Riding Shotgun in The Sky

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Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
  • Written by Joni Mitchell

 

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FEATURED ART BY EDWARD FAIRBURN

Origin of Riding Shotgun

Riding shotgun was used to describe the guard who rode alongside a stagecoach driver, ready to use his shotgun to ward off bandits or hostile Native Americans. In modern use, it refers to the practice of sitting alongside the driver in a moving vehicle.

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On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

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This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
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Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
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When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
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The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
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Art by @brookeshaden

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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What Makes Life So Damn Complicated

You.
You make life complicated.
You think you’re so important.
You want it your way, or no way.
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You have a choice right now. A choice that can change everything. You can continue to choose to push against reality and struggle with it or you can choose to move with the world and use that energy to create something new.
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Use the forces you have within your power your strength, courage, and conviction.
Light
You always have something within your reach.
Today it may as simple your smile, but the energy of a smile can light up a room and lift spirits.
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Life is not complicated at all. We make it that way.
It’s when we behave selfishly.
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Take advantage of every moment that presents itself as an opportunity to be kind, compassionate and easy to be with today.
And if for some reason you don’t have the bandwidth for that, then do no harm.
How can we uncomplicate things today?
Be the missing ingredient.  The one to soothe each situation and to raise the vibes. Be the listener, the lover, the mender, the healer and the bigger person with a generous heart.
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Read The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

 

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Artwork by Peter Beard.

He married a supermodel, photographed rock stars and came from a wealthy family.  Easy on the eyes too.

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Peter Hill Beard is an American artist, photographerdiarist and writer who lives and works in New York City and Kenya. His photographs of Africa, African animals and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1960s.

The Audacity to Act on Your Dreams and Learning to Trust Yourself

Today’s thought is about the many ways we disappoint ourselves when we say we will do one thing and then do the exact opposite, or maybe, we do nothing at all.
A lack or slack in self-trust can be a very dangerous and stagnating trait to have because it keeps us stuck.
How does the lack of self-trust show up in our lives? Well, sometimes we fantasize about the future to escape the present.
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It’s when fantasy becomes fact in our minds that we begin not to believe or trust ourselves anymore.  This lack of self-trust becomes a black hole that consumes our self-respect.
But how does this happen? A 16-minute read from Mark Manson that will kinda blow your mind about what self-trust means.
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There is no one behavior that will permit you to suddenly trust yourself.  However, a collection of small actions over time will alchemize and inspire an improved sense of trust.
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No. 1 Don’t deceive yourself. See things as they are, not how you wish they would be. As hard as this is, it’s gravely important, less you desire to be repeating  “why didn’t I see that coming?So often we ignore the truth for the lies we prefer.

No. 2 Speaking of repetitive behavior, never repeat the same mistake. Once repeated it’s not a mistake, it’s a damn decision.  Write that mistake down, make it a part of your mantra, tattoo it on your arm, just remember it deeply and move on. Whether that is a person you need to let go of, something you must apologize for or something you did that really hurt another.
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No. 3 Explore. So often, we think we are stuck where we are and we convince ourselves that this is the best place we could be because we are just ignorant of what lies beyond our sites. Get out there, adventure something bigger than what you have right now.
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No. 4. Face the truth. What is your life really like right now? Work with what you have and try something, using what you have, to propel yourself into action. You will astonish yourself when you see how creative you can be.
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No. 5. Tell yourself the truth and speak the truth to all. Do not underestimate the raw power of choosing to be honest in both word and action with everyone including yourself.

No. 6. Do not lie or conceal anything to protect others, no matter how tempting, no matter how little and white or and no matter how small. Tiny lies will eat away at you. You are not “protecting” anyone, including yourself. Speak the truth to your friends, family, and colleagues. It is amazingly refreshing and what the world needs.
No. 7. Do something good, no matter how small, for yourself each day. For one hour a day put yourself first.  Sign up for that class, go for a hike, read that book, write that poem, learn that dance, try that new meal you have been wanting to prepare. Carve out that time for you and no one else.
No. 8. Working towards a goal? a dream? Do something today to move you closer to it and catch yourself quickly if you fall prey to extensive planning and research. That is not moving towards the goal and is a symptom of not trusting yourself. Act, don’t just dream.
No. 9. When trying to make a decision, understand that there is more than one answer, so when figuring out your problem, think of few solutions, and choose the one that resonates and most appeals to you.  Sure it might not be the best solution, but you must get used to making decisions regardless.
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No. 10 Keep small promises to yourself today and please don’t set yourself up for disappointment – take the pressure off – put less on your list. Do the most important and a few of the little things.
No. 11 Take a good look in the mirror. Watch how you talk to yourself inside your head all day. Are you an enemy or a friend?  Be a good friend to you.
No. 12. Trust in your own direct experience, just because someone said on the internet that something is good for you, doesn’t mean it is good for YOU.
No. 13. When considering other people’s advice and opinions, ask yourself, “Do I want to be like this person? If the answer is yes, give their perspective more weight than if the answer is no. If the answer is no and you still take their advice seriously, you are signaling to yourself to trust people you don’t admire more than you trust yourself.
No. 14. Give yourself permission today to freely act on your own truth, logic, and intuition and open your mind to new ideas. Do as James Altucher recommends and keep a log of 10 new ideas a day.  They don’t all have to be good, they just have to be new.
No. 15.  Do not allow yourself to consume bad-tasting conversation or sugar-loaded condiments disguised as delicious and nutritious health foods. Anything you consume should be real, honest and true, so be aware of who you surround yourself with and the habits and meals they bring to the table.
No. 16.  Feel your way to self-trust.

“As we learn to recognize and understand the body’s subtle sensations, and then act on them, our self-trust will grow tremendously. To me it is rather amazing that the body has this innate sense of the truth, as if the body is hardwired for it,” states psychotherapist John Prendergast Ph.D.

Read more here @thoughtcatalog

Begin to sense your surroundings and the people in your line of site with more than your mind. When you are anywhere, begin to feel the energy around you. Get to know yourself better and become aware of how you feel, sensations that arise including smells, tastes, and sounds when you meet someone. Don’t just use your brain.  Using other senses helps you to become more aware of what triggers you and either builds self-trust or breaks it down.
No. 17 Use tools and technology to help you trust yourself.  Here are six wearable devices to track your stress levels and emotions.
Wearable technology already can tell you about your heart rate, sleep patterns, health habits and breathing patterns; all of which can provide just as much insight into your emotional state as your physical state. For example, one Fitbit wearer discovered his device recorded the moment of his breakup. His heart rate soared at the bad news and stayed elevated for the rest of the day as he dealt with the sadness and heartache, showing how closely his emotions affected his physical state. But now, more wearables on the market are designed specifically to monitor your feelings, not just your physical state. These devices work by measuring everything from breathing and heart rate to speech patterns and brainwaves. Armed with information, you learn to recognize your emotional states and learn how to soothe your reactions and control your responses.
More on how to begin to trust yourself from @zenhabits
Art by surreal photos by @Rayda_ealvay, a 19-year-old self-taught photographer, retoucher, and artist based in Perm, Russia. Rayda manipulates her self-portraits into surrealist explorations of identity, emotions, and dreams.

Aiming Higher & Reaching Over Your Heart

They say you are drawn to what you value. What you think is really important in life. Your values lead you to the types of friends you associate with, the places you visit, the work you enjoy, who you fall in love with, what you do in your free time and all the other incredible things you do here on this big, crazy, beautiful planet.

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We don’t talk about the importance of having good values in school. We should, but we don’t.  Not yet anyway. 

I am thinking about my values a lot lately. What I use to value (having a lot of fun, making a lot of money, looking a certain way, etc) and what my values look like now. My values are changing quickly. The more I grow, the more my values change. 

The type of personality traits I now value. For me and for you.

1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);

2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);

3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);

4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel);

5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick

6.  Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).

This trait list inspired by this article about what Danny Meyer’s says to look for when hiring the right people.

Act II: Living a More Deliberate  and Intentional Life

Anytime I see anyone from high school whether in real life or on social media, they say they remember me as this carefree, fun loving girl with tons of energy. 

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While the life of the party might have served me well for all thing things that high school is about – partying, socializing and basically having a great time (at least that was my experience), those same traits led me down some very challenging and difficult paths.

Why?

Because I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I lived so “in the moment” that I never really stopped to seriously consider what I wanted to do with my life. So, I didn’t make any real decisions for myself. I just let things happenI just did whatever anyone else was doing. If it looked good and sounded like fun, I did it.  -Like going to the same college as my best friend – why not?  Choosing a career that allowed me to speak in front of many, many people and express my point of view. Of course. Eloping with the guy I met on the train –well okay? Having four children in the span of six years, because, well, who was thinking, planning or considering the responsibilities involved in raising four beautiful humans?

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Now, on the flip side, I have a very strong ability to keep on keeping on. Most likely a choice-supportive bias with a bit of ambiguity effect in place here. Resilient, persistent and stubborn to the point of stupidity, I made it through and by society’s standards with a decent amount of success.

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I built the career, raised the children, made the money, bought the house, went on the vacations and somehow even seemed to survive the roller coaster ride of being married and divorced to a bipolar manic depressive who was non-compliant with his medication and irrationally obsessed with traveling the country tripping his balls off while following the Grateful Dead.

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You see I made choices without really knowing myself and stuck to my cognitive biases and compromised so much of myself. It’s not like I feared anything, but more like I just kept going, without ever questioning. I was determined to starve before I was hungry.

Until now. Now I can be anywhere I want, doing anything I damn well feel. Which begs the question.

What does a life filled with intention look like for me? 

You see, the way I look at it – if I got this far not knowing what the hell I wanted, well can you just imagine when I do?

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

Henry David Thoreau.

 

Beautiful image of the woman with the dove coming out of her face.

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

Mipham

Giving The Day Wings

You know you need to repair your routine when you start the day all full of fire that burns out faster than a stick of Palo Santo by 11 am. Nothing is going to change if you don’t. Yes you are on a track, but is it the best track? The one that will propel you forward to expand your awareness? To elevate your consciousness? To move you further towards the life of your dreams.

Doing the day a little differently will help curb the habits that are holding you back.

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Build Morning Inspiration & Motivation

You know what I am talking about. You’ve journaled, meditated, gone to the gym, consumed something healthy and you’ve created a “to do” list – you’ve set some goals for the day and then bam, hello, it’s 1 pm and you’ve done everything but what you set out to do.

Frustrated, the best advice is to become more open to being blown off course. Why? Perhaps the course you are choosing isn’t the one you are suppose to be on. Moving through our days a bit more loosely will also remove the limitations we begin with when we try to define the day in it’s entirety.

Where to start? Your true life starts when you remove the mask.  A poem by Shel Silverstein

8. UNDERFACE (Every Thing On It)

Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me

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Masks by Richard Jonkman

Fuel Your Focus with a Mid Day Reset

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Take a pause, gain some perspective. Is this really the day you intended? Recognize the obstacles. Where are you procrastinating? How is your body disconnected from your mind’s desires? How is your thinking trapped in a tunnel?

Haruki Murakami // “What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world.”

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Ethan Hawke // “Pay attention: what you need to know is usually in front of you. There are no secrets, just things people choose not to notice.”

Wind down Wonderfully for Rest & Recovery

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Develop a wind down ritual. Examine the day and explore the darker regions of your heart.  What could have been addressed by a better version of you?

Frida Kahlo // “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

 

 

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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