Tag Archives: love

Give thanks, get goodness

photo (4)

I want to be grateful. And so I am.

There’s a message board in the entryway to my apartment, and on it I’ve written a reminder that has really helped me stay present the last week or so.

“Focus on what you want.”

That means no regretting what didn’t happen or dwelling on what’s wrong. It means noticing my thoughts and dismissing what doesn’t serve me. It means leaving no space in my brain for anything other than a vision of life as I most love it.

My mind wants to worry and wonder: What if this doesn’t work or that doesn’t pan out? Or for that matter, what if it does?

It’s so easy to get caught in thought tangles, to rationalize my mental gymnastics as reasonable or necessary.

But the truth is, life as I most love it does not need to be thought.

It needs to be seen.

When I close my eyes and imagine ideal outcomes in sensory detail, I am communicating clearly with the universe. When I focus steady on what I desire deep, I can make realities from my dreams.

The methods and processes of manifestation are many, and I’m going to share with you the simplest technique I know:

Give thanks.

The more gratitude you give, the more goodness you are able to accept. And when you focus on what you want, you can summon the feeling of having received it.

Get in the habit of doing that, and soon enough, real life will match your dreams–or maybe even be better.

 

You don’t have to earn a thing.

life wrist quotes

Now is all we ever have.

Right now, already, you are everything. There is nothing you need. Sure, there is plenty to dream of and hope for and work toward, and thank goodness for that.

Oh, goodness. Goodness is everywhere, and more is on the way. If you let it, goodness—love—will show you its secrets, carry you in its kindness, sweep you into its current of compassion.

All you have to do is…nothing. Just be you. Not who you think you should be, or even who you want to be. Just start with who you are: someone who has nothing to prove.

Someone who is already worth a million bucks, times infinity. Just because you’re here.

Keep breathing. Good job. Thanks for showing up.

In case you didn’t already know

morning message

It’s just today, again, here for you to take in.

I like to feel good. Stress, typically, does not feel good. Sure, sometimes it’s exhilarating—the thrill of rushing toward a deadline, the zing of taking a risk. But I don’t need a lot to get my fill, and lately I’ve had too much.

The other night I did yoga at home, and that helped, for sure. I twisted and stretched and wrung out some lymph nodes, coaxed my immune system to stay strong. But I don’t always have make time for yoga. Sometimes it feels like there is barely time to breathe.

And that leaves me anxious and afraid. Because, as I’ve noted before in a quote attributed to Fritz Perls, “fear is excitement without the breath.”

I need my breath, because I want to be excited. My writing group is sharing excerpts of our novels-in-progress at a local bookshop tonight. Also, the first printing of Are You My Boyfriend? is officially underway. These things (and many more) are awesome. These things are scary, too.

And so I will breathe. And I will pass along a message.

Ever since my writing group got together in March 2012 and worked through The Artist’s Way, I’ve set aside time to write morning pages every day. The pages are mostly messy brain ramblings, but they’re also a form of meditation, and I often receive information from my version of god/the universe/whatever.

Today, I felt almost possessed—my hand did not belong to my stressed-out self, no, it was guided by something else, and the words on my page shifted from first-person thoughts to second-person assurances. It was a message not just for me, but for you, too, and so I am sharing:

“Just go with it, roll with it, show up and have fun. No expectations, no worries, just do your best…let go and trust, that’s what must happen, it’s the only way this works…I love you so much, I’ve got you and all the others and all of this, it’s fun, it’s supposed to be, breathe in and enjoy it, relax, allow, exist, it’s all right, you’re okay, it’s just today, again, here for you to take in.”

…Just in case you didn’t already know.

sunshine tree

Love is greater than terror.

sunshine tree

Love’s light can shine through anything. Growth is always possible.

“Terrorists are jerks.”

That’s the subject line of an email a very dear friend sent me last weekend. She went on to let me know that some terrorists had opened fire at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and that a very dear friend of hers was there when the gunfire began and was currently MIA.

The next night I found out that her friend, Ravi, did not survive the attacks. He’s dead now, just like more than sixty other people who were mercilessly gunned down for no good reason.

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on surrender, on letting go, on accepting a lack of control. And that’s great, it’s lovely, it’s wise and good and all of that.

But sometimes it seems like a load of crap. It’s hard to feel helpless in the face of inhumanity.

My first reaction when I learned of the attacks, and especially of Ravi’s death, was to lash out spiritually. I felt aggrieved and angry. How can god/the universe/whatever I believe in let this kind of stuff happen?

But then I remembered I already know the answer to that question. God/the universe/whatever has no choice BUT to let this kind of stuff happen, because energy is responsive and humans have free will.

So my next reaction was to lash out at the terrorists. How could anyone voluntarily commit such horrific acts of violence?

And then I remembered I already know the answer to that question too. Hurt people hurt people. If the attackers felt fully whole, if they were deeply connected to their inner okayness, if they truly loved themselves, they could not also be terrorists.

Terror, a stronger word for fear, is the utter absence of love. Where love flourishes, terror cannot.

It’s true I can’t control what happened at Westgate. Upsetting as it is, acts of violence, hatred, and terror occur all the time, and most of them I can’t stop. Nor can I prevent the pain and grief that follow.

But that doesn’t mean I’m helpless, because I can still choose love.

Every time I pick love over fear, I am shining light into terror’s darkness.  Love—that is what god/the universe/whatever is absolutely full of, and that is what we’re here to share.

Every single human on the planet has love to give. Some of us are taught to spread fear instead, and that’s why it’s so important that the rest of us show up for what’s good.

Change happens one person at a time, one heart at a time, one action, one vote, one choice at a time. By supporting my friends in mourning, by smiling at strangers, by asking for help and declining despair, I am choosing love.

My heart goes out to those who are grieving the loss of Ravi. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a person who chose love. I am so sorry that fear caused his death, and I am grateful for his light. May we all have the courage to shine.

Today is special. Will you feel it?

sextile portal 7.29.13

Every day is special, of course, but today in particular, because the planets are lined up in a very rare and powerful formation that, in turn, gives us a rare and powerful opportunity to set intentions and manifest peace.

You don’t have to buy into the astrological implications of this phenomena in order to take advantage of it. All you need is relaxed awareness.

Personally, I don’t know much about astrology. I identify with my sun sign, and when I have a crush on someone I like to match up our zodiac compatibility, but I don’t take any of it too seriously. I’m just beginning to learn about sacred geometry, and while the idea of an energetic portal is appealing, when I hear the term “stargate,” I think of a 90’s sci-fi movie I never watched.

However, I’m passionate about self-care and growth and inner peace (which inevitably leads to outer peace), and I’ll pursue any pathway that moves me forward. Especially if it’s endorsed by people I trust and respect, as is the case with today’s occurrence.

Right this moment (if you’re reading before 4 p.m. EST on 7/29/13), two overlapping planetary triads are forming a six-pointed star, or sextile. According to astrologer Amy Bird, “sextiles are like open doors or gateways, showing us what opportunities lie beyond and what skills are available to us if we are to step through them.”

If you’re curious to learn more about which planets are aligned and what the significance of the open portal is, I encourage you to pop over to this post, which was compiled by someone who knows way more about these topics than I do.

But mostly I encourage you to take a moment—right now, if you can—to pause. Breathe slowly until you catch a glimmer of inner quiet. In that space, consider what your heart wants for yourself and for the world. And know that you have the power to create it.

It’s already okay

you-are-enough butterfly

I had a whole elaborate blog post planned. I was prepared to tell you all about my latest bout with insecurity, and how I was hoping to overcome it quickly. (I was on a deadline.)

So to start, I tracked down an image that contained the message “you are enough,” and I composed the title of “it’s already okay.” And to my pleasant surprise, I felt like I was finished.

I could take more space and time to detail the specifics of today’s low-grade anxiety. Maybe I even will.

But for now, I am resting in the reassurance of two simple phrases, and in the relief and comfort it gives me to share their truth.

I am willing to feel great!

Scatter Joy

“With excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.”

“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite phrases, because I’ve found it to be very, very true. In good times and bad (and everything between), remembering impermanence helps me appreciate, or at least tolerate, the present.

But what if I could always feel okay? For that matter, what if I could always feel good? Or, dare I say it…great?

A YouTube video by Brian Johnson has me seriously considering the possibility. In the video, Brian neatly summarizes The Big Leap, a book by Gay Hendricks that, among other topics, addresses the issue of upper limits.

I learned about what Gay calls “upper limits” back when I read Conscious Loving several years ago, and I’ve been pushing past them ever since.

Basically, an upper limit is a glass ceiling of my own creation, a limiting belief that prevents progress. These limits keep me comfortable, but they also hold me back.

For a long time I was afraid to feel good. This sounds silly to me now, but it also makes sense: feeling good was unfamiliar, and I feared the unfamiliar.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with fear, it’s just not often helpful. But you know what is? Breathing. Love.

“Fear is excitement without the breath,” according to Fritz Perls (via Gay Hendricks via Brian Johnson). This may be my new favorite quote, as it resonates with truth straight to the core of my breath-loving belly.

When I breathe into my fear, it fades. And as I learn to let love’s light dissipate the darkness of fright, I learn to welcome the unfamiliar with open curiosity, even with excitement.

And with excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.

In the video, Brian recounts an anecdote from The Big Leap:

Apparently when steam-powered trains were a new thing in the nineteenth century, scientists and other thought leaders wanted to cap the maximum speed the trains would be allowed to travel. “They were convinced that human bodies would explode at speeds greater than thirty miles per hour,” Brian says. “How funny is that? Thankfully some brave souls went for it…”

Thankfully, indeed! Can you imagine if no one had breathed through their fears?

It might seem absurd to consider society stuck at 30 mph, but Brian says Gay thinks “we’re at essentially the same place in our own development, in terms of how much goodness we can sustain, how much bliss we can endure, how great we’re willing to feel.”

I’m excited to find out.

Bravely blossoming

The onset of NYC spring feels like the epitome of ambivalence. Day after day I wonder: heavy coat or light jacket, boots or flats, umbrella or not?

But it’s more than just my outerwear that fluctuates. My attitude seems unsure as well, a familiar toggle between safe and brave that feels accentuated by the chill in the air and the promise of new life.

“Go ahead and take a risk,” the buoyant breeze seems to say, even as rainclouds frown and suggest I stay inside.

The truth is I’m feeling overwhelmed with possibility and potential, and please note I’m not complaining. Rain or shine I trust in what’s to come; I just wish my circumstances were more certain.

And to some extent, of course they are: I am certain I am cared for, I am certain I am breathing. I am certain I am trying daily, and I’m certain of both failure and success.

On a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I learned a few things about plants. Most of the landscape was still brown, plenty of bare branches and empty bushes.

In early April, a lot of land still looks barren.

In early April, a lot of land still looks barren.

Those plants know it’s not yet safe to blossom—a cold snap could still come and kill, and so it’s wise to wait.

But occasionally I saw bursts of color that delighted me. I felt connected to these flowers, bravely blooming without guarantee of survival. They boldly risked the wrath of winter to show their true colors, and, it seemed, they paved the way for their fellows to follow.

blossom 1

Some plants are carelessly colorful!

That’s not how it really works, my friend frankly informed me. The flowering plants bloom sooner because they’re not native to the region; in their southern climates of origin it’s perfectly safe to open up so early.

In other words, they’re totally in danger, they just don’t know any better.

All right, so it was ignorance rather than boldness that caused the beauty I appreciated. And maybe it doesn’t make sense to personify plants—the facts definitely damage my metaphor—but the vision inspires me nonetheless.

Each day is different, and a cold snap could come, but I can blossom anyway. I can be bold, and choose brave over safe, just like love over fear, again and again, whenever I can.

And whatever the weather, I can wear my heart on my sleeve.

I’m so scared

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

I try so hard to be brave. My comfort zone feels like a distant home, a place I love to visit but where I no longer live. And a lot of the time that feels fine. I am excited about where I’m headed. I’m SO excited. But I’m also scared.

And not confessing the fear makes it worse, because then it turns into a shameful secret, and shame is self-hate, and self-hate is harmful.

So I want to talk about this, even though it’s (surprise!) frightening to be publicly vulnerable. It feels like because I am strong I’m not allowed to show weakness; because I have courage I shouldn’t flaunt fear.

But the fact is I’m afraid. And the more I illuminate that truth, the lighter I will become.

I’m afraid I can’t hold all the goodness I’m asking for. I’m afraid to write another book. I’m afraid to look for an agent. I’m afraid I don’t deserve the massive success I envision for myself. I’m afraid I’m a fraud, that my earnest attempts at authenticity are nothing more than ego.

I’m afraid to publish this post, that exposing insecurities is naive and unsavvy. I’m afraid you’ll pass judgment. I’m afraid I’ll be sorry.

And all of that’s okay. Each of my fears and ten million more are not only okay, they’re inescapable.

As a human, I am going to feel fear. A lot. Probably always.

But I also feel love.

Love is my trump card, my winning lotto ticket, my night-light, my soft blanket, my wide smile, my huge hug. Love is my hope, and my laughter, and my promise to keep trying.

Love is what I have to give, and fear is what I face to do so. Neither emotion will disappear, but what I focus on will flourish.

So today I choose love. Awareness gives me the option, honesty gives me the freedom, and with gratitude, I am not so scared.

Better together

Together

It’s important for me to feel okay alone, to trust that I am always loved and cared for, whether or not I’m connecting with another person at any given moment.

But oh, man, it is nice to have company.

Life is so much less lonely when I make the effort to build relationships. Reaching out is not always easy, but it is always worth trying. We all need to feel supported and affirmed, and it feels delightful to actively cultivate connection. For example(s):

At a holiday party last month I hit it off with a coworker of the host, and we decided we were friends. A week ago we had coffee and encouraged each other.

Then last Friday a Facebook update prompted me to message a college pal I haven’t seen in years, and consequently we met over the weekend for brunch and inspiration.

In both cases, instant rapport allowed for easy and open comfort, and I left feeling understood and uplifted.

Sharing time with others who are similarly invested in self-care, living well, and honoring creativity feels invigorating, and it is refreshing to trade stories and ideas with honesty, respect, and humor. Fulfilling relationships are tremendously important!

And if these sound like simple observations…they are.

What seems to be harder is choosing to make space for quality connecting. I frequently find myself at odds with a busy schedule or an I’m-on-my-own attitude, so it takes awareness and action to avoid isolation.

Thankfully, awareness and action are impressively effective, and because of them, I’m getting a lot of what I ask for these days–pleasant company, fresh perspectives, provocative conversations. Connection and support. Understanding and affirmation. And gobs and gobs of gratitude.

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.

More love, less fear

love greater than fear

It’s the first day of 2013, and I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling twenty-four hours. I can without hesitation say this is the best January 1 I’ve ever personally experienced.

The reason? Love.

I don’t mean love in the romantic sense–I didn’t kiss anyone at midnight and that was fine by me. I mean love in the universal energetic sense: Every action I have taken since the clock struck twelve has been motivated by caring and consideration, and the people I’ve shared time with have offered warmth and authenticity. The combination has created a deeply satisfying state of connectedness and well-being.

After a morning of self-care and cooking (hope you all ate your black-eyed peas!), I spent the afternoon at a birthday party that ended with a group meditation and gratitude circle. I appreciated the willingness of guests to go along with such a suggestion, and it was interesting to observe the contrast between the lively chatter that had dominated the day and the quiet of sitting with our breaths that followed.

And when the ringtone gong signaled the end of our silence, each guest had the opportunity to voice intentions for the year ahead. One by one, when the moment felt right, we told the group what we were grateful for, what we wanted to hold on to, and what we wanted to let go.

I said I was grateful for community, and that I wanted to let go of my willfulness–my desire to control situations and anticipate outcomes. I said I wanted to hold on to my boldness and to have the courage to share my true self with the world.

I like what I said, and I certainly meant it, but someone else’s words are sticking with me most: One of my friends simply stated that he wanted to let go of fear and to bring in more love.

More love, less fear. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In the “Religious Views” section of my Facebook profile, I assert “Love > Fear.” I’ve found it to be a succinct and reliable spiritual philosophy, and it was inspiring to hear that truth stated as intention today.

Fear is never going to make me feel better, while love always will. That’s one of many reasons I choose love as often as possible. I’m grateful to say I successfully did so today, and I’m glad I’ll get the chance to try again tomorrow.

Changing focus, moving forward

shift key

I never meant for ThisIsWheretheHealingBegins.com to be a yoga website.

When I purchased the domain in 2010, I envisioned creating a destination where people who were in pain (aka everyone) could easily explore accessible, affordable ways to feel better. Yoga was certainly on the list of resources I intended to offer, but so were EFT, Inner Bonding, and other tools that had helped me on my own healing journey.

But I knew nothing about web design and was going through a challenging time in my personal life, so the domain sat dormant until January 2011, when I realized that my impending training to get certified as a yoga instructor would provide me with a great opportunity to begin blogging. And since I already had a website…

I wrote regularly about yoga for nearly a year, and I’m grateful to say my passion for the practice has yet to wane. But it has certainly evolved, and I haven’t shared much about the transitions. In fact, with a whopping seven blog posts in 2012, I haven’t shared much at all.

One reason is that as I’ve become increasingly capable of appreciating the present moment, I’ve been less motivated to summarize it. I’ve also been self-censoring. If something I wanted to write about wasn’t directly related to yoga–if I couldn’t think of a tidy way to tie it into an asana experience–I deemed the content unacceptable for publication. I’d heard (and believed) a blog must occupy a narrow niche, and I felt obliged to stay on topic.

Because of self-imposed restrictions, I stopped publicly expressing my ideas and feelings. I don’t think that’s good or bad, but I’m ready to abandon expectations and try something different. I’m ready to be braver and even more authentic, and I want to expand my scope, to steer closer to my original intention of helping others heal. The best way I know to do this now is to let my own light shine, on and off the yoga mat.

So in 2013, I’m getting back to blogging, and I’m going to talk a lot about love. Other stuff too, but mostly love. Because I believe love is the bottom line, and if my personal perspective can help even one person feel better, it’s worth publishing.