Two Thin Lines

The only thing that separates joy and sorrow are two thin lines. Like the moon to the Earth, one revolves around the other, living side-by-side in constant juxtaposition. Whether we like it or not, happiness and sadness need each other to survive.

That is perhaps the paradox of living. To know love we must also know hate. To know light we must also peer into the dark side. To know boundlessness we must learn what it feels like to be trapped inside.

We get to learn these lessons every day, if we so choose to accept them. Or we can spend our entire lives fighting the reason we are here.

It may feel like dancing with fire to step over those carefully laid boundaries that are meant to keep us warm and dry. But what they often end up doing is imprisoning us with the fear out of which they were created. We are then no longer safe – we are just comfortably numb.

A good friend of mine admitted that she listens to her inner critic far more than her inner voice.

“What would your life be like if you were to believe that angel inside you?” I asked her. My friend’s eyes lit up for just a moment. I saw that angel crying to get out from underneath the thumb of her controlling internal monster. Its wings fluttered across her irises, then disappeared into the darkness once again.

Every day is a new dawn to draw closer to our truest selves. Allow yourself to look at your greatest fears for they are a part of you too. Shower them with love as you grant them permission to stand beside your greatest dreams. Two thin lines and a chance to truly live – tears and laughter, understanding and confusion, success and failure, arrivals and departures.

Everything.

Forgiven

If you hold an eight ounce glass of water for a minute, it feels like nothing. If you hold it for a day, the weight of it can crush you.

And so it is when we carry around bad feelings. A fleeting moment of sorrow or sadness is a part of being human. But carrying the weight of those feelings for years can feel like a ton of bricks.

Forgiveness can set you free.

Forgiveness is not about accepting or embracing bad actions. It is about releasing the hold they have over you.

Forgive yourself for your wrongdoings. No one’s perfect. Including you. So you messed up. Okay. Did you learn from it? The mistakes you make give you your unique patina. Self-forgiveness is critical in letting go of negative thoughts about yourself, which, in turn, hold you hostage to making even more bad decisions.

Forgive others for their transgressions. They did what they did. Release yourself from the shackles of pain that keep you connected to the feelings about what those people did. Bless everyone. Yes, even that thorn in your side who is there to teach you something really great about yourself.

You cannot undo the past. But you can make a new future.

Today is the day we begin.

 

 

Climbing the Mountain of Information Overload

Life offers us challenges. Every day.

Sometimes we have mountains to climb, other times molehills. Whether you are faced with an arduous ascent or a quick trip over a speed bump, progress can only happen one step at a time.

This morning I awoke to over a dozen client-related emails people had sent to me overnight. That meant they were working on a Sunday. It wasn’t that they expected me to respond right away. But it started my Monday morning with a tight feeling of overwhelm. A mountain of work had been created whilst I slept.

So it is in our 24/7 world, especially if you work with people outside your time zone.

Taking it one email at a time, I quickly surveyed my work landscape. What seemed like a mountain turned into a molehill the moment I waded through the requests, comments and threads. By mid-morning I had a handle on my day and even had time for my daily walk through the woods.

I breathed in the Slow and remained mindful: Just because people want things from us doesn’t mean we have to say ‘yes’ the moment the request is made. Sometimes a gentle ‘no’ works wonders.

Panic helps no one. Patience does. If you are flying into overwhelm this beautiful Monday, remember to take it one baby step at a time. You are only human, as are the people making demands of you. Send them a dose of love, and one to yourself too.

It all works out in the end just as it should. And never doubt the power of intention. If you intend to have a good day, nothing can stop you – not even a Mount Everest of emails.

 

The Painful Truth

Why does honesty hurt sometimes? Like any muscle that’s been underused, we grow accustomed to telling little untruths to ensure we look good, sound good, feel good. It doesn’t always feel good to look truth in the eye, especially when we try so desparately to hide it.

Truth has consequences. It means you blast open your soul for all to see. You are vulnerable in a way that is scary and unfamiliar. And you think in being that honest you will somehow lose everything.

When we unchain ourselves from those little white lies, we start to unearth our true selves. For fear that we will be judged, we try hard to keep a lid on our thoughts and feelings. We’d rather harmonize on the outside and agonize on the inside than ever, ever show what is real about who we are.

Why?

It starts early in our development. I see it in my own children. As their true selves start to emerge, they are confronted with the need to fit in and be a part of the group. It is frightening to feel as if you might be cast outside the city walls, banned forever and left to die without shelter or care.

We often think if we reveal our inner being that we will somehow die in the process.

Nothing can be farther from the truth.

When we truly open up to another person, we give them permission to do the same. Without judgment. With love.

Authenticity plays a big role in showing that side of ourselves. When we are authentic, we act from love, that timeless, omniscient state of beauty and grace.

The truth may be painful, but if, as in sports, you practice enough, it will hurt a lot less — in time. And all that energy you placed in hiding what is true about you can be freed up and put back into your life – that fabulous, magical life you truly deserve.

A Place of Comfort for Us All

Self-soothing is a skill we teach babies to help them fall asleep at night. It is an important thing to learn because, whether that stressed out new parent knows it or not, self-soothing is an essential, lifelong process.

Creating an inner sanctum is life-sustaining. Without a safe place to land within ourselves, we would be carried like flotsam down the river of life. We would constantly be in reaction to everything around us without the wherewithall to withstand those stressors.

Many people look outside themselves for that elusive happiness they just know is “out there”. They feverishly pursue fleeting moments of joy, only to be left empty once again.

But happiness resides within. And the only one who can fill you up is you. No amount of alcohol, nicotine or sex can do it for you.

Although we may know this to be true, we still often look to others to fill the void within ourselves. And we do need each other. As social animals, humans thrive when interconnected. Even loners need a hug every once in a while.

But if we are never able to soothe ourselves in moments of despair, we will be forever doomed to unhappiness. We have a lot more control than we realize when it comes to how we choose to live our lives. And how we choose to react to the things that happen in it.

Sometimes I am awash with remarkable waves of joy for the mere sake of being alive. It usually happens when I’m in the forest (a part of me believes I am a descendent of Snow White), but it always happens when I am alone. It is my internal altar saying hello.

Carve out time in your day to feel that True Space inside. Even five minutes of connecting with yourself can put you on the happy track. Honor your resting place where your spirit can soar and be soothed at the same time.

It is possible. It really is.

 

 

The Natural Family Connection

The shape and size of family depends wholly on the connection you have to the people in your circle. Sometimes its form has to change for things to work better. Some people fall off the radar while others remain by your side — rock solid — no matter what. Relationships evolve. Nothing is ever lost or gets dissolved. It simply alters form.

Sometimes the pace of family life has to change too.

Virtually every day I hear about kids who are rushed from one activity to the next, in scheduled activities from dawn until dusk. Then their parents complain about the children who don’t know how to deal with their boredom on a rare day off because they rarely are bored at all.

Boredom, I tell my children, places you at the cusp of creativity. Without that space between activities, we would never have a chance to let our minds wander. A rigidly organized life leaves no room for new thoughts to enter.

The other day I went to a petting zoo with my kids along with my friend and his son. Along with the lovely weather, the outing was beautiful for its simplicity.

The kids reconnected with themselves by observing the animals grazing. What could have been considered ‘boring’ wasn’t because we got to explore something new together.

My friend and I watched our children expand beyond themselves by being outside, climbing trees and maneuvering through playground sculptures. The monkeys, furry pigs, llamas, camels and goats suddenly became a part of our larger family. For that moment in time, we were one with the greatest force in the world – Nature itself.

Family is about connection. So is Nature. If you combine both, you will see family is about more than just blood relations. It is about sharing precious moments of togetherness with those you love and celebrating the simple fact that we have each other.

 

 

The Freiburg Sparkle

Freiburg holds the key to my heart. It is the most magical place I have ever been. Every day I thank the Universe for its goodness in bringing me here. It is the reward, I suppose, for trusting in its message even when I had no other reason but to believe.

This town is so incredible that even everyday encounters like a visit to the dentist’s office can turn into a mystical experience.

On Wednesday I had such a moment.

The dentist smiled at me from her perch on the third floor windowsill. Nestled in the dentist’s chair, I swallowed my nervousness.

The dentist’s office is one of my least favorite places. But I go because dental pain is even worse.

To my left her husband smiled widely at me, searching my eyes as if he were looking for a treasure.

“Welcome, Christine. We’ve been waiting for you.”

I could hear a stifled giggle coming from the dental hygenist. Had I just stepped onto a movie set?

I looked around the room for the clapboard and director’s assistant. Nada.

This was real. And it was happening to me.

You see my former dentist, whom I adored, graciously told me she has a friend in Freiburg with a great practice of her own. They had gone to University together. And she promised me I’d be in good hands.

Looking at the gleam in my new dentist’s eyes and her genuine delight in being right there with me now, I knew I was.

My former dentist must have called her Freiburg friend in advance because she chatted with me as if she knew a lot about me. Then she informed me that her office charges a third of what most around town do — And for my son? Well, they don’t charge at all.

“My husband has been a dentist for thirty years. He doesn’t need the money.”

I looked under my bib to see if they had secretly hid a microphone. Nope. Nothing.

They did a super, yet gentle job cleaning my teeth, then told me all was well. That my teeth were spectacular. And my son’s too.

As I reentered the receptionist area, the dentist followed me and assured me I could call her any time. You know, just to chat and answer any questions I had about Freiburg. She even referred me to a great internist in case I needed that too. I almost hugged her. I had never felt so welcomed in a dentist’s office in all my life.

The Freiburg sparkle is everywhere. Even the vegetation bounces with delight for the mere sake of its own beingness. You don’t have to prove yourself here. In fact, your existence alone is more than enough.

I can honestly say that, for the first time in my life, I have finally – finally — come home.

 

 

The Era of Restoration

The restorative powers of sleep are not to be underestimated. We all need rest. If we don’t get it, we shorten our lives, and the quality of it, considerably.

The Earth’s response to the colder nights can serve as a reminder to us all about the need to slow down at times.

The trees speak the language of Slow. As their leaves become a golden blaze, we are witness to the trees’ slow turn inward. Late fall and early winter are times of fully releasing the fertility of summer. The trees give off their final sigh and day turns to night.

It is an era of restoration, hibernation and introspection. I have learned to appreciate the slower ways of the cold. It may never be my favorite time of year, but it is an instructive one just the same.

If you are in need of restoration, sleep, dear one. It will renew your soul and awaken your spirit. Glide on the plane of dreams. Find solace there.

For tomorrow, and the promise held within it, will always come. All in good time.