Serenity: a gift from the Universe

Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” ~ James Baraz   Ah, serenity. The absence of mental stress or anxiety; peace of mind; repose; hearts-ease Who wouldn’t want this feeling? If that’s true, why don’t we have more of this in our lives? The Universe has provided a gift certificate for each of us, so why don’t we redeem it? Come on, you know you really want this? So what’s stopping you? Any of these match your excuses? You believe your schedule can’t handle one more thing. The “shoulds” of your life have persistently loud voices in your head. You’re too busy planning for future contingencies—just in case. You’re addicted to the adrenalin rush of busyness. You continuously play “If only I would have…” for your past actions. Serenity is attainable. One of the keys to serenity is mindfulness, and I’m not talking about a “full mind”; we’re far too good at that definition. What I mean is, an increased and relaxed awareness within your mind. Try out this exercise. And, yes, you really do have a few minutes for this. Before you begin, notice the pace of your breathing and the speed of your heartbeat. Now, take a deep breath and let it out s-l-o-w-l-y. Repeat if needed. Then look around you, right now, wherever … Continue reading

When Did You Last TRY to Scare Yourself?

Try one thing each day that scares you. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt Courage. According to my dictionary, it’s the “ability to conquer fear or despair.” I believe it’s about having a choice and believing in oneself. About leaping into the unknown, without a manual or guarantees. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive. Courage is the antidote to fear. Unlike a certain commercial, “Maybe she’s born with it…” doesn’t hold true for courage. As of yet, the Human Genome Project hasn’t successfully isolated that part of our DNA that makes one person more courageous than another. So, where does it come from? Courage is more like a muscle: the more you use it, the more easily it comes to you. Our courage muscle is built one small, sometimes infinitesimal, step at a time. No child jumps on a bicycle for the first time and rides off happily into the sunset. You remember: there are cuts, scrapes and bruises along the way—not failure but part of the lesson of learning to overcome. The child’s yearning to ride that bike diminishes any fear they may have of trying. Where DID our childhood courage go? “Consequences” was not a frequent visitor in our vocabulary, much to the chagrin of our parents. You remember, someone would yell, “Come on, let’s do it!” and we’d all be off on some adventure, consequences be damned. How can we recapture that independent spirit, that fearlessness? Our long-lost courage? As Eleanor Roosevelt says, we need to practice. One day at … Continue reading

Make Room. Grow.

Unless one says goodbye to what one loves and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself. ~ Jean Dubuffet   I have a theory that we need to create space within ourselves to make room for something new to enter our lives. Sometimes we need to clear tiny spaces; sometimes we need a major housecleaning. Making space means letting go of something, whether it involves beliefs, things, or people. Sometimes the space-making happens to us and sometimes we have a choice. Usually we experience growing pains, because making space is another name for personal growth, which involves stretching beyond our comfort zones. Think about it: are you the same person as you were at 10, 20, 30, 40…..? Of course not! You needed to discard some things to make room for the person you were becoming. Some things no longer fit, literally and figuratively. I am personally at this point in my life–there’s a major transition happening, by choice btw. I am finding it difficult to ride my personal emotional roller coaster. Up: looking forward to a new way of life and a new way of being. Down: leaving a solid network of friends and familiar surroundings. Up: anticipating all the adventures awaiting. Down: rebuilding the mundane–doctor, vet, dentist, grocery store, hair dresser, repair people, etc. And yet deep down inside I know I need to make this transition. (Notice I didn’t say “should”!) I can feel I’m moving toward … Continue reading

What Scares YOU this Halloween?

The air is crisp, the days are growing shorter and displays of pumpkins abound. Candy corn, costumes and excited kids are waiting for the up-coming special night. Today’s activities bear little resemblance to the ancient rituals offering protection against the returning spirits who would cause trouble and mayhem as the world moved from autumn to winter. Gone are the bonfires and sacrificial offerings. It’s interesting that both current and ancient activities contain an element of fear: ghosts, spirits, and things that go bump in the night. Things that make us hesitate. Things unknown. Things that cause our hackles to rise. Things that cause us to look over our shoulders, just in case. So let’s use Halloween as an analogy. What scares you? What causes you to look over your shoulder? Is it a healthy fear? To clarify: healthy fear is not stepping off the curb of a busy intersection without looking for on-coming traffic. Here are some tips for determining if your fear is unhealthy: Is what you believe really true? Or is it coming from a belief you hold to be true? Are you only predicting one outcome (usually a negative one)? What assumptions are you making? What facts support your viewpoint? What are you imagining will happen? So, you’ve got an unhealthy fear. Don’t we all! Our fear arises out of the story we tell ourselves. Far too often what we believe about our capabilities and ourselves is distorted. Our beliefs are built from our perceptions of reality … Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror

I recently met an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. We had lots of catching up to do and I was looking forward to hearing where he is in his life, eager to share the various changes that have been going for me. I began to notice that while he seemed to be asking me about this or that as it related to my life, he constantly turned the conversation back on himself. We didn’t have endless hours for our conversation, so why was he hogging the conversation? Why was everything about him? I fell more and more into the observer role, rather than as a conversation participant, and realized that I was peeved. I felt unseen and unheard. His interest in me appeared to be very superficial. We parted and I felt let down. Something I read a few days later caused me to realize what was going on, why I was so bothered by my friend’s behavior. What prompted this awakening? What I read were these words: “If you spot it, you got it!” Cute phrase I thought. But those words rumbled around in my brain on the back burner – for days. And then, I finally realized that I was so annoyed how my friend twisted every conversation back to himself – because I sometimes do that myself. And, I really hate when I do that! Omg, I – was – seeing – myself – in – him! And I most certainly didn’t like … Continue reading