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.

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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

Waking Up

coffee

So how exactly do I know if I’m having a spiritual awakening? Will I feel it? Will I know what to do? There is no way to measure or verify an exact moment when an awakening begins, or even how it will unfold, so I’m trusting my intuition and going with the flow.

Some people are morning people and some people are not. People are complex and diverse and every spiritual awakening looks different. Some experience their eyes popping open to a brand new revelation and begin their new journey instantly and full steam ahead while others have to rub their eyes and slowly adjust to the light of a new day. But, any way you “wake up”, the important thing is to begin the process when it is presented to you.

When I open my eyes every morning, I have a noticeable transition between the beautiful world of my dreams (which used to be nightmares) and my reality flooding in. I take a deep breath and try to choose a mantra for the day such as:

“Today is a good day to have a good day”

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”

“Time to make the donuts”

Depends on my mood.

At first, it takes me a moment to get moving, but the two little girls staring at me and breathing their morning breath into my face are not always sympathetic to that. It’s just me and the girls most mornings, so I have to hop to it as soon as duty calls.

Coffee helps.

I normally have to patiently breathe through those first few moments, set my intention quietly, and rise up before I’m ready. Stumbling for the bathroom, I hear the demands, the whining, the complaining beginning pretty immediately. I remind myself that my girls have just woken up as well and it’s even harder to manage those early morning feelings when you’re only a little girl.

I take a lot of deep breaths in the morning.

And then it occurred to me. This waking up I do everyday is a mirror of the awakening I have been experiencing for the last few years. My awakening is happening a little bit at a time, and I have to work with what I have here in my life. I don’t always have control over when I wake up, when I go to sleep, or whether or not I sleep through the night. So, I have to adapt, adjust, and roll with it without losing sight of my “why” and how much all of this means. There is a lesson in all of this and I trust that I’m learning it in the right time. I’m exactly where I need to be. During an awakening, you may learn things that take your life in new directions. Learning to let go and peacefully flowing with that momentum can be comforting. We only get to do this life once and regret is the worst thing to own.

So even with a few steps backwards along the way and little sufferings peppered in with the beautiful moments, I’m slowly rubbing my eyes and opening them to new possibilities and the idea that I can become a more peaceful and balanced person. I believe the capacity for enlightenment is the same for all people although not everyone is capable of recognizing it. I also think that our degree of feeling awake changes in different moments and states that we experience, and that’s ok.

As with most things spiritual, the act and result of experiencing an awakening is unmeasurable and unverifiable. It’s up to each of us to label and define our own journey. So, whether your eyes pop open in a revelation or you have to slowly adjust to the light, roll with your awakening and be grateful for another day to enjoy it.

Every day is a good day to have a good day, but it’s up to you to make it good.

Live Simply, Think Gently

horse woman TheresaOtero

“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Wisdom of Confucius

I like to be barefoot, I like to take it slow.  I enjoy riding a bike, and I enjoy being near the water.  I like finding beauty in my life where I hadn’t noticed it before.  I like to have time to think before I speak and I like to feel connected to the ones I love.  I like to spend time with horses and I like to walk my dog.  I like to live simply.

I’m moving more toward a simpler life as I continue on this journey.  I have been moved to clean out my entire house this summer and shed myself of anything that has no purpose or meaning.  I’ve shed the clutter in my house as I’ve tried to clear out the negative thoughts that clutter my head.  With less “stuff” to worry about, I find it easier to live mindfully in the moment and create space to really connect with my friends and family.

I want to feel light, I want to feel fresh.  I want to hear wind chimes and birds singing when I step outside into the cool morning air.  I want to feel unencumbered by technology and start my day with my own thoughts.  I like the smell of hot coffee and the feel of warm morning sun as I start my day.  I want to live simply, but I also want to think gently.

This pull toward a simpler existence has spun my mind in directions it’s not used to.  With a life cluttered with tasks and too much “stuff”, I found my mind was constantly on high volume and there were several thoughts competing for my attention at once.  Living simply is not just about my surroundings and my belongings, it’s about living with more ease on the inside as well.  Being kind and gentle with myself involves an effort in my body, mind and spirit.  Quieting the alarms that have been pre-set for ages has not been easy.  Slowing down and trying to think one thought at a time has been a way to start.  Deep breath, look at the sky, close your eyes.  Exhale.  Move on.

I do love the hardly bearable feeling of craving something that I want so badly that I can barely stand still, but I enjoy the calming, soothing feeling of swinging on a hammock in the afternoon more.  I appreciate the feeling of yugen which is to awaken an array of inner thoughts through mere suggestion.  It is an intense, breathless feeling of inspiration and beauty.  But, a feeling such as yugen is meant to be enjoyed in small doses.  You can’t live in a state that takes your breath away, but you can revel in it for a moment, appreciate it, and find joy.  Thinking gently is about finding a state of mind that you can enjoy and still be a productive, functioning member of your life.

hammock blondieb38

Find balance, seek peace, crave joy.

When you learn to think gently, the volume is lowered and the level of intensity becomes manageable.  If you are kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love, you may begin to notice more calm feelings and find more space for relaxing in your life.  Gone are the days of feeling guilty for taking a moment to myself.  I’ve reached the age of permission and I’ve earned my right to feel happy just by being born.

We deserve to be happy.  So I’m choosing to live simply and think gently.

 

photos from morguefile.com

My Version of Eat, Pray, Love

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With a mindful attempt at focusing on my heart-mind connection, I set off on my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except mine was more Spa, Solace, Family.  Along the way, I got a chance to settle into a few versions of myself that I normally don’t get to enjoy.  At home, “me time” normally lasts a few hours at most and is spent in the aisles of the grocery store or meeting a friend for coffee.  The luxury of unwinding and relaxing into myself was a welcomed gift.  I was hoping to mindfully direct attention toward some of my less attended to “parts” that had been neglected for far too long.  I needed to find balance, I needed to find harmony.  I was lacking the sense of wholeness that yields happiness and like the tin man waiting impatiently rusting in the field, my parts needed to be oiled.  During three recent and varied journeys, I was able to enjoy and reflect on how variation and taking a break can help you reflect and achieve balance.

My first journey took me to Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona where I was able to enjoy a bit of pampering and spiritual growth along side two wonderful girlfriends and a few other amazing ladies we met along the way.  It was an inspirational few days spent among the red rocks enjoying hiking, massages, chakra balancing, meditation, and even a bath of milk and honey.  I had time to do some beneficial spiritual reflection and left feeling light and energized, ready to get back to my life with a sense of desire to apply what I had discovered to my daily life.  Interesting that some time away from my life brought me a keener sense of reality.

The next leg of my journey took me out of the red rocks and into Phoenix where I dropped off my traveling companions and checked myself into a beautiful hotel in Scottsdale to spend some time alone.  I got to catch up with a few close friends, but this time was about going inside and staying within myself for a change.  I didn’t know how much I had needed this time alone until I took it and the balance it gave me was both welcomed and surprising.  Sometimes it’s not clear where the balance will come from or where the pieces will fit until you gently let them fall at you and find their place.  Letting go and following the flow has it’s own quiet calm, like watching water rise and fill crevices and trusting and knowing that it knows just where to go.

A week later I was off on yet another vacation to relax as a family and let my daughters spend some quality time with their grandparents in Florida.  A different type of trip completely where I was reminded that having us all together is what life is all about.  Family is love and love is family.

From these three experiences, I felt balance.  I see the need for all of these kinds of escapes to recharge and gain momentum in different ways.  Finding this kind of balance has been a missing part of my self-care, and I plan to explore more ways to get out of my comfort zone and take a little more time for myself.  I’ve been shown that a bit of true “me time” is good for my balanced soul.  There is a fine line between self-care and being selfish and the debate continues over where that line exists.  The truth is that it looks different for everyone and getting to know yourself and your needs make that line clear as day.  It’s possible to find solace and pockets of time to recharge and reflect reasonably within your own life, but getting out of your life and having new experiences always presents the opportunity for added perspective.  And, though the true definition of balance may literally mean ‘even distribution’, sometimes just a bit of divergence can lead to a major shift and provide the balance you need.

photo taken at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona

It’s Not Easy Being Zen

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Finding and keeping your balance means existing with a connection between your heart and your mind.  When what you desire and what you consciously believe are in harmony, you have peace.  Balance is a fickle, tricky ongoing orchestra of moving parts and effort.  Having balance leads to being happy.  Happiness is having a sense of wholeness, that all your parts have enough attention and love.  Like mothering multiple children, all of your many parts need attention and kindness in different ways.  Each part needs and deserves your undivided, mindful attention and energy to attend to it’s needs of the moment.  But in this busy life, it’s hard to find the time to focus on ourselves let alone separate that time out into finding time to attend to each part of ourselves.  So, balance often remains elusive, but with some reflection you can achieve congruence in heart and mind.

The more you have piled on your shoulders, the harder it is to achieve balance.  Whether weighed down by obligation or caught up in unfounded theories behind why life has handed you certain challenges, a good way to regain balance is to begin by figuratively and literally putting it all down to consider what you need.  Imagine an overly cluttered room.  In your mind, remove every bit of furniture, artwork, clutter, anything in that room to get down to a bare space where you can begin again.  Mindfully refurnish that room with only the things that you need and desire.  How did that room feel before?  How does it feel now?  Which room would you rather live in?

Finding balance may be easiest when you don’t try so hard.  I struggled and stretched inside my box and felt trapped and limited, but when I unplugged and left it all behind for a while I took some meaningful steps farther down my path.  A few recent getaways did the trick.  I took some “me time”.  Now that I’m back from my version of Eat, Pray, Love (blog post coming soon) I feel recharged and ready to step back into my daily routine with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.  Everyone needs a break from their worries and in coming back to life with a clear head we are better able to find our balance.

After taking some time to separate out and care for my parts that needed attention I feel better.  When I let go and let life flow I realize how much unfounded theory I attach to many of my thoughts.  When I unplugged from my routine, my mind was more willing to loosen it’s grasp on those stressful patterns and simply see and accept things for what they truly are.  Instead of living with disharmony, I am able to feel the ease and lightness of a bit more peace.

I put a lot of effort into moving through life more effortlessly…. I see the irony now.  I need to loosen my grip even on that.  Feeling more peace is so much different than searching for it.  There is a significant shift from swimming vigorously upstream to letting yourself float quietly downstream.  The universe still embodies the same flow whether I fight against it or not.

photo above is of my new friend Ken, the frog of karma and zen

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

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Dreams are romantic, bigger than life, and sometimes they come true. When we dream, we let our minds play like children in a field of perfect grass, running and skipping in the warm sunshine.  Dreaming is letting your mind wander through the notes and lyrics of a soothing song that takes you back to your childhood or a particularly endearing time in your life.  Dreaming can catapult you into an imagined future filled with potential successes or fairy-tale reveries.  Floating and gliding through a tranquilizing contemplation can be a saving grace.  It can lift your spirits.  Everyone needs to dream.  Dreaming motivates us to keep going and to become better people.

But, we also need to set goals.  There is quite an important difference between a dream and a goal.  Not every dream is meant to become reality, but a goal is a clear and meaningful intention meant to come to fruition.  So, it’s important to spend time and energy putting goals down on paper and deciding how you will reach those goals.  At the same time, allow your mind to spend some time dreaming and playing and creating without worrying how to bring every thought to fruition.  Create a clear line in your thinking.  Knowing and realizing which plans demand your undivided, serious attention and which should occupy your free time is a distinction that can mean the difference between being well prepared and level headed and being frazzled and unsure of how to head down your path.  The key is balance, and balance is the key.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” -John Lennon

above photo courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

Positive Habits for the New Healthy

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We all want to live a happy, healthy life, and these days it’s becoming possible to live healthier and happier even longer than ever before.  Making changes in our daily habits can make all the difference, but that may mean stepping outside of our mental comfort zones.  I remember watching my Grandfather “Papa Roger” as he got older.  He lived to 93, but it was very clear that he became pretty uncomfortable in the last part of his life.  I wish that he could’ve had more years of comfort and better function.  If he had changed his habits early in his life, he may have been able to get some more life out of all those years.  The choices we make early in life and the habits we create will decide the quality of our later years.

Often we have to make change to develop positive habits and change is transformation.  Everything we do moves us closer to or farther away from our goals and ultimately the person we want to become.  Stop to consider whether a habit is serving your highest good.  When you commit to making change you are in essence parenting yourself in a meaningful, conscious way.  Be supportive, patient and nurturing with yourself, but hold yourself accountable and know that you are capable of change.  If you are completely committed then there will be no parts of you left to self-sabotage.  Move at a reasonable pace and make realistic choices.  “It is better to make many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” ~Proverb

Have some self-compassion.  There is no such thing as perfect, so give yourself a break.  Don’t speak meanly to yourself, it’s important to love yourself and remember that self-sabotage is toxic.  At the same time, be sure to feel your emotions and know that talking about your feelings is like detoxing your spirit.

The new healthy embodies a wholeness of mind, body and spirit working together to create and support your best self.  Finding balance and sustaining it can be delicate and satisfying yet grueling work.  Your self-talk creates your reality and your body knows how to heal itself.  The greatest habit you can adopt is learning to relax into your body and get out of it’s way.  We all have a lot of freedom and with that freedom comes the responsibility to make positive choices.  Ultimately life is beyond our control and constantly changing.  Learning to adapt to the new idea of healthy is a good habit to develop and nurture.

photo above is of my Papa Roger in his 90’s

Circles of Love and Life

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I am many things in this life, and I feel a strong responsibility to be my best self in those roles.  Above all else, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister.  Family is first and family deserves your best.  When there is unrest with a member of my family it’s as though a part of my own body is not well.  When there is balance and love within my family, I feel peace.  Many refer to your family, your immediate close group around you, as your inner circle.  I cherish the symbolism of the circle and I see much symbolism connected to the circle energy of my family.

We are all human, and as humans we come from a world of circles that are reflected in our world and in our own bodies.  Our home, the earth, is round and we see the moon and sun in the sky which operate in circular cycles.  We track time on a circle, and our seasons move and rotate in a cyclical pattern.  We use a circular symbol to signify one of the most significant milestones in our society: a wedding ring.  Circles bring feelings of peace, protection and boundaries.  Even a fire which can feel angry, hot, and unpredictable can be quickly transformed by surrounding it with a circle.  A circle is sacred and represents inclusivity.

With all that we are thrown up against in this life, it is our circle of comfort and protection that we can depend on to surround us when we are out in the world and feel the pull back inside.  There are so many twists and turns that take us far outside and beyond the comforts of home and family, we can always feel a part of our inner circle no matter how far apart it’s members may physically exist.  And though we are each made up of our own circles and remain strong in our own right, it’s the journey of how we all rotate and revolve around each other that drives me to continue to become my best self.

 “Happiness Runs”

Donovan

Little pebble upon the sand

Now you’re lying here in my hand,

How many years have you been here?

Little human upon the sand

From where I’m lying here in your hand,

You to me are but a passing breeze.

The sun will always shine where you stand

Depending in which land

You may find yourself.

Now you have my blessing, go your way.

Happiness runs in a circular motion

Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.

Everybody is a part of everything anyway,

You can have everything if you let yourself be.

Happiness runs, happiness runs……

And with that we have come full circle.

Self-Care in a Toxic World

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Self-care is often mistaken for self-ish or self-centered, but I didn’t say self-indulgence now did I?  To me, self-care does not mean getting a weekly manicure or massage, but is more about finding the balance between the things that serve you and the things that cause you stress in your life.  Making sure you are eating a healthy, well balanced diet, getting enough exercise, keeping creative outlets in your life, and finding ways to relax, such as meditation and yoga, are some of the essential parts to building a life of wellness and self-care.  These parts of life are essential to your well-being and not over indulgent.  And, when we begin to care for ourselves and see health and wellness as fundamental, I believe we also begin to deepen our ability to care for others.  Being able to care deeply and in a meaningful way for others makes life better and when life is better, everything is better.

No matter how much better we feel, our world is still filled with toxins.  Toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we use and the food we eat.  Toxins are also scattered among our days in the form of negativity, gossip, and the thoughts in our own heads.  Deciding to put more focus on self-care involves being able to shed the toxins that keep us from being happy and healthy.  It’s hard to bring in the good when there is too much room being taken up by the bad.  Taking a hard look at what toxins exist inside your body and your life will help you begin to shed those toxins and avoid bringing them back into your life.

I recently hosted our first Wellness Wednesday which is a new community event created to bring like-minded people together to have conversations about wellness.  These gatherings will each focus on a different topic related to wellness and inspire people to incorporate more wellness into their daily lives.  I will personally speak about different topics that inspire and move me into action and encourage others to share their stories and journeys to wellness as well.

Our first Wellness Wednesday was an inspiring beginning to what will be an ongoing, moving gathering for those interested in enhancing their journey down a path toward wellness.  Making time for yourself is essential along this journey and gathering knowledge and meeting like-minded people along the way will help push you forward and gain momentum.  We’ve already seen several positive things come from that first meeting and I look forward with enthusiasm to continuing the journey!

Our next Wellness Wednesday will focus on HABITS: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Great!  Is it possible to be happy and make lasting changes during The Mindful Revolution we are surrounded by these days?  Yes!!  If we keep the conversation going and learn from each other, it is!

photo courtesy of fitwalk on morguefile.com

Leaning In

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When you bill yourself as a spiritual kind of person you open yourself up to a world of interesting feedback.  This is nothing new for me, I have been this way since I was a kid, always defending even the nerdiest of nerds to the coolest of cool kids even at the risk of social suicide.  I held strong in my convictions even as a pony tailed little pip squeak with hands on hips shaking my finger at the playground wrongdoers blissfully unaware that I was developing my hippie tendencies into a full blown John Lennon, Give Peace A Chance, Birkenstock wearing adulthood.  I was a peaceful warrior from the get go.

You either have the ability to consider other people and their needs in your field of vision or you don’t.  I truly believe it’s something you are either born with or not.  I like to believe I am tuned in to what others are feeling and that I am capable of becoming even better at anticipating what I can do to reach out to them as I would hope they would reach back to me.  Being in tune often makes me wonder how others can live so off key.

I love that I have found a community of other like-minded, spiritual people that I can feel comfortable around who also live a positive, happy existence.  At the same time, I’m confused by people who have adverse reactions to my positive choices and attraction to paying it forward directly into my karmic bank account, and into the goodness and kindness of mankind in general.

I lean into pay it forward opportunities.  I know it’s the right thing to do and I want my daughters to learn the same way.  Whether it’s as small as holding a door open for someone or as important as returning a found wallet completely intact, there are opportunities everyday to do the right thing and even more opportunities to just be kind.

I have found that being happy begins with being balanced and being balanced requires a spiritual understanding of yourself.  Although I have always found it important to be kind to others, I’m finally truly seeing the importance of being kind to myself.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible” – Dalai Lama

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