Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning.
LOVE must be put into action and that action is service.
– Mother Teresa
I’ve been a mother for over five years. It doesn’t seem like a long time numerically, but it feels like eons to me. I realized recently that part of the reason for this was due to my immense resistance to the role. Ask any of my girlfriends and they’ll tell you I don’t hesitant to complain about the truth of WORK, DISCIPLINE and PATIENCE this role requires. And I fail… often…. losing him in public places, skipping meals b/c I’m just too exhausted to cook, putting him in clothes that left painful marks that I even winced at, and taking advantage of every opportunity to drop him off with relatives to give myself a momentary mama-vacay.
Yet these outward behaviors only reflected the inner struggle I was experiencing. I didn’t want to be a mother. I thought it would require too much of me, sacrificing my dreams and goals. That giving and giving would eventually deplete me and I’d be resentful of him silently awaiting his 18th birthday to then be free to live my life. These are the fears that float through my awareness every now and then. Yet instead of clutching to some idea of the perfect mother in my mind, I could release, and choose to follow this growing desire to be of service to this magnificent human child.
My childhood was filled with stories of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and even the Black Panthers, not only as icons of the Civil Rights movement, but as examples of actionable-service. They sacrificed for an inner calling to inspire, root and demand an equitable community. In essence, each represented dynamic and self-less love. In the lessons of their stories, I was taught to not only strive for those standards, but reach them, embrace them, practice them. Love.
Service requires that act of reaching for love. And mothering is one of the most prominent ways that our society embodies service. This is why I think the celebration of mothers is so essential. It breathes new awareness into our recognition of that service. It reflects our true gratitude for those who have supported, aided, rescued, embraced, accepted, devoted….in a word: loved. All of us have had a moment of this, whether it was from our biological mother or some stranger who helped us carry a ripped bag of groceries whose contents were saved from a concrete impact.
My life has been saved from concrete impact, many times, by the women, men AND children who have chosen me as an acceptable receiver of their compassion and love. And on this mothers day I’m grateful to honor my own journey in shifting my perception of being a mother of resistance to one of privilege. I recognize the honor entailed in serving others. I deeply respect those who exemplify courage, elegance, grace and patience. As I learn to practice this way of mothering I recognize that I am magnifying the dynamic energies of Love on the planet. And what could possibly be more valuable of a service to our human-family than that?
healing one another
from oceanic depths
from mountainous heights
Bandages of shame
dissolve to the ground
as caressed bare feet
are revitalized by Strong Earth.
with purple flames
with tantric REAL seeing.
diving deep into rivers
known and unknown
beyond blackness into
readying our souls
the global mind.
Refreshing our bodies,
releasing generational wounds
our spiritual ancestry.
A few months ago I decided to offer growth-work classes around developing a peace practice. I had a great first showing, multiple people interested and several who expressed continued desire to pay for such inspiration. During the weeks that followed I observed how I unconsciously denied myself the joy of receiving that interest, money and continued creative expression. I sabotaged my intention to create additional income streams and offerings that helped people heal to peace. And even though I knew that I was doing this, I couldn’t seem to choose differently. I was running away from my own potential. I was avoiding doing the work. I created all kinds of other priorities to convince myself that I couldn’t possibly have the time to attend to my dream.
It wasn’t until I observed the same behavior in a beloved whose creative genius feels light-years beyond my own, that I began to recognize what I was doing. The fears, negative self-talk, doubts and pain about truly trusting these creative gifts have such a strong-hold around us that its challenging to see beyond them. I know so many artists and entrepreneurs whose vast library of new ideas, products and services would heal the world in a moment, yet the self-critic continues to hold a monopoly on the loud speaker. And no matter how beautiful the art piece, stunning the melody, eloquent the sentence…it all will birth and die in the coffers of our minds unless we regain control of the microphone and declare a new possibility.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new experience. I’ve lived under the drones of fear long enough. I’ve listened to my self-critic for decades and it’s time for her to take a back-seat (if she’s not willing to bounce altogether). If you are serious about getting out of your way here are five things I suggest you do TODAY to open up to your worthiness and express the powerful Light that you are.
I write about gratitude a lot because I find that it is such a powerful mental tool to recondition our minds to harmony, abundance and peace. I start my day speaking out loud what I’m grateful for. Then when journaling I write out what I’m grateful this day will create for me to express. Throughout my day I am actively looking for things to appreciate. I’m asking others about what they are happy about more often than I listen to their complaints. At the end of the day I express gratitude for my life, simply for the exquisite opportunity of being alive.
There are so many ways to practice gratitude. Just google gratitude practices and you’ll discover tons of new ideas. For artists in particular we can be pretty harsh on ourselves when the end product doesn’t materialize as we want it to. This is a particularly good time to practice gratitude. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Even in a challenging situation. Especially in a challenging situation. Begin to train your mind to focus on what is working more often and you will experience the abundance you seek.
Sun Soak or Earth Touch Boost
When I’m feeling frustrated or disappointed about my creative stagnation I often rediscover that simply being outside refreshes me a new set point. Think of it like a battery recharge. Humans need to touch the earth, to listen to birds, appreciate flowers, feel wind in their face and sun on their skin. Poets from all cultures write about this need from the beginning of our-story. It is required. Don’t imagine for a second that our technical revolutions have computerized this necessity out of us. Go on that hike. Take the dog on a walk. Make the effort to sit under the tree, walk on the beach or play in the snow. Soak in sunlight and delight in the rain again (like this little girl). Feel the abundance of this magnificent planet that has provided for your every need, every moment or every day. And while you’re outside, say Thank you.
Another powerful tool for shifting out of our complaints-habits towards gratitude-discipline is to visualize that which you want. But don’t get it twisted, this isn’t a daydream fest. None of that “wouldn’t it be nice” shit. This is powerful, dynamic, focused mental work! Here is an excellent guided visualization tool for manifesting abundance. And here is one for expressing creativity.
Creating the vision is only step one. After discovering clearly what you want, you must not allow the critic to talk you out of it. I like to use the scene from Lord of the Rings, of Gandolf declaring to the fire demon that: “You Shall Not Pass!” I imagine his staff Light protecting my dream from the snarls of dragon hell (which is just another word for my negative self-talk). Find whatever is useful for you. The point is to clarify the dream, protect it and feel worthy of its immediate manifestation.
Forgiveness isn’t often thought of as a prerequisite for creative abundance, but I think it’s critical. How can you express your creative genius if you continue to hold onto people or experiences in your past that did you wrong? Pause and read that question again. There is someone in your life right now that you need to release. You don’t need to communicate anything to them, simply decide right now that you are ready to let it go. It might even be that you need to forgive yourself. Recognize how it is blocking you from the good that you want to experience in your life. Why carry it any longer? How is that burden serving you? Is being right really that important?
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort on forgiving people from my past. It’s hard work and not something that comes easy to me. I also find that it has to be a continued commitment, because something will happen that will make me think about them and how much I used to hate them and how bad they made me feel about that thing they did or didn’t do and…and…and… You get the idea. What I know now about forgiveness is that it goes hand in hand with worthiness. As my sense of worthiness increases, my ability to forgive is enhanced. And the more I’m able to let go from my past the more I feel worthy of receiving good in the future.
There are so many influences that tell us to take care of others that most folks (especially those with creative passions) are terrible about self-care. I don’t mean the level of care in buying that salted dark chocolate bar because you had a bad day or splurging at the spa with your tax refund. I’m referring to a deeper level of deliberate acts of kindness and acceptance towards yourself. My best friend and I call these self-love practices.
This can look like many things:
- drinking a green smoothie
- going on a run outside
- calling that great listener friend about the issue that’s been nagging you for days
- taking a long hot soak in the tub after de-cluttering your closet
- pulling out those dusty chalks and a sheet of paper and drawing for the pure joy of it!
It’s less about the actual activity and more about how you’re feeling during it. Directing kindness towards your body, mind and spirit will produce feelings of relief, ease and refreshment. We need to practice self-acceptence before we can experience it fully from others. You have the best insight on what creates joy for you. So stop giving your power away and take your bliss into your own hands!
Gratitude ~ Forgiveness ~ Sun/Earth Boost ~ Self Kindness ~ Visualization
None of these should take more than 20 minutes of your day (except for forgiveness – if you’re choosing the right people and it’s your first attempt to let them go). Follow your gut as you experience these activities and gift yourself the freedom to really deeply feel each and every one. I welcome comments and additional links that you’ve found helpful in getting out of your way to simply allow creativity to flow.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world. — Harriet Tubman
A writer friend recently asked me what was the genre of the book I’m working on and as I began to explain he offered a summarizing statement of “ohhhh, sounds like a self-help thing.”
Immediately I felt some irritation with his response, as if in the hierarchy of literature categorization self-help sinks near the very bottom somewhere between gossip columns and comics. Writing that somehow isn’t serious.
After reflecting about this days later I wish I would have said, “well I don’t really resonate with the term self-help as that doesn’t reflect the immense diversity or deep potential in human evolution this genre has explored over the past 30+ years. I think something akin to the ‘exploration of quantum spirituality, human consciousness and transformation’ may be closer to the dynamics of self-guided change that this category of literature attempts to examine.”
But alas in that moment I laughed and shrugged off his words, inwardly hoping ‘it’ might be more than a ‘thing.’
Situations like this give me pause about my writing. No, they give me pause about my worthiness to write until I examine why I feel hesitant to contribute my talent in this area. (Check out this awesome video of Brene Brown and Oprah on worthiness.) I remind myself that I understand why the self-help genre receives this reaction from most folks. Many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea that they are responsible for their life and that they are the best experts about their inward journey. Our society loves to belittle us about our innate ability to trust ourselves and our experience. We assume babies don’t comprehend the world around them, that animals don’t have souls or trees consciousness and most adults cannot be responsible for their managing their own physical well-being. Why is this? Where did these beliefs come from? Who benefits from this paradigm?
The human transformation movement, also referred to as the New Age or New Thought movement, isn’t about ‘helping’ people. I don’t even believe that it’s about helping people help themselves. It’s about shifting the way all of us perceive, interact and engage with the world beyond a physical and mental duality paradigm. It’s pretty evident that our current ways of human interaction based on competition, greed, and fear have created a world that reflects these beliefs the majority has about the nature of humanity. This movement and its corresponding literature presents evidence, shares mental and spiritual technologies and describes personal stories of individuals who have transcended these old models of behavior/thinking and literally downloaded a new operating system.
My book about self healing is in essence a book about self-transformation. About the very real and very challenging work of integrating a new way of behavior based on abundance, trust, compassion and love. In a world that continues to be dominated by so much violence, blame and anger I find that healing this mental virus is the most important work there is to do. More important than my job, more important than my parenting, more important than consuming endless amounts of stuff. Yes I continue to work, mother and buy AND I recognize that they are not the primary reason for me being on the planet.
And so I have to trust my worthiness to write my story of healing, 1) because it’s part of my healing journey and 2) because the world needs this voice. Just as it needs to hear everyone wake up and be a contribution to benefit all the entities who share this planet. I trust we’ll get there, because the SHIFT has already begun. Awakening to our worthiness and responsibility is just one page of the story.
If you’re interested in going deeper on this topic I would recommend…
Any of the free films listed on this page generally about human consciousness transformation.
Any of the organizations listed here:
and a personal favorite…
So many aspects of our lives are often tainted by what isn’t working. We ask ourselves:
- What’s wrong with the world?!
- Why can’t our political leaders fix the budget?
- Why does the world have so many greedy corporations?
- What’s the problem with our partner/spouse/parent/child?
- Why can’t our bodies look the way we want?
Giving the negative aspects of these elements our constant attention usually results in a heightened sense of frustration and anxiety about our lives and growing illusion of some seemingly inherent problem lies at the core of life.
But I don’t believe this to be true. And I would go as far to say that I don’t believe that you believe this to be true. We all see evidence that human beings are amazing, creative, and compassionate people in real life. We are just as capable of reframing these questions to identify what is going well, than we are of pointing out what we don’t like. We love even when it’s not realistic and we give when there is nothing more left to give. So many of us live inspired by our hearts with balance feedback from our minds.
During the past fifteen years of studying and practicing peace, I’ve come across some great tools for supporting an intention to keep peace as a primary focus. Here are six of my favorites that I trust will support your efforts to make your life more peace-filled. Remember that consistency is key. I would just suggest that you choose one and begin attempting to practice it on a daily basis.
Watch Less News
You don’t have to be a spiritual guru to recognize that the nightly news paints a bleak picture about humanity. Research studies point out that viewers are influenced by negativity and dwelling on negative circumstances actually increases anxiety and stress. Watching less TV overall may end up being a good idea, not just for physical health but also mental and emotional health too.
While it may be easy to intellectualize the ideas behind concepts such as “pay it forward” (do a kind out for someone and ask them to do the same in return) and “ubuntu” (I am, therefore we are) and “mettā bhāvanā” (the cultivation of loving-kindness) it is worthwhile to do them with a focus on the feeling rather than analysis. Small acts of kindness (I like this video of young students defining kindness) impact both giver and receiver and in this way the exchange can be felt in our emotional bodies. Try going a week doing a small act of kindness to a stranger each day and watch how YOU begin to feel a greater sense of compassion for yourself and humanity.
I’m grateful for my four-year-old son who requires me to laugh everyday. Not only is it required, it’s forced upon me if I show the slightest resistance. And so the vast majority of the time I ultimately give in and share a deep belly laugh. But you don’t have to be taken advantage of by a kid to give yourself an excuse to laugh. Try googling “child laughter” or “happy kids” and browse the sites that come up. Look for something intentionally to lift your spirits and allow a moment of remembering what good there is in the world from a simple laugh.
Finally, this list on peace acts would not be complete without gratitude. This is one of the most powerful expressions in the world. To show appreciation for your life, your relationships and all the experiences that take place is truly an art. And like all artists, you have to practice. Gratitude is much more than “positive thinking,” it is a dynamic commitment to recognizing the elements of your life that are working for your good, eventually seeing that everything contributes to greater self-development and understanding.
So there you have it, my four tips on bringing more peace into your life.