A spiritual warrior in the context of human bravery – living a life of fearlessness while helping others.
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.
In 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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose.
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.
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.
Let go of control. Just love.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on Behavior and the wonderful expressiveness of the human body.
Wise men read very sharply all your private history in your look and gait and behavior. The whole economy of nature is based on expression.
The face and eyes reveal what the spirit is doing, how old it is, what aim it has. The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul. . .
An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun, or can insult like hissing or kicking. . .
or in it’s altered mood by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance with joy.
The eye obeys exactly the action of the mind.
Our eyes are projections of the self-absorbed movies we produce inside our minds. When we are lost in our self-delusional narrative, the imaginary stories we tell ourselves, we risk projecting our true soul.
Featured & posted drawings
Overdrawn Face Illustrations by Stefan Zsaitsits
A special meeting scheduled today with Caren Martineau, Founder of Bevival.com, a place that invites people to share their thoughts about the end of life, about death as we know it.
I found this video on her website and felt compelled to share it. And as one great discovery leads to yet another, I know I will enjoy watching Jason Silva’s YouTube channel Shots of Awe.
Now that we have this whole #gratitude thing down, the morning daily ritual to be thankful for everything we have that’s been buzzing around the interwebs, I make a wholehearted recommendation that we also keep a forgiveness journal.
Mark my words, scientists will discover and the media will soon expose –
FORGIVING OTHERS LEADS TO LONGER, HEALTHIER LIVES
Join me if you dare. Every morning I will add one person to my morning gratitude journal that I choose to forgive with all my heart.
Holding a grudge? Disappointed? Can’t let go?
Let’s try it together.
To change rapidly and repeatedly from one position, situation, or condition to another and back again.
My mind is twisted in a knot this morning, it is see-sawing back and forth between wanting to rewind my mind, my attitude and my approach to life back to a time when the day brought something new, inspiring and very fresh to
. . . the comfort of this moment now, the familiarity and “security” of knowing how things will probably pan out.
I’ve been lying to myself. I think I don’t like to be too comfortable yet I try to control it all. Perhaps if I didn’t try to command the day so much with lists, tasks, goals and the determination to “get it done” . . perhaps a few hours of letting it all go – letting life unfold. . .
The day is brand new, the possibilities are endless. Only as endless as I pave the way and invite new experiences into my life. Personal growth doesn’t come to me. I must seek it out every day.
This is beyond feeling “uncomfortable” and learning something new. Every day I am learning, growing, stretching my mind and body to learn how to film, edit, write, expand my vocabulary, create art. I break things, mess them up, get completely frustrated and spend hours trying new software programs. I fumble and fail miserably in the new fitness class. By 10 pm, I roll into the bed, collapsed from mental and sometimes physical exhaustion. I’ve squeezed the juice out of me.
I think self-awareness may begin with letting go, losing control and living life without the comfort of a “to do” list.
How about you? Do you ever yearn for a fresher approach to the day? What do you do to keep your mind open?