Living on The Brightest Side

Love yourself enough brightest side

I’ve been feeling a bit sick from the vertigo of transition. The forked snake tongue on the road ahead feels daunting as the deep dark forest just after dusk. The feelings of obligation overwhelm my waking hours and the guilt that I feel pushes down on my shoulders and keeps my pace like a snail.

OR

Change and transition is when the real magic of life happens. The varied opportunities that lie ahead excite me to my soul bone and I’m throwing myself down the path and feeling open to wherever it may lead. The solace I have gifted myself has made my own authentic voice more confident to speak up and be heard. I am grateful and hopeful for what is to come.

It’s all about how you look at it. Attitude is everything.

After a lifetime of negativity and toxic truths, I decided to take a leap of faith and start living on The Brightest Side. It took strength, confidence and self-love to let go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. So, I sat with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I focused on solutions instead of problems. I reevaluated all the varied doctrine I had held tight for so long. The process of trying to empty myself of programmed mental and emotional responses and open up to new, authentic thought came from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself. The key to my happiness has been consistently letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time.

Letting things be what they are and not what I am expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort.

So, after 4+ years of writing this blog I am transitioning my effort and energy to living permanently on The Brightest Side where I will continue to write about my journey, but also write about how others can make their own promise to live life with positivity and kindness both to themselves and others.

I hope you will join me and together we can enjoy being at peace with our lives paths. 

Sending love to my dear Desiree who took the above photo of me during a weekend on the beach

Under The Knife

solo yoga mountain

At first I thought awakening my spiritual energy would help me become more calm and zen. So, I dove in head first, took courses in healing, began focusing on my nutrition and did my first 48-hour cleanse, became a yoga teacher, got certified in Reiki, bought a Reiki table and started writing a blog about my journey.

Ooohhhmmmmm….. not.

I learned a lot, but I wouldn’t say I automatically became an enlightened being. After I took a breath, I realized I may not ever actually teach yoga. I sold the Reiki table. I decided that all of this was great for me personally, but was not going to be my new career path, at least not in the way that I had imagined it.    

We are all born with everything we need to live a happy life. Imagine that. It’s inside you right now. You have every tool necessary. So, what is holding me back?  What is holding you back?

Life. Circumstances. Obligation. Responsibility. Injuries. Pain. Fear. Guilt. All of it is holding me back, but now I acknowledge it. So, now it becomes about how to undo and let go of those things. But, getting to this point of naming and understanding the shackles binding me was an important process. And, the more I learn, the more I understand how much more I have to learn….

What have I done? What did I start? This whole journey has shown me just as much heartbreak as it has healing. This has become a process of unlearning, relearning and learning it all over again.

…over and over and over and SNAP!

I tore my labrum right off the bone and the cycle that I had been living in suddenly changed. I went to Urgent Care, had an X-ray, saw an Orthopedic doctor, had an MRI, took some time off work, found out I had to have surgery, filed for Medical Leave from work, had surgery, went home to heal, got lots of help and here I am. It feels like it all just happened in a fog, one thing after another, and now here I am 5 weeks post-op and in the thick of painful physical therapy, sitting around with ice packs and popping big horse pills to help dull the pain.

But even in times like this we have a choice. We can chose how to heal, and while choosing how to heal I found some things to be grateful for.

Without the last 5 years of intense introspection and this mindful poking at my spiritual energy, I may have crumbled under all of this physical pain and struggling. Without the mind-body-spirit connection I have started, I may have suffered from overwhelming emotional pain along with the physical. But that’s not how I chose to heal. My body knows just what to do if I let it, but it was my pride that was struggling through this healing process, so I gave it some space to try and figure out why. 

Instead of feeling deflated that I had to ask for help (which I certainly did), I realized the validating side of it. I recognized that it takes a lot of effort for people to replace what I was doing to keep my family healthy, safe and clean. Validation often comes in interesting forms. I was able to see that even the little things that I do each day (that may seem monotonous and meaningless) are important to those two sweet little girls that depend on me and my ability to do each one of those menial tasks. Put all of those tasks together and you see my life, my responsibilities, and my joy.

I took a moment.

I took several moments laying there in my bed as a patient with wounds and meds and ice packs. I thought about the human-ness of it all and how this is just part of my journey. I made more of the moments in-between and I let gratitude for all of the love being shown to me absorb into who I am.

I throw a lot of energy into feeling pride of accomplishment and the thrill of independence. I believe the Universe sent me this lesson to slow me down and make me re-evaluate my connection with others. I had to go under the knife to rise above just a little bit higher. And for that I am grateful.

Journey Into The Unknown

little girl path

Preparing for a journey into the unknown is not easy to do. What do you pack? What do you expect? Well, that’s the thing about the unknown, you just don’t know.

So, bring a positive attitude, dress comfortably and just start walking. This is your journey and these are your choices. Walk with a purpose and dream with intention. Venture into the unknown with the child-like anticipation that it will all turn out exactly the way it is supposed to.

Preparing for your journey…

What makes you happy? Bring that or do more of that.

Who do you love? Bring them or call them often.

What keeps you healthy? Do that more.

What calms you down? Bring some of that or keep doing that.

Who inspires you? Call them often or bring their book to read. 

What makes you feel bad? Stop doing that.

What stresses you out? Stop doing that.

What unhealthy habits do you have? Stop doing that.

It’s doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, it just has to be.

Don’t master the things you don’t enjoy and don’t neglect the things that you do.

Gratitude to hotblack on morguefile.com for the photo above of a little girl just beginning her amazing journey

Making a Happy Promise

sunset man arms

It was four years ago today that I decided to make positive change in my life in an effort to become the best version of myself. I’m grateful for my journey and I’m hopeful for what is to come. If the time has come for you to start your own journey, it may be comforting to have a roadmap to follow. I have created a 3 step outline of how my own journey has unfolded and I hope these steps will help you begin to define and discover how to navigate your own journey. I only claim to be an expert on myself, and I encourage you to become an expert on yourself. My hope is that what has worked for me will inspire you to design a roadmap that reflects your own journey.

1. The Awakening

The realization happens that change is necessary. You may or may not experience the beginning of a breakthrough. The signs showing up around you can be anywhere from violent to subtle. You make a decision to make change. The decision can just be to get started. The focus on exactly what needs attention possibly comes clear, but may unfold in time. The most important thing to do in this stage is be open to whatever comes next. You may feel a surge of energy and a strong desire to explore and learn, or you may just begin to feel calm and open. Be mindful and accepting of your feelings.

2. The Discovery

You begin to pinpoint the areas of your life that need changing. You begin to develop a stronger focus on how to approach them. You begin to explore and learn which vehicle(s) will suit your needs: mindfulness, yoga, piano, music, hiking, art, kindness…. as you begin adjusting to change. Your senses begin to take in and process information in a new way. Colors are bolder, music is sweeter, smells spark vivid memories, you may feel hyper sensitive in every way. Now is a good time to begin to be even more mindful of your thoughts and feelings in an effort to discover how to make positive change. Stay open to change and unattached to outcomes. The less expectations you place on yourself and your experiences, the easier this process will flow, and although it may not be easy, it will be worth it.

3. Finding Your Calm

It is now time to adopt a new normal, incorporate new habits, and accept imperfection. It’s time to live life happier and keep awakening and rediscovering in each moment. The more kindness and love you show yourself, the more love and kindness you will be able to show your loved ones. There is no finish line, so don’t search for it, but instead enjoy the feeling of a new beginning.

Every journey is unique.

Appreciate your own, distinct patchwork life.

Find your peace.

Enjoy your calm.

Plot Twist

this is not about me

Plot twist: My story isn’t always calm. But, it’s my story to tell, and in my own way.

The key to my own happiness has been consistently and mindfully letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time. Letting things be what they are and not what I’m expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort. Being grateful and seeing the glass half full leads to feelings of peace, pleasure and calm. But, instead of finding the strength to be grateful, often we settle into feelings of entitlement which leads to bitterness, sadness, or frustration. Both of these ends of the human experience spectrum can be born from both chaos or calm, the reaction is always in the hands of the person enduring the circumstance. Even if the pain and the struggle are real, we all process emotion and produce the resulting behavior according to our inner process, motives and our needs in the moment. And that is human.

We all find a different lesson in the same mess. So, what’s YOUR process?

One choice is catastrophozing (an irrational thought process leading us to believe that something is far worse or much more intense than it actually is) a situation or outcome and I wonder if this behavior serves people well or if it is simply a negative attention-getting strategy. We often create a happy-chaos or good-madness just to be surrounded by drama. Some people exist better in crisis mode, or at least feel more relevant or needed when there is a problem to solve.

The opposite of catastrophizing is occhiolism (the awareness of the smallness of your perspective) which may help you stay more grounded and capable of navigating the authentic storms when they pass through your life. Or maybe the opposite of catastrophizing is magnificentizing… it all depends, and it’s all ok, just let it go. It’s really not about you, no matter how much it feels like it is. Too much self-concern can overwhelm a person to the point of having no room left for humility. Too much narrow focus on your own problems creates a warped vision and experience of reality. (Google synonyms of “selfconcerned” for a more detailed list of the mean and negative words that this practice can lead to… spoiler alert: narcissism)

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure” Henry Kissinger. So what becomes of the coal that cannot stand the pressure? It becomes dust, even though it had the natural potential to be a diamond. It’s not always easy to stay present and let go of the urge to fall apart and catastophize, but think of the potential for that little piece of coal that was able to grin and bear it… it becomes something that cannot be broken… But, sometimes being broken is human. “She was brave and strong and broken all at once” -Anna Funder

So, imagine yourself happy and let go of expectations. What is your current process? If you begin to be mindful and more aware of your process, will that lead to more moments of calm? There will always be storms and there will always be rainbows. The key is to find the lesson in the mess.

The Gift of Being Present

youarehere

The gross anticipation of a new year may be a false promise of a new start. 

The holiday season may fill you with a child-like anticipation of opening up a new gift. Will it be what I asked for? But, before you unwrap this new, exciting gift, it sits like a beautifully wrapped promise under the tree with a big shiny bow and the hope of a dream fulfilled. Maybe you’ve worked all year to secure your place on “the nice list” with the hope of enjoying your reward and now the anticipation of opening it and making it yours is almost too much.

You toast with champagne on new years eve and feel the buzz as you anticipate the countdown to a whole new year filled with promise and new beginnings, but then you wake up hungover to the same life you left the night before realizing that you are only one day older and the same old effort is not somehow all of a sudden enough just because the calendar has flipped.

I have yet to see a task too simple for people to complicate. I see people putting a lot of energy into making things hard instead of letting them be simple.

I do think this new year is a gift. When you open a gift, if you think whatever is contained in that box is going to change your life, then you have already set yourself up for failure. My problem is that gifting all of this “stuff” is not a gift at all. Maybe this year we can consider gifting time and experience instead. But why wait? Why does the calendar have to dictate when we decide to make a fresh start and give each other a gift? I would rather receive a thoughtful gift on a random Thursday that has deep meaning and love than a diamond necklace on a holiday, but that’s just me. I would much rather be given the gift of my loved ones being present.

We are the ones who give meaning to our lives, we shape our own reality. This year, take control and get better at making your life good. Become a master Storyteller of your own story. Whatever you do, just be, right now. 

photographic reminder above courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

Revitalizing the Triad of Sorrow

Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won’t all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good

– The Heart of Life, John Mayer

melancholy man sunset

They say bad things tend to happen in threes. As ominous as that may sound, I’ve experienced these superstitious threesomes on more than a few occasions. But, I wonder, do bad things really happen three in a row, or do we get caught up in negative thought patterns and seek out more bad after the first one appears? What if we changed that?

What if we simply let ourselves focus on one sad occurrence and show it proper respect on it’s own? What if we could be open to feeling our feelings and discover what purpose that feeling is meant to serve us? I believe the energy that you put out there attracts more of the same back to you. So instead of saying, “When it rains, it pours”, actively and mindfully notice the “rain” and dance in it. Endure the experience with the strength and fortitude that is your birth right. Before you say “I can’t…” maybe try a new way. Before you blame a self instigated negative pattern on an emotion, pause to question how that is serving you and remember that “the heart of life is good”.

Our human experience allows us to feel and revel in so many different emotions that we often miss the opportunity to actually be aware and sensitive to those perceptions. So many missed opportunities to feel our feelings without judgement (good, bad or otherwise) because we are too caught up in forcing culturally learned thought and behavior patterns attached to those emotions. Why do we not question some of these norms that spin us off into a negative divergence? These are the opportunities for small changes that can have major impact on your overall wellbeing. Gather your strength and create more positivity.

So, for my dear friends who have been hurt and saddened by the heartbreak of my recent triad of sorrow, I wrap my loving arms around you and hope you can find peace. I will see them each as a separate loss, feel a bit somber, reflect on my relationship with you, and wish there was more that I could do knowing full well you all have to deal with your own grief in your own way. I’m here with an open heart and two willing ears should you need to vent, cry or just chat with a friend.   

Instead of just accepting every melancholy cultural expectation attached to loss, I challenge you to get in touch with your own human emotions and sort through them in your own way and in your own time. Allow yourself to feel, don’t think, just feel. These experiences do not define the person you are, they are a part of the story that you create for yourself everyday.

“Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” -Mary Oliver

gratitude to StefaninLA from morguefile.com for the beautiful yet somber photo above that fits so well with my message today. Namaste.

Counteracting the Inevitable Snake Bite

brown snake

It was all just one big misunderstanding. I really just didn’t know, or at least that’s what I tell my middle aged self that is just trying to be as happy as possible without making anyone else miserable.

There were so many things I didn’t know that I didn’t know about getting older. I did a lot of assuming along the way, maybe had a little too much faith in some things and disguised it to myself as hope that everything would turn out like the end of a tear-jerking, problem-solving, life-lesson-learning movie. But real life is not lived in 2 hour movie chunks and “half the promises people say were never kept, were never made.” ~Edgar Watson Howe.

You know what people say about making an assumption….

So here we are, mid-life. I may be a bit wiser than I was a decade ago, but I don’t feel much smarter. Maybe I have a little more patience, or maybe I just have a higher tolerance for ignorance. When you are force fed the same drivel and balderdash for half a lifetime it’s possible to develop a tolerance to it, like a daily dose of serum to counteract the inevitable bite of a poisonous snake. You do what you have to do. But, what do I know?

What I do have is permission. It’s a gift I have given myself. I have granted myself the permission to make myself happy even in the midst of all of the unhappiness and intolerance I often feel around me. I have allowed myself the time and space to sort through half a life of perceptual errors and mountains of guilt given to me directly or indirectly by a life lived hard. Years of trying to do the right thing and please the wrong people has given me quite the pile of sorting to do. It seems that each time I climb up to a peak on Guilt Mountain, I see another off in the distance that beckons me forward.

It was all just one big misunderstanding. You don’t arrive at mid-life knowing what you want and feeling ready to take on all the responsibilities, even if you were sure you would. You fumble through your days with good intentions, feeling sometimes exhausted and unsure of the decisions you’ve made. It seems we all endeavor to make it seem that we are exactly where we want to be, doing it all with ease and, of course, flawlessly…. but if you are looking at someone else’s life through a lense of expectations and assumptions, then you are not seeing them clearly. It’s like constantly photoshopping reality. It may look prettier, but it’s just not natural. 

If you know the snake will inevitably bite, then it’s smart to drink the serum. It’s smarter to get the hell away from the snake. But what do I know?

gratitude to paulabflat from morguefile.com for the above photo

My Little Walk on the Prairie, Dog

prairiedog

I went on a nice hike today. I got bundled up and took a long walk down a beautiful path leading up to a ridge off in the distance. I made the decision to make it to that spot before turning back. Along the way, I had time to take in the breathtaking mountain range in front of me and listen to the rustling of the hundreds of prairie dogs making themselves busy all around me.

Most of the time when I hike or spend outside where the mountains are in such plain view, I focus on their majesty and let my mind wander and dream. But today, I was far more focused on what was immediately surrounding me and all that was happening along this nature’s path. Being new to Colorado, I’m not very used to coexisting with prairie dogs and I started to think about how amazing these creatures actually are. They symbolize an invigorating community spirit and how much can be achieved by working together. They instinctively know what takes many people years to learn, if they ever do at all. They know somewhere in their little doggie guts that there is strength in numbers and they are most likely happiest and feel safest when they are surrounded by others like them. I love to see them standing together in the sun or kissing, cuddling and grooming their little furry loved ones as they come up from their cozy homes to get some fresh air.

Their underground wonderland that I will never see makes me realize how much can lie right under the surface even if you never know it’s there. I imagined them scurrying through their elaborate tunnels beneath my feet preparing their next meal or caring for their young. I imagine they take great pride in their surroundings and take the time to do the maintenance necessary to accommodate for their extended family so everyone feels comfortable. They seem to understand that a strong sense of family and a bit of self-nurturing and hard work can be rejuvenating for the soul.

Eventually, I had walked long enough to reach the ridge only to realize that there was another ridge beyond it off in the distance, but instead of worrying about what was over the next ridge, I decided to turn back and spend some more time with my little friends on the prairie as I walked back down the path.

During my hike I felt surrounded by so much beauty and love. Today I got out of the house to remind myself what I wanted more of at home.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Dogma Runs Deep

buddha fire head wood

I’m letting go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. I’m sitting with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I’m reevaluating the doctrine I’ve held so tight for so long. The process of trying to empty yourself of programmed mental and emotional response and open up to new, authentic thought comes from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself.

I’m sorting through the figurative boxes of old, abandoned trinkets that I saved all these years for some reason or another. These are the parts of ourselves that we never put out on the shelves for visitors to see, the sacred bits and pieces that may stay secret from even our most intimate partners in life, and the raw justifications that we create and censor. 

There is a level of spiritual vulnerability that we can approach within ourselves yet may never reveal to others. Some things are only meant for self-reflection. I don’t want to know how some people feel about some of the parts of me. It takes a true Spiritual Gangsta to let that stuff be taken out and tossed around in front of another person. You risk judgement of your enshrined inner truths and stories that you tell yourself over and over so convincingly. But, with the right person and the courage to reveal these exclusive rationalizations, you may receive rescue, not ridicule. The choice to reveal should not be taken lightly. The decision of whether or not you sort through those inner junk drawers of doctrine in a meaningful way and with pure healing intention is ultimately yours. The gifts of self-reflection and enlightenment should be treasured instead of measured.

gratitude to keencarleen on morguefile.com for the above photo

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