Archives For November 2013

No Doubt, It’s My Life

November 30, 2013 — 1 Comment

Music is so powerful. It can totally turn your world upside down. Music can be medicine.

Did you know that?

That music can be medicine?

Well, it can. Music can totally make you feel things. Listening to a sad song when you’re song can make you feel sadder. Listening to a booty shaking song can make you wanna shake your bum-bum. Love songs can make you feel that sappy in love feeling.

Have you noticed that in movies the music always makes you feel the story more? You know when something scary is going to happen because of the music. You can tell when people are falling in love because of the music.

I’ve talked before about how listening and moving to music can help you shake off a funky mood, but there are so many other ways that music can drop kick a bad mood.

Recently I was feeling sorry for myself. Not because I’d had an especially difficult day or anything in particular had gone wrong.

For a little I let myself feel sorry for myself because it’s cool to feel bad. Not like feeling bad is cool but rather it’s natural to feel what you feel. Sometimes we are going to feel shitty and that’s cool as long as we don’t just stay in that negative headspace.

After a bit, I decided I’d had enough of feeling funky. I listened to a meditation and that was okay. I felt less anxiety but I didn’t feel especially joyful. I was neutral and I wanted to feel good.

(I’m a total believer in feeling good as much and as often as possible. We’re only here for a finite period of time so for fucks sake try to feel as good as you can as often as possible!)

So, I put my headphones on and turned on Pandora and WHAM… No Doubt comes streaming into my ears all sultry and hard. It slapped me in the face with it’s heavy bass.

“It’s funny how I find myself in love with you,” Gwen Stefani sang.

And just like that – joy. Easy and sweet as pie.

A Hello Kitty band-aid for an achy heart.

“It’s my life, don’t you forget,” Gwen and I sang together. A huge smile took over my face and, man, the light switched was flipped and happy flooded into the room like light.

Nothing changed. Dinner still needs to be cooked and there is a pile of crushed popcorn under the coffee table, and Lovebug just pulled Macaroni’s hair and they’re both upset. And yet everything changed.

See, the song reminded me that “it’s my life, it never ends.”

Joy is always available to us and sometimes happiness is a conscious choice. It’s not something abstract that only happens when we’re in a great mental place and everything is going right. It’s not something reserved for the rich, or the beautiful or children.

It’s really just a shift in perception.

It’s finding enjoyment in the small things. It’s listening to a song and letting it pick you up and carry you along until the little ache in your mind relaxes and leaves a smile to a backdrop beat.

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There is something magical about falling in love. Isn’t there?

When you’re in love with someone you want to do nice things for them because you love them. You may write little notes, make them a mixed tape, buy them clothes, cook them special meals, wear sexy lingerie just for them.

You do things for them as an expression of your love. You do them because you love that person and not for any other reason.

But when it comes to showing ourselves love, we don’t always put forth the same effort that we would with a romantic partner. In fact, more often that not we put ourselves last. As a mom, wife, working woman or student not taking care of yourself can lead to depression, burnout and stress.

But what if you could feel that magical feeling of love rather than burnout?

You can!

There are some easy ways to fall in love with yourself. Here are some ideas:

Buy Yourself Flowers

I was having a rough time and made a promise to myself to buy myself flowers every week. It’s amazing how this simple act can bring such joy. They don’t have to be expensive but buy yourself flowers, put them in a vase somewhere you can see them and spend a few minutes enjoying them everyday. If flowers aren’t your thing find something that is beautiful to look at and spruce up your space.

Take Yourself Out On A Date

Pick your favorite restaurant and go there. If you usually bring lunch to work, take yourself out for a lunch date at a real restaurant. Order an appetizer and maybe a glass of wine, or a special tea. Eat leisurely and take time to look at the presentation, smell the food, and enjoy the taste. Take time to soak up the total experience.

Dress Up Just Because

Dressing up always makes me feel good even if I may not feel so hot on the inside. Throw on your sexiest lingerie and wear an outfit that makes you feel good. Take a few extra minutes to style your hair, put on make-up or lip-gloss if that’s your thing, and some jewelry. Look at your beautiful self in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you look.

Take A Bath With The Works

Baths can be so relaxing. I don’t always feel like I have time to take a bath with a toddler who doesn’t sleep through the night so when I do I like to go all out. You can make a bath extra special by adding candles, rose petals, essential oils in soothing scents and epsom salt. It’s a great time to read a trashy magazine or listen to soft music, or just soak with a face mask on enjoying the warm embrace of the water. When you get out, give yourself a little body massage with oil.

Buy Yourself A Gift

Everyone loves getting and receiving gifts. You are worthy of gifts and one way to show yourself love is through small gifts. I’m not talking about buying the socks you need, but rather something that is not a need but something that you like and would make you smile. It could be a new book, a pair of earrings, a massage, a cute mug or fancy wine glass. Just a little token of your love.

Loving yourself means that you can better love others. When we feel good about ourselves and our lives, it’s easier to give and do more. Even when small things come up, when we’re bursting at the seams with love they’re much easier to handle. Love yourself first and the rest seems to fall into place.

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I used to write poems

All the time

Sad poems about broken hearts

Before I knew what real suffering was

The way a broken heart can literally make your heart feel broken

Make your world crumble and fall to pieces

Like the crust of mama’s apple pie

See, I used to write poems

All vibrant and full of color

That they literally jumped off the page

Taking on a life of their own

Because love makes you feel like anything is possible

Like you are suddenly special because you are loved

I wrote a few riot poems

Poems about fear

But mostly I wrote poems about heartbreak

Which seemed to happen too often

Making me question whether love was a mistake

A cruel joke, a Ground Hog’s Day but instead

Everyday is Valentine’s Day

And I was the only one without a Valetine

Over and over, over and over again

I poured my tears on to the page and called it poetry

And called it art

You need to bleed and hurt to make art, I thought

Life is pain

Van Gough cut off his ear, Virgina Wolfe committed suicide

But I grew tired of crying

of hurting

of love

So I stopped writing poetry

And stopped wanting to feel and stopped trying to love

But the words called out to me

In the quiet of the night

They ran back and forth in my mind

Until I couldn’t sleep

They called out to me

Exhausted, weeping I asked what they wanted of me

Love, they said

Love, and more love

Create love, be love, write love

Be love, beloved

And write with your heart

Until there is no more hurt

And all that remains is love

In the form of poetry.

For some reason the rain always makes me think of this song. With so much in the world that isn’t happy-making, sometimes it’s good to focus on the things that make us happy, you know:

Things that make me happy:

  1. Movies and cuddles with the kids on a Sunday
  2. Coconut milk lattes
  3. Glow in the dark star stickers
  4. Hearts (on jewelry, clothes, accessories)
  5. Dancing
  6. Sequins
  7. Being barefoot on the beach
  8. Sunrise
  9. Handwritten cards
  10. Making sushi with my kids
  11. Paris in Autumn
  12. Raw vegan cheesecake
  13. Spending the day in my pajamas
  14. A new dress
  15. Watching people who are clearly in love with each other interact
  16. My toddler’s “scary” face which looks surprising like her “silly” and “serious” face
  17. Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner
  18. The sound of bangles clicking together on a wrist
  19. Indian Food
  20. Gold jewelry on tan skin
  21. My mom
  22. Love letters from my middle child
  23. The “you’re crazy mom” look on my teenager’s face when I try to freestyle rap battle him
  24. Sprouts on pretty much anything
  25. Long car rides when I’m not the driver
  26. Wrapping presents extra pretty
  27. Birthdays
  28. Creating new family traditions
  29. Friendship bracelets with things sewn on them
  30. Ernest Hemingway quotes
  31. Feeling energy from crystals
  32. Saying things in French
  33. Flaky pie crust
  34. Laughing with my friends until my stomach hurts
  35. Performance art even when I don’t get it
  36. The word “resonance”
  37. Sunshine
  38. Making lists
  39. Researching the most random things
  40. Purple flowers
  41. Getting ready with girlfriends before a night out
  42. Giving compliments
  43. Singing in the car
  44. Tempeh reuben sandwiches
  45. Books that make me cry
  46. The Yogaify app

What are some of the things that make you happy?

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There are many philosophies on why people are difficult, can be perceived as negative, angry, hostile or aggressive. Whatever the reason behind it sometimes you just can’t avoid a person with a cloud of funk around them.

I don’t like the word “toxic people” because I think that all of us are great spirits. I prefer wounded or angry people. You know, the type that never seem to smile, never have anything nice to say, and can get bent out of shape about the littlest thing. People who can sometimes seem like a living black-hole in that they suck all the happy energy out the room.

There is no way to completely avoid negative people unless you live in a remote monastery where everyone has taken a vow of silence in some far off part of the world and, even then, you could probably find one person who seems to have a less than cheery vibe.

It can be hard when confronted with someone else’s baggage not to pick it up and carry it forward like it’s your own.

Case in point: someone from another office was completely rude with me and talked to me in a very disrespectful manner for no logical reason.

My initial response was to cry and then I got angry. I let the anger fill up, slowly rising to the top like the red line on a thermometer. I sat thinking up all the mean (and yet witty) things I could say or email that would make this person realize they had been a total jerk to me and totally put them in their place.

Yep, I was going to give it right back to them. If they can’t stand the heat they better get out of the kitchen!

The more I typed the imaginary email in my mind, the worse I felt.

I took a second to really remember what their face looked like as the less than kind words came out of their mouth. This person’s eyes were tired,skin sunken in with the tell-tale signs of someone who is not taking care of themselves and who is not happy. Perhaps of someone who drinks in secret to quiet the nagging pain in their heart.

I clicked delete on the imaginary “rip ’em a new one” email in my mind and instead replaced it with a Hallmark-worthy thought.

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I thought, “I bless you and I send you love.”

The air around me became lighter and I instantly started to feel better.

So I thought it again.

“I bless you and I send you love.”

And I felt even better. All the anger and hurt that I felt because of the way this person had acted towards me vanished and was replaced with a sense of calm, a feeling of understanding, and a feeling of connectedness.

I did not allow this person to foul up my mood or my day which I could’ve if I had continue to ruminate about it, or if I had sent a nasty email. Instead, I allowed myself to feel compassion for another human who probably needed it.

In blessing that person, I was blessing myself in a way because I gained a positive outlook and felt good. I left their baggage with them and felt love in my heart.

I know for certain there have been days when I have lashed out at someone who didn’t deserve it because of what was going on with me.

Maybe this person was just having one of those day. Or maybe this person has a pattern of being mean everyday and they can’t shake it. Well, doesn’t someone like that need kindness even more since, clearly, they’re not having a very pleasant human experience?

I’d say they do.  I recall a Buddha quote that said something to the effect of “If you really loved yourself you could never hurt another.” People hurt when they are hurting.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set boundaries with people. We should. Having boundaries is important – especially with someone who has a tendency to be negative, rude or hostile.

It does mean, however, that when we practice kindness towards others irregardless of the way they show up in the world, we’re practicing kindness to ourselves by not allowing someone else’s disposition to sour our own.

Of course it’s easier said than done. That’s what it’s called a practice because it’s something we need to continually work on so that it becomes second nature. We all have off days when we may throw up the finger at the driver behind us with road rage rather than ignore them but we should, more often than not, practice kindness.

Have you had a time when you wanted to cuss someone out but showed them love instead? Tell us about it in the comments!

[WARNING…. this post includes a video with profanity and content that some may find offensive. Proceed at your own risk. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to publish this post and decided that I would because this is me and sometimes I listen to music that some may find offensive. At one point people found rock-n-roll offensive so you can’t please everyone.]

As I was driving the other day the song “Type of Way” by Rich Homie Quan came on the radio. I had heard this song before because Brother is often singing the lyrics and I’ve heard it coming through the walls of his room, in addition to the occasional spins on the radio.

My ****** been hustlin’ trying to make him something
Ain’t no telling what he’ll do for the paper
Soufflé, I’m straight, I scrape my plate,
Sade, I’m a smooth operator.

(I Drop The Top Of My Whip Baby!)
That car I’m driving make you feel some type of way
That Custom Breitling make you feel some type of way
This ***** I’m with got me feeln’ some type a way
Is it because my homies rich you feel some type of way?
Some type of way, make you feel some type of way

While the lyrics on their face may be simplistic, braggy or even slightly misogynistic they talk about something that most of us will struggle with at some point – feeling “some type of way” because of something someone else does or because of what they have, or appear to have.

I will be the first to say that I have felt “some type of way” because of something someone has or is doing. That’s not to say that I often or even always feel envy but there have been times when I’ve looked at someone else’s life and felt inferior, sad or lacking.

Yes, sometimes I’ve felt a tinge of jealousy.

I’ve also looked at someone else’s life, job or material things and felt inspired, encouraged, reassured, and validated. I have been made to feel like I can do whatever he/she is doing. I have read someone else’s words and they have inspired me to write, to buy a book, or to make a change in my life for the better.

It’s kind of amazing that another person has the power to cause us to feel “some type of way” (as we also do to others without even realizing it). They don’t have this power because they’re some mystical creature or somehow better or different than we are. They have the power to make us feel things because we give it to them.

In some cases, this is a very good thing and sometimes it’s a recipe for disaster.

Feeling “some type of way” because of someone else does not have to be a bad feeling. The way we feel is something that is in our control once we become aware of our thoughts. Not only is it in our control but it can give us clues about how we feel about ourselves and how we can grow and develop as spiritual beings having this human experience.

For example, when I see the mom who is put together everyday dressed from head to toe like a Kardashian with a personal stylist, I can choose to let it make me feel bad. I can choose to compare my ballet flats to her stilettos. I can choose to feel less than because maybe I just threw something on and it doesn’t make me feel like a sexy beast. I can choose to feed into my insecurities that I am somehow not enough.

I can choose to steal my own joy by comparing myself to her.

I can also choose to feel inspired. I can allow myself to be reminded that we both have the same 24 hours a day and if I want to look like a Kardashian everyday I can too; I just have to make the effort to do that like she does.

I can choose to see her as a sister and to admire and compliment her so that the next morning when I’m putting on my outfit for the day I take an extra five minutes to make sure my outfit makes me feel good.

It seems silly in a way but everyone allows themselves to feel a type of way because of other people at times. If no one did there wouldn’t be sayings like “haters gonna hate” or “likers gonna like.”

At the root, the way we feel has nothing to do with what someone has/is doing but is really a reflection of how we feel on the inside. When we’re conscious of this, we can choose to feel good and inspired by others rather than like we’re lacking.

Has someone made you feel “some type of way” recently?

Everyday when I get home before I can even close the front door Ladybug has usually thrown herself on me or is running full speed in my direction.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy,” she says laughing with her arms outstretched.

She runs up to me and jumps on me. If I don’t bend to pick her up soon enough she starts to pout calling my name more firmly. I have to assure her, “One second and then I’ll pick you up, I promise,” if I want to take my coat off.

She hugs me, she laughs and she hugs me some more. She is shining so full of love that it’s almost blinding.

What strikes me most about my Ladybug beyond how blessed I am to have her (and her siblings) is how openly and freely she shares her love. It’s not just with me, but with everyone.

She is a living and breathing embodiment of love. She is love.

She loves openly and freely without fear because that’s the way she was born into the world and she’s still young enough that she hasn’t been jaded, twisted or cracked as a result of sharing her love.

She is still connected to the Divine and sees everyone as a friend.

As an expression of her love Ladybug frequently wants to hug people.

She waves hello to everyone. She hugs other babies and kids at parks. It’s perfectly normal for her to go up to another child, look them in the eye and immediately hug them. Most kids hug her back or are completely caught off guard but don’t seem to mind. She hugs them for as long as she seems to feel they need it (or she needs it) and then she lets go and goes about her business.

She even tries to hug adults that she sees.

This past weekend she wanted to go from my arms to the arms of a woman standing next to us at Philz coffee shop. She put her hands out to the woman and launched herself into the woman’s arms before the woman could say anything.

The woman and I both looked at each other, uncomfortable.

“Well, hello,” the woman said to Ladybug eyeing me cautiously, as if I were a lioness that might bite her for coming too close to my cub.

I was hesitant but didn’t immediately pull Ladybug from her arms because Ladybug hugged the woman tighter and put her head on the woman’s shoulder. A real hug brimming with love.

The woman relaxed and so did I (though just a teensy bit). The woman thanked her for the hug and for the love and just held her while the woman and I made small talk. Then they called out my order and I told Ladybug it was time to go. She released the stranger, came willingly into my arms and told her new friend goodbye.

The woman still seemed dazed by the unexpected baby love-by as we walked out the door.

See, it’s natural to love and to be kind. Maybe Ladybug could sense that the woman needed a hug, or maybe the woman looked friendly, or maybe Ladybug was annoyed I wouldn’t let her grab things and throw them and she thought the woman might. Whatever the reason, Ladybug was unafraid and greeted a stranger with a hug.

There is something both profoundly moving and profoundly sad about that whole exchange.

The profoundly moving is the fact that the ability to love freely is something within all of us. It is still there inside you and inside me if we allow ourselves to access it. With every interaction we have with a stranger, we can choose to treat them like a long lost friend. We can treat them with kindness and an emotional hug of sorts.

(A baby jumping into the arms of a stranger is nonthreatening but an adult may doing the same thing may be met with a more hostile response. And possibly pepper spray so kindness should be thoughtful and respective of a person’s space.)

The profoundly sad part of the whole exchange is that, as a parent, I have to teach my child that she can’t just love and hug on every person she sees. Because some people are creeps, and that is the reality of the world we live in. Sometimes the expression of something so innocent and so natural is dangerous.

All “people can suck” lines of thinking aside Ladybug reminded me that loving is natural and now I’m reminding you.

It’s our natural state to perceive everyone with love and kindness; to treat everyone as if they were a brother. By simply smiling at people, expressing kindness and giving folks the benefit of the doubt we can slowly but surely heal the world.

The next time you’re in line at the coffee shop or Safeway or the post office, make like a baby and greet the people who are around you. Not only will you brighten their day but your own.