The struggle to accept ourselves

piece art“Feeling unworthy or insecure, we create a goal, in hopes that achieving this will make us feel good about ourselves.  Then we’re off scheming for success, preparing against failure, stirring the water, hoping it will go clear.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, ”Stirring the Water”

This quotation is causing me to take a look at my motivations and priorities.  Why do we undertake something? What are we trying to feel?

We don’t have to be finished in order to be whole.

In other words, it’s completely ok to let something sit unfinished for awhile.  Or to decide to just let it go completely.   Why is this impossible for me? What am I afraid of?

Tell me, do you face these same questions?

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Healing your art scars

Journal pageI am on a journey to be the best Naomi I can be.  I want to be the highest version of myself every day, in every moment.  And that means switching some of the negative messages I’ve got filed away in my head.

I just learned from Brené Brown (in Part 2 of her e-course) that as children, we are rather uninhibited in our creating, but somewhere around age 9 or 10, we start to incorporate messages from society around us and we begin to censor ourself.  Huh.  At first I thought, “I don’t think I censor myself.  Maybe that didn’t happen for me.”

As I listened to Brené talk about her own thoughts about creating art, I realized I’ve got mental blocks, just as she said. It’s time to heal those.  Perhaps you do the same? It doesn’t have to be with art… it is with anything that you absolutely love doing and feel wonderful doing… but you don’t actually let yourself do it often enough.

IMG_0030It has been a few weeks since I’ve been in our office to paint or create anything.  Why? Partly it is because I think that taking that time for myself would be self-indulgent.  Also, I compare my end-results to other people’s work and come up lacking.  Partly it’s that there are so many other things I “should” be doing.

Making art is self-care for me, not self-indulgence.  I’m learning that part of “cherish,” my word for this year, is making sure I take time for the things that make me feel my best.  Only when I do that can I truly be myself and find out more about who I am.  Like I said before, I am on a journey to be the best Naomi I can be.  That involves making space in my days for creativity.

Brené also encouraged us to think about new ways to unleash creativity.  We’ll see if I do any of these!

New ideas

Think about this today: How can you heal your scars and allow yourself to play? Share in the comments if you feel like it.  :)

 

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Start with noticing

Tree and skyFor 38 years now, I have thought that external events and people shaped my life and that I was living within the small framework of my ability to respond to those events.  I could give you endless examples of how a friend’s rejection could shake me to my core.  I was letting things outside of myself determine how I thought of myself, what mood I was in, and how I responded to everything else.

No more.  There is no reason to give anyone or anything that much power over us.

Bridge in snowThe very first step of beginning to think in a larger way seems to be simply noticing how you are reacting to things within your own mind and body.  Michael Singer writes a great deal about this separation between your thoughts and your true self in The Untethered Soul.  I wrote a great deal about this amazing little book, but to give you the gist: You are not your thoughts, feelings, or opinions.  You are that still, quiet being inside noticing those things, moving through those things, observing, breathing, loving.

PlantThis is mindfulness and mindful living.  Notice how the coffee cup feels between your palms.  Notice how someone’s voice sounds in your head.  Notice how your feet feel as you place one foot in front of another.  Notice what goes through your head as you’re hearing the news, or a friend talks with you, or when looking out the window.  Notice whether you are observing, making judgments, jumping to conclusions, feeling gratitude, feeling anxious… simply notice.  This will help you separate your true self from everything else.

Then we can start from there.

Bubbles in waterWhat do you think of this? Do you notice an internal shift when you reclaim that power that you’ve given away and decide for yourself how you are going to feel?

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March books: spirituality


March books 2014* * * * *

One fun book and lots of spiritual reading this past month.  Tell me what you’re reading!


George Anderson’s Lessons from the Light: Extraordinary Messages of Comfort and Hope from the Other Side by George Anderson and Andrew Barone

I read this one because I was curious.  Apparently George Anderson is the world’s greatest living medium.  He’s worked with bereaved families to help them heal from loss by being in touch with the souls who have left their bodies.  He explains what it’s like to be a medium, what he experiences, and what it means and he reassures the reader about life and the afterlife.  I found comfort in the idea that all the things we wonder about will be revealed and that someone who may not have acted from love on earth can see his/her errors and apologize!

I have learned that a soul can be anywhere at any time just by thinking of something.  Remarkably, it works for us too… us just thinking of someone who has died can bring them to us.  It is for us to see and feel their presence near us.

“On the road of our spiritual lives here on earth lies the flickr of all things great in our universe — the Eternal Light that makes all things possible and becomes greater with each step.  You are not alone, and your loved one has never left you… The Infinite Light shows us every day the promise of things to come.”

I don’t know… a little too woo woo for me.

* * * * *


Once Upon a Time, There Was You: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg

I think now I’ve read every Elizabeth Berg novel.  This one is different form all her others.  It’s about a long-divorced couple who come together to help their daughter.  It’s about independence, the power of family, and love.  Sometimes differences heal over time, sometimes you can forgive, and sometimes you find that you both have changed.

* * * * *


The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew
by Alan Lightman

As soon as I saw that Alan Lightman was coming out with a new book, I knew I’d read it.  It’s a slim volume of essays and I read it (and enjoyed it) on a plane ride.  I can’t really say it better than this review does: “Not since Fred Hoyle in another era (and universe) has anyone dared to cover such a sweeping domain, and no one so elegantly, so parsimoniously, and so personally. From the triumph of the Higgs boson to the underlying discomfort of multiverses, from the question of God to the erosion of embodied presence via digital self-distraction, Lightman explores with wistful irony, lyricism, and insight his relationship as a theoretical physicist, a cosmologist, a novelist, a humanist, and a human being to the ever-changing and mysterious interior and exterior universes we all inhabit, knowingly or not. Any one of these essays invites deep reflection. Together, they disturb, inform, inspire, and delight.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

* * * * *

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred by Mark Nepo

This is a thought-provoking exploration of the art of listening.  Nepo proposes that just as there are 7,000 languages, there must be 7,000 ways of hearing them.  This engaging book asks the reader what kind of relationship we want to have with the people and the world around us.  It’s about receiving and coming home to ourselves.  Highly recommend.

“Consider the Polynesians, who believe that everything physical – stone, wood, a flower – everything has a numinous quality; that each thing on earth emanates an inherent Spirit that glows from within it.  This is another way to describe the moment where everything touches everything else.  We’ve come to call that inherent glow “life force” or “essence.”  When fully here, we touch what is before us life force to life force, essence to essence.  When asleep or numb or moving too fast, we only touch surface to surface.  And without that glow of life force, that glow of essence, things just get in the way.

“It seems that the feel of truth and meaning waits below the surface and it’s the heart of listening that allows the life force in all things to touch us.  It’s our ability to listen that saves us from the sheer fact of things.  What often starts as a moment of unexpected feeling becomes, if leaned into, a deeper way of knowing.

“So how do we listen in a way that allows us to be touched by life? It helps to stay devoted to moving below the literal fact of things.  For waiting under the surface, like an inner sun, the life force or heartbeat of the universe will reveal itself and connect us to the sheer power of what is vital in life, all through the heart and overflow of earnest listening, through a Beingness that keeps us alive.”

and

“To honor myself means that as I grow, I will not ignore or hide the parts of my soul and humanness that become more present in me and the world.  To honor myself means to make a commitment to keep the truth of who I am visible, that I will not let the truth of my Being become invisible again.  Or if it does, I will stay devoted to retrieving it.  To honor God means that we vow to keep all that we become aware of in view, that we will not pretend to be ignorant of things we know to be true or holy.  And if we forget or get distracted or derailed, we will stay devoted to retrieving the ever-present sense of the sacred.”

* * * * *



Conversations With God : An Uncommon Dialogue (Book #3) by Neale Donald Walsh

I’m enjoying Neale’s 9-week “Living from your Soul” e-course and so I’m happy to have now read all three of these first (of 29!) of his books.  This series has changed the way I think and respond to every thing.  Seriously.

“What you think, you create.  What you create, you become.  What you become, you express.  What you express, you experience.  What you experience, you are.  What you are, you think.  The circle is complete.”

“I am A BEING.  Notice that “being” is not a thing, it is a process.I am not the result of a process; I am The Process by which I am created.  Everything you see in the heavens and the earth is Me, being created.  The Process of Creation is never over… This is another way of saying everything is forever changing.  Nothing stands still — nothing is without motion.  Everything is energy, in motion.  In your earthly shorthand, you have called this “E-motion!” You are God’s highest emotion!  When you look at a thing, you are not looking at a static “something” that is “standing there” in time and space.  You are witnessing an event.  Because everything is moving, changing, evolving.  Everything.”  

“You cannot comprehend God if you are thinking inside your current values, concepts, and understandings.  If you wish to comprehend God, you must be willing to accept that you currently have limited data, rather than asserting that you know all there is to know on this subject.” 

* * * * *

What God Wants: A Compelling Answer to Humanity’s Biggest Question by Neale Donald Walsh

The short answer, in case you’re wondering: nothing.  God doesn’t need anything from us.  God is all-encompassing love.

“The point of having a God is to use the essence and the energy that IS God, and that is life, in a way that allows you to create your own experience, thereby becoming as God is: the creator.

“God cares for you by giving you the power to care for yourself.  Each human being has the ability to create his or her reality.  All human beings are creators, and we are creating our reality in every single moment of now.

“And it is not what you do in the moment of Now that is the most important element of the creative process; it is how you feel.  Your feelings create your inner reality, and your inner reality creates your outer experience.

“Feelings are created by thoughts and every thought is nothing more than an idea conjured up in your mind that is not reality, but is merely an idea — your idea — ABOUT reality.

“Once you understand this, you can literally decide to feel any way you wish about any experience you are having – and in that moment experience it in a new way if you choose.  You can even decide ahead of time how you are going to feel under certain conditions or circumstances.”

* * * * *


I am also reading an entry a day in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo.  My favorite passage from March was this one:

“After breaking many things in my life – hearts, heirlooms, robins’ eggs– I am humbled to admit that the only difference I see on Earth between being strong and being weak is the honesty which which we face ourselves, and share ourselves, blemishes and all.”

* * * * *

What have you been reading lately? And are you on Goodreads? I’d love to connect there.

Everything I’ve Ever Read (I think)

Currently Reading

More monthly book reports

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Soulful home: bring in Spring! (April prompt)

Garden glories“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” 
~ Hal Borland

For so many, this winter has been particularly harsh.  I know so many of us are ready for some springtime blooms and sunshine.  This month is all about bringing that brightness inside for ourselves and our families to enjoy.

Some ideas:

  • buy some fresh flowers and spread them in little vases throughout the house
  • add pops of vibrant colors or flower art/fabric around the house
  • bring in a flowery scent – I really like all-natural lavender dish soap and cleaning supplies
  • eat lighter
  • open your windows
  • freshen your air with houseplants
  • Spring clean: clear some clutter again

LavenderMore resources to explore:

* * * * *

I live in Houston, where it’s been mostly ideal weather the past couple weeks.  Our garden has exploded with buds and I’ve been trying to keep the windows and shades open as much as possible to bring the outdoors IN!

Crepe myrtle

I’m excited that we are going to be planting some flowering climbing vines along this boring garage wall.  There’s cement on the ground there, so I built a long planter with treated wood and drain holes.  And by “I,” I mean Mike, the handyman.

Planter

When we were in Boulder, I found this wind chime in a little shop and adored its sound.  Last night, when I was in bed reading a book, I heard it chime and I got chills because it’s such a lovely sound.

Windchime Love grows

Please let us all know in the comments what you’re up to this month! Have fun with it.  :) May’s prompt will add to this one and encourage us to focus on what scents mean to you and how you can incorporate them into your living space.

Previous Soulful Home prompts

Here’s a lovely article Beth of My Simpler Life wrote about inner spring cleaning.

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Recipe for spiritual parenting

“Mystical service means modeling calm in chaos, kindness amid anger, forgiveness at all times, personal integrity — to live, in other words, mindful that every second offers a choice either to channel Grace or to withhold it.” ~ Caroline Myss, Entering the Castle: Finding the Inner Path to God and Your Soul’s Purpose

Every single day, I have to decide to maintain a calm equanimity in all situations and to choose the path of love rather than anger. We all have those days when you just need 5 minutes alone to regain your sanity.  The greatest lessons in my motherhood journey have come when I do not have that opportunity… when I face one challenge after another.  Here’s one way to find your way to peace.

Ingredients:

  • Any flavor of bad behavior (talking back, hitting, not following instructions)
  • 5 minutes of crankiness, sliced
  • Time IN (as opposed to time out)
  • Compassion, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups Empathy
  • Commitment to regulate your own emotions
  • Connection time and love (as needed to taste)
  • Set amount of time for fun outing and reminders as needed
  • Zest of Belligerent Defiance
  • 1 Tbsp. Sense of Humor
  • Large Perspective
  • 2 lbs. Bad Behavior
  1. Begin with a large plate of Commitment to regulate your emotions.  This is the most important ingredient! This means that anytime you’re feeling upset, you take a deep breath and remember to stay calm.  You do not take any action until you are coming from a peaceful place.
  2. Connection should be the basis of your relationship.  All results will stem from your connection with your child.  Pour in as much love as your container will hold, cover, and simmer on low until done.  Repeat as needed.
  3. In a regular bowl day, stir in 5 minutes of crankiness (from your child, not YOU).  This is your red flag that a need is not being met.  Is your child hungry, tired, not being heard, frustrated?
  4. Add a dash of Time In.  (Time Outs put kids on the defensive, reducing the opportunity you have to help them learn from their feelings or their mistake.  They also create power struggles for a plethora of reasons.)  Help your child express her feelings and resolve a situation.
  5. Add Set amount of time for outing (most recipes work best with a physical activity like going to the park).  Before adding, make sure child knows there is a time limit.
  6. Toss in Reminders as time approaches end.
  7. Top with zest of Belligerant Defiance liberally.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix together a sprinkle of Sense of Humor and 1 c. Empathy.  (Stay compassionate and accepting — “I can see that you would like to stay and play at the park longer and I understand that running and jumping is really fun for you.  When you’re all grown up, I bet you’ll go to the park every day and stay as long as you like.  Today though, we have to get home.  Would you like to skip or jump to the car with me?”) Once feelings are acknowledged, people are much more willing to cooperate.
  9. Meanwhile, gradually pour in Bad Behavior.
  10. Go beyond the behavior to heal the cause. Just pour your love into your child. Stay present. Breathe. Accept who she’s being at this moment–all the tears and rage and rebellion. Soften yourself, and she’ll soften, too.
  11. Remember that it’s ok to mess up and get angry, but there’s rarely an emergency in parenting.  Simply breathe, begin with Steps 1 and 2, and apologize to your child.
  12. Repeat steps 3-9 throughout the day.
  13. Allow Perspective to melt into mixture.  Remind yourself that your child’s behavior does not reflect you as a parent; only your reaction to his behavior is a reflection on you. Every moment you have a new choice of how to react. Breathe.
  14. Remember that parenting can be joyful! Looking for win/win solutions, staying calm, helping kids with their feelings, and staying connected goes a long way toward ending most conflicts.
  15. Let simmer all day.  Serve with your own special twist.

Try this recipe with marriage too! This may be one of the hardest lessons to learn, but learning to shift from reacting with fear to acting from a place of love has made such a difference for me.

Yield: One happier, more peaceful parent/role model and happy (desired number of) children.

* * * * *

Ultimate Blog Party 2014If you are visiting as part of the UBP 2014, welcome! Please stop by my About Page to learn more about me and all the meaningful connections we’ve got going on here.

The Ultimate Blog Party is an annual blogging event, hosted at 5 Minutes for Mom, where several hundred bloggers join together in a huge week-long, blog-hopping, commenting and tweeting extravaganza to meet others, grow their networks, have fun and win prizes!

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