Confronting Challenges & Taking Action

Keeping a clear mind today and meeting challenges with all the strength I have. Remembering that a clearer head makes for steadier hands and those hands must do great work.

Today is a great day to approach all obstacles head on with energy, enthusiasm and perseverance.

Be strong today. Take Action.

Living Your Real Purpose, A To Do List

Purpose
I’m not sure you find your purpose, I think you live your purpose. 
If my purpose is to become the best version of me, then what would the best version of me do today? The unbeatable version of me? The most self-respecting version? The most loving version of me? What action can I take today to be that person right now? 
  • Criticize less and compliment more.
  • Let others do things their own way.
  • Talk only when necessary.
  • Find tranquility in some time spent alone.
  • Remember not to get frustrated by small setbacks.
  • Say prayers for guidance and divine wisdom.
  • Give more than I expect to receive.
  • Forgive those who have wronged me.
To forgive is to refuse to allow someone to rob you of your joy.
What action will you take to be the best version of you today? Please share your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.
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Something to Smile About

smiling_cat_small1Meditation is not just all breathing and quieting the mind. There are many types of meditation techniques including my absolute favorite, Smile Meditation. So, in honor of #worldsmileday  I share with you a simple way to lighten up and spark joy.

To begin the inner-smile meditation, sit comfortably on a pillow or chair with your palms on your knees. Straighten your spine, lifting it up from the top of your head. Then relax the muscles in your neck and throat. Take a few deep, slow breathes.

Close your eyes. If you are tense, gently move your neck from side to side and take one or two deep breaths that fill your abdomen and chest, then slowly exhale.

Next, smile outwardly. It might be helpful to use a positive memory to evoke the feeling of joy. Once you have a grin on your face, it’s time to smile inwardly.

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Picture a smiling face in your mind. Bring the smile to the space between your eyebrows – your third eye or “yin tang” in Chinese medicine – and allow it to rest there for a few breaths.

Now take the smile and glide it in turn to each part of your body. You can imagine your body as hollow and the smile as a glowing ball of light filling every dark corner. Alternatively, you can picture every organ, tissue and bone smiling. If your smile gets stuck or fades at a tense or painful spot, breathe gently into that part of your body. Imagine inhaled breath moving into that area.

o-SMILING-ANIMAL-facebookNow, try to maintain the sensation of the inner smile throughout the day. #worldsmileday

Read more about inner smile meditation here.

Some Other Race

the-black-and-white-cookie-620x300I was on standby jury duty yesterday. My first time ever and while I realize it is a privilege to serve I just didn’t want to go. Too much to do.  I am sure you can appreciate that.

Anyway, as I climbed the steps of the Supreme Court building (in much need of some TLC I should say), I made the deliberate decision that I would approach the day with a mindful curiosity, looking forward to learning a thing or two about our judicial system and the right to a fair and just trial. I have never been in a courtroom before. Judge Judy my only reference.

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Although I can go on and on about how even just a tad of technology could greatly improve a very antiquated system, I want to point out one single moment that left me absolutely dumb-founded.

It was filling out the 2010 (yes 2010)  census questionnaire.

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Seriously? In a racially diverse world where people consider themselves to be “global citizens”, we are still asking these questions?  According to Pew Research the US Census bureau is looking into changing the questions on the next census because more and more “Americans” don’t know how to respond to the “race” question. The Census Bureau’s overall goal is to reduce the number of people who select “some other race.” Read more here.

Now, my husband’s family is of German, Irish and English decent. My side of the family is Italian and Brazilian. Although our grandparents came to the US in search of the glowing promise of the American dream, we were both born here in America. Which leads me to a question my daughter asked me this morning.

“How do you feel about interracial marriage?”

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Photo: Richard and Mildred Loving never asked to be heroes of the Civil Rights movement. But when the state of Virginia deemed their interracial marriage illegal, the couple fought back. And won. More here.

Love Rules

I believe that love rules and color/race/nationality is irrelevant. If you are a loving and kind human, you deserve to be in a happy and beautiful relationship with another loving and kind human or alien for that matter. As long as the two, three, five of you are giving your best back to the world. Period. That’s what I believe Ariel.

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Love Rules

I have had fantasies about starting a website or podcast based on this whole “race” thing – this ridiculous act of defining ourselves by the color of our skin or the place we come from. Sure we have cultural and belief differences but I believe it is our duty to tolerate those differences with compassion and empathy as we raise our collective consciousness.  I hope you do to.

Note: Now, I completely appreciate the importance of gathering demographic data after all, I have spent my career as a marketing professional.

 

Rules of a Renegade

beginningThe more I learn and think about how I want to design my life, the more I believe it is important to write my own rules, have my own set of commandments, my own guiding principles for success.

This list here includes some of the most important ways in which I wish to serve the world. I am sure it will grow and change as I progress. Does anything ring true with you? Anything you recommend to add?

  1. If I don’t feel it, I won’t do it.
  2. Set (very) clear expectations with everyone.
  3. Build my life on truth and all will be okay.
  4. Don’t be a slave to striving.
  5. Grit, what it takes to persevere, is a combination of gratitude, optimism, self-control, social intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity.
  6. Pros do what they have to do. I choose to go pro.
  7. Don’t act on auto pilot.
  8. Seek to discover new solutions to sticky, old problems.
  9. Slow down a bit. Give myself some more time to complete things in an improved way.
  10. Say know. Know what I must do to make the day just 1% better, each day.
  11. Don’t try to control what others are doing.
  12. Beware of getting caught up in group think – the delusion of the masses.

Read Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

rules

 

Instant Karma and A Trip to Paradise

instant-karmaMost of us in the western part of the world believe that karma is a supernatural universal law of justice. He or she did something bad, hurtful, deceitful, etc. well, karma will get them in the end.

The reality and truth is, when the eastern sages spoke about karma, they were speaking about selfishness. The word “karma” in Sanskrit means “action” and the Buddha believed in two types of action. Bad selfish action and good selfless action. Bad selfish action promotes, protects and aggrandizes the ego which in turn leads to inner suffering, distress, remorse and guilt.

buddhaThe real suffering is on the inside and when we are unconscious of our perpetuating selfish actions, however small they may be, we continue to suffer all the time.

I stumbled upon this explanation and more from Leo Gura on Actualized.org. What Is Karma exactly? – Watch a rational explanation of how karma really works and why it’s extremely relevant to your happiness levels.

On My Book Shelf

Instant Karma is a collection of thousands of ways to create good karma for yourself and others. The advice in Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book is based on the principles of Buddhism and emphasizes the importance of physical health, spiritual growth and peace.

41w7fE7c8DL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_A few pearls of wisdom from this little gem of a book.

  • Throughout the day, ask yourself, Am I paying attention?
  • Then ask yourself, Why judge?
  • Do not expect praise or reward.
  • Give confidence to others.
  • Life is positive, only your thinking is negative.
  • See everything in your life as a gift.

Remember that looking for happiness outside yourself is like expecting to get in shape by watching others exercise.

Read more, here:  Instant Karma

Believe the best is yet to be.

 

Inviting Your Troubles to Tea

buddhaThe night before the Buddha attained final enlightenment he had a visit from the demon king Mara. Mara represented all the anger, doubt, fear, striving, craving and greed of the world. He came to tempt the Buddha.
Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha calmly acknowledged his presence, staying “I see you, Mara
He then invited Mara to tea as an honored guest.
It is suggested that we do the same when we are pained with trouble (whether real or imaginary). When we are feeling jealous, fearful, angry, frustrated, we examine these feelings with a compassionate heart, filled with self-love. We invite troubles to tea.
Instead of running from what troubles us, avoiding what is painful to face while only trying to seek happiness, we need to deal with all of life’s struggles head on, or they will continue to haunt us.
tea settingTea 101
Wake up with Matcha or Peppermint; Sleep with Kava or Chamomile; Ward off a cold with Echinacea or White Tea; Digest with Ginger or Lemon; Detox with Dandelion or Nettle; Soothe an upset stomach with Fennel or Ginger; Energize with Mint or Green; De-stress with Lavender or Ginseng.
tea
 Tea Supplies
 Soma-Water-Pitcher-01Filter your water

Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter

 bonavitaInvest in an electric tea kettle

Bonavita Dual Voltage 0.5L Travel Electric Kettle

My favorite morning tea

detox
Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, 16-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)

kenko
KENKO Tea – Matcha Green Tea Powder – USDA Organic – Japanese Culinary Grade Matcha Powder for Lattes Smoothies Baking -100g Bag [50 Servings]

 

compassion A lesson a day from . . .

Teachings of the Buddha (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

Game On

lost_time_by_vanleith-d4em3se

Today I consider the question that baffles my mind, the question I love to hate most-How do we live our true purpose in life?

I actually considered banning this question from my thoughts, but was inspired this morning with this kind of awesome idea. It goes something like this –

Begin with – guarding our thoughtsThe mind is everything. What you think you become. –Buddha

First we must carefully protect our minds. Our minds produce thoughts. Our thoughts will become our actions, which if done mindfully, will become our habits and our habits become our destiny.  A possibility of a destiny of greatness. It starts there.

And then – Ask ourselves one very simple question.

Note – in order to find our passion and live with purpose – this question should be asked over and over again, momentarily, daily, weekly – right now.  Especially when we feel confused, lost, disillusioned and worried.

What would the highest version of myself do in this moment? What would the bravest, fearless, strongest, happiest, calmest version of me do right now?

Then, we simply we remain open to the answer. Perhaps it is to apologize, share a kind word, maybe a compassionate hug, an encouraging email. Or perhaps it is the inspiration to go out for a long walk or simply to call a friend. Just do that highest version thing moment after moment and watch your true purpose unfold. Game on.

It is when we live like this that we are living with true purpose and intention. We are living a purpose that is in line with our highest self,  while radiating hope, optimism, gratitude, kindness, creativity, energy, beauty, enthusiasm, courage, diligence, playfulness, patience, persistence and generosity.

Every moment we have a choice, we can step forward into the highest version of ourselves or back into the safe habits of how we were. We bear the choice, to go in one direction or another, backwards or forwards, right now.

Inspired by Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes

time1Side note about how we spend our time

Consider the possibilities when we take a moment to spend our time in wonder and awe. To rest in this moment in grateful appreciation for the miracle that it is. To recognize and celebrate as we stop reducing time spent in the form of milestones and achievement.

Inspired by

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Your Mindful Contribution to the World

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I was originally going to call this post Selling your Soul to the Highest Bidder  Inspired by a passage I have been studying from Aman Cara, I felt that this Labor Day holiday weekend is a great time to sit back, relax and reflect on the mindfulness of our contribution to the world through our work.

It is very difficult, at first consideration, to bring the world of work and the world of soul together. Most of us work in order to survive. – John O’Donoghue, Aman Cara

We need to make money; we have no choice.

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On the other hand, those who are unemployed feel frustrated and demeaned and suffer a great loss of dignity.

Yet those of us who work are often caught within a grid of predictability and repetition. It is the same every day. Work should not be like that at all; it should be an arena of possibility and real expression.

Working for Security

Respectability and security are subtle traps on life’s journey. Those who are drawn to extremes are often nearer to renewal and self-discovery. Those trapped in the bland middle region of respectability are lost without ever realizing it. This can be a trip for those addicted to the business world.

Your Work Identity

Many people in business operate only with one side of their mind: the strategic, tactical mechanical side day in and day out. This becomes a mental habit that they apply to everything, including their inner life. Even though they may be powerful people in the theater of work, outside the workplace they look forlorn and lost. You cannot repress the presence of your soul and not pay the price. If you sin against your soul, it is always at a great cost. Work can be an attractive way of sinning deeply against the wildness and creativity of your own soul.  Work comes to dominate your identity.

Read more    Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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As Gregor Samsa, in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, when we are working just to survive, we are sacrificing a part of ourselves, perhaps the best part, either for others’ happiness or just to survive on a personal level.

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” quote from The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. “Calm —indeed the calmest— reflection might be better than the most confused decisions”  Recommended Reading “The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories

Your Unique Contribution and Training Your Mind

Try to establish whether the work you do and where you work is actually expressive of your identity, dignity and gifted-ness. If not, difficult choices may need to be made.

If you sell your soul, you ultimately buy a life of misery.

You need great patience and self-trust to sense the invisible harvest in the territory of the mind. You need to train the inner eye for the invisible realms where thoughts can grow and where feelings put down their roots.  Mindfulness at work starts with synchronizing with our experience. Being mindful at work is not simply a matter of being alert to the present moment, as if we were intently sightseeing or inspecting our experience. Rather, mindfulness introduces us to the reality that we are fully immersed – utterly harmonized 360 degrees – in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Mindfulness reveals that for us to accomplish goals, conduct ourselves ethically, and contribute to our world we must first see clearly.

Read  The Mindful Leader: Awakening Your Natural Management Skills Through Mindfulness Meditation

I’m curious, is your being finding expression in your doing?

 

Sensing Awe in the AWEdinary

sun riseIf you are paying attention you can find truth and inspiration anywhere and everywhere, in the most ordinary things and experiences in life.
To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower – Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. 
~ William Blake

Study – The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake

What passes for spectacular and awesome in today’s culture is mostly synthetic and artificial – most experiences fading like fireworks in a night sky.
Feeling Awesome
Awe is not a function of the brain. Awe is a feeling that comes from that mysterious place deep within the heart and soul. Awe isn’t a product of thought. Rather, awe arises from the gap between our thoughts. There, we connect with that which is beyond description and understanding – something that can only be felt – something that can be shared, but not explained. Read more awesome thoughts here
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” – Marcus Aurelius
Read his philosophy here

Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)

 plumeria
Profound truths are in the anthropological field notes of life.  The sweet honey fragrance of pink plumeria aromatizing along my pre-dawn morning walk.  The salty, slightly cooler fresh air blowing through my hair from the Gulf of Mexico. The nervous scurrying about of the hard shell blue crab across the inter coastal dock.
Life’s Field Notes
When searching for awe in the ordinary, I study life like an anthropologist. Ethnographers engage in participant observation in order to gain insight into cultural practices and phenomena. To facilitate this process, ethnographers must learn how to take useful and reliable notes regarding the details of life in their research contexts. My journals may include –
  1. Date, time, and place of observation
  2. Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site
  3. Sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste
  4. Personal responses to the fact of recording fieldnotes
  5. Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language
  6. Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation
  7. Page numbers to help keep observations in order
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The Blue Crab as Spirit Animal
Time to come out of your shell and be yourself. Stop hiding. He is reminding you that not all paths lead directly to your personal goals. Sometimes a sideways approach is necessary. Shift your focus to what is all around you because your inner senses are trying to guide you through an easier way. Alternatively crab can be reminding you that community is vital for growth, however equally important is a time of introspective seclusion. Know when to withdraw and discern what is right for you.
Crab can also be letting you know that it is important to fuel your curiosity on all levels. Exploration of the world around you leads to discovering new horizons and a vibrant life.