Monthly Archives: March 2013

3/28/13 – Adopt the pace of nature

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“Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well if pulling this quote out this morning doesn’t sum up my life right now, I don’t know what does. It’s always nice to be reminded of your weaknesses so that you can re-focus on your journey to turn them into your strengths.

I told a friend once: “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all right now.” It’s funny how your own words can be used against you when it’s YOUR turn. She continues to remind me of this every time I forgot and try to rush different aspects of my life. I’m grateful for this regardless of how frustrating it may be haha

Patience, Lauren, is not a strength of yours. Time to work on that again. One day at a time! I can have it all, oh yes, just not all at once.

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3/27/13 – Cultivating Self-Affection During Tricky Times

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I had to share this article I read today…Please enjoy! Two of my many favorite lines:

“Relationships that are real have a quality of mutual exchange in them. They are energizing,  revitalizing, inspiring, and warm. Give up the rest. You do not need them to prove yourself to you. We get it. You are OK as is.”

“Now that you recognize what kills off life, forgive yourself for ignorance in the past. You have done your best.”

Cultivating Self-Affection During Tricky Times

Posted: 03/27/2013 10:34 am on HuffingtonPost.com by Dr. Cara Barker

Fragrant scents of cherry blossoms and pink dogwood fill the air alongside the lake. Each of the flowering releases a gentle rain of perfumed petals to those of us in wonder, down below. Spring, in all her glory, dares the frosty air. Do we? Do we dare to shake off the wintry cold that hardens hearts and dampens dreams? Do we dare to bloom today, to become that which is best in our hearts, and that which most inspires our spirit? Do we dare? During this week of Easter, we do well to consider what might bring new life and which of those old self-imposed constrictions need crucifixion for rebirth to come.

If we are not willing to come into our best self, what stands in our way? Rumi put it this way:

“Dissolver of sugar,
Dissolve Thou me.”

Easy for the poet, the mystic, we say. At least, that is the assumption. But assumptions have a way of getting us in trouble. The fact is that we have no idea what sacrifices were exacted from master teachers in order to arrive at their own awakening and the gift each left behind for willing students. Sure, we have biographical accounts. But this is a far cry from walking in those dusty sandals.

This week offers such a reminder. Regardless whether you hold the story of Jesus as literal or metaphorical, the lessons are timely. Here is just a smattering:

1. Give up self-blame. There will be many willing to crucify you if you decide to dissolve your old way of life, if not with nails, then at least with words and judgment. When you dare to dissolve the way you’ve been holding yourself back and decide to follow what your spirit advises, flack will come. When negativity needs a target, opt out. Step aside. Do spiritual aikido: Get out of the energy.

2. Find a garden. If not literally, then do so symbolically. We each need a space, a place in which to step out of the ruckus of the world, a zone of quietude in which to reflect and contemplate what is best for us, what “cup” to hand over, and what is ours to carry.

3. Be prepared to stand your ground when you feel betrayed, by those you thought would understand, support, protect. Most especially, be prepared for your monkey mind to oppose your grand plan. “He” will be upset by your decision to be all that you came here to be. Monkey mind hates uncertainty, hates sacrifice, and hates clarity. In other words, monkey mind prefers, make that “is attached,” to playing big boss. Don’t let him. He is creative, knows your “buttons” to keep you in line. If your inner GPS advises you to take a break, to go into solitude, depend upon monkey mind to “read you the riot act,” to usher up all the reasons why this is unwise. Monkey mind is brilliant at stirring the pot. Tell him to have a banana, to take a chill pill. I’m serious. True, this is through your creative imagination. Just remember, the use of your creative imagination is the most powerful tool we have to shift our lives. (See archives, March 13, 2013).

4. Throw a party. Once you have dissolved your beliefs about why you dare not shine as you really are, why you dare not cultivate affection for yourself, invite a few over for your “last supper,” that is, a time of celebration to acknowledge what you appreciate in your loved ones who stand by you, when you are poised for a new leap of faith. Break bread. Toast one another. Dance. Say goodbye to the old and make space for what is at the door. Thank them for witnessing your leap of faith, for “holding steady,” and holding you in their hearts during your physical or spiritual/psychological absence.

5. Surrender what is dying in your life. Release the old husk of life you’ve been living, those behaviors and relationships that deplete that are just too much darn work-intensive, those “puppies” where you are doing all the heavy lifting. Relationships that are real have a quality of mutual exchange in them. They are energizing, revitalizing, inspiring, and warm. Give up the rest. You do not need them to prove yourself to you. We get it. You are OK as is.

6. Forgive all that depletes life. Include in this relationships that are deadening, beliefs about yourself or others that rob you of joy, vitality. Make a list of them and address them one by one. Free yourself, for in the past you “know not what you do.” Now that you recognize what kills off life, forgive yourself for ignorance in the past. You have done your best.

7. Be prepared to wait in the dark. Throw away your watch. Go into your cave. You will know when the time comes to return to new life. One way to go to the cave is through spiritual practice: meditation, the expressive arts, and prayer, a walk in the park or nature, a literal retreat. Do this every day and watch what happens. Let go of your plan. Remember? You let that go. Give yourself a chance to simply “be.” At night, attend your physical body through soothing massage, ointments, soul-cleansing baths, and scents that awaken and calm your senses. Come for a visit with your deepest self. Show respect. Grieve what is ending, wait what is coming. Be still and know that all is well.

8. During this process, do whatever you can to cultivate self-affection. I capitalize “self,” because we are referring to your sacred self, the center point of soul as psyche. These days, we are enjoined to forgive others, and even self. But, there is a vast difference between forgiveness and cultivating self-affection. Forgiveness is the preliminary step to self-emancipation, through dissolving what has been problematic. Cultivating self-affection moves us into the seedbed of possibilities, stepping smack into the fertile ground that I termed the “goosebumps way.” (See archives, March 13, 2013). Cultivating self-affection requires creative action. Here’s where the goodies are, my friend. Cultivating self-affection means taking your heart’s delight, including rediscovering your heart’s delight, seriously. Not that sort of “seriousity” that leaves a deadly grimace on our face or stiffness in our shoulders. This is not the place for martyrdom. No, contraire! Cultivating self-affection is a means of grabbing your ground of original being, devoting yourself to whatever arises in your heart that brings pure delight, and beauty, and discovering where this leads in the land of uncertainty.

9. Leave no forwarding address. How can you? If we don’t know where our process is leading, best not to restrict life’s flow. Yes, this is risky. But, isn’t life fully lived risky? Likewise, choosing to opt out of life, and leaps of faith, carries its own toll, one I’d rather not pay. We are here now. Why not live now? Why not love the whole of who we are, this life we live, with all we’ve got, and be about the adventure? There are endless iterations of who we are, of the way sacred self-expresses. Ours is to get introduced, to come into loving relationship with the all, and celebrate this grand and glorious life, regardless the bumps along the road.

Toward this end, I will be taking a sabbatical for the next seven weeks, from my work, and my blog here on The Huffington Post, and the Internet. The “time has come,” the walrus said, “to speak of many things…” And, so, I shall be following the above nine steps, once more in my life, for it is time to cultivate self-affection for where I am at this stage of life, and the new life that is underway. It is time to test out my reconstructed feet. Today shall be my last post until May 21, when, God willing, I will return. Know that I shall hold you and yours in my heart as I enter the creative underground and take notes.

Before I do so, allow me to gift the following love letter, imagining that the beloved were addressing you today.

Love Letter to the One Who Dares:

Suppose the beloved had a message for you today that went like this:

Stop being so hard on yourself! Yes, you. I am talking to you. Stop being so unfair to you. Give yourself permission to step back, to witness, and to find awe for which you are that has been hiding.

Your planet is on a collision course. Everywhere you look, notice the rushing here and there, the disconnection with human beings, with life in all its forms, the epidemic of loneliness and secret pain, the side-talk of he said/she said, the gossip, the blame, the suffering, the fear undergirding the mess.

Surely this is not living. Surely this is not the “more” you have been seeking. Search between the cracks and crevices of your schedule, your plan, and your previous agreements with yourself. How much room is there for you to appreciate your heartbeat in this present breath? How much space are you willing to give yourself to simply “be”? How much “skin” are you willing to put in the game to discover the magnificence awaiting to arise through your life?

How rare to find those who sit quietly, or hilariously, with one another, meeting in the moment, content to be together in the moment, without distraction, cell phones, screens, excesses of any kind. How rare and precious to participate in unanticipated love without strings.

How much space are you willing to give yourself to simply “be”? How much “skin” are you willing to put in the game to discover the magnificence awaiting to arise through your life?

Know this. I wish you fresh, gentle breezes. I wish you that special joy that comes from letting go. I wish you gold, finding it in hidden places, such as the daffodil in all her glory. I wish you life: the resurrection of who you were called here to become. I wish you fertility of self-expression, that sort which inspires you to new heights, from your innermost depths. I wish you peace, sweet dreams, and glorious sunrises to bless you on your way. I wish for you an age of inspired realism as you reclaim your original way on this earth, your wonder, and your mark upon the path that we might celebrate together.

Consider: If you took to heart the meaning of this letter, what might shift for you today? What is time to dissolve in your own thinking which limits you? Be brave, my friend, be brave. You have the right stuff in you, regardless what you have believed up to now in private moments of self-doubt.

Be the Love You are,

Cara

Your Turn: What say you? I’m listening! Thank you for forwarding this.

For more information, see my archives on HuffPost and/or carabarker.com.

For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

Photo below from: http://thinhlephotos.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html

3/26/13 – Dear World

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“One regret dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my death bed is that I did not kiss you enough.” – Hafiz of Persia

I read this quote last week before I went out of town and I gave myself some time to let it sit with me. At first I took it as getting out into nature, but then my mind took it further. It wasn’t until today, when Facebook exploded with red for equality…today specifically for marriage equality, that it hit me! Kissing the world is so broad it encompasses everything. To me, this quote means that I should take every opportunity possible to give back to others, back to the earth, to love any and every thing that crosses my path and to stick up for myself and for others with the goal of fairness and equality in mind. I have the same wish that Hafiz of Persia had. “One regret dear world, that I am DETERMINED not to have when I am lying on my death bed is that I did not kiss you enough.” I never want to look back and think that someone is worse off because of me, that I took advantage of the earth, that I didn’t do EVERY THING in my power to be kind and fair to all and that I didn’t fight for the fairness and equality of myself and others.

I love how beautiful this is worded…so poetic. Dear world, I hope to kiss you enough throughout this lifetime and to leave you better off than how I found you.

3/5/13 – What are you fighting for?

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“But there is suffering in life,

and there are defeats.

No one can avoid them.

But it’s better to lose some of the battles

in the struggles for your dreams

than to be defeated without ever knowing

what you’re fighting for.”

– Paulo Coelho

None of you were invited to the party I’ve been having the past two days…and you should thank me for that! It’s been one BIG pity party for myself. How gross is that!? I know they happen but they are so messy and ridiculous. I was still throwing this party until I read my daily quote about an hour ago and found it necessary to share it today with all of you.

This knee surgery and being a prisoner of my own  home while I rehab has really gotten to me but I have to remember that there will always be struggles and battles in life. If it weren’t for this battle I wouldn’t be able to work out like I want to, dance as crazy as I want to or just WALK without pain for that matter. This is what HAD to be done in order for me to continue on with my life and, essentially, towards my dreams. I know what I’m fighting for! I’ve been fighting since I was 15 to beat the pain that I have been feeling in this knee.  It has been a daily battle for so long. Who knows, I could be an Olympian after this! Maybe THAT’S what I’m fighting for? haha Okay, well that’s obviously not a true statement, but who knows what this surgery might allow me to do that I haven’t been able to do for 15 years.

Please note that I do realize how small my problems are in the grand scheme of things and how grateful I am to even have a home to be a prisoner in, how grateful I am to have both of my legs, how grateful I am for my overall health, my family and my friends….Some times you just get down and, for me anyway, it takes reminders like this one from Paulo Coelho to turn my pity party into a meditation.

Thanks for listening and you’re welcome for not inviting you to my party 😉

3/1/13 – 25 Things You Don’t Have To Justify To Anyone

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An old college friend shared this on Facebook earlier this month and I had to share.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

25 Things You Don’t Have To Justify To Anyone

FEB. 1, 2013

 Shutterstock

Shutterstock

1. Your job. Yes, even if you’re working something that other people condescendingly term “not a real job,” such as retail or service. If you have a job of any kind in this economy, you’ve already won.

2. Whether or not you have debt. If you managed to get out of your education debt-free, that doesn’t mean that your life is a financial walk in the park that you constantly have to be apologizing for. If you are in debt, it doesn’t mean you got a “worthless” degree and now deserve to be shamed for struggling to find work after you were convinced by your school that you were making a good decision.

3. The kind of food you enjoy eating, or why you enjoy eating. (No matter how “uncultured” or “boring” or “gross” someone else might deem your favorite food.)

4. Your decision to have children, or not have them, or to not be sure if you even want them.

5. Your dislike for marriage as an institution — and even if this one day changes, you don’t have to justify having grown as a person and moved into a new point of view. No one should be telling you “I told you so” over something as enormous as your decision to commit for life to another person.

6. Your sexuality, or your desire to experiment with it. You are allowed to have “phases” or “try things out” or be “confused,” and can take as much time as you want figuring it out.

7. Your gender presentation.

8. Your income level, and what you can and cannot afford. If you are having trouble keeping up with friends because you are not able to spend as much as them, there is no reason to risk financial ruin to try and keep up appearances.

9. Your body. The only person whom you need to talk to about with it is your doctor; everyone else can else can go kick rocks.

10. Whether or not you want to go out on a weekend night, or ten weekend nights in a row. The amount of time you spend in a bar or at a club does not directly correlate with how cool or worthy a person you are.

11. Your relationship status. If you’re single and happy, that’s great. If you’re in a relationship and happy, that’s great. If you’re either of those and not happy, you are more than allowed to be, and it’s no one’s business how you should “fix” it unless you ask them for their advice.

12. How many friends you have. One is enough. A hundred is enough. And there is no need to falsely upgrade acquaintances to “friend” status in your mind simply to fill out the ranks. A true friend is rare, and we don’t need to make it a competition for who has the most.

13. How much you drink when you go out, or if you drink at all, or why you choose not to drink if you do.

14. What kind of music you enjoy listening to.

15. What kind of an education you have or don’t have, or if you intend to go back and finish what you’ve started. If continuing your studies is something you want to do, good, but don’t be forced into saying that you want it just because it’s what people expect of you.

16. What you happen to be turned on by. If you like slash fiction, you like slash fiction. If you like people recording videos of themselves popping balloons, that’s awesome for you. It’s all good, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, have at it.

17. Whether or not you know to cook, even if you’re a woman who “should” know how to do those things.

18. If you stay at home to raise your children, or if you hire someone to help you do so because you have a full-time career. Neither of those choices are more or less feminist, no matter what Elizabeth Wurtzel tells you.

19. How many people you have had sex with.

20. Whether or not you are a virgin, and whether or not you want to wait for marriage to lose said virginity.

21. Whether or not you believe in God, and what you think God actually is. (As long as you’re not imposing any of your beliefs on others, in which case we’d have a bit of a problem. But I trust that you’re cool and wouldn’t do that.)

22. Who you voted for and why. If you want to talk about it, you’re free to. But no one should ever make you feel like you have to tell them.

23. If you have sex on a first date, if you kiss on a first date, or if you won’t even hold hands on a first date. You’re allowed to do whatever you like when you’ve just met a new potential suitor.

24. Whether or not you choose to use dating websites.

25. Not knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up, even if many people would already put you in the category of “grown up.” If you are considering going back to school, or changing careers, or moving, or starting a family, or doing charity work — it’s all good. And none of it has to be followed up with a longwinded explanation about why it’s a good idea and they should believe in you. If you need to justify what makes you happy to someone in your life, perhaps you should ask yourself why you even care about their opinion in the first place.