Tag Archives: self awareness

You are the Hub of the Wheel

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hub of the wheel

Imagine yourself as the hub of this wheel that daily life revolves around, make the spokes of the wheel as connections to those you care for most. The wheel’s activities, its responsibilities surround you, spinning and spinning through each day, week, and year. You are central, the key to keeping it all balanced. Recognizing this, it’s important you care enough about yourself in order to preserve your mental, physical, and emotional health. And consider this… when you’re out of sorts, the wheel’s balance is too. If you haven’t taken the time to give yourself the nurturing you require, the wheel can lose balance and begin to wobble!

Some years ago while on vacation, I recognized my own wheel-wobble. I wondered why I couldn’t put more oomph into just having fun with my family. Doing my job, both jobs, 1) taking care of my family and 2) working a full-time job, took every ounce of energy I had. I had nothing left to give. Fun, what was that? Playing cards or a board game, going to the museums, taking walks, watching movies just didn’t seem as needed as keeping the house clean, doing the laundry, running the errands, getting my youngsters where they needed to go, you name it, I was doing it. The “work” side of the wheel was heavier than the fun side, and I was wobblin’ big time!

Who suffers when we don’t care for ourselves? Right us, and not just us, but everyone we come into contact with. We are home base for our family, the safety net everyone falls into. It’s important for us to be rested, happy, healthy and nurtured. Use the lists you created from the last blog, “Me Time,” to help you do this next exercise.

ACTIVITY: HUB OF THE WHEEL:

  1. Draw a circle or other shape in the center of a blank sheet of paper and write your name in the center.
  2. Choose another color to draw spokes outward. Label each spoke a responsibility or commitment you have to someone, i.e. husband, wife, significant other, children, pets, church, school committees, civic organizations, fun activities with friends, etc… Anyone or anything you have day-to-day or week to week contact with should be included. Whatever takes time in your life, write it in.
  3. Using another color, draw branches off of each spoke. These will represent duties and responsibilities you perform regularly for that individual, pet, or organization.
  4. Finally, choosing one last colored marker or pencil, encircle your responsibilities connect them one to the next, surrounding the spokes like a tire revolving and spinning on the hub.

Now take the time to look over your wheel and reflect. Who do you spend the most time with? Who or what is an energy drainer? Who or what do you wish you might spend more time with? What do you want to change? Use this visual tool to evaluate your life activities. Do it every week if necessary to get a visual for where your time goes. Turn the autopilot off and make the conscious decision to LOOK at what you do. We will use information from this exercise in later modules to help change your focus to areas you have passion for, or goals you wish to take steps toward.

JOURNAL ACTIVITY:

  1. Who or what do you spend the most time with?
  2. Who or what do you wish to spend more time with?
  3. What do you want to change?

Kudos for this activity:  A workshop participant emailed me several weeks after doing this particular exercise to tell me that he had taped the wheel to the refrigerator for the entire family to see. He wrote, “The kids were amazed at how much I do on a day-to-day basis, other than going to work. After studying my “wheel,” they decided to pitch in to help where they could. Thank you for bringing the awareness of how much I do not just to me, but to my family as well.”

Give it a try. Post your “Wheel” and see what reaction you get from family members, friends or colleagues. Next week: Realities of the Past.

 

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Primary Caretaker – Me time

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Me time

Art from lineleoff.com

 

Over a 25 year period, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate self-awareness workshops. What I found is that there are countless numbers of us, both women and men, who have taken on the role of primary caretaker and as a result have put aside our own self-nurturing and self-care. This is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to develop a life lived with joy.

In some of these workshops, taking care of oneself seemed an almost alien concept to some. “What do you mean by self-nurturing?” They would ask. We raise our children while maintaining a healthy environment for them. We promote education, gently guiding family members in particular directions when a talent is recognized. We are there to “lift up” our spouses, significant others, friends and colleagues when they’re blue. We rise in the morning thinking of others. We go through each day, each hour, sometimes each moment planning how we will care for our family members, friends, or coworkers. We are the nurturers of the world!

I am mother to five children (now ages twenty-one through thirty-eight). When they were younger, I remember getting up in the morning before anyone else was awake heading for the shower already thinking of the dentist appointments, what to cook later for dinner and when? How would I get my then sixteen year old to a German club meeting and still get to the event I had volunteered for? Mind moving on and on, all of these thoughts occurring within a moment or two’s time… once resolved, I moved on to the other challenges I’d face that day.

Back then, time for my own interests was difficult to find. Whether to begin doctorate work became an anxiety ridden decision. Who would help with evening homework if I wasn’t home? Would my sixteen year old bring a troop of friends over while I was out? How would I prepare any kind of meal before I left for the evening? And finally, was the coursework something I even wanted to do? Or was I feeling pressured by my peers and employer? Talk about stress. One simple decision became a masterpiece of confusion and anxiety.

Does this sound familiar to you? Knowing how to care for ourselves, how to journey through each day being gentle on ourselves, being just as considerate of our “self” as we would be toward a family member, friend, or coworker… this is what we need to work toward and maintain. From a young age many of us were taught to be caretakers, we were conditioned to believe that it was our responsibility to care for others while our own needs were put aside. Today, many of us are caring for children or young adults, while very possibly caring for aging parents at the same time.

When you have a few minutes, try the following activity. What are some of the things that you do for others on a daily basis?

DO: List what you do for other people on a daily basis, right down to the smallest detail. 

Here’s an example of what a typical day looked like for me while raising my children and working a full time:

  • Cooked breakfast before school and work
  • Cleaned up the dishes and started the dishwasher
  • Made school lunches and my lunch for work
  • Threw in a load of laundry in both the dryer and the washer
  • Made beds
  • Worked all day at the office
  • Fed the birds
  • Paid Bills
  • “Helped” the kids do their chores
  • Took recycling out to the garage
  • Did the banking
  • Helped my oldest write his resume
  • Called a friend in need
  • Stopped at the store to pick up household goods
  • Worked on insurance benefits

My list was for a full day and I’ve most likely forgotten several things since that time. When you listed your day, you probably found your own list growing longer and longer with responsibilities that you typically do on “autopilot” and promptly forget. What I ask you to do next is more of a challenge. How much of your day is spent doing something for yourself, something rejuvenating or stress relieving? Something educational or a hobby you enjoy?

DO: List your own self-nurturing activities now.

I know you listed fewer activities. And you’re not alone! The majority of the people that have attended my workshops have had shorter lists as well. If you aren’t nurturing yourself, if you’re operating on overload… Not caring for you can lead to stress-filled days, resentment toward others, and finally burnout. What I’m suggesting is that you take the time to attend to your own well-being, just as you do for so many others.

Are you over-doing? It’s time to take steps toward self-nurturing. You are worthy of the same care you provide to others. You are just as important… just as special. Incorporate a reality check into each morning of your day. Evaluate what you want to happen in the day and how you’ll put some “me” time into your schedule. Set that time aside and stick to it as much as possible. Check it off at the end of each day. It doesn’t have to be some long impossible list. Here’s an example of my activities list. I would choose one or two from the list to incorporate into the day:

  • Work out
  • Spend time walking in nature
  • Sit at the local bookstore and sip tea
  • Read for 30 minutes after dinner
  • Write uninterrupted for one hour
  • Answer friends e-mail
  • Lunch with a friend at work
  • Sketch in my journal
  • Read and post affirmations
  • Attend a cooking class
  • Join a book discussion club
  • Have friends over once a week to just sit and gab
  • Refurbish a piece of furniture
  • Garden
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate

What did you put on your list? Choose one activity close to your heart and begin incorporating it into your day or week. Make it formal by putting it on your calendar or daily schedule. Block the time out for you! I’d love to hear some of the activities you’ve incorporated into the day or week just for yourself.

Next week: “You are the Hub of the Wheel,” an activity that helps create a visual snapshot of your life activities and responsibilities. Have a fabulous week!

Conscious Decision Making

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Life By Design nl

 

In February 2013, I had a lucid dream experience where I was consciously creating in the fabric of space and time. I was present before the canvas of matter creating images with thoughts and gestures. Since 2013, there have been many mornings when I’ve actually awakened with my arms and hands up in the air gesturing as if I am still creating from the “other” side of the fabric, spirit body on that side, physical body on this side. I know that with regular practice through meditation, lucid dreaming and conscious awareness, I can change day-to-day physical reality creating a more desirable, joy-filled life-path. As a mystic, I know that we are, we live, simultaneously as both source-self (spiritual being) and the physical manifested self, experiencing life. One might look at the physical self as an avatar of sorts, a vehicle that allows us to experience living out all sorts of adventures through a physical body! In short, we live between two worlds.

Naturally and unconsciously through choice, we have created daily experiences using thought and action. However, many of us are thinking, acting, and creating experiences running on “autopilot,” allowing life to occur, to just happen… and as a result, often left wondering why things aren’t quite the way we’d prefer. How do we create change?

The simple answer is to turn off the autopilot. To be mindful of thoughts and consequent actions. To take responsibility for, and examine the choices made… and then choose differently where possible. We can create a new reality, with conscious mindful thought, conscious mindful decisions, conscious mindful planning, and conscious mindful action.

Will daily life then be picture perfect? I can say from experience that it will not because some of the choices made up until now have resulted in the experiences each of us are currently living through. However, I can say it will be better and that circumstances can be changed. Life is better because you will have become fully engaged. Daily life events are no longer just happening to you because you will have become a conscious, mindful, active, participant in its creation.

How to start? Over the next couple of months, each week I will introduce a set of self-exploration exercises to assist in becoming mindful of current life situations, where your focus has been, where it’s at today, how to make time for self-nurturing, and how to manage time and plan mindfully. These simple no-nonsense self-discovery activities are meant to be used over and over as you cycle through decisions, discover new facets of self, choose goals and take steps toward change. These activities have been used in workshops for over twenty years, basic, tried and true.  They are focused, personal, and will nudge you toward self-nurturing, as well as personal and spiritual growth. Next week: Module One – “Primary Caretakers.”

Practice Appreciation

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Little-things-Happiness-Quote

Earlier this week a colleague stopped in my office, coat on and keys in hand she said, “I’m heading out to run errands and thought I’d pick up your favorite Starbucks coffee. Would you write it down for me, cause’ I’ll never remember it.”  Surprised, I asked what the occasion was. “Nothing really, just a little something I know I can do that will brighten your day. It’s my way of showing I appreciate all you do.” Wow. How cool is that? Of course I’m like, no, no you don’t have to, really it’s ok. In the end I just gave her my decaf-tall-one-and-a-half pump soy mocha order, a big hug and decided to just accept and experience the warm fuzzies.

My colleagues actions and a story I’d recently read by Rev. Dr. Noel Frederick McInnis inspired me to write this post. Dr. McInnis shares:

“Because appreciation of others’ services is a value that so many persons fail to honor fully, a professor ended his midterm exam with the question, ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans our classroom?’ When asked how this question was pertinent, he replied, ‘During your life you will meet many persons whose value deserves your caring attention, even if all you do is smile and say hello.'”

We are individual representations of Spirit made manifest on the Earth. Here we are provided the opportunity to be grateful for all that is presented before us each new day, the challenges, learning lessons, abundance, diverse personalities and most of all the opportunity to show appreciation for these diverse experiences and people walking along with us on our life paths. Reverend McInnis continues with:

“As any real estate agent or property assessor will tell you, the word appreciation means ‘increase of value.’ Thus when one receives another’s appreciation, one’s sense of self-evaluation is increased. And given life’s mirroring of our thoughts, our own sense of self-valuation also is correspondingly increased as we extend our appreciation others.” Feb. SOM p. 42

A daily practice modeled by my mother, I make the effort to recognize each person I may come in contact with over the course of a day, just stopping for a moment or two to inquire after a family member or activity I know they might participate in, sometimes to thank them for help they provided earlier in the week or that day. This practice doesn’t take all that long and connects us as Spirit one to another. Throughout the years my mother faithfully wrote in my birthday or Christmas cards, “To my joy and comfort, love you, Mom.” She was showing her appreciation.

Honestly, I didn’t get it. Where had I provided joy and comfort? I never asked and she never said. Only recently did I finally understand. After school every day I’d walk in and ask, “How was your day?” This was something I had learned from her. She often asked us kids about our days events, a neighbor about her children or inquired about a work colleague’s parent. She went out of her way to connect with others. Something special I remember growing up…at night before going to bed, she and I would sit and read together at the kitchen table over a cup of tea, sometimes taking time between chapters to share things on our mind. We were connected, appreciative of both each other and these quiet moments together. It brought both of us joy and comfort. Now I get it.

Who do you walk alongside with each day that you can offer joy and comfort with words of appreciation or recognition? How can you incorporate this as a mindful practice into day-to-day living? We are more than this…

“There is no such thing as a simple act of compassion or an inconsequential act of service. Everything we do for another person has infinite consequences.”   ~ Caroline Myss

A Wellspring for Love

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Buddha - Laugh at the sky

Rejoice and be glad! Living collectively with Spirit, even while a physical being means we experience the presence of Spirit ever-flowing through us. We are a method and means to act as a wellspring for bringing peace, love and joy to others in the world.

My own experience has proven this. As I allow the spiritual side to rise from the interior to exterior I have more confidence and ability to share my gifts. There is less fear as the needed tools appear. I am provided for in every way. As author Eugene Holden, RScP states,” It is important to understand that our needs are met so that we may be free to touch lives in our own special way.”

Holden continues with:

“The more we surrender to this life, the life of God, the more we are lifted to be the guiding light of the Divine. There will never be any reason to fear. This world that has emerged through and as us knows exactly where it is going, and it knows what we need. Now is the time to trust. Trust that you are the beloved of God. All that God has is yours. More could not be given than that which has been given from the foundations of the Universe.” ~ December 2012 SOM, p. 61

My September dreams had predicted challenges, a bit of a living tornado coming along clipping at my stability, however the dreams also predicted that despite the hit, there would be only a slight impact. And so it unfolded. I find myself in an unexpected place in life. A couple of my adult children have returned home needing assistance with health challenges, financial situations or relationship issues. I was cruising along with my youngest in tow looking toward the future where it was just me and a small condo.

Alas, it is not to be, at least not just yet. However my experience during this time has been that when the need appears for one of my darlings, abundance and choice is not far behind. The more I surrender, allowing the Divine to take the lead, the less fear I experience for my children and for myself. Repeatedly I am asked to trust that all will be well, even when what surrounds me threatens to throw me out of sync.

Acting as a wellspring for Spirit, trusting with conviction that we are the beloved of God is resulting in the manifestation of ways and means, and with great delight I find that all is as it should be. This is not myth or magic, it’s truth. Test it. Allow and trust Spirit to flow through you. Believe that we are more than this…

Living Christ – Blessed Gift

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Nativity

In February of this year I was gifted with an amazing spiritual opportunity while in deep meditation, the opportunity to experience living as Spirit. During meditation I found myself surrounded by others. I was one of  many energies existing as a unique pattern, yet connected and intertwined having no means, method or desire to be separate. We, our “bodies” consisted of colors, vivid, alive, moving and flowing, all character, each unique pattern was clothed in differing fluid colored hues. The air was alive with excited conversation, which was transmitted as thought yet even thought had a color and sound of sorts. We were planning a path of events that would occur in the physical world. There was a joyful sense of knowing in the midst of this natural beauty and being. There were trees and nature, but nature was aware and also lived as part of the Spirit Collective. It was…is an interwoven existence of what can only be called great love, the most encompassing love, which was our state of being. In this “place” we are Creators. I exist as my Creator, or rather I am the Creator of my “self,” the body manifest on Earth. You exist there as the Creator of your self. I am, you are as you exist physically on Earth only with no physical form. In this place, there is nothing but Love, no strife, no pain, no opposites.

During that time, I understood and was completely aware that earthly reality provided the opportunity for individualization, individual creativity and autonomy, something we cannot experience as part of the Collective Spirit. Yet even at the core of this earthly individualization, there is a creative story and interweaving of all personalities that is agreed upon in the purest form before it manifests on the Earth. We create our physical world. Toward the end of my meditative experience, finished with our discussion, we agreed it was time for me to return. Me, my self as a conscious representation of the Whole, returned to the physical. I felt acceleration, a traveling along a thread of energy and was completely aware that I was returning – still I know with conviction I am always connected to the Whole and need not fear life.

Now, back in the physical rising out of meditation I open my eyes and feel a sadness and yearning because of the knowledge and awareness. I feel homesick, but have a heightened sense of purpose and know that you dear reader are the reason I write.

Each December 25th we celebrate the birth of the living Christ, a spiritual being who lived among man completely connected and with total awareness of both the physical and the Spiritual Whole, the Father, God, Love. He lived as an aware spiritual being, meant to be born, to live as physical, to die and to rise again in order to teach humanity through living example that we are more than this. God manifested as flesh.

How he must have longed to be at “home,” part of the all-encompassing Collective Love rather than living among the ignorance of man. He sacrificed with full knowledge so that we might KNOW. How blessed we are to understand the Christmas gift.

“I therefore…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, …Ephesians 4:1-32 ESV

We are more than this…

“What’s Not Wrong?”

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peace-filled

Today between tasks I stood for a moment looking out the window wishing, longing for peace and quiet. But the family needs me. The younger, the older and the in-betweeners. They still need me. I work to keep us housed, fed and educated. No one tells us when we’re young what it will take to raise a family and even if they had, really would we have listened? We meet, fall in love, dream big and dive full force into it all, nothing can stop us when we’re dreaming!

I wouldn’t change what life’s path has brought me. Except, I think I might have saved more so that when I reached 50 I might have had enough money to say, “I’m done working, I’m going to contemplate the nature of the universe.” I didn’t. So now I long for a day of solitude here and there without work or children. The free time I have is gobbled up with my job, school activities, homework, resume work for the older creatures and listening ears for all whenever there’s a need.

As I scan these words, I see opportunity. In the early 90’s I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Peace Is Every Step,” an excellent book about living mindfully in everyday life during everyday activities. Knowing I need continue my role as both parent and breadwinner I resurrected some of my favorites of the very applicable daily practices in his book. Through the month of December, I’ll share a daily mindfulness activity with you. Maybe by New Year’s Day we’ll all have a little more peace in our steps and lives.

My all time favorite practice from the book is “What’s Not Wrong,” which I share a portion of below:

“We often ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ Doing so, we invite painful seeds of sorrow to come up and manifest. We feel suffering, anger and depression and produce more such seeds. We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask, ‘What’s not wrong?’ and be in touch with that. There are so many elements in the world and within our bodies, feelings, perceptions, and consciousness that are wholesome, refreshing, and healing. If we block ourselves, if we stay in the prison of our sorrow, we will not be in touch with these healing elements…Life is filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby…Awareness of the precious elements of happiness is itself the practice of right mindfulness. Elements like these are within us and all around us. In each second of our lives we can enjoy them.”  pp.77-78

So ask yourself, “What’s not wrong?” Appreciate the flocks of birds gathering to fly off for the winter, the laughter of your colleagues over lunch, sunshine on your face, being able to move from one breath to the next without effort. Start your practice today, include it every time you see something wonderful and ask the question again, “What’s not wrong?” I look forward to hearing from you. We are more than this…