Lost and Found

Let things go and they will find you again.

It’s Universal law that that to which we clutch will only squirm away. That to which we release will enter the flow, streaming back to you, sometimes in a new form.

For two years I thought my pearl earrings had been lost. I erroneously thought I had left them in an OP costume whilst playing a doctor on a soap opera. It haunted me for months. Occasionally, I would think of those earrings and get sad all over again for the loss of them.

Then one day I decided mentally to let them go. I replaced them with other earrings. They weren’t the same (my mother had given me the original pair), but I accepted the loss as a natural part of life.

The other day I was searching for a necklace I knew I had placed in a pocket. But which one? So I looked and looked and looked, remaining calm with a newfound trust that nothing is ever lost. It only changes form. That’s when I unzipped a pocket I hadn’t peered into for years. And wouldn’t you know? There were my pearl earrings, smiling back at me.

A few minutes later the necklace resurfaced too as I relaxed my mind and placed my intention on releasing any preconceived notions about how things should be.

Therein lies the key. When we place our own ideas onto how the world should look, we block the energy that flows without effort when we step out of its way. It is meant to serve us. The best thing to do in such circumstances is to surrender yourself to the flow, joining its current as it whisks you down its path. It is most liberating to be carried by the stream of life instead of forcing outcomes that are often suboptimal at best.

It may be the hardest lesson I have to learn in this lifetime. But the Universe really does have our best at heart. Sometimes it takes a few years for things to return. But if they are meant to be in your life, they will be.

They truly will.

21 Days to Slow

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I don’t think I really understood the meaning of that saying until very recently. Like, as in yesterday, when I came to realize how much I have pushed myself all my life.

It’s cultural in part. Americans glorify pursuing your dreams with a tacit understanding that you must be doing something at all times. But the thing is that it creates internal turmoil as you search, run, conquer.

Somewhere in this formula we have forgotten what we are running after. The running itself becomes the most important thing. “It  doesn’t matter,” my culture claims, “as long as you are moving.”

Other countries such as India (and yes, France) understand the important of standing still. Meditation is a powerful practice that helps center us in our deepest understanding of why we are here and what is important. Delving within ourselves becomes a quiet exploration and a celebration of the power of nothingness.

It took me a loooooong time to get my head around that one.

If you are curious as to how you might start an introspective practice, I just stumbled upon this free 21-day meditation program. It’s with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. My guess is it has a very American approach (upbeat, perhaps even a little flashy), but I haven’t tried it out yet.

It takes 21 days to start a new habit. This might just be the thing to help you slow down.

I’m ready. Are you?

When You’ve Lost Your Purpose

Everyone has experienced that moment when you’ve run up the stairs to retrieve something, only to forget what it was by the time you got there. For a split-second, you are lost, dangling in a state of limbo while you try to remember why you raced to the top of the landing in the first place.

For some of us, that sense of feeling lost lingers longer than the five minutes it takes to retrace our steps to the origin of our thought that drove us up the steps. We are obliged to remember what made us race forward in a direction of certainty and determination.

It is a good analogy for what happens to people who have lost their sense of purpose in life. If you struggle with not knowing why you are here, let me remind you.

Every soul is here for a reason. If you doubt that, ask yourself why its rain, why the snow falls, why people fall in and out of love? Natural law states that these things should happen. Why wouldn’t you fall under that same plan? What would make you an anomoly to the entire state of things?

If you have lost your sense of purpose, you have reached a new level of evolution. I like to call it The Crossroads. It is the place that helps you decide where to go next. At The Crossroads you get to create a whole new path for yourself. You get to reinvent who you want to be, start from scratch, breathe fresh air and observe life from a totally new angle with a brand new lens.

Sometimes our direction is MIA (missing in action). We flail about, uncertain as to what we should do next. In those moments, I encourage you to do nothing at all. Be still. Listen. Go within.

It is the hardest thing to do when we have been so hard-wired to be in action at all times, as if activity itself has intrinsic value.

Take it from a formerly exhausted soul. It does not.

Sometimes the best action to take is no action at all. It is in the listening that you will find your purpose again. It might take retracing your steps to the bottom of the landing. But once you get there, you will remember.

It may take some time, but time is one thing we all have. We may not know for how long, but surely we have time enough to make the inquiry, then listen for the answer, whatever that answer may be.

 

Be Here Now

Escape is something we all do with our minds from time to time. Whether it’s watching a movie or play, listening to a great concert or your favorite music, it can be very relaxing to take our minds off the day-to-day grind to lift our spirits heavenward.

Then there are those levels of escape that are unhealthy, always worrying about the future, spending more time thinking about the people you are not with than the people right in front of you, dwelling on events that ‘might occur’ if you take your attention away from them even for a moment. It can be exhausting to be somewhere you are not, living into a future that may or may not come.

The Internet has fostered our virtual selves in ways we are only beginning to understand.

According to the mental health encyclopedia, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,  Internet-use disorder will be listed as a condition “recommended for further study” in its forthcoming May 2013 edition.

A great friend of mine suggested that smartphones are the tether that pull us into a future that may not be healthy for us. Subconsciously, we are waiting for that message/post/feedback that will make our world alright again. It becomes a dependency, a reactive state that leaves us ultimately dissatisfied. We become dependent on that feedback, as if we will disappear if we don’t get it.

So we dare not be where we are with our attention fully applied to our current surroundings for fear we might miss something ‘on the outside’ in the cyberethers that would still our longing for that subtle something we are certain we are missing.

But such absence of mind only expands that dark hole we are so desparately trying to fill. No amount of emails, voice messages, phone calls or texts will keep us in an abundant state of awareness. Only the presence of mind, only the courage to Be. Here. Now. will unleash us from our digital addiction.

Try this. Switch off your phone for an hour in the middle of the day. Practice being present without the urge to check your phone or email messages on your computer. Light a candle and practice inhaling and exhaling on the count of five. Look at your surroundings and name the things you see such as “I see a book. I see a picture. I see the trees outside.” It will help place your awareness back in real time, in the present, and in the space you are meant to be, which is where you are, and not where you think you should be.

The Power of Authenticity

This week I’ve spent in the presence of great friends, the kind that love you even when you have a dime-sized scab on the side of the nose, the kind that hug you when you have morning breath and call you beautiful even when you feel like less than dirt.

It is amazing how life forces you at some point to be really, really authentic, even if you don’t want to be. As I wrote in a recent post, we all carefully place masks over our true feelings for the name of social grace or convenience. But there comes a time when those masks no longer serve us. Good friends tell you it is time to be real. I mean really real.

Being authentic can be scary, especially if you have kept your true self neatly tucked away in a corner for no one to see for fear of rejection, ridicule or, at worst, expulsion from the city walls. But as I begin to reveal my true self more and more, I am finding a level of personal power I’ve never felt in my entire life. It is as if our souls are crying out for us to say the truth once and for all.

If you struggle with authenticity, you are not alone. It is not easy to change your ways. It is not easy for any of us. But I promise you this: if you show your true self, those good friends that love you anyway will be there for you. Those who don’t can take a long walk off a short pier.

And that’s the truth, Ruth.

Transitions

The paradox of our existence is that we live as if we are eternal. And while it is true that our souls never die, our bodies always do.

It is shattering when we learn that someone we loved, even if we have never met that person, has passed away. Such was the case this morning as I flipped to my Facebook page, expecting funny pictures of my sister’s animals to be posted along with casual acquaintances’ news about nothing in particular. I learned that Debbie Ford, an amazing best-selling author and sister of my dear friend Arielle Ford, had transitioned out of her body for good.

She wasn’t much older than my sister. It hit home in a way that recognition of our own mortality always does. We are here for a short time. We all have a personal bank account with minutes, days, years that we can choose to fill in meaningful, joyful ways or with much heartache and sorrow.

Debbie chose to write books that impacted the world in very powerful ways: Spiritual Divorce was one of her first works that paved the way for a new approach to look at the changes in our marital relationships, one that leaves us no longer the victim, but the champion of our own evolution. Her last book, Courage, spoke of her own struggles with addiction and the cancer that ultimately took her life.

But through all her challenges, she chose to apply her life experiences to help others overcome their own issues. I truly loved her, although we only ever spoke on the phone once and never met personally.

Debbie is a role model for us all that no matter what life throws at you, you can live a life that matters.

Debbie, we will miss you, your courage and the power you brought to this world. Thank you for helping me find mine.

Relinquish

Habits are hard to break, especially the ones that aren’t good for us. But as creatures that love routine, we cling to our structures as if our lives depended on it. That’s how we’re made.

What would we do if we didn’t have our preset structures? Most of us think we  will die if we relinquish them.

Who would we be without all that pain, confusion or stasis? We get so accustomed to the rut we are in that we think that is all there ever is for us.

That is so not true.

Nature hates a vacuum. The moment we release those old unhealthy ways of being, something new takes its place. It is universal law. Energy gets set into motion that was constipated in the caverns of our being, exhausting us as we attempt to keep a lid on that which we don’t want to see.

Many times we think if we let go of the familiar, nothing good can come of it. Even if the familiar isn’t the best for us, it is what we know. And we hold on tight to that which we know for fear that it could only get worse.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you know you need to experience a shift, but are worried about how to go about it, that’s normal. The good news is you are aware that something has to change. Just stating the intention that you will support the process of change is enough. It makes you more aware and in tune with your surroundings, your feelings and your situation. It requires self-trust, something we all struggle with at times. But have you ever noticed that the right people show up just when you thought you were alone to remind you that you are trustworthy? Very trustworthy indeed.

That’s another universal law.

Yeah, the Universe is cool that way.

 

The Masquerade

As a little girl, I used to parade around the living room in my mother’s ball gown. The crinoline scratched my shins, but I’ll never forget the feeling of dressing up to be someone I was not. It was fun when I was five.

Chrissy_in_ball_gown_1974Playing dress-up can still be fun. Admittedly, I like to get all gussied up and go out on the town. It makes me feel special and warm inside, like Christmas or my birthday.

Other times we dress up in ways that don’t involve fancy clothes. We put on masks, like kids on Halloween, to hide our truest feelings. We do so in the name of political correctness or because of a belief we have about ourselves or the world.

“Nice people always smile.”

“Never, ever let them see you cry.”

“Professional people always have it together.”

“Struggle? Not me.”

Being authentic in a world that judges a book by its cover is challenging at best. Removing those carefully laid masks can take a lot of work, but it is possible. It starts with the awareness that you’re wearing one at all.

You might not think you are playing a role, but let’s face it. We all do. How can you tell? Consider those people who just rub you the wrong way and you react automatically to them, despite the mask you thought you were wearing. Those unnerving moments when you cling to that facade only make things worse as you realize how far away from being your authentic self you truly are.

The next time you bump up against a mask, try peeling it away for a moment by looking at yourself in the mirror and asking: “Who will I be today?”

If you answer “Myself,” that’s a very good start indeed.

Shelf It

The state of my office reflects my state of mind. If things are bursting at the seams, so am I.

Have you ever noticed when your desk is a mess you feel out of sorts too? You might not pick up on your sense of disarray right away. In fact, that state of chaos might just seem normal to you. That is, until you start to clean up the piles of papers, the litter, the stuff that has accumulated over weeks, months or even years. When you create space for yourself with a rigorous decluttering regimen, suddenly the mental detritus lifts like a fog and you can think clearly for the first time in a very long while.

Feb 2013 104Then that clarity starts to seep into other areas of your life. You might observe the veil of cloudy thinking fall away, prompting you to capture your inner wisdom. You might start to make different choices based on the released energy that had been blocked by all that junk that surrounded you for years.

I recently made a decision to focus on just one area of my business. Subconsciously, I had been resisting this decision for almost a decade. But once I made the choice to put my efforts there, I magically had so much energy! It was as if I had regained a new flow of mental and emotional currency in the blink of an eye.

It all started with the shelf closest to me.

For the last five years, I filled that shelf with all my dreams, hopes and aspirations. It got so full I started lining books into two rows, one behind the other. I crammed more papers into it, thinking my dream would be realized if I only stuffed another thing on the shelf.

But that bookshelf, like our inner selves, started to sag under the weight of my resistance. I failed to recognize that what I was really doing was forcing an outcome that simply wouldn’t come at all. So I emptied all the contents, tossed out a laundry basket full of papers, gave away books, rearranged others to be placed at the farthest end of the room. I scrubbed the shelves clean, then placed only my highest priorities on them.

It wasn’t an act of giving up. It was an act of surrender.

Surrendering to What Shall Be.

So often we push ourselves (and others) into roles that do not serve the highest good. We try to make things happen, resisting the inevitable, while forgetting that we already possess everything we are so desparately searching for outside ourselves.

The moment I cleared the deck with focus and finality was the moment things started to shift. People showed up in record time to help me realize my new business idea. Within one week my skeleton notion had been converted into a real possibility. With the help of friends I began to see that my life’s purpose had merely taken on a new form. The function was still the same.

If you feel stuck, empty a shelf and give away a few things. You won’t be giving away your dream, but the resistance to the path that will lead you to it faster.

 

 

 

Standing in the Rain

Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.

Life’s a seesaw. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down.

yin and yangBut I ask you: Without yin, what on Earth would yang do?

We can’t always have sunshine (not even in California!). Admittedly, adversity isn’t pleasant. Most of us do everything in our power to avoid it. We don’t like conflict, so we let the little things fester until they become big things. Then we really can’t ignore them, no matter how hard we try.

But what if we were to take every little conflict that comes our way and treated it like a friend? Like an energy that has our best at heart and is showing us we will not die in the face of it?

Consider what Grant said about the benefits of adversity.

“The friend in my adversity I shall always treasure most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity”
– Ulysses S. Grant

When we experience upset, it’s a great opportunity to see who shows up for you. They often say your truest friends are those who not only stand by you in the rain, but are those who are also willing to hold your umbrella.

Blessings to all of those umbrella holders out there. You matter. You truly do.