step seventeen

we can’t change the past, but we can be aware in the present.

whatever painful experiences shaped our way of thinking, it is never too late to revisit, and re-shape our thoughts today with mindfulness and gratitude.

imagine this scenario:

a person looks at another person.

this sounds simple, but it can be oh so complex if we assume anything other than innocence. person a is taking in their surroundings, scanning their environment and simply taking it all in. person b, however, has a much more layered experience. based on years of bullying and abuse since early childhood, the pure information of “person a is looking at me” is interpreted as “person a is giving me a funny look”, “the evil eye”, and even a potential threat “person a is going to attack me”.

before you dismiss this as an extreme example, check in with yourself – has this never happened to you? that you realized, you are assuming the worst, simply because it was that kind of a day?

a couple of years ago, my boyfriend-at-the-time and i were driving from toronto to niagara falls/on, when suddenly, the car started shaking uncontrollably – we had a flat tire. we were close to an off-ramp and parked on the muddy shoulder somewhere near hamilton. it was dark, a faint rain drizzling, and we had no tools to change the tire. while we were waiting for the canadian version of aaa, a small car pulled up beside us on the off-ramp, and a man got out and asked how he can help. a thought this was such a lovely ray of light, and when the man offered to run to tim hortons and get us some timbits, since he didn’t have a car jack to help us change the tire, i only declined because i had no clue what timbits were. the person i was with had a clearly different experience. he almost told the kind stranger to get lost, and later warned me not to take any of the baked goods since they could be poisoned.

“why would he first be so kind and stop for us, offering help, and then getting us some coffee and timbits, only to poison us!!??”  i was baffled.

“people are crazy here. you don’t know, this is toronto, everything can happen. Don’t ever accept anything from a stranger.”

to this day, i don’t know what caused my friend to react this way in this particular situation, but he clearly had a filter borne of previous, adverse experiences with which he judged everything happening around him today.   i am grateful for this stranger and for the hot coffee and donut holes (yes, he brought them anyway), because it ended up being a long night.

i also noticed that smiling is easier than being afraid, and that it feels absolutely amazing to accept a stranger’s kindness, because it made everyone feel good in the end. assuming innocence and giving the gift of accepting help (and timbits) shifts everyone’s energy upward.

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step sixteen

two people can experience and interpret the same event very differently.
we always choose how we respond.
case in point:

 

two women in a room. a flying insect.
one of the women verbally expressed her discomfort. the other woman tries to comfort her by explaining that the insect is a cranefly. she explains that they don’t bite or sting, they don’t even feed as adults, except the occasional nectar snack. this second woman relays a story about gardening and killing cranefly larvae along with cutworms, because they are so hard to distinguish. she tries to find the cranefly. eventually, the first woman spots the cranefly in a floor lamp. the second woman offers to cover the lamp with a baking sheet and chooses a pizza pan that appears to fit perfectly. the first woman inspects the space around the rim of the lamp with the pizza pan over it and chooses to add a baking sheet to cover up any open cracks. The women then continue their conversation.
the first woman later posts a social media status update about “something crawling in the lamp”. she adds that she put a baking tray on top. she does not respond to questions what “it” was. she also does not mention the other person who shared the event with her.
choice, and free will, are wonderful gifts. we always choose how we show up. we always choose how we interpret a situation. we always choose how we relay a message, how we tell a story.
we also choose how we respond to a situation. do we choose to stay calm? do we choose to judge, and if so, how? what do we base our judgment on?
how do you choose to interpret your world today?

step fifteen

this is one of the most simple life hacks: kick life into the next gear, and leave behind what no longer serves you.

  • things you have not used in two years
  • clothes you have not worn in three
  • people who do not appreciate you
  • memories that bring you down
  • energy drainers (again, people will take the biggest part here)

if you want to let go of something, or someone, i can help you design a three-step-release ceremony; comment or email me for details.

steer your life boat forward, drop the weight that’s wearing you down. you need your energy to explore and grow, not to carry what you can’t change, or who doesn’t want to change.

wishing you calm waters and bubbly shores!

step fourteen

a five year old poem

#freedom & #paradise

five years ago, when it all started, one day, i noticed

he had posted my photos as his own

when i saw

my pics tagged #freedom and #paradise…

…it moved me… to feelthink…this:

#freedom and #paradise are simpler than nature but easy here

#freedom is mine as i let go of controlling anything and anyone but me

even though someone else gives me

attention

excitement

information

makes me

think

laugh

giggle

even though i look forward to spending time with that one

even though no one else makes me feel this way

even though no one else continues to bring out my smile so surely

even though i don’t want to miss any moment of togetherness with him

i know i will live if he decides to take all of this away.

i know that the sun will make my eyes sparkle in winter

i know that the moon will stir my imagination any time

i know that a warm breeze will feel like a hug even in solitude

i know that the ocean will always excite me

i know that even without books and the internet

i can go ogle over my doorstep and find magnificence

i can dance through my own world’s wide web and be tense as a tightrope with hunger for more knowledge

i can talk to strangers and listen to their stories

i can stand on my head and look at the water faucet upside down

just for perspective

as long as my mind submits to my intention, i manifest

#freedom is mine.

.~.~.~.~.~.             .~.~.~.~.~.             .~.~.~.~.~.

 

#paradise is

opening my eyes

deciding that my cup is half and filling

hope never dies

dark days help with light appreciation

poverty is a state of mind

bitter winds are here to keep us inside and introspective

remembering #freedom

& that #loving does not depend on receiving #love

as long as i stay free

#paradise is mine.

and both are yours as well.

step thirteen

stay focused on your goal, and who truly supports your success.

i am always saddened, again, when i notice that those who say they support us often really only want to encourage us to make us feel better for the time being, but actually want to help us be okay with staying small, letting a dream stay a dream, not working towards making it true.

although i see this happen often, i am still surprised to see that so many people that claim solidarity will be the first to tell me “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t” or “don’t expect”, followed by a lot of limiting beliefs sold as common truths.

the incorrigible part of me wants to believe that everyone is like those resting-in-themselves genuinely confident types who are doing well in business and beyond, and who are constantly evolving and growing. as a reminder to myself and you: haters happen. and they happen disguised as friends, relatives, teachers, mentors, supporters, even fans.

stick to the ones who always leave you more sure of your success, more confident in your abilities, and more grateful for how far you’ve come. those who slow you down just don’t want to put in the work, and your success is going to make them look & feel bad.

strangers might surprise you. they often have a lot less of an agenda. and if all fails, work with a life coach. a coach’s interest is you, your goal, how to address those things gently that have held you back but that you didn’t want to address. a coach holds space for you, a coach’s questions allow you to dig deeper and unearth those lies you’ve been telling yourself about why you can’t succeed, all those excuses that are just keeping you tied to the past. a coach can help you package that, put it behind you, and propel you forward.

focus on thoughts, action steps, and people who truly support you and who want you to do well for your sake, no other reason.

step twelve

as a child, i loved to read.

as an adult, i love to read sometimes, but when i do, i am a voracious, holistic reader.

when i took my dogs outside, i preferred letting them run in the backcountry, where it was just us, just them. i always felt that taking them for a walk around the neighborhood was like letting them read the same book, maybe different chapters, depending on who or what had visited at night.

but taking them to a wild, unknown place ~ that was like a whole library for these puppies.

the busier life gets, the less time i want to spend on reading books. autobiographical notes, human experience stories capture me, and then poetry. good, dense, multilayered poetry, simple words with complex meaning.

good poetry is what keeps my mind happy for days. it doesn’t come in the language of letters all the time. like my pups, i read fragrances and visuals. a field of lavender, a budding cottonwood tree, the smell of sweet grass, or even salmon running upstream, and letting go of life after they spawn… all those things are poetry to me.

and things like this, found today, in a most wonderful manual for a part-time position i am taking on – food for the soul, written by William Stafford:

The Little Ways that Encourage Good Fortune

Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.
If you do not have things right in your life,
you will simply be overwhelmed.
You may be heroic, but you will not be wise.
If you have things right in your life, and you
do not know why, you are just lucky,
And you will not move in the little ways that
encourage good fortune.
The saddest of all are those who are not right
in their own lives who are acting to make
things right for others.
They act only from the self, and that
self will never be right;
No luck, no help, no wisdom.

—William Stafford
(1914-1993)

 

step eleven

showup

teaching in alaska, as everything in my beloved, big-wild home state, comes with its own challenges. i learned quickly that nature, and the nature of things, will dictate attendance and appearance. i had students ski to class and lean the skinny tall skies against the wall as they scrambled to find a chair inside; others fat-biked across the same snowy trails, tired of waiting for people movers (our public busses) that wouldn’t arrive, or waiting for accidents on the glen highway to be cleared when the cheechakos (new to ak) try to navigate through the first snowfall or ice of the season. i had students with cerebral palsy show up in their high-tech chairs, ready to learn this complicated european language of poets and ponderers.

alaska does not do “walking distance”.  even if you live in town, walking to class is rarely an option. driving is expected, especially when you live in the greater anchorage area, including eagle river, or the matanuska-susitna valley, which is over an hour in the winter. a flat tire, or a blizzard, usually means late to class, or no-show at all.

we kept a strict no-tardy policy in my class, but just as each winter is different, each class is different. one winter, it seemed like an exceptional number of students struggled coming to class on time or at all. interestingly enough, some of the people with the biggest challenges were the most driven to succeed.

there was an interesting group whose only challenge seemed to be to show up at all, although they lived on campus, and remain present. the amount of excuses for not appearing, for not having homework, for not having materials, for not being able to do an activity was baffling.

so i adjusted, and that’s where the “show up” rule was born.

the single mom who worked a 35 hour job and had a full credit load showed up. if she can do it, the single guy living with mom and dad can do it too.

the senior about to graduate with a research project and an athletic dream that required daily hours of training showed up. if she can do it, what’s holding you back?

a new student from china who barely spoke english was the first to show up and the last to leave, although he was tired, and he truly struggled understanding, and speaking. but: he showed up.

so to those who had a different excuse each week, one day i said:

if people can ski to class, if they can find rides from an hour away, even in a blizzard, just to be here, you can do this too. i don’t care what you look like, if your clothes are messy or wet, if you are mad because you missed the bus or frustrated because your car broke down and triple A can’t be here right away – it doesn’t matter. if you want to pass this class, you have to show up. even if you are late. show up. it will cost you, but even if you are late to each class, you will still be able to pass.

just. show. up.

it’s simple. show up. show up for yourself every day. brush, floss, hydrate, take notes. show up.

show up in your relationship. show up for your kids. show up for your friends. show up for what you’d rather run away from. show up.

be there.

lead.

just like my students did.