Relationship Accountability and Gathering a Tribe of Trusted Friends

Oh she bailed, she got too busy.” “Yeah he just cancelled last minute.” “Yup she never showed.” “No, he’s not going to make it.” My daughters tell me they have had these kind of people in their lives. Oh Lord. Why didn’t I teach them that the world can sometimes be a dirty place?

Which brings up something I have been thinking about. Relationship Accountability.

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I hope this is not happening, but it seems like the standards for relationships have dropped incredibly low. I mean, say hello to your mirage friend (or lover). Your flake friend. They make seemingly concrete plans, genuinely act like they’re thrilled to see you and then, out of nowhere (and usually with very short notice), tell you whoops, they can’t make it. The concept of seeing them IRL is an illusion, and you keep falling for it. So why do you still hold onto them?

I have no idea why you do that. Well, it might have something to do with the fact that most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves. They have what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” where they believe factors outside of them dictate the direction of their lives.

But what I do know for sure is that it feels like it is time to raise relationship standards for good.

While everyone’s talking about how we need to stay away from the negative ones and let go of the toxic naysayers. Yes, “just release them” they say.  Sure, I get it. I mean . . .

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And’ then there’s just so much  being thrown around social about removing the low vibers, those that are holding you back and keeping you down. All you have to do is pluck them like a random brow in-between waxing appointments and bam you will be much more successful in your life. Sure.

No, I think that is part of it, but then there is the seeking new friends. Finding those that stretch you some.

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Now, I’ve been contemplating this after being gravely disappointed by some people in my life.  Yes I plucked them, but there is still so much to be done.

Now, I wasn’t going to let their ridiculous fuckery and bad behavior hold me back from  gathering a tribe I can trust.  No, their lack of integrity fueled a west coast fire under my ass to find higher quality people.

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So, like many of you, I am on a quest to upgrade my relationship goals. I will choose quality over quantity any day of the week. Of course that led to question what type of friend, person, lover do I need to be in order to attract these so called “quality” people into my life?

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I was ignoring a pushy guy’s text messages. A “friend” who wants more. A friend that  I went out to dinner once. My daughter said I was ghosting.  Now, if you’re not in a relationship, can you ghost someone? Again, I have no idea, but back to the goal of finding people with accurate moral compasses.  The question – just how do I bring the good ones together, the friends that will actually add to my life and visa versa. I mean seriously, where do we find these wonder people? These five-star frienders and lovers?

In Search of Deeper Connections

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I have two really beautiful friends from high school who both had what seemed to be perfectly wonderful marriages. As a matter of fact, from the outside, their relationships looked dreamy. They had everything. No crappy drama, no binge drinking BS, no lying and cheating. . .yeah, none of that. Then, one day out of the blue, the ladies just dumped their men curbside. It was so random. Seriously. Really? When I prompted them with a why?  They said they didn’t feel the “connection” anymore and that they were looking for something deeper.

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Which of course got me thinking about why I wasn’t looking for something “deeper“?

Meaningful relationships. Deeper connections. True friends and lovers. It just sounds so amazing. Why wouldn’t we want them? If we are hell bent on living a more fulfilled life we really need them, but we shouldn’t romanticize them as something they are not. All relationships are messy, complicated at times and if you think about it, relationships require us to work at being thoughtful, kind and considerate. We can’t get lazy if we want to gather a tribe we can trust.

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Come to think of it, I am not so sure how “deep” of a relationship I have ever had with anyone, but that is the point. I am curious about just how deep I can go with another human while trusting and loving as much as openly possible and stretching to be a five star version of me.

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Lovers who eat the world by Mariano Pecciniti

Featured art by the harmlessly crazy Tom Repalsky

Ego Trippers, Smiling Our Way Through Fear & The Life Long Importance of Relationships

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When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.ReadEgo is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday

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Redefining Our Identities with and without Psychedelics

Ego death, or as Jung called it, “psychic death,” is also called “ego loss.” It signifies the complete loss of subjective identity. In Jungian theory, this precedes a rebirth into a new identity. Timothy Leary coined the term “ego loss” in regard to LSD experiences. Ego death is the second stage In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.  Ego death in Buddhism is related to understanding one’s true nature, (not mistaking the rope for the snake), which leads to a permanent awakening from ego fixation (one will never mistake the rope for the snake once it is seen to be a rope).

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Psychotherapy and psychedelics both assist in helping redefine identity. Psychotherapy focuses on ego defenses and issues stemming from identification with the ego and its journey to wholeness, while ayahuasca can loosen the strict boundaries of self-perception and allow other information and perspectives in, introducing a new dimension of healing.

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From Panic to Peace – Smiling Your Way Through Fear

Thich Nhat Hanh calls his practice of yes “smile yoga.” He suggests bringing a slight but real smile to our lips many times throughout the day, whether we are meditating or simply stopping for a red light. “A tiny bud of a smile on your lips,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, “nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously. . . your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you.”

The power of a smile to open and relax us is confirmed by modern science. The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight, fight or freeze response.  A smile is the yes of unconditional friendliness that welcomes experience without fear.

Smiling can be the trigger that switches us from operating under the power of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Our body is designed to be in the state of rest and digest most of the time, but there are too many stressful things in our life to keep our body to stay in the fight or flight mode.

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Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased endurance
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced stress
  • Strengthened immune system

Read

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

 

Good Genes are Nice, But Joy is Better

Robert Waldinger is a Zen priest and leader of the longest-running study of human happiness. He has found that science and Buddhism agree on what makes life happy and meaningful.

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Waldinger is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and director of the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development. It’s perhaps the longest-running study of adult life ever conducted. For seventy-five continuous years, it has tracked the lives of 724 men in order to understand what makes for a healthy, happy life. Now it’s following the next generation, as it tracks the lives of the original subjects’ children and their families.

Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.

 

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Emotions Over Thoughts and A Softer Way to Communicate

Three things I am working on right now.

Soul Singing

Question: What does my soul say today?

My soul doesn’t speak in thoughts. No, not at all. These thoughts that clutter my mind are just residual pain left over from the things I haven’t let go of yet. Thoughts of conflicts yet resolved.

My soul speaks in feelings, emotions, images, sounds, clues.

My soul speaks to me when I feel deep sadness, frustration, anger, contentment and happiness.

I can feel, see, taste, touch and listen to my soul when my mind is silent.

That’s why I meditate.

Weeding my mind garden so there is more room for a soul orchestra.

Good feelings can’t grow from grudges. Pure thoughts don’t come from residual pain.

These are the feelings from stories feared.

Letting these thoughts drift on by, help me weed my mind garden and clear the soil for a more softer, gentler and more compassionate state of being.

Recovering from the violent ways in which we communicate.

Judging, blaming, demanding, critiquing, name-calling.

Talk about your karma baby.

Softer thoughts lead to kinder words. Seeking more non-violent ways to communicate.

Inspired by Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss & Turning Your Mind Into An Ally by Sakyong

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From Recklessly Selfish to Radically Selfless – The Way of The Warrior Queen

cffa4b5a79e30829272a43dac1860688“If you have strength of character, you can use that as fuel to not only be a survivor but to transcend and thrive. You must use an internal alchemy to turn something rotten and horrible into gold.”

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“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualist concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. . .so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness.”  MJK jr. Read the entire brilliant thing here.

Take note: this post was inspired by the King himself and the incredible speech above and another interesting dude, Jocko Willink, decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead & Win.

Not Dead, Don’t Quit

Serving with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield, Jocko believes we can all benefit from creating our own code of conduct. Call it what you will, standard procedure, a moral code, rules of road, your manifesto. . .Jocko and Martin Luther King Jr. had me thinking about what I aspire to be less and more of.

Note: two habits I have recently adapted into my daily practice of MJ’s experiment in human development include . . .

  1. “wishing others well”, inspired by Sakyong Mipham author of Turning the Mind into An Ally and . . .
  2. creating this creed below (my principles, modus operandi, approach to life), which I read every morning, to remind myself to hold the standard, because well . . .

If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to make the progress you want, take a look around you. Most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves. They have what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” where they believe factors outside of them dictate the direction of their lives.

No they do not. YOU CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF YOUR LIFE.

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A Warrior Queen’s Creed 

(hey, this is a major step up for me, I use to be a worrier queen)

  • A Warrior Queen is very discerning about who she aligns herself with, befriends, spends time with – for they must energize her, not deplete her.
  • A Warrior Queen awakens to each day with absolute gratitude and appreciation for the breath that gives her life.

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A Warrior Queen knows that she is a tiny, vulnerable being riding on a blue dot in space, not the center of the universe. (this is the money right here).

A Warrior Queen is always willing to help others rise up and become the best that they can be. Even when she mistakens a friend’s call as an interuption in her day.

A Warrior Queen knows what motivates her, for she is very self aware, to the point of calling bullshit on the lies she tells herself.

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  • A Warrior Queen understands that REAL forgiveness keeps the flow of love pumping through her heart.
  • A Warrior Queen acknowledges both life and death, good and evil, joy and sorrow and never dives into escapism or fantasy about how she wishes the world to be. She sees everything for what it is, with radical acceptance. (OH MY GOD THIS WAS NOT ME A MONTH AGO, I SWEAR)

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  • A Warrior Queen looks for the FACTS, not fiction in every situation. Everyone should try this one, a game changer really. (inspired by episode 216 of James Altucher’s podcast with author of Sapiens, Yural Harari.
  • A Warrior Queen respects all living beings, especially her worst enemies. Soooooo hard to do, yet a very strategic move.
  • A Warrior Queen is always learning, reading, listening to those with the brightest brains, highest intelligence and gathering wisdom along the way.
  • A Warrior Queen practices extreme self care. She moves and exercises (her demons too), eats healthy, rests well to stay strong and energized throughout the day.
  • A Warrior Queen trains in earnest with a meditation ritual each day to remain focused and in the present moment, awake and alive.
  • A Warrior Queen is full of compassionate empathy and loving radical acceptance and kindness for what is.

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  • A Warrior Queen has a heart that is ready for anything.
  • A Warrior Queen sees situations as they are, not bigger than they are.
  • A Warrior Queen guards her mind, her words and her wishes, always thinking thoughts that lead to positive emotions. (this one is a huge challenge for me, but I am improving).
  • A Warrior Queen is comfortable with the uncomfortable truths of life.

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  • A Warrior Queen appreciates every single encounter each day, for she knows life is sacred.
  • A Warrior Queen does not fantasize about catastrophes that might happen in the future. She stays present and prepared in this moment.
  • A Warrior Queen is centered, calm, cool and collected. She moves with purpose and confidence throughout her days.

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  • A Warrior Queen does not resist reality and does not desire permanence for she knows the unchanging truth of change and relinquishes attachment to any outcome. This includes people, places and things. Her shift in perception of reality, that everything is impermanent helps her appreciate the nature and master of life. This world is made of infinite and ever changing moving parts. There is nothing to hold on to.
  • A Warrior Queen wakes up to what samsara is, the suffering of life. She rises above the suffering and emerges with the understanding that everything is impermanent.
  • A Warrior Queen knows what creates more sufferingacting in non-virtuous ways out of bewilderment, fixation, aggression, jealousy and pride. (oh my family would have a field day here – hey guys if you are reading this,  I Love You, work with me here).

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  • A Warrior Queen acts with intention of kindness, love, patience and non-attachment because these intentions elevate the mind above negative emotions. (Sometimes so hard to do when waiting on a long line at the UPS store. But you do it. You just do it.)
  • A Warrior Queen wishes others well throughout the day, knowing her heart can melt even the harshest judgement and suffering.
  • A Warrior Queen is never selfish. She has a noble heart that desires all to find their true happiness (pro tip: this is another thing that is really hard to do when you want to punch someone in the face really hard- but you just do it). She works for all to go in the direction of their hearts.
  • A Warrior Queen doesn’t burden others with her suffering, but shares the wisdom she has gained. (inspired by a Ted Talk from Carolyn Myss “Choices that Can Change Your Life

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  • A Warrior Queen acts from the sacred self and chooses throughout the day to be at peace. (and sometimes that means avoiding people who are a real pain in the ass).
  • A Warrior Queen moves through life from a deep conscious knowing and has NO DOUBT that she is a warrior queen and so are all her brothers and sisters on this spinning planet.
  • A Warrior Queen is filled with only unconditional love for all beings.

I am the Warrior Queen.

 

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“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Tony Morrison

Asylum Art sketches Januz Miralles

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Generating Good Vibes & Why You can’t afford Another Negative Thought

This is probably TMI and I never told anyone outside of my family this, but here you go. . .
I have been emotionally drained this past year (wait, my entire adult life) with a very unstable ex-husband who is non-compliant with his medication. The father of my four darlings, this charismatic dude is lashing out and vibrating at a super, super, super angry and rage-full frequency.
He comes with the complete package – bipolar, borderline personality disorder, substance abuser and quite frankly a big, no, forgive me HUGE pain in the ass. Yes I knew he had this disease and yes it has been an extremely rough road, yes we had some great times in-between, but the biggest problem I have right now is he is displacing his pain, resentment and rage on his  own grown children.
Thank God they are strong enough to see through the manipulation and self-pity.
Look, I know he is sick and yes I have been compassionate, but as anyone involved with someone who has untreated bipolar that is exasperated by drug and alcohol abuse will tell you – it is just horrifying to see someone self-destruct when they know very well that there is medication and healthy ways to manage this illness. To make matters worse, he had an incredible nine years of wonderfulness in-between episodes. I am grateful to have had that time with him, BUT. . .
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I just see way too many people with manic depression and mental illness struggling to take care of themselves while broadcasting their lives on YouTube and blogging about their daily challenges. It seems extremely selfish for him to at the very least try to commit to lifelong mental health.
What a beast of a disease.
So, I search for solutions. Not for him, for ME now. I am done with trying to fix someone who doesn’t want help. Disease or no-disease, there comes a time when you have to protect and care for yourself. Shout out to all you amazing caregivers out there.  I feel you.
Where do I begin?
Right now I feel like I need to wash, no SCRUB off the toxic and at least try to vibrate on the highest level I possibly can.
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Help. I’m looking for the blessings. Sure it could be worse, but damn.
The quote that keeps me hanging on lately –

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

Please someone help me see the possibilities.

Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.

Energy
I use to smile a lot. I smiled because I was genuinely happy inside. Then somehow life started to feel like an uphill battle, a long, arduous climb. The thing I like about smiling is that if feels like the boldest statement you can make, without saying a word.
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Strangers would comment about my smile. Out of the blue, I would be walking down the street, on the train, at work, “what a contagious smile you have”.  Great smile, they’d say and they’d smile back.
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My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.

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I remember once my father asked me when I was smiling one morning “what the hell are you so happy about?” It was as if he was accusing me of being phony, fake, a poser. It crushed me for a while. But I kept on smiling.
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I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.

I want to dance, sing, celebrate, love, kiss, hold, run, laugh, swim myself back to that state of being – that sweet inner bliss –  for no apparent reason I just glow.
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I understand it’s about raising your vibrational frequency. Or at least that’s what the people say on the internet :). Look, there is even a vibrational emotional scale that someone put together. I have no idea if this is true, but I know I want to be in the blue/violet zone even the turquoise.
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The funny thing about those smiley days,  it wasn’t as if my life was any better than it is now. Perhaps it was full of what I perceived to be more promise and hope. There were dreams, visions and ideas. Sometimes, I think it’s about getting back to your original story line.
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How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes

So the story goes that watching my thoughts can lead to better emotions which will then dictate improved behavior and possibly upgrade my vibrational frequency.
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My plan? 
Stay away from people who are low energy, negative thinkers, complainers, whiners and of course just downright mean. Mean people just suck.
Track my emotions during the day and use them to inform me of what I need to fix.
Also, do more to improve and increase my vibrational state –
Meditate
Listen to music
Drawing & painting
Dancing
Outdoor Bike riding
Cycling
Long walks and hikes
Watch inspirational books, movies
and listen to some of my favorite podcasts and spiritual teachers
Use aromatherapy while sleeping and at the desk
Stay outdoors, one with nature, as long as possible
Swimming the waters
Living in a state of appreciation
Dedicate myself to doing what makes me happy & relaxed.
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Facing Fear with Tender-Hearted Bravery

A spiritual warrior in the context of human bravery – living a life of fearlessness while helping others.

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To be a spiritual warrior, one must have a broken heart; without a broken heart and the sense of tenderness and vulnerability that is in one’s self and all others, your warriorship is untrustworthy.

 Chogyam Trungpa

courage dear heartIn her book Heart Advice for When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron explains the importance of becoming incredibly intimate with our deepest, darkest fears, this is the way of the spiritual warrior.

Yes, instead of running away from the pain that has broken our heart and our spirit – the secret is to become very curious and intimate with what irritates us, disgusts us, makes us angry, dissapointed and full of rage.

We are instructed to question everything, our righteous indignation, the center of our hopelessness and our blaming and disparagement of ourselves and others.

With tender-hearted bravery we begin to gently open our minds to everything, we crack open our hearts to reach the softness part inside. It is with this mindset that we may experience both the sacred, secure and goodness that happens in our lives as well as the painful, frightening and horribly uncomfortable.  So much so, that we reach the point where we are shaking with vulnerability.

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Thinking about today’s teaching, I realized, I don’t have a single reference point for tenderness. I am just not a tender girl. I wasn’t raised to be tender. I was raised to be tough. I truly am a gritty girl. Spirited, independent and resolute. A girl with fortitude and moxie who is overly-determined to get her way.

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Seeking how to become more tender, I go to the Google first to define tender visiting two of my favorite sites Online Etymology and the Power Thesaurus.

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Tender = soft and easily injured? Now that hits the spot. That really resonates. That explains a lot of the guardedness about me. The “cold” parts.  Who they hell wants to invite injury to the party? Who wants to be vulnerable to getting hurt even more? Not on the guest list.

This week and next, I am going to experiment with what it means to be tender for me. To be more sympathetic, caring, soft, warm and affectionate. Considerate, friendly and more loving towards others.  If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.

Until tomorrow – MJ

 

Your Smile is Your Super Power

This morning I imagined what the 80 year old version of myself would tell me, if I asked her, “What do I do now?” “What should I focus on?

What wisdom would she have, nearing the end of her life? What would she have focused on today?

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She’d tell me to bike more, write more, film everything. Tell everyone I love how much I love them. Hug more, kiss more. Squeeze them tight. Use my creativity to connect with those I love and those I will love in the future. Arms and heart wide open, she would tell me to vulnerably step into the world and be me.

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She’d tell me to fuck fear. Let go of the negative thoughts. Skin the skeptic.  Look for the beauty in all. There are so many good people to love, sweet creatures to care for and wonderous places to inspire. Find them. Get out today and connect on purpose. Smile, it’s a great heart opener. It’s your super power.  Laugh. Enjoy life to the fullest each moment. Find your tribe. Seek out those who inspire you and meet them with open arms. Exercise. Move your body. Play outdoors.

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Seek what you want to find. Chase what makes your heart beat. What makes your heart pound out loud. Friends, food, books, music, work.  Go out there and get it all.

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Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose. 

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Think first, but don’t regret anything. Try not to hurt anyone, including yourself. No time for that. Problems will come and go. It always works out in the end. Stop getting so angry and frustrated. Sail through the storms. There is no time to waste.

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Life is a banquet. There is so much to choose from. Taste it all.

Visit friends, follow the inspiring, touch and taste everything that draws you in – that pulls you closer. Feed your curiosity.

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Let go of control. Just love.

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Clearing All The Clutter for Clarity & Purpose

A few months ago I began stripping away all that no longer serves me in my life. What is that suppose to mean? Without boundaries, I let way too much in and life got way too crazy. I was tired, pulled in a million directions and honestly, I allowed it. Frankly, I didn’t know how to say no.

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I said yes to everything and everyone. It’s not a good idea. Well sometimes, in the beginning saying yes is good, like when you are building a career, but too much yessing can lead to real chaos and letting people down, including yourself.

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I am moving towards a minimalist lifestyle that will give me the freedom to go and do what I want without the burden of having so much to take care of, including a house too big, a life too wide open and the collection of twenty years of unnecessary, unwanted “things”.  Things I don’t use, wear or want any longer.

Growth

I started by cleaning out twenty years of clutter in the attic. It was exhausting and energizing at the same time. While I am not one to hold on to things, like memorabilia, my daughters had piles and piles of grammar and high school “stuff” they had collected throughout the years up there. I even made it a moment. I asked them all to come over for a memory lane party.  They laughed at old love letters, praised their early art work and cringed at their eighth grade diaries. They didn’t want the stuff either. The memories they decided to keep are tucked away in the corners of their mind or on Instagram. The rest they let go of along time ago.

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Clearing away the clutter for me also involves displacing anything and anyone (eew, that sounds harsh) that is no longer useful, helpful, valuable or lovable in my life. You see, I began to feel like others were pushing and pulling me in too many different directions, while my priorities were left on the back burner. I am now older and wiser and know that whatever time I have left on this planet, I would like to deliberately create some moments of creativity and adventure before it’s too late.

 

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So what am I going to trim down, clean up, give away and simply remove from my life?

Frumpy Frocks & Spontaneous Purchases. Starting with my closet, shoes, sweaters, shirts, bags, dresses and worn out jeans that I have not even touched in six months or more.  Good will and good riddance. I want to create a really fun “uniform” to wear. Something I don’t have to think about. That’s one less decision in the day.

Space Fillers & Dust Collectors. Souvenirs, books, artwork and other knick knacks that are no longer aesthetically pleasing to me. If it does not spark joy, I just don’t want it. I haven’t read Marie’s book and I won’t. The sparking joy was my review take away. It makes sense.

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Crazy Makers. People that require special handling, those that need kid gloves and jokers that confuse me. Anyone that I find annoying or that appears to be even relatively unstable. You know, I have been a magnet for the crazy makers for many years. This also includes anyone who bores me, those that aren’t original, open-minded or interesting or genuinely fun to be around. The self-absorbed, stuck or painfully sad. Anyone I don’t have a true kindred enthusiasm for or feel I can growth with as I adventure on. Yeah, they’re gone.

Obsessive Worrying & Ruminating Thoughts. Negative thoughts that clutter my mind, that make me feel less than I really am. Small thoughts. Sad thoughts. Critical, mean self-talk. No more worrying, because, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” Read on: 12 Toxic Thoughts You Need to Drop for a Better Life 

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15 Cant’s Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind and this advice from Tiny Buddha have helped me a little as I make a list of what I don’t want in my life anymore, including. . .

Shitty Projects & Confused Corporates. Work that feels stupid, repetitive and ridiculous. People that go round and round because they don’t have a blueprint. Working with incompetent people. Things I just don’t want to do that I don’t have to do.

Stop Yes

Excess – too many of any one thing. Rooms in my house, blankets on my bed, uncomfortable chairs, hard pillows, greased-bottom pots, scratched pans, broken cups and any sticky old debt on the credit cards.  Oh to simplify and simply live with just what I need.

Random Files & Duplicate Photos. Files on my computer, my “filled-to-the-brim” email inboxes, old notes, usb drives with old brochures and dead campaigns, duplicate photos, and old contacts in my phone. People that I no longer talk to.

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Crackers, Chips & Junky Food. Food and drink that makes me feel sluggish, fat and tired. Nah. Doesn’t serve me well at all. I never understood why they called it comfort food, expect for warm dishes of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.

Time & Energy Wasters along with Old Fears & Everyday Frustrations. Good bye time, energy and money wasting activities. Waiting on lines, calling customer service, meetings in person that could have been Skype-d. Drives to stores when Amazon delivers. Anything that makes me feel like I need to be doing something else while I am doing that. Like commuting.

Mediocre Netflix Series & Silly Youtubers No, I just can’t. This is no way to fall asleep at night. I no longer enjoy watching crappy HBO shows just because everyone else is binging on them.

Bad habits. Yeah, like relaxing with two glasses of wine before I go to sleep. Fading into Facebook as my head hits the pillow. Any excuse not to work out. Answering the phone most of the time. Being too nice and polite to time suckers. Being neurotic while calling, emailing and texting the same message to one person.

Packing My Schedule. Yes, I am clearing out the calendar and filling it up with dates I save in the future for things I want to do. Wrapping up old projects and getting rid of the guilt. End commitments with a clear conscience.

One of the most difficult clutter to clear is that which we think we are suppose to keep. The inherited heirlooms, the mementos, the sentimental shit. I don’t make photo prints of photos any more, so shouldn’t I just digitize the old ones?

My new mantra everything should have value. When we begin to desire to clear out the old and useless, we are getting ready to heal, grow and begin a new. Getting clear about what you do want is a process of trial and error.

When you’re stuck in a state of ambivalence, you must do whatever it takes to break the impasse.

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I am concerned about filling it all up again. I am a big believer that new habits must replace old ones in order to grow.

I will watch the slow the accumulation of possessions, for to live is to create and consume. It cannot be avoided – especially in our society and culture. But if the influx of possessions into our homes can be slowed, clutter can be managed efficiently.

To slow the accumulation of things in our homes, we need to change our mindset and begin evaluating our purchases differently. Realize that your purchases cost far more than the price on the sticker. Each one will also require time, energy, and effort once they enter your home. Before making a purchase, begin asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this item really needed?
  • Do I have a place to store this when I get it home? Do I want to lug it around with me?
  • How much extra work will this possession add to my life?
  • Am I buying it for the right reasons?

 

 

Crucifying Ourselves & Rising From The Dread

Four weeks into The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and I am drowning deep in dark emotional pain. Ugggghhhhh, I have protected myself from this real work for way too long. I knew it would be hard, I have avoided facing the truth about what I really fear for a very long time. Looking for short cuts, life hacks. . .rushing through self-repair is never really possible. And damn it, I knew that.

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I raise my face to the sky, my mouth wide open, gasping for air. It feels like I am flailing about in the dark, deep cold water, like a helpless, frightened child that has yet learned how to swim confidently through life, exposed to the unwelcome and unknown that I have hidden from myself and the world around me. I do all I can do to avoid facing what is real,  my own dark unknown vulnerable mind.

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I don’t want to to do this real work. I don’t want to know that I am broken. I don’t care to admit that I am confused, anxious, uncertain, vulnerable, frightened and angry. That’s not who I want to represent me. I want to skip past these ugly emotions. Run from them, crucify them. So what do I do?  I strive too hard to heal. I don’t want to do the real digging, fear-facing work. I don’t want dig too deep into my truth to find a fearful young child who must let got and feel all of these unwanted emotions.

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Who the hell wants to do that? Yet, I am inspired by the possibilities, by the words of Albert Camus

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”

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It’s not easy being real with myself. It doesn’t feel good to actually observe the thoughts that ruin my plans each day. To actually accept how much pain I feel and inflict on myself each morning, as I awake with feelings of lack, insecurity and an incredibly raw feeling of being very, very lost and uncertain about where my life is going. It hurts me and in turn, it hurts others. Some how, some way, I must bring these feelings along for the ride, learning to befriend the parts of me that I find undesirable.

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The key to reaching our potential while feeling less shut off and shut down is linked to the ability to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing. Going even beyond that, to the why we do what we do. What triggers our emotions and actions. What pain is behind the purpose.

It could possibly begin with opening up to the Five hard truths you need to accept about yourself.

Our inner critics negatively control the outcomes of our decisions. Our critical and suspicious thoughts place a black cloud and huge road blocks before our well-intentioned plans. We ruin the day before it begins when we don’t become honest with how we really feel and who we really think we are.

Underwater photography by Harry Fayt.

How to Get One Percent Better Every Day

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  -Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning
Realize that Difficulty & Pain is Inevitable & Important
The path of life can be rough and uncertain and sometimes frighteningly dark. Nothing should really surprise us, in reality, all of us at any time, no matter how strong or lucky we think we may be, are susceptible to unwanted pain and problems.
Your Attitude is Everything
Not enough money to pay the rent, a loved one dying from a terminal illness or the ending of what was once a deep and loving relationship.  These are all painful moments that we will experience. The secret to growing through the painfully tough times in life lies in your ability to stay focused on a strong belief in yourself and your creator. Your attitude towards whatever life throws your way is everything. The only thing constant is change and while your circumstances evolve, use every ounce of energy you have to grow stronger through it all. Ten Simple Habits to Grow a Positive Attitude.
Learning from Pain is a Damn Good Strategy
Everything that occurs in our lives – the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult -is usable and workable and is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as a means for waking up and strengthening our core beliefs and values.
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Difficult People Build Patience
Give up trying to control others, especially those who cause you frustration and harm. They are in your life to help you build patience. You can’t change them, but you can become a more tolerant person from being around them. Remember, you can only control your own thoughts and reactions, no one else’s.
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Don’t Make it Harder Than it Has to Be
See problems for what they are, not bigger than they are. Do not forecast more gloom and doom in your life or you will make a tough situation harder than it has to be. When something bad happens to us we want it to be over quickly and we feel extremely vulnerable. We imagine what worse can happen? What bigger problem is headed our way? Is this the start of a bigger collapse? Accept your reality for what it is right now and remember it is a moment in time that will pass. It really will. Know that everything in the universe, including your problems and challenges, are transforming the world and you.
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It is all meant to be. Practice what Tara Brach calls Radical Acceptance. Move with the transformation, feel the pain, breathe deeply into it and let it help you grow for the better.
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Don’t Try to Predict the Outcome
Soothe your mind by moving and meditating and staying right here, right now in the moment, even if it is painful. You don’t need to suffer so hard, take one step and a time and don’t think too far ahead.  Bring your ruminating and obsessing thoughts that are stuck in the past or worried about the future back to the here and now.
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Everyone Has Something or Someone to Appreciate
Awaken each day by recognizing what good you do have in your life. You always have something to work with. It might be a beautiful day for a long morning stroll or a steamy cup of strong dark coffee or a new soft-covered Moleskin notebook to write in or maybe a good friend to see, sit and chill with. Recognize and acknowledge that these gifts are right here in front of you.
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Use Your Silence to Explain Yourself
When situations are really rough, there may be nothing you can do to change the current moment. Sometimes doing nothing is precisely what you should be doing to help the situation. Some problems must work themselves out organically, in their own time, by people and actions you do not have to handle.  You aren’t suppose to fix everything.
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Watch your words. You must think before you speak. Try to say fewer and fewer words throughout the day. Make it a challenge. Bite your lip. Sometimes we speak because we are nervous. We can’t stand the silence, it’s just too awkward. Words can drown out the pain, but they don’t.
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Nervous words are never really useful. Think before you speak, not every thought is meant to be shared and sometimes words are just noise and nervous energy that add to the pain.
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What You Do Really Does Matter
We might struggle with our significance, but what you do with your day really matters. You get to decide what you do with your day. From what you eat to what you wear to who you call and where you decide to show up. Ever minute is a decision that you get to make. Smart decisions start with a clear mind.
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Keep your mind clear and free from obsessive worry and concern. This can be done by simply focusing on your current moment. This moment right now. Just sit or stand for a second and realize where you are. I know, it’s not easy. We walk around worried while writing a scary script over our painful reality. Our brain’s non-stop problem-solving can be mind bursting. We continue to make up additional problems that may never occur. Isn’t it ridiculous how preoccupied we are most of the time?  The trick is to stop. Pick anything in your environment. Look it at as if it is the first time you have ever observed it. Stay here in this moment. Here is where your mind will be clear and free.
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Watch What Drives You Mad
Watch what moves you. What triggers you. Examine your heart as you respond to others. What feels like a big chore and what truly excites you? If you don’t like some of the things or people or places that trigger anger, rage, pain, sadness or frustration in you, you have an option to walk away. Not to go there.  Perhaps taking the crowded train during rush hour makes you panic, concerned or nervous? You can choose to walk, share a car or ride a bike to work. If you look in the mirror and only see the chubby parts, the stomach you wish was flat, the legs that you want to look slim and tone – then you have a choice. You can start right now. Choose to count your calories, move more instead of sitting and make a plan to lose the extra weight.
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It’s Better to Be Kind than Right
No one ever remembers if you are right, but they certainly remember if you are kind. You have an opportunity every moment to be kind. To be kind is to be soft, sympathetic, compassionate and loving. Kindness – a listening ear, the touching of a hand, a warm embrace, a sympathetic glance. These little moments of kindness can smooth out even the toughest wrinkles of life. Sometimes they feel genuine, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter.
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Put Yourself Under the Microscope
Be painfully aware of the why behind everything you do. Why you rush in the morning? Does all the nervous rushing make you feel energized and in control? Like you are doing more? What are you avoiding by rushing? Why do you check Facebook throughout the day? Does it give your mind a rest from all the hard thinking? Is your job fulfilling enough? Do you secretly wish you were somewhere else? Does feeling jealous of others make you feel awake and alive?  Is your life that boring?  Why do you obsess over whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on you? Have you been completely honest with them? with yourself?
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Full Speed Ahead
Place yourself where you want to be. Don’t stay in the same place because it feels comfortable or because it is easy. You can’t grow while staying comfortably numb. Open up to the idea of exploring new spaces and environments to inspire you. Make new choices about where to eat, new bookstores to visit, new trails and parks to walk and hike. A new career to replace the shitty job you have. Placing yourself in new places that will open your mind to a bigger life and new opportunities. It starts with a small step, a simple self-seeking search into your heart and a strong, positive attitude.