, my style isn’t up to my standards.  On and on and on.

Who is this enemy staring back at me? Why am I fighting myself?

Why do I continue to let these emotions, thoughts and experiences hold me back?

What must I undo, in order to become unstuck? What can I do, to avoid these habitual traps? How can I approach my dirty, filthy habit of self-judging?

Today, I begin by paying closer attention to my life.

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Featured Artist

Beth Hoeckel

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

 

Nothing is Stopping You

Don’t make starting something new daunting. Gather the tools you need for success. Madeline Johnson

For most of us, when we decide we want to make a change, try something new, transform our ways and set our sights on brand new goals, we talk about it. We talk about it to just about anyone who will listen. We talk about how bad we want it. How it’s going to make us so much better. How great it will be when we do it. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Mark Twain”

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The simple stupid secret to getting where you want to go is that it’s never too soon to begin.  So you some take action and you don’t get caught up in the results. You do a little bit of it.  You start. You do one small step each hour, day, week . .. to get to the goal, the finish line. Whatever that line looks like.  15 pounds off, a new business idea, writing that damn book or maybe dating again. You begin each day with a motivated step in that direction.  And you don’t make it daunting. If you are losing weight, make sure there is healthy food in the fridge and a gym near by; if you are writing a book, get up earlier and start writing your thoughts down; gather the tools you need for success.

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What is it going to take to get to the finish line? A lot. A lot of repeated moments of practice, success, planning and failing.

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Don’t let your desire for perfection, become your procrastination. Get messy with it. Watch those micro-decisions you make throughout the day.

Read Awaken The Giant Within

Read Mark Twain: His Words, Wit and Wisdom

Featured Art

Dimitra Milan

“I want my artwork to inspire people to make them feel anything is possible. I want people to understand their true identity and believe in their destiny.“

Knowing Where You’re Going

Why it’s so hard to really change. The need for new tools. Our being is becoming. Madeline Johnson

I honestly believe we’d all be much better off if we all had more of a life plan and we shared those plans with each other. Relationships would be so much easier because we’d know whether or not we were in someone’s short or long term plans or maybe both.

Knowing where you going is truly important. We never want to get stuck in a rigid sense of who or where we are today. Our purpose is to evolve.

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The idea is to move forward a bit better each day.  Taking care of our health, our work and our loved ones. Making things a bit more lovely along the way. Becoming a bit more kinder, confident, resilient and powerful.

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The proper way to fix the world isn’t to fix the world.  There is no reason to even assume that you are up for such a task. But you can fix yourself.  You’ll do no one any harm by doing so, and in the manner at least, you will make the world a better place. 

-Jordan Peterson 12 Rules for Life

 

Any significant change in you life will create the need for new tools. Tools to help you remain structured and disciplined through your transformation and tools to help you stay flexible as you float through the chaos that life will inevitably bring upon you as you try to change your behavior.

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A change in diet requires new healthier meals, new recipes, a new approach to more mindful eating.

A change in your career requires an attitude of humility and resilience, and of course, new skills.

You will be uncertain and resistant. It takes so much work to change. So much effort and time.

8 Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Change.

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Aggregating and compounding tiny little micro-gains of change each day.

In the words of Jordan B. Peterson, “Our being is in our becoming.”

Featured Art

Dean Reynolds

An american artist who’s work can be described as Psychadelic Surrealism. His work explores ideas of mythology, religion, psychology and surrealist ideas. His work is a mixture of humor, Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, and the complex ideas of Carl Jung.  His work combines seriousness with the silly.  Images that are accessible and yet still a mystery.

Becoming Supernatural While Navigating a Greater End

Every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform. 

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Our purpose in life is not to please God or do the right thing or be perfect or look good.

Our purpose in life is to express divine intelligence through us.

We should look at the wisdom learned from the adversity in our lives to navigate a greater end.  

Dr. Joe Dispenza (Becoming Supernatural)

 

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Fascinated by the mind-body connection (how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning), I am studying the power we have to manipulate a part of our genetic code through emotional states – and other things like nutrition, movement and relationships. What I am studying is something called epigenetics.  Here, is a super brief explanation to help you understand what the field of epigenetics involves.

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But, I prefer this analogy . . .

Think of the human lifespan as a very long movie. The cells would be the actors and actresses, essential units that make up the movie. DNA, in turn, would be the script — instructions for all the participants of the movie to perform their roles. Subsequently, the DNA sequence would be the words on the script, and certain blocks of these words that instruct key actions or events to take place would be the genes. The concept of genetics would be like screenwriting. Follow the analogy so far? Great.

The concept of epigenetics, then, would be like directing. The script can be the same, but the director can choose to eliminate or tweak certain scenes or dialogue, altering the movie for better or worse.

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by James Allen
As a being of Power, Intelligence and Love, and the Master of his or her own Thoughts, every being holds the key to every situation, and contains within themselves that transforming and regenerative agency by which they may make themselves what they will.

 

Reigning in the Wild of My Mind 

I awake each morning with some vague memory of my dreams. The next thing I know, my mind is everywhere and left unattended it races from worries about how I will get everything done today to past memories of arguments, problems and things left undone.

Meditation helps me reign in the wild of my mind and channel my thoughts and energy to bring forth what needs to be remembered.

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We are all just one exhale away . . .

Life is short.

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Give gratitude for the miracle of this fucking moment right now.

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What helps me think better each day?

Some Stealth Metta

The Buddhist Metta (Lovingkindness) Prayer is simple but profound.
It starts by blessing oneself and gradually expands outward from there, eventually wishing good intentions for the entire world and all beings, even our enemies. There are many variations and translations of this prayer, but what follows is the essence of it; if we all said this prayer with sincerity at least once per week, the world could be a very different place . . .
My heart fills with with loving kindness. I love myself.
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be peaceful. May I be free.
May all beings in my vicinity be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my city be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my state be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my country be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on my continent be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my hemisphere be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on planet Earth be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May my parents be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all my friends be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful.
May they be free.
May all my enemies be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in the Universe be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
If I have hurt anyone, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed,
I ask for their forgiveness.
If anyone has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed,
I extend my forgiveness.
May all beings everywhere, whether near or far,
whether known to me or unknown, be happy.
May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.

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Featured artwork by David Wallace

Firing Your Mind & Taking Stock of Your Personal Inventory

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Dear Mind of Mine,

Oh, how you trouble me so. Fretting and worrying about things completely out of your control.  I remind you today that I am not getting involved in your ridiculous melodrama.  As a matter of fact, it’s time you and I took an extended vacay. 

– Me, Myself & I

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Now that I’m not playing those mind games anymore, what will I do with all this free time?

I’ll start by taking inventory- pause, take that deep breath – oh, dear, what the hell is my heart feeling now?

What are my shoulders doing? How is my stomach feeling? How about my right toe? Is my mind wandering off into fantasyland and nightmares again?
Checking in with myself.

Stopping a moment to take my inventory. What am I lugging around that I no longer need?

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Seriously Good Questions to Help Free Your Soul

To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.  

Dalai Lama

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I’m listening for the unknown in the silence.  For my inner guidance system to tell me what to do.
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Inspired by Tim O’Reilly and his explanation on the process he goes through when considering important decisions. How he waits for better answers in the unknown.
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Instead of following the Argyris Ladder of Influence. The Ladder of Inference describes the thinking process that we go through, usually without realizing it, to get from a fact to a decision or action. … Draw conclusions based on the interpreted facts and our assumptions while developing beliefs based on these conclusions.
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Learning more about the Structural Differential (a physical chart or three-dimensional model illustrating the abstracting processes of the human nervous system) helps to understand why we should remain curious about the unknown instead of formulating answers based on old beliefs.
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What must I let die today? What most go, in order for me to love more deeply? To live more intently? To embrace life more purposely?

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1. That I am not a perfect fit for the world.
2. That I’m not enough, that I need to be more of anything.
3. That I am lost and disconnected.
4. That I must wear this heavy armor and use my tongue as my sword.
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What am I hesitant in doing?

1. Being more thoughtful and patience with myself and others.
2. Picking one path – oh, it might be a mistake. I make get caught looking stupid, feeling vulnerable and terribly exposed.
3. Speaking my whole truth. The damn truth and nothing but the fucking truth.
4. Creating a life I really want to live.
5. Becoming more loving – the real kind of loving – the unconditional kind.
6. Letting go of the pain of my past.
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What should continue to live? And what life am I afraid to give birth to today?

  1. More of my curiosity about everything.
  2. Trusting where love takes me.
  3. Exploring the lush but uncharted territory of this world.
  4. Listening deeply with a more loving and tender heart.
  5. My deep desire to connect with others.
  6. More leaning on the cheek of god, doing things that expand my mind and conscience.
  7. Allowing my heart to break open –  a vast and oceanic heart.
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Something to think about.  A new perspective on sparking more joy in your life.
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I use to wake up each morning wondering “What if?” My mind blown with anxiety.
What if he leaves me? What if I can’t contribute? What if I become ill? What if the world should end?
Now, I wake up each morning and change that “What if?” to acceptance and gratitude for
“What is.” Simply, What is. 
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