In Omnia Paratus – Ready for All Things – Self-Awareness & Other Life Advice My Mother Never Told Me

I strongly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to create a firm daily devotion to committing oneself to life long learning and the continual development of waking up with honest self-awareness.

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This morning I was thinking about some of the teachings of spiritual catalyst, Teal Swan, specifically her guidance about the importance of having an emotional wake up call.

“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.”

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Yes my parents gave me good guidance, but they couldn’t possibly have told me everything. Here are a few lessons I am learning along the way . . .

  • This moment, right here, right now is the only one you have. Feel it, see it, taste it, hear it and take it all in. Be here now.  The book by Ram Dass

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  • Hold sacred an unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with reality as it is right now.
  • omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis All things change, and we change with them.  Adapt every day.
  • Trust your basic wisdom.
  • Everything takes time. It’s okay to live life on your time. You don’t have to run with the herd.
  • Watch how you talk to yourself. Realize when you are too self-critical. Stop the pattern. Break the loop.

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  • Do not worry about how others look at you, what they are thinking or whether you fit in.  Being “normal” will get you nowhere.
  • When all else fails, be kind.
  • Again, try to be gentle and soft with yourself and with others.
  • Stop pressuring yourself. Rushing anything simply ruins it. Slooooooowwwww down.

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  • There is rarely ever anything to be nervous about.  Face what you think makes you weary.  Get curious about that.
  • Remember you are a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle.
  • Time is precious. There is none to waste.

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  • You have what it takes to try anything you want. There are many options, choices and directions you can go.  Experiment with your life.
  • You are dying with every single breath. Appreciate every single moment. Even the most annoying ones.
  • At any given moment, everything is always as it should be. Acceptance brings serenity.

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  • You can not control everything.
  • You must control the way you respond to others.
  • Get to know what triggers your strongest emotions. There’s the work that needs to be done.

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  • At any given moment, you will know the right thing to do.
  • Be thoughtful about everything, even if others are not.
  • You don’t have to be larger than life, famous or popular. You simply have to play your part in this wonderful life to the best of your ability, every day.
  • Do something ridiculously fun every single day.
  • Whatever action you take, whatever word you say, make sure it decreases pain in the world.
  • People may disappoint you if they aren’t working on themselves. Forgive yourself for being impatient with them. For they no not what they do.
  • Anger and resentment are poison and will manifest into physical ailments. Let go everyday. If you feel yourself getting overly heated and enraged, step away for awhile. Retreat, think, respond.

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  • Your emotions are important for they tell you what to do. Yes, some of them are signals, but they are here to guide you, not take over your day and life.
  • Some emotions are false, yes they are you, trying to protect you, but don’t fall prey to every single one, over reacting to situations is usually related to an over sensitivity to past trauma. The problem arises when you start to react in a bigger way than justified. Read: How to Stop Overreacting.
  • Stop making up doom and gloom stories about what might happen in the future. Not everything is going to be a disaster.
  • When in doubt about what to do, do something good. Good for you, good for others.
  • Open up your heart, be real, be vulnerable. Life is not meant to be lived in the safe zone.
  • The painful moments are the lessons. Move through your problems by facing them for they will tell you a lot about yourself.  What haunts you must be addressed. Release your tendency to run away, to seek pleasure before pain.

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  • Have an unconditional, loving relationship with the world. There is no escape, no exit. There are lessons to be learned every day. Everyone you encounter is your teacher. Pay attention.  Pema Chodron.

I would love to know what lessons you learned on your own. Share below in the comments.

 

 

 

To Die To Everything of Yesterday

To Die To Everything of Yesterday
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion.
It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
From the teachings of  J. Krishnamurti 
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Shedding Some Light on Just How Damn Annoying Life Can Be

Life can be so absolutely annoying when things don’t go as planned. Come on, don’t you agree? It’s all quite amusing how we think just because we set these great goals and go after them with all our might that everything is going to open up for us.
Sure I’d like to believe that life is happening FOR me and not TO me (thank you very much Tony Robbins) and that I am not a victim of circumstance, but the truth is life is very very complex and a lot of stuff just happens that is way out of our control. Things we don’t understand, that nobody understands, and then to add insult to injury,  we take this shit so personally. It’s a mystery really.
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Working with The Monsters in Our Mind & NOT Becoming a Fugitive To Our Fears

On my future read list “The Life of Milarepa Read on to understand why.

I like to read like three books at a time, maybe more. Right now in the morning, I am reading Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart 
I don’t want anyone to know that my life seems to be continually falling apart, so I covered the front of it with a sticker from Spoonbill Books, one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn.
Chapter 19’s a trip wire.  “Three Methods for Working with Chaos” Pema outlines three methods for relating directly with the most difficult circumstances of our lives as a path of awakening and joy.
Method #1  No more struggle
Method #2  Using poison as medicine
Method #3  Seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom
These are methods for working through the most painful moments in our lives. Method #3 according to Pema reminds me of Inviting Mara to Tea, in other words, inviting what scares us to introduce itself and hang around for awhile. Sounds like a fun Sunday right? Yeah sure, but that’s how we grow.
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Quote from the book . . .
As Milarepa sang to the monsters he found in his cave, “it’s wonderful you demons came today. You must come again tomorrow. From time-to-time we should converse.”
We start by working with the monster in our mind.  Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life.
What I found absolutely fascinating was the image used in Tibetan Buddhism for working with chaos, the charnel burial grounds. As Pema explains, in Tibet, the charnel grounds are what we call graveyards.  The American Indians seemed to also have the idea. . .
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Now, the bodies were not under a nice mowed lawn with little white stones carved with angels and pretty words.
In Tibet the ground was frozen so bodies were chopped up after people died and taken to the charnel grounds, where the vultures would eat them.  Some would  be asked to meditate at the charnel grounds to understand the circle of life, complete with death.
Death, probably our biggest fear.
More practical ways to understand more about leaning into fear from Leo at Zen Habits.

On a more pleasant note. . .

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When we Don’t Grow Emotionally

My daughter recently called me emotionally immature. She said it in such a loving way, but it stung none the less. When we moan, groan and whine when we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it, how we want it. This usually happens when we are not at our strongest, when we are frightened perhaps?  Maybe we are tired, hungry, angry, lonely, scared. Who knows?  But it is then that we can take every disturbance and interruption  so damn personally don’t we?

For Example . . .

Meditation today on the beach was almost ruined by an awfully noisy and very annoying beach tractor circling around me. Trying to find a quiet place to close my eyes and be “in the moment”, this guy just wouldn’t go away.  He kept moving closer and closer to my towel. I tried to meditate in spite of the loud motor drowning out the peaceful sound of the ocean waves.
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Just keeping focusing on the breath. Just accept it, I kept telling myself.  My mind fluctuated between just go and flow with it . . . all the way to . . . WTF, I just can’t get this time back. It was torture. It almost felt like he was doing it on purpose.
I actually started to tell myself that story.  “He’s purposely trying to ruin my beach meditation and Sunday swim.
Now, why the hell would I take this so personally? As if. But don’t we do that often. When things don’t go our way. When people annoy us with their absolute nonsense? When things don’t go as planned. When we are really disappointed.
Only after thinking more clearly did I come to the realization that this man has an actual job to do – it has nothing to do with me.  He gets paid to clean up the beach so people, like myself, can enjoy it. How about asking the question “Why am I getting in his way?” Always thinking about me. It’s all about me. Blah, Blah, Blah.
A poem by Dana Faulds
Let it Go
Click to read Pema’s book

Thoughtless Action

What has made matters worse, is how hard I actually try. It amazes me how I try so hard to make everything in life exactly how I want it to be without ever thinking of the possible effects my decisions might have on future outcomes and on those around me. I spend my days running from pain, chasing pleasurable moments and trying to get some “me” time, planning, scheming and doing all of the special things that I want to do.
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Leaping Before You Look

How I absolutely leap before I look and act so impulsively based on what I want for myself. I want more money, so I take on more really difficult projects without even thinking about the actual time, effort and energy these projects will take. Then I kill it by overpromising and ultimately under delivering.   Just wonderful.  So many great intentions failed miserably because I didn’t take the time to think things through.
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Becoming More Discerning

For example, if I am feeling the slightest  bit lonely and I want more friends, I open myself up to meeting and embracing anyone that comes into my life instead of realizing the value I will bring to the relationship and how much more discerning I need to be about who I choose to spend my time with.  I think we all do it from time to time. I act more out of FOMO instead of becoming more self aware of my actual needs from a true friend. This is probably why friendships can disappoint us.

What’s this About The Importance of Self-Value?

If you have any interest in the possible healing powers of Ayahuasca, I strongly recommend you check out The Last Shaman documentary. You can watch it on Netflix. It got mixed reviews, but it was absolutely eye opening in many ways. I have always wondered about the powers of “grandmother’s medicine” but frankly, I prefer meditation as my medication.
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Oh, side note: Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic drug concocted by chopping and boiling Amazonian plants known to indigenous people for a very long time. The first western knowledge of ayahuasca was by a British biologist in 1851. The principal ingredient is made from a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, (‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’); a second key ingredient, is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca contains a powerful psychedelic substance DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Drinking the brew induces an altered, hallucinatory state that lasts up to eight hours.

And More about Self-Love

And what is it about the devaluing of oneself that serves us? Why do I not think about becoming a bit more compassionate and self loving? Why don’t I focus on this more. Wouldn’t I be more of a delight to be around if I sometimes took care of myself first?
If I took care of my needs and came to the party called life with my best dress on?
The one I thoughtfully chose to wear? Why not spend a bit more time on me? Does that seem to selfish? Perhaps we tolerate so much of others nonsense because we are not self aware enough to know what we truly value in ourselves and others.

Decreasing the Pain in the World

I find the more I open up to listening and learning from others, the more thoughtful I become. It’s like building a better brain by borrowing from others curiosity, understanding and deep research.
I am listening to James Altucher interview AJ Jacobs and the two of them brought up a great point about how we might focus our actions – actually become more thoughtful about whether our actions are increasing or decreasing the suffering in this world. Big or small, every action you take can either add to the pain of others or make life easier.
Listen to James Altucher’s Podcast, an interview with A.J. Jacobs The Intersection Between Discomfort & Curiosity.
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Be The Light You Need

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And in the word’s of William Shakespeare. . .

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Your fate is in your beliefs and behavior, and how you respond to life events.

 

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Those who have been reading know that I am working on improving my behavior. Here I share a few things that have changed. These are new perspectives that have helped me grow.

1. I have let go of trying to change or control others. You just can’t. Change yourself instead. Besides, it’s more interesting and rewarding. Life changes, when you transform. You heal, life heals. It is that simple.

2.     Realize that feelings should be processed not suppressed.

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3.   Give up suffering needlessly, no longer worrying about worst case outcomes. The truth is, life is full of surprises. You must be wise enough to know that life doesn’t always produce what you wish would happen. It’s typically creates what is most likely to happen. Prepare for that.

4.   Learn to listen and observe more, to understand what is really happening around you.

5.   Take stock of this moment while mindfully paying attention to the here and now.

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6.    Choose to be more responsible of all that is happening in your life. I am beginning to own mine. It makes me feel stronger. More accountable. Even a little more in control.

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7.    Understanding that you should embrace your eccentricity. It’s what makes you, you. Don’t be worried about being different. Appearing normal will get you no where. Stop behaving as if you are seeking the approval of others. Seek approval from yourself.

8.    Please continue to release all that no longer serves you. Let the useless go. People, places, things.

9.    No more delusional thinking. Experience reality for what it is, not what you wish it was. That is kind of like #3.

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10.   Seek clearly without judging. Then you will see it most realistically. Reality is your friend.

11.   Honor yourself and your desires.

12.   It’s not necessary to share every little emotion, thought or feeling with anyone who will listen.

13.   Forgiving and letting go. Put that on repeat. It is so freeing.

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14.    Cease to react to every little thing that happens.

 

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The Benefits of Becoming More Self-Aware & Emotionally Intelligent

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Have you ever thought back on some of the most important decisions you’ve made in your life and wondered “What was I thinking?”  I certainly have. When we are reflecting on how we got here, perhaps we should be asking “What was I feeling?”  What state-of-mind were we in, that led to the some of the poor decisions made?

You see, when we make decisions based on emotions from fear and anxiety, we create a recipe for disaster.  Deciding to do something because you are afraid of doing something else or fear you will have no other choices or options at all, will get you absolutely nowhere.

Better decisions are made when you arrive at conclusions with a sense of strength and courage. The outcomes of those decisions will help you grow and evolve with increased clarity and self-improvement. The more thoughtful your decisions, the more quality you will have in your life.    I promise.

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You begin by becoming more emotionally intelligent – while understanding the role that your emotions play in everything you decide to do. Allowing any and all of your emotions to channel the way you move forward is not the best course of action. You don’t just listen to your gut. That is not enough. You must first think, feel, consider all options and then make a plan. A plan to deliberately move in the right direction.

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When we make decisions, like where to work, who to marry, who to befriend based on deep-seated emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety, we never make the best choices.

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And please don’t doubt this one bit. The more well-thought out decisions you make today WILL lead to an improved life tomorrow.

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Bike riding around Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, this quote, in the window of Word, the bookstore, really resonated with me.

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Oh and these emotions and feelings we speak of, they are so complicated, aren’t they?

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So how do we begin to understand our emotional triggers, the things that we feel that scare us, make us feel useless or violated, maybe even shameful and guilty?

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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

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Why Running Away From Your Feelings Will Keep You Stuck in the Same Place

Running away from intense emotions of pain, anger, and resentment is what we do sometimes.   We numb these feelings with a smoke of this and a sip of that. It’s such an easy way out, but only temporarily.  Why do we stuff our sorrow and run from our feelings? I truly believe not many of us want to feel our suffering, but suffer on we must.

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If we would just consider that inside each moment of suffering is a superb amount of life teaching. A whole world of emotional education to help us grow.  It begins with learning the process and ability to express,  dismantle and adjust as you strengthen your locus of control.

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What you need to do is understand that what is actually happening is your world right now and how you feel about it are two DIFFERENT THINGS COMPLETELY.

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You must urge yourself to develop the ability to differentiate your feelings from what is actually happening in any given situation.

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Life is what it is, not what you think, feel or believe it is. That is just you painting the dark cloud of your emotions on top of the situation and changing it into your story. Your emotions are just a response to what is happening at any given moment, they are not what is actually happening.  Whatever you are feeling about anything, whether it be good, bad, sad or pleased has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on at that moment or what the outcome will be.

It is up to you to understand what issues you have inside that are trigging your troubled (or pleasant) emotions.

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This applies to everything. For example, your spouse may be drinking too much, getting sloppy and lashing out at you. That is what is happening. How you feel about this situation may be sad, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned, which in turn will have you creating a story in your mind. A story of victimization and loss. Those feelings may or may not drive you to do something, but they are not healthy for you.  When you remove your emotional responses, you will realize you have options. You have an option to remove yourself from the pain your spouse is causing you.

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A Better Way to Navigate Your Emotions

Sometimes it is a good idea to overcome your frightened emotions by meeting them head on in order to improve. This would include things like forcing yourself to speak in front of a group in order to get over the fear of public speaking. Yes, the obstacle can become the opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis, it is wise to do the following as you learn more about how you can manage your emotions.

Know What Triggers Your Emotions

Place yourself in favorable situations and avoid those that trigger heightened responses.

In other words, stay away from people that get your angry, places that make you feel uncomfortable and situations that somehow have the power to upset you. Become more aware of what makes you “fly off the handle”.

Make Things Easier for Yourself

Especially when you are learning something new in the beginning. For instance, if you are trying to learn how to draw, sing, act or run your own business. Look for ways to simplify the process. Make it easy to start.

Implement with Strong Intention & Attention

The key to any transformation (read: change) in your life, is to focus on your intention and attention on what you are trying to achieve. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t let your competitive nature get in the way.  This will help manage things like jealousy and resentment as well as perceived obstacles in your way.

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Inspired by 10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by @BriannaWiest

 

Every Level of Life Demands A Different You

So why did I start this blog in the first place? I started because I knew I had to grow. I knew I had to grow emotionally, spiritually, professionally and physically. I knew that if I didn’t grow and change and adapt, I would be stuck.

I don’t want to be stuck and I don’t want to stay the same. It’s not serving me well.

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At each level of your life, the world demands a different you. A better you. The more (healthy) risks you take in life, the more life asks of you. Life asks for an improved version of you. What does that look like? It looks like YOU with more skills, more love, more patience and more self-awareness.  Not just a new wardrobe.

Growing and moving in this positive direction requires that you adopt a proactive mindset.  Stephen Covey’s Proactive vs. Reactive language choices. From “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“.

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There is something remarkable about growing better each day and discovering parts of yourself you never knew existed. This won’t happen if you aren’t willing to try new things, meet new people and put yourself out there.

Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Visit inspiring places.  This starts with a wish list. I urge you to write down ten things you wish you were doing right now. Trips you wanted to take, classes you wanted to attend, movies you wanted to see, books, etc. It all starts with a desire.

Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Trust me, if you listen attentively enough, everyone is inspiring in some way, shape or form. Some may inspire you to change your attitude because you don’t like the way they behave. Yup. Even some of the most negative people in your life are teaching you something. 

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Turning Things Inside Out

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at your negative emotions and try to turn them inside out. Ask yourself what’s good about constantly being worried and afraid? Maybe it’s saving you from taking too big of a risk, like living beyond your means right now? The fear is real. Don’t negate that. But remember to find out why.

Ask yourself what’s good about feeling like you may become irrelevant? Maybe that’s you telling you to start learning new skills.

Ask yourself why you are so mad and frustrated that you still haven’t lost those sticky, pudgy 15 pounds? Maybe that’s you really telling you to become more disciplined with your life. To be more proactive rather than reactive about your life. 

Growing With Your Pain

I am learning so much from Pema Chodron (she is a very wise Buddhist nun). I carry this little book with me wherever I go. It fits in my purse and I read her wise advice throughout the day.

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A Fugitive From My Feelings

Oh this whole emotional growth,  this is a big one. A difficult, frustrating and challenging part of my growth. Something that gives me the feeling that I might just start having those frightening panic attacks again. Nooooooooooooo!!!!

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Instinctively I KNOW that the doors to my life are going to bust wide open when I begin to start facing my feelings. I mean actually feeling them for the first time. You see, for most of my life, I was a fugitive from my feelings.

For those of you who are looking for alternative ways to feel fully alive and present in your life, yes 100% radically accepting life as it comes while putting your best vibes forward, I strongly, highly . . . no I URGE you to listen to Tara Brach’s podcast. Listen to any of them, but one of my recent favorites “Sure Heart’s Release

I would love to know “What Are You Unwilling to Feel?” – comment below. 

I am currently studying how to undo my maladaptive processing of emotions. An article I found here.  Also, a smart and easy technique to Pause, Breathe & Reflect into your sadness and pain here.

Until tomorrow  . . . .

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Going from Anxious Type A to a More Self-Healing Nature

I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.

All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.

What a waste of energy.

Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.

I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.

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So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.

Make it Simple, But Significant

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Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”

Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife

Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy

My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.

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Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.

I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.

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If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.

I could have done it without the pain.

Rushing ruins the whole thing.

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I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.

How?

  • I will stop when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Take more time to think.
  • Look for ideas, not immediate answers.
  • Make obstacles work in my favor.
  • I won’t take the pleasure out of doing a great job because I am rushing through it.

More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.

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JR x Blu

In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.

 

Additional Credits

 

Artist Nick Cave