Archives For October 2013

When Shiz Hits the Fan

October 30, 2013 — 2 Comments

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This has been one of the most challenging months of my life.

So far in the span of one month, there was the passing of my grandmother who I adore who is one of my (if not the) closest family member aside from my parents, brother and children.

My babysitter had an emergency and forgot to pick up the girls, so I had to rush out of work and it threw the entire night into a crazy frenzy since it was also a ballet night. The same day I had another emergency with Brother shortly after getting back from ballet.

I hit a parked car.

I lost my keys several times and at the worst place — like gymnastics lessons.

I got a flat tire… on a Monday… when I was already pressed for time.

I’ve been late to work basically everyday. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I hate being late. It makes me itchy and uncomfortable, and I just think it’s tacky and rude to be habitually late and yet for whatever reason I can’t stop being late. And not because I’m waking up late but because something is coming up like everyday.

Every. Single. Day.

And there are several more things that I could list but I’ll spare both of us the torture of going through them. Suffice it to say, overall October 2013 has been a big thumbs down. It has not been a lucky month.

Quite the opposite.

There have been moments when I’ve wondered how I haven’t crashed into a pile on the floor, curled in the fetal position while crying out to the heavens, “Oh, Miss Celie what we gon’ do now?”

But despite the rough waters (which are due to Mercury in retrograde if you’re an astrology following kinda person) there have been tons of gentle reminders from the Universe that I am loved and that it’s all in how you look at things.

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For example, I got to see and spend time with my Grandma Helen before she died. She knows I love her and that we all love her. She was able to depart the world in peace with love.

When my car got a flat, my cousin happened to be at his house only a few blocks away and was able to hook it up while one of my besties worked out getting my tire changed so I didn’t have to miss work yet again.

Another of one my besties came through to babysit so I could go to see Common perform and the concert was amazing.

Ladybug learned how to sing “happy burday to you” and how to say my brother’s name.

I’ve been invited to lunch by friends I haven’t seen in ages. Another good friend who I haven’t spoken to in some time sent me a text message to check on me right in the very moment when I needed it.

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I’ve begun to notice hearts everywhere – spray painted on buildings, in my morning latte, in flowers, on clothes.

So, despite the fact that October has been an emotional milieu of sorts with the hard blows and ugly-cry moments have also been soft moments. Because that is life really – a balancing of sorts.

Because sometimes shiz hits the fan and it can feel like the entire world is crushing down on you with such force that it’s almost hard to breathe.

Even then, in those moments when it may seem like we’re all alone and like the world is conspiring against us, if we look for the love we can find it. In every moment, there is a lesson or something to be gained. I know it sounds so hippy-dippy unrealistic to say “look for the positive” when things are going bad.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore the bad. We should acknowledge our feelings so we can move past them faster. If we feel sad, we should feel it. If we’re angry, it’s okay to be angry. We should validate our feelings by staring them in the eye. Everyday doesn’t need to be all sunshine and flowers. Some days are just shitty.

Welcome to the real world, kids. Lesson 1: sometimes you’re just going to feel shitty.

The trick is not to wallow in the pain until it covers us like body paint. We can still appreciate the small things in the midst of the storm, like how sweet a rose smells, or what luck it was that you were late and so was the bus you need to take. We can walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and notice it.

Even in the midst of the hurt, frustration and tears the color purple is still there beautifully elegant against the green field of life, if you open your eyes and see it. It’s like a little gift to you, a little reminder from the Universe that it loves you.

Miracles happen every day in our own lives but if our minds are preoccupied or we’re too busy or rushed, we may not notice the miracles – yet they’re always there, like gifts waiting to be opened. – Deepak Chopra

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The other day we went shopping at one of our favorite local health food stores. Every time we go there is usually someone there at the exit of the parking lot who is asking for spare change.

On this trip the only space available was a tiny space that I wasn’t sure I could get into easily. I’m not the best driver to say the least.

There was a gentleman standing selling Street Sheets near the exit. He saw me getting ready to exit the lot to go around the corner and come back in the hopes of finding an easier space to get into.

“You can do it,” he said to me as I headed in his direction. (My window was open since it was warm.)

“Just back in,” he nodded winking. He wore a worn but tidy sweater. His head and beard peppered with gray and nicely groomed, I noted.

My face must have given away the clear worry of yet another dent in my car or, even worse, hitting the Mercedes parked next to me. (You might be surprised to learn that insurance companies think it’s your fault when you hit a parked car. I learned this the hard way!)

He walked closer to me with his hand up to stop the car pulling in behind and guided me into the space.

“Cut your wheel hard to the left,” and I did. “Now turn to the right,” and I did.

“You’ve got it, you’ve got it… there you go.”

I breathed a shy of relief as the kids tumbled out of the car staring at “that homeless guy” suspiciously. He had gone back to his post and stood there like a proper gentleman, his job done.

“Thank you,” I called out to him waiving.

He said something sweet in return, clearly not expecting a tip. He was just trying to help another person he saw who needed help.

On our way out the store, as we drove past the man, I thanked him again for all his help and handed him some money. As we pulled out and away the girls asked me, “Why did you give him money?”

“Bless to be blessed,” was my reply.

Bless to be blessed.

“What does that mean,” the girls asked.

I told them that we do good things and in return good things happen to us. We bless others and we are blessed both in the good feelings from doing for others and that we also receive other blessings.

See, that man had blessed me.

He helped me save time and gas getting into a parking space. He helped reassure me that I could do it and in the future I know how to get my big booty car into a smaller space. We made it to the school’s Halloween dance on time. And we felt good, and he felt good. Deep down, I think most people want to help and be of service even if only in some small way.

It had been a miracle, of sorts. I pulled up stressed, frazzled and in a hurry and left feeling like I’d had a great encounter with another human. I was reminded that everyone has something to give and that we should give without expectation of return.

We should give and help because it feels good. We are blessed not only because of our ability to give which, in and of itself is a blessing, but also in the act of blessing others.

There are so many ways we can bless others with simple acts of kindness. When we do this, we invite a flow of positivity and good energy into our own lives. Plus, it just feels good to be a good person, ya know?

What blessing have you given or received recently?

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I am going through HUGE changes in my professional and personal life.

Huge shake your world and spin it upside down on its head changes. Changes that are, at times, physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Change can be hard and growing can be painful.

I think change is good. It keeps us alive and on our toes, learning and growing. This is part of the purpose of this whole human experience — to learn, to love, to grow and to heal.

All of that requires change.

Paradoxically, I’ve also been reluctant to some forms of change and found old habits hard to break, or perhaps lessons hard to learn.

Change requires moving against resistance into the unknown.

The known is kind of like your bed in the morning — warm and comforting — even if you don’t sleep well on it. The warm familiar bed is, well, warm and familiar; even if hard and lumpy and uncomfortable. Getting out of that warm and familiar can be a shock because it deals with the unknown or, even if the end outcome is pretty known, because of the discomfort of moving from here to there.

It’s no wonder that many of us resist change like the plague! “Why would we choose to do something that makes us feel discomfort,” is a logical thought, isn’t it?

We fight against it, swimming upstream against the current of change until we’re tired out and frazzled.

See, sometimes change hurts.

But the more we resist, the more it persists. The more that we fight against something, the more we cause it to continue. Not only does it continue, but we make it harder and the process becomes more uncomfortable the more we resist.

To fly we have to have resistance. – Maya Lin

The thing is that sometimes we need the resistance. We need the resistance to help strengthen us and teach us. We need the resistance in order to grow and be the best versions of ourselves and live out our divine purpose.

Part of the changes in my life are inevitable and would have happened anyway. They are welcomed changes. Still, that doesn’t make them any less scary or difficult or uncomfortable for several reasons.

Things people typically resist are switching jobs, starting or ending relationships, coming to terms with something about themselves, etc.

We’ve all been through stuff that we carry with us. Even when change is good, it can bring up fears about self-worth and inadequacy. So even when we’re aware that the change can be good for us, we may still face some resistance to it because somewhere inside of us we may worry whether we are truly of deserving of good things. (Insider tip: we are oh so worthy!)

Have you ever been in a super cold pool or the ocean when it’s really cold?

Your body starts to clinch up and resist the cold. It seems like the more you fight against the cold the more painful it becomes. Your teeth start to chatter and your body physically starts to shake; your muscles become taut. You resist the cold with all your power and find yourself not only colder but in pain.

But when you stop resisting and just accept the freezing temperatures, your body relaxes with a flood of warmth your muscles relax and your level of discomfort, though still there, is greatly diminished.

Instead of resisting change, sometimes you just have to wade into the cold waters and relax into it. You have to breathe it all in, accept the discomfort and feel it until eventually it passes. The way to get through it is to wade deep into it.

Go deep into the cold water of whatever you are resisting and feel it with your body fully.

Whatever change you’re struggling with, close your eyes and think about where you can physically feel it in your body. You may be surprised to learn that we can actually carry it physically in our bodies. For me, it’s usually anxiety or a knot in my stomach. Focus on the feeling and just sit with it.

Yep, sit with the discomfort as if it were a small puppy on your lap.

Don’t try to rationalize it or wish it away. Just sit with it and observe your thoughts without trying to change them. Breath in the discomfort and the fear and breath out love.

Breath in the discomfort and fear, and breath out gratitude. We want to feel gratitude for the resistance we fear because it is making us stronger and better things lay on the other side if we can just get there.

It may even help to tell yourself something like, “I am worthy,” or “I am grateful” or “I release the blocks in my life to X” or “I welcome change and trust that the Universe has my greatest interest at heart.”

Sit with the discomfort for as little or as long as you like, take a deep breath and let it all out. The more you do this, this easier it will pass. Change whether or not comfortable is bound to happen. Make it easier on yourself by swimming with the current instead of against it!

What are you resisting right now?

Boundaries Can Be Good

October 22, 2013 — 1 Comment

I wanted to include a quote from someone prolific on boundaries. I looked high and low and I couldn’t find one single inspiring quote about why boundaries are a good thing.

Quite the opposite.

Every quote I stumbled upon was about why boundaries are bad. Every quote discussed pushing past boundaries and breaking them down, doing away with boundaries. Boundaries are evil, I guess.

But I beg to differ.

Boundaries can actually be a good thing. Not only can boundaries be a good thing, but they can be the ultimate expression of self-love.

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē/
noun
1.a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. “the eastern boundary of the wilderness”
Boundaries mark the limits of an area. They let you, and others, know what lines cannot and should be crossed and yet many of us have a hard time making and setting them. We feel immense guilt when we set up boundaries because the overall consensus seems to be that they’re negative.

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While a boundary in music or imagination may be be limiting, setting personal boundaries that relate to your everyday life can be liberating. That’s right, the limits that you create can actually provide you more freedom.

Many of us have family members or close friends who superimpose themselves into our lives. Maybe your aunt always drops by without calling and at the worst times and, as if that wasn’t annoying enough, she expects you to sit and have tea with her.

Maybe for the last ten years you’ve allowed this even though some days it has made you feel really crummy and you were miserable the entire time because she kept talking about her cats and you don’t even like cats, even though you really love your aunt and like spending time with her when you’re in the mood to.

It can be hard to stand up to people that we care about and to tell them about our boundaries. We may feel like by not only telling our loved ones about our boundaries and, even more importantly, sticking to them that we’re somehow hurting people but we’re not.

When you clearly put up boundaries and stick to them you’re letting other people know how to treat you. You are letting them know what you will and will not accept. You are living your truth and being your authentic self.

Being who you are is complete freedom.

Not only is being ourselves freedom, but it also means that we limit unnecessary stress and not so warm and fuzzy feelings.

And frankly, if we don’t tell people what our boundaries are they’ll never know. Not everyone is  a mind reader and most folks don’t want to step on toes or make other people uncomfortable. They just can’t sense someone else’s boundaries.

The easiest way to clear that up — tell them!

Most people will not take things personally when you draw your line in the sand and let them know what is and what is not okay. Most people appreciate honesty and, frankly, most people aren’t trippin’ off other people that much to even realize when a boundary has been set.

And if someone is trippin’ off a new boundary they’re probably the person(s) that you need to firmly express your boundaries to the most.

It’s easy and quite painless to set up boundaries. The next time your unwelcome aunt just drops by out of the blue with another long-winded tale about her frisky feline and a request for your last cup of chai tell her gently, “I really love hanging out with you and our talks about cats over tea but from now on I really need you to call me in advance to set-up our tea date. What about if we have another tea date in two weeks?”

Whoop, there it is! You just set a boundary!

It’s clear because you’ve expressed what you need. You’ve made a new planned date so your aunt knows that going forward you’re planning your aunty kitty talk time.

If your aunt drops by again unexpected because she’s not used to the new rules, you greet her with a warm smile at the door and let her know that it’s not a good time and remind her again that you need her to call in the future.

I have had a really hard time with this in the past. I always felt immensely guilty for stating my own needs, so I would overextend myself and not make firm boundaries just because I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

Instead, I was hurting myself because I was allowing circumstances and moments in my life that I didn’t fully want.

When I started setting boundaries I realized that it’s really not that big of a deal. In fact, the more one does it the easier it is to do.

Do you have difficulty setting boundaries?

Last night Macaroni wanted to talk about her birthday party. She has been trying to talk about her birthday party since at least August.

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Her birthday is in March.

She had a birthday party. A big deal slumber party at a hotel. She had pizza and presents and cake. They swam, told scary stories, played games, watched movies. It was “the best birthday ever!”

“But what about my party next year,” she asks.

We’ve been talking about the idea that we don’t need a party every year since March. Not that we shouldn’t celebrate how happy we are that it’s her birthday and that she was born, but that a party isn’t as special when you do it every year and invite all the same people who have been at pretty much every birthday party for the last 8 years.

See, Macaroni has had a birthday party every year since she turned one.

She had a fairyland party where she dressed as a princess. She had a tea party where all the girls dressed fancy and wore hats, gloves and pearls. She had a dancer party where everyone dressed like ballerinas.

She asked for a “P. Diddy party” one year, but I had no idea what that was an figured serving Ciroc to kids was a bad idea, so we opted for a spa party instead where we did manicures, pedicures and make-up.

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She had two birthday parties at Chucky  Cheeze and a slumber party.

Admittedly, I like parties. I like planning parties and you know those people who love themes and cutesy shit — yea, that’s me. Guilty as charged!

Except now every year she expects something special for her birthday. At first I felt that was a bad thing and that I was totally making her into a consumer or having her place value on things that don’t matter and whatever else liberal parents may think about having a party every year. But then I started to wonder whether it really is as bad and spoiled as it sounds.

Before you look down your nose about this totally first world problem and judge me, hear me out.

“I have to have a party next year, mommy,” she pleaded last night while we tried to talk about why she didn’t need to have a party every  year and that maybe having a party every year made it less special.

We talked about the fact that some people don’t get any birthday parties and about having gratitude and all that. She acknowledged that she was lucky to have had a party every year of her life so far. She understood that not all kids get that.

“Okay, mommy, but can I pleasssseeeee have a party next year,” she asked again.

“Birthdays are my favorite holidays,” she continued.

The funny thing is that in that moment I heard my own voice explaining to my own mom that birthdays were my favorite holiday. We had all those birthday parties for her (and for Brother before her) because they made me feel good.

I mean, a two year-old isn’t begging for a tea party, ya know?

Birthdays are my favorite holiday because they mark the day when you started this life. It comes once a year and in the year between the one before and the next one after you’ve grown and changed. You may not even be quite the same person.

In a way, birthdays are kind of like a rebirth every year into a new phase in your life. Isn’t that reason enough to celebrate?

So, I agreed that she could have a party next year but that we wouldn’t talk about it again until next year which is a fair compromise considering both her brother and sister have birthdays before her.

She can have a party next year, and the one after that and for as long as she feels likes he wants to celebrate her birthday with a party.

Because birthdays are her favorite holiday. Because birthdays make her feel good. Because she wants to celebrate her life.

As we ended the conversation she asked, “Are you going to throw Ladybug a birthday party this year?” 

“Of course not,” I said. “She’s not going to remember and she had a party last year.”

“But we’re still going to celebrate her, right,” she asked sounding a little concerned.

“Of course,” I said.

You see, birthdays are our favorite holiday and that’s why we celebrate them. We celebrate life.

What’s your favorite holiday?

{The Word} Helen

October 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Light blond hair, blue eyes

All Leo fire

Chunky necklaces, perfume in fancy bottles

Class, personified

Almost too cool to be called grandma

You gave me your love of art

Ballet, Paris, the joie de vivre

You taught me that sometimes you need an extra pretty dress

Whether or not the occasion calls for it

That wine is always appropriate

Because life, after all, is a celebration

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you cry

You, pure Leo fire

Class, personified

Beauty is as beauty does, you told me

Always be beautiful on the inside

Because that’s where beauty really is

All the accouterments of the good life

All the pretty things

Pale in comparison

To a beautiful spirit

Lipstick and painted nails to do not make the lady

It is the spirit, the fire

The beautiful you — inside

The beautiful you

The beautiful you

Class personified

My Complaining Detox

October 10, 2013 — 1 Comment

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It’s easy to complain, isn’t it?

How are you can be a loaded question.

It seems like everyday we can find something to complain about and we often do. My Facebook timeline is littered with complaints at times. Talk of “haters” or how much someone’s job/boss/life sucks.

I, myself, am guilty of riding the train to Complaintville on a regular basis. I complain about being tired a lot due to having a toddler that doesn’t sleep through the night.

I complain about all the stuff I have to do.

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I complain about the traffic, poor customer service, rude people on the street, my job. Not all the time and not all day everyday but I’m sure I complain about something at least once a day if not more.

I’m sure you do too. Without even realizing it.

It’s easy to complain. It’s almost second nature. You think you’re a totally positive person and still complain a lot.

Now, to be fair, sometimes complaining is important. Complaining about poor treatment in a business can help ensure that in the future you or other customers are treated differently. Complaining about unfair laws, budget cuts, etc. is important.

But I’m not talking about those complaints. I’m talking about complaining that you feel fat because you ate too much cake the night before. The complaints that life isn’t fair because you don’t have a new car. First world complaints.

Like I said, I’m guilty of this myself so I’m going on a complaining detox. That’s right, I’m going to go a week without complaining about anything. Instead of complaining about the crappy driver in front of me, I’m going to take a deep breath and send them love.

When I feel myself on the verge of a complaint, I’m going to consciously shift my thoughts to something positive and focus on all the good instead of the annoying stuff. Rather than complaining about the laundry that somehow seems to reproduce at night while we’re all asleep I’m going to express gratitude for having clothes, for having a washing machine.

There’s no real reason for this detox of sorts other than I think it’s important to take inventory of our thoughts and notice how our thoughts shape our daily lives and our experiences. I think that it’s important to be reminded that we have the power to control so much.

Also, when we’re sending out love and good vibes into the world we get that back. When we send out complaints and bad juju we’re also getting that back.

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I dare you to go one day without complaining. It’s harder than you think because complaining is somewhat ingrained in our psyches. Don’t think so, try to go a day without complaining!

If you go a day without complaining, I bet you’ll notice how great your life is and how good you feel.

If you want to join me for a week long complain detox let us know in the comments sections and maybe tell us why you’re going complaint-free.

My Grandma died. I am heartbroken. It hurts more than I can say in words.

Yesterday I read this great post on Belinda Davidson’s blog about dancing through ego. Using dance as a way of release.

This morning I woke up feeling all kinds of indigo blue. I had a good cry while Dada hugged me. In the shower, I realized I felt like I wanted to scream and shout because of the anger and hurt.

Suddenly, I heard this song in my mind. I decided that I wanted to really hear it and to dance it out like Belinda suggested. (See, there are no coincidences in life. That post came right when I needed it.)

I danced and swayed and jumped and moved my hips and threw my hands up and my sadness slid off my body and onto the floor like a silk slip. The pain was replaced with joy and just feelings of gratitude for love and family.

Cause I was feeling down and now I’m feeling better.

Life is rough folks, sometimes we gotta scream and shout and dance it all out.

Rumi said that the wound is the place where the light enters you

And my heart is wounded

Gaping open, raw and tender

I wake up heart broken

Heart cracked into tiny pieces

Wondering if it’s just a dream

Hoping that if I dial your number

You’ll pick up

And mispronounce my name

like you always have

The grief is almost palpable, Grandma

It’s heavy and thick, like a scratchy wool sweater

Because I love you so

The wound is the place where the light enters you

And I know that you are now light

Healed, free

Love, energy

Never gone, only changed

Comme une papillion

You are light

Pure love and light

If the wound is the place where the light enters

Then you are here with me now

Past the pain

Beyond the hurt

To the place where we are all connected as one

Where love is all there is

I have learned the hard way to mind my business, without judging who people are and what they do. I am more troubled by the lack of space being provided for the truth to unfold. Humans cannot seem to wait for or honor the truth. Instead, we make it up based on who we believe people should or should not be.
– Iyanla Vanzant

We are all such beautifully complex creatures. In many ways we are the center of our own world.

Scratch that… in many ways we feel we are the center of the universe. We often think that our way is the only way and that feelings are facts. That feelings are truth.

We look at people through our eyes and project our own truth on to them “based upon who we believe people should or should not be.”

When we do this we are not honoring the truth or allowing space for the truth to unfold. But, beyond the limits that we impress upon others based on our personal opinions, our failure to make space and cease our judgment of others is a choice. It’s a choice that often makes us feel worse, more stress, or more disconnected from others.

We may not even see it as a choice but it is.

Instead of looking at people with love, we often create labels for them and judgments based on the way we choose to see them. We take our thoughts and project them onto others assigning them roles and making up rules about who they are.

“He’s an asshole.”

“She’s a psycho.”

“They’re too self-centered.”

“He’s egotistical.”

“That person did this to me because they’re that.”

We also choose the way we allow us ourselves to process how other people behave towards us.

“He’s trying to make me feel bad.”

“She’s out to get me.”

“They just don’t like me.”

These things we think are based on our own life experience, the baggage that we carry around with us, or our own personal belief system. They are not facts.

They may feel very real to us, but that still does not make them facts — merely our truth. This is where love and forgiveness come into play.

I am constantly working on this myself.

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When someone behaves in a way that bothers me, I try not to judge. Instead, I try to extend love because maybe they’re not doing or being the things that I think they are. Maybe, and more often than not, it has nothing to do with me.

For example, someone who I think is “an asshole” may be having a string of bad days because a close relative just died and they’re consumed with a grief so thick that they can barely see the light of day.

Maybe the woman who is “a psycho” has insecurities and is hurting deeply. Or maybe she’s not a psycho at all but I see things in her that remind me of parts of myself that I am not so in love with and that makes me uncomfortable.

How we see and respond to people is a choice.

I am very sensitive by nature and tend to think that people are doing things to intentionally make me feel bad. It totally shook my world upside down when I had the revelation that maybe, just maybe,  no one was doing anything to intentionally make me feel bad. In a way, I was making up the truth about someone based on who I decided they were and what I decided they were doing. I was not providing space for them to just be.

{Insert huge gasp and WTF with exclamation points here!}

They were just doing them and I was choosing to allow it to make me feel bad or to make a judgment on who they are.

That doesn’t mean that the other person couldn’t have said or done something nicer, with more tact or in a way that I would be more responsive to, but it doesn’t mean they were out to get me or purposely trying to hurt me.

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I’m not implying that people don’t do things to intentionally hurt others or that you should stand by and allow yourself to be mistreated for the sake of love and forgiveness.

What I am saying is that it’s deeper than why people do the things they do, and even in the very unlikely case that someone is doing something to intentionally hurt me, I am still in control of how I react to it. I have the choice to let it upset me (being a victim) or or not.

I have the choice on whether I want to forgive that person, whether I want to remove them from my life, and how much energy I want to devote to that situation or moment. How much I let someone’s actions, intentional or not, rain on my parade is up to me and me alone.

When we blindly cast someone into a specific character or role in the story of our lives by placing a judgment upon them, we also cast ourselves as the victim or the villain.

We can be happier by allowing people the space to simply be. It comes from the acknowledgment that you are in control of how you feel about the things that people do. That is YOUR truth. The reasons behind why people and do and think what they do is THEIR truth.

When we own up to the reality that we often place our personal truths on people and situations and shape them, like a sculptor does a piece of clay, into our own vision we give everyone the opportunity to be their best and highest self. We give space for love.

We honor the truth.