50 Shades of Graaaateful

I heard a talk yesterday (although it felt more like stand-up) by the incredibly talented Amy Stienberg. She titled it 50 Shades of Grateful and spoke on three levels of gratitude:

  1. gratitude for what you have,
  2. gratitude for what you don’t have and
  3. the ‘beingness’ of gratitude (gratitude for gratitude sake’s).

Every Thanksgiving we hear so much about how we should be grateful and to list it all out so that it’s in the spotlight of our awareness. But how do we practice gratitude for what is lacking in our lives? Or be in a state of gratitude when life is really difficult.

If you follow this blog, you know that I have been practicing gratitude as an art form for over ten years and incorporate it into my peace practice in a number of ways. Last year around Thanksgiving I hosted a call exploring how to develop inner peace and this year my focus is on gratitude. I invite you to join me in exploring:

  • Practical ways to practice being grateful for what is lacking in your life.
  • Easy steps to bring gratitude into your everyday life.
  • Experience the power of gratitude as more than a list, but as a honoring of who you really are.

So as you gather with friends and family this week, whip up your awareness by joining a conversation about all the shades of gratitude.

This hour call is open to anyone with a suggested love donation of $10. Here are the details. Email me at reimaginepeace@gmail.com to register and receive the conference call details.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

3pm Eastern / 12noon Pacific

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get out of your way

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.

Self-Sabotage

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.

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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.

Gratitude

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.

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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.

Visualize

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/Letting Go

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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?

forgiveness

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.

Self-Kindness

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.

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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.

one less complaint

Today I’m stepping into 30 days of complaint-free living. And to keep me accountable, I thought I would post every few days about what miracles show up as a result of this mental game. I call it a game because it really is an exercise of mental persuasion. The more conscious I am of my capacity to choose where I place my attention, the stronger my mind grows in attracting what I’m attending to. Basically the game is to…

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I first heard about the 30-day challenge to not complain about ANYTHING, in Edwene Gaines’ book 4 Spiritual Laws of Prosperity. I wrote a few posts back in 2011 about how I did, here was a funny one. Today I’m beginning again for two reasons: First, in preparation for Ramadan which begins next week and my tradition to give up a mental habit as I fast from food and drink from sunrise to sunset (although I am allowing myself water this year). Second, I just need to shake loose this nagging voice in my head that loves to complain!

Have you ever been in a situation of undeniable beauty, calm and enjoyment  when all the sudden this annoying voice whispers loudly:

“…you know this won’t last very long…”

or

…”if it wasn’t for that piece of trash/the dark clouds/the kid screaming over there this moment would be perfect…”

or

…”I forgot to do XYZ! Dang it! I’m such a lousy sibling/parent/friend/employee!”

I’ve learned at least to not resist or get angry at this voice anymore. That just makes it stronger. It’s not my goal to completely erase ever having a negative thought for the rest of my life. (But wow, wouldn’t that be cool!??!) My goal is a little more realistic – at least for me in this lifetime – to not DWELL on the thought and choose to refocus back on what I’m grateful for.

This is the power in the complaint-free challenge. To put your primary focus on gratitude. To move throughout your day in the following ways:

1. Being mindful for what is working:

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2. Acknowledging how your strengths are being utilized:

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3. Recognizing where kindness shows up

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4. Looking for ways to serve more of all that good stuff.

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It’s not hard once you decided to look for it. Would love to hear your thoughts and invite you to share how you’re choosing one less complaint today!

a crappy good life

A few days ago I posted this as my facebook status:

“Life is too magnificent for words.”

And then, less than a day later I found some perfectly descriptive words for Life, and they weren’t synonymous with magnificent.

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It was a good moment to remember the journey:

To accept the giddiness with the crap on your shoe (yes literally).

The moments of PMS and the extra reason for a salted dark chocolate high (honestly, if you haven’t yet tasted this, you haven’t fully lived).

The parenting exhaustion (mental and physical) magnified by the annoying friend or colleague or client and grocery store clerk. (Really, it wasn’t about them, I was already annoyed and just needed someone to project that onto, sorry.)

Just as there is always something to complain about, there is always ALWAYS something to feel grateful for. So instead of beating myself up about feeling frustrated about the crap, the sick child or the mental exhaustion, why not allow in some compassion and stop trying to change everything? Just be where I am. Even if where I am is:

  • Feeling lonely and DESPISE sleeping alone
  • Feeling slimmer, yet I can’t look at myself without criticizing SOMETHING
  • Taking major risks in being authentic and have FAILED. Miserably.

Usually my pattern is to take each of those instances and replay them over and over until I recreated a memory so much more terrible and unrealistic than what actually occurred that I will then attempt to avoid the memory altogether and fantasy about a future me that will never feel lonely, or ugly or a failure. I get that we all do what we pick up from our enviroment and perhaps this method serves some folks, but its certainly lost its luster for me. Looks pretty grey and down-right depressing actually.

Soooo ready to choose again.

One of the books I’m reading right now is The Serpent of the Light by Drunvalo Melchizedek. This book has my spiritual notions all up in a back-end twist. His description of human relationship to the Planet and the ever rising consciousness of both goes beyond anything I could conceptualize before. What I’m hearing from this book is that you cannot fail. It’s not possible for the world to implode. There is a conscious Intelligence, whose complexity is beyond our most advance super computers. And that the truth that ‘all is well’ can be found in Nature. Nothing ever happens in nature that is terrible. Really, think about it. Yes things “die” but then they give birth to other things. The storms, the earthquakes, the meteorite explosions. All of it happens to expand conscious awareness of Life to Itself.

In the video I link to above, Melchizedek talks about the shift from duality frameworks Good-Bad, Male-Female, Up-Down — that human beings are obsessed with — into a new paradigm of Oneness. A recognition of our interconnectedness to all other things. There’s a lot he speaks and writes of that goes completely over my head. I’ll be the first to admit it! And that’s ok, since I’m not attached to understanding it all intellectually right now. What I can take from it is a reason to feel a little more peaceful now. I can trust that the Earth is alive and doesn’t need saving from us. That there are systems, processes and connections in place right now to bring us back to balance. And the same exists for me. As I deal with my own self-infected pain and suffering.

Peace is available now because Peace is the destination and there’s no other place to go.

Matrix, Abraham-Hicks & Conciousness

I promised a friend a few months ago I would send her a list of some of my favorite spiritual books. I’ve resisted the request and only recently asked myself why. The honest response was another question, which didn’t help clarify the underlying reasons. Don’t you hate it when logical requests are undermined by your own thinking? So I’m writing this post as an explanation of my tardiness and including some of the resources that have been transformative in my journey.

Why do I have to be this spiritual?

I started this blog as a way to share some of the small moments of peace that arise in my life, wanting to expand the definition of what peace was about, beyond the absence of conflict. As I  experience peace as balance, calm, serenity, gratitude and contentment, I am constantly reminded of how fleeting these moments are. My journey continues to be a roller coaster ride of dips and hills, highs and lows, moments ‘in the vortex‘ and many more spent out of balance, riding the trains of dis-ease and fear. But even in the lowest of lows while I excavate the ancient caves of my own conciousness, there is always this annoying small voice that reminds me that I’m making this all up. All the meaning is meaningless, as all experience is reduced only to choice. Remember that scene in Matrix, when Smith asks Neo why he keeps fighting?

This scene is the most profound in the entire trilogy. Most people don’t think about why they live life as they do, relying on others to make decisions for them about philosophy, social behavior, political and economic persuasions. I too float along these currents based on the cultural views I was born into or resonated with over time. However, unlike most people I’ve interacted with in my 3 decades on this planet, that annoying whisper reminds me that at the heart of every decision was a choice. Which means every behavior is calculated reaction based on a value system I agreed to. In this way my spiritual journey has become a constant process of  self-examination. A huge microscope into my internal decision-making. It’s freakin’ exhausting sometimes. And other times it’s simply awe-inspiring.

So now I realize why I hesitated, because folks should know what they’re getting themselves into if they begin this journey. It can be challenging and lonely, because once you break through the illusion that life is about consumerism and pleasuring the body in order to create a tiny circle of control over your life …. outwards experiences pale in comparison to the grandeur of the intersection of mind and spirit.

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When I healed myself of epilepsy, I made a promise to pay attention. To stay attentive to the why. To will myself to continue the exploration. And it also means trusting that others will cross paths with me to mature that understanding with perfectly timed opportunity for practice. So this is what the day holds, another chance to choose.

…maybe this time I’ll choose something a little more aligned with peace.

What will you choose?