A Year in Review: gems from 2016

Every year at this time I review my journals as I complete the year and make space for what’s next.

2016 was a year of growth and satisfaction, as well as challenge and grief. Writing these notes to myself was an opportunity to acknowledge it all.

I share these 108 insights with my deepest wish that they resonate and remind us all that even the most challenging times have gems.

 


 

1. Truth communicates through the body. Pay attention.

2. Freedom is always calling.

3. Obligation kills joy.

4. Write yourself a permission slip to do whatever the hell you want.

5. Whisper good things to yourself before bed.

6. Your words create your world.

7. Life is reciprocal. Pay attention to what you put out.

8. Expansion is inevitable.

9. Splurging now and then is necessary.

10. Celebrate the future before it happens.

11. Your preferences create your reality.

12. Pay attention to the details.

13. You can be as big as you want.

14. Practice displaces procrastination.

15. It’s not luck when you earn it.

16. Your willingness to risk leads to change.

17. The truth is usually right in front of you.

18. Your core desired feelings are beacons.

19. Chaos always accompanies change.

20. Be involved in a way that feels good.

21. Let go of what no longer serves you.

22. There’s no substitute for doing the work.

23. You are the source of your own aliveness.

24. Get over your need for instant gratification.

25. Vibrate how you feel.

26. Blocks are temporary; don’t make them mean anything.

27. Your desires come from the part of you connected to your soul.

28. Liberation requires courage and heart.

29. Forgive yourself and move on.

30. Practice what you love.

31. Don’t be afraid to burn bright.

32. Listen for resonance.

33. Walk away from drama.

34. Make choices that feel good.

35. You really have no idea what you’re capable of.

36. Turn down the noise and you’ll hear something new.

37. The more you tell your new story, the more real it becomes.

38. When possibilities flow, surf.

39. Trust the healing.

40. Surrender to the fire that burns inside.

41. Intention must be followed by action for change to occur.

42. Be on your own side cheering madly.

43. Include everything.

44. Start over. Again.

45. Become a light for others.

46. Change your mind.

47. Make more promises to yourself.

48. Your comfort zone is made up.

49. Face what you’re most afraid of.

50. You’ll find evidence for anything you believe. Continue reading

Zero Judgement, All Love

Zero Judgement

Shit happens. Unexpected upsets occur. People let you down.

React or respond.

Shut down or share your truth.

One truth is, you always have a choice.

Those moments of challenge life hands us are opportunities to grow. Even when they suck.

Some days the urge is strong to shut down, protect myself, and say, fuck it, I’ve had enough.

Those are the moments that shake me to the core, and remind me that I get to choose how I want to live my life.

No one else has a say, including people who love me.

I do not want to live a shut down life.

I will not trade my passion and self-expression for safety and security.

It is the cause of dis-ease, which I’m sure given enough time becomes disease of a more common kind.

I choose to live consciously, as awake and open as I can.

My choice to live the way I want requires no approval.

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” 

Emile Zola’s words resonate, squeeze my heart, and remind me of something I’ve known for a very long time.

I am here to live out loud.

Unapologetically, free to choose, moment by moment.

Today choose love.

Love the upset. Love the people. And most of all, love yourself more.

Zero judgement, all love.

Imagine the possibilities.

 

Freedom Always Follows Truth

Freedom always follows truth

Today, like most days, I pulled two cards to start my day.

My go-to deck of Truthbombs reminded me of something I’ve forgotten in the busyness of the past few months.

Freedom always follows truth.

And then, because it seemed I needed a second reminder, truth-telling came up in an interview, and I heard myself say how vital it is to my life and work.

Dear Universe, I got the message, loud and clear.

In that moment, I realized it was time to come clean, to tell the truth about what I want – now, at this moment in my life.

Not last year, not even six months ago. Now.

What I want might take a little ruthless compassion focused on the woman in the mirror. And it might take making changes to my schedule, stretching me out of my comfort zone yet again.

That’s the truth that’s been niggling at me, and also what I’ve avoided.

Because really, do I have to keep growing and expanding myself?

Yes, I do. I am clear that’s part of my work in this lifetime.

How do I know this is true? Because I suffer when I stop growing. I suffer when things become stagnant, routine, and draining.

And more importantly, I thrive when I’m challenged to grow.

It’s not that difficult to tell the truth.

Telling the truth feels so damn good. Have you noticed?

It’s the feeling of sweet relief; a kind of grace that washes over me, a balm to my soul.

If it feels so good, why don’t we do it more often?

Because no one wants to look bad.

“Hey there, let me tell you how I lied to myself and got through it.” – Said no one ever.

Sometimes, lying looks like not telling the whole truth, and then we rationalize it away because it’s not like we actually lied.

Except we did.

To ourselves, and holy fuck, there’s a wake-up call.

Wake up to the truth.

In that interview I spoke of forgiveness, and how it relates to self-compassion. It’s easy to get caught up in self-recrimination when we slip from our commitments, and veer away from the truth.

But what if instead we simply acknowledge what’s there?

No judgement, all love.

The truth is I want writing to be where I turn to work things out and create; not a sometime event linked to a looming deadline.

The truth is I want my business to reach more people; and I want that more than I want to believe the old stories about how it’s not possible.

And the truth is I love the busyness that sometimes gets in the way.

I love having my time and energy focused on projects and goals that will, in some way, change the world.

But that truth felt too big, too audacious, too fucking huge for me to admit.

The truth is I want all of this, and more.

 

And suddenly… sweet relief, and freedom.

No judgement, all love.

 

Thinking Out Loud

Thinking Out Loud is a collection of thoughts, notes to myself, and inspirations from the first quarter of 2015.

Desire Map Workshop Level 2-39

Give your desires attention; follow up with action.

If it doesn’t feel good why do it?

You have to think and act differently if you want to create sustainable change.

Today is always a good day to start.

Breathe in calm. Breathe out angst.

Start where you are.

People change when they’re ready, and not a moment before.

Every thought you think changes your brain in some way.

Going after what you want takes a willingness to be brave.

Multitasking is not the answer. Ever.

There’s nowhere to get to, there’s only the day by day evolution.

When you know your values and core desired feelings, it’s easier to live in integrity.

It takes courage to work through the shit that weighs you down.

Do your thing, and ignore the rest.

Finding your way with ruthless compassion is an ongoing process.

In the practice you will find your way.

Change is natural and inevitable.

Desire must be followed by action.

When you discover the right practices, routine becomes ritual, and ritual becomes devotion.

It takes guts to tell the truth, and heart to show self-compassion.

We’re in this together, but we’re all walking our own path.

Trust yourself. Trust your answers.

Choosing love is a practice. Don’t take the choice for granted.

Surrender is not a one time event.

Your dreams are not wishful thinking when they’re fueled by your values and core desired feelings.

Knowing isn’t enough. You must do the work of integration if you want to see profound change.

Treat yourself the way you treat the ones you love the most.

Give yourself compassion without reservation.

No matter what kind of change you’re working on, if you focus on it consistently you’ll get results.

Less angst. More calm.

Progress trumps perfection. Every time.

Magic happens when women gather.

Light and dark. Equal power on the path to freedom.

Slow down.

There’s only NOW.

Love yourself the way you love kids and dogs.

Stay fierce.

The path to change is seldom a straight one.

When the discomfort of where you are becomes greater than the discomfort of change, you’re ready to get started.

Go gently towards the new.

Own your life experiences. Good, bad, unwanted or deeply desired. Own them all.

Normal is overrated.

All change begins with your thoughts.

More truth. Less fluff.

Surrender and trust.

Today and always choose to love more.

Surrender. Release. Evolve.

Mind your thoughts.

Every word creates your future.

The heart wants what it wants. Accept that.

The voice in your head is not your conscience.

Layer by layer, we get closer to our desires and what we want the most.

Sometimes you just have to say WTF…and let it go as you exhale fully.

Less striving. More surrender.

Make creating your day a priority.

You can’t do everything. Stop trying.

The practice of choosing how you want to feel every day is simple, but damn, it’s not always easy.

You can have things planned to a T, and still have them go wildly wrong. It’s what you do then that matters.

Do more of what feels good.

Less comparison. More self-expression.

Tell your limiting beliefs to fuck off.

Assume the best.

Be relentless like the sea.

 

 

We Must Move Into Love

“To transcend fear we must move somewhere else emotionally; we must move into love.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We must move into love, and in doing so we make it an active choice rather than an intellectual one.

We’ve heard the call to choose love over fear.

Has it worked for you? Because I’ll admit I’m starting to get that choosing isn’t enough.

And so I did, mostly because I pride myself on walking my talk, but also because I reached out and asked for help.

Some time ago, I began thinking about shooting video, but every time I thought of it my entire being clenched, gripped by the fear of putting myself out there in a new way.

It felt dangerous and vulnerable.

I let myself feel the fear, and I even began to question it, examining it from various angles.

One day I found myself reaching out and asking a friend for support. He was brilliant in that he didn’t just give me advice on how to make videos.  He showed up on my doorstep with his equipment and proceeded to record our conversation for two hours.

Two hours of facing my fear, and moving into love.

Two hours of talking about love and fear and freedom, and other topics I’m passionate about.

At some point I realized I’d almost forgotten about the cameras I was so into our conversation.

I realized that love and fear can’t coexist.

We can never feel them at the same time. It’s impossible.

I realized that choosing love is only the first step.

Moving into love must follow, an ongoing practice that breathes life into us when we most need it.

In saying yes to doing the video, I chose love over fear.

In sharing it here with you, I move into love once again.

Because to keep this to myself goes against how I want to live my life.

I want you to get, just like I did, that I’m OK exactly the way I am.

If I want to help others reclaim their freedom, I have to make the move into love, over and over and over again.

It’s not a one-time thing.

And I am reminded of Marianne Williamson’s prayer,

Dear God,

Help me today to choose love over fear, that I might work miracles for myself and others. Where I am tempted to attack or defend, please guide my mind to a gentler place.

Amen.  

Don’t Give Up

 

It’s darkest before the dawn.

It’s a cliché, but it’s also the truth, and similarly breakdowns usually precede the greatest breakthroughs.

breakdown, [noun]
a breaking down, wearing out, or sudden loss of ability to function efficiently.

We resist the breakdown, seeing it as failure, a judgment of who we are and what we’re capable of.

But maybe you’re just worn out. Maybe seeing it from this perspective would help you be more loving, more compassionate with yourself.

When the breakdown happens we feel desperate, lost, afraid, and one more action, one more try feels Herculean.

This is the moment that tests us beyond what we think is possible, because in this moment it seems the only path is to stop, quit, let go of the dream.

This is the moment to face your fear – the one that crowds everything else out of your mind, body, and spirit.

Don’t give up.

You’re not beaten yet.

“I wanted to teach myself some life lessons at the age of 60 and one of them was that you don’t give up.” – Diana Nyad

Let the turmoil within you stoke the fire of your emotions to fuel your next step, even if it feels small.

Do what you have to do to feel good, even if only for moments at a time.

Your dreams and desires deserve this effort.

Don’t give up.

Ask for what you want.

Ask for support.

Ask again.

Just don’t give up.

 

* it takes strength to be gentle and kind: photo credit – Nicole (Briant) Melton

Feeling Joy, Finding Ananda

 

In grade 2, my best friend was Barb, a girl of Scottish descent who loved books, reading, creativity, and play.

We were devoted to each other, and spent most of our free time together.

Picture two pig-tailed girls, devouring books, dreaming dreams, and writing stories together.

I loved her with all of my 7-year-old heart, and was shattered when her family moved away.

We promised to keep in touch, and for a couple of years we did but it was hard. Her new neighbourhood seemed so far away, much too far to navigate by bike or by bus on our own.

But for those years we lived one street apart?

Our friendship consisted of total devotion to each other, and joy at our shared interests.

It was bliss.

Which got me thinking about happiness.

Ananda Hum doodle with pen, ink, and Pixlr

Deepak Chopra (and many wisdom traditions) say that happiness is our true nature.

I knew that as a child; I think we all do.

As an adult however, my skeptical brain sometimes gets in the way of this truth, and I question the joy that was once so natural and normal.

“Happiness is part of who we are. Joy is the feeling.” ― Tony DeLiso

As I begin another round of meditation with the Chopra Center, I’m thinking of joy and happiness and how elusive they can sometimes be. 

And I wonder…

What would it take to return to that state of joy?

For me it would take embracing happiness as a way of being.

No striving or earning necessary.

People don’t talk about bliss. I think we worry that it seems selfish.

Who am I to want bliss when so much of the world is at war, and suffering?

But wanting to feel happiness is not selfish; it is a human desire to return to the essence of our true nature.

Joy

Bliss

Happiness

Happiness is our true nature; all I have to do is think back to those days with my best friend Barb to remember.

I also think it takes a commitment, for in the busyness of life, we forget – I know I do.

 

 

Choose love, and have it be that simple.

Crush your fear.

Become fearless.

An inspiring rallying cry in the personal development world.

Or is it?

Does it really motivate you to hear “be fearless,” when time after time your dreams and desires are shut down by fear? Or does the call to fearlessness leave you in doubt that you could ever be that bold?

Just because we hear something a lot doesn’t make it right or true, or even helpful. That it is believed and widespread doesn’t make it useful or effective in the reality of day-to-day living.

Because the truth I’ve learned is that becoming fearless isn’t the point; nor is mastering your fear.

That’s just ego talking, doing it’s best to stop you.

Fear has its uses – survival for one – and it keeps us from doing stupid things, but the thing we don’t often hear is that fear can even lead you to a positive outcome.

What if leaning into your fear is what sets you free? 

Hard to believe? Challenging your beliefs? Stay with me.

When I launched my business almost 15 years ago, I was afraid.

When I got married after heartbreak in my first relationship, I was terrified.

When I learned how to scuba dive, I was so scared I could hardly breathe.

When I faced a video camera for the first time? Heart-racing, deer-in-headlights fear.

I was wracked with fear every single time.

I certainly didn’t ‘crush it’ or eliminate fear from my life. Instead, I tested it, leaning in to see where it would lead me.

That video recording I mentioned?

Yeah, that happened recently, and I can still hardly believe I did it.

For some time, I’ve thought of doing video, every time coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me.

I’m not a video person.
I don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera.
I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.

A few my logical reasons for saying no.

Then I asked myself what was choosing to say no – love or fear?

Fear – deep and dark – a fear of being seen in a new way. Exposed. Vulnerable. I wanted to run and hide, get away from my discomfort.

So I did the opposite, leaning into it as far as I could. And the most amazing thing happened.

Love showed up and said yes.

Choose Love: photo credit - Sandi Amorim

Love for my work, and connecting to people.

Love for the friend who offered to record my first video, and help me face my fear.

Love for myself, and my desire to keep growing and stretching beyond what I think is possible.

I chose love, and it said yes.

Two hours flew by while we talked about life, and vulnerability, and why the general advice to be fearless is fucked. I talked about how scared I was to do this with him.

Two hours of recording that showed me that being afraid and being filmed (or being afraid while being filmed) was something I could lean into rather than avoid.

Instead of crushing fear, I chose love.

Can it be that simple?

Yes.

Simple, and not always easy, but I’m willing to practice.

Choose love, and have it be that simple.

 

p.s. Video to come, so stay tuned.

 

Lessons from the Birth Canal

As I wrote this post, Deva Premal chanted in the background; a prayer to Ganesh, remover of obstacles. This chant has been my constant companion the past month as I prepared for the business of birthing.

Creating. Launching. Birthing.

And exhausting – for it feels like I have given birth, and been birthed at the same time.

Yes, I love a good paradox.

ges·ta·tion  n.

1. The period of development in the uterus from conception until birth.
2. The conception and development of a plan or an idea in the mind.

In this case, the gestation period was two years.

In this case, the gestation period was two years.

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Continue reading

Let Go of What You Know

 

Let Go, image of balloon

 

I used to know (and was pretty damn sure of) what I wanted in life.
Now, I know what I want most is to feel love and freedom whatever I’m doing.

I used to believe in fairness and justice.
Now, I believe they are less important than how I show up whatever comes my way.

I used to think knowledge was power.
Now, I think practicing what you know is the most transformative habit in life.

I used to be fearful of who I could be, who I might become.
Now, I know I am that and so much more.

 

Letting go of old beliefs is powerful. It makes room for what’s important.

Today. Not ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

Now.

Let go of what you know and make room for the now.

Some days life is much simpler than we think.

 

*Writing prompt from Amy Palko and her divine Goddess Guidance group.