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

Radical Empathy

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What if we all practiced radical empathy? What if we could understand and share the feelings of another on an organic, fundamental level and we allowed ourselves to show profound appreciation, compassion and kindness in every way possible? What if we could take that extreme level of compassion and apply it to our lives? Three ways of manifesting and expressing this kindness would be toward yourself, kindness to others and kindness to the earth. How closely could you align to this idea? Keep in mind that part of this process would be showing kindness to yourself, so there is no need to be perfect. “Everything in moderation, including moderation” – Oscar Wilde

With a deep acceptance of the state of the world in general and the ability to have sage perspective of concepts like ego, we can achieve kindness to the self. On so many levels, kindness expressed to yourself can liberate feelings of anxiety, guilt or obligation and beyond. Enjoying self empathy is so much more than taking a break, a vacation or even getting a massage. At so many points we get in our own way of feeling calm and enjoying a feeling of peace. We convince ourselves that we are not strong enough or capable enough and opportunities to be happy or enjoy life simply slip by. Being kind to yourself includes accepting things the way they are and letting go of the outcome. The tighter we cling to controlling an outcome, the further away it seems to slip. If we can learn to truly let go, we can show ourselves the most organic, radical kindness. At the same time, inserting the radical part of this equation means understanding how to create a foundation of love for yourself and getting primal about satisfying your needs and desires. When you marry these ideas, you can reach a deep level of self-care.

Kindness is the act of showing the love you feel. Showing kindness to others becomes easier when you lay a strong foundation of self love. When you genuinely feel good and can let go of the guilt often attached to enjoying a calm state, you can begin to show kindness more easily to the people around you. Showing kindness is elemental really. We are how we treat each other. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Are you always as kind as possible? If you express kindness in even the most basic everyday interactions, it not only feels better and helps you enjoy a flow state of calm, but it gets passed forward to those on the other end of your gentle kindness. But, I don’t practice kindness so it will come back to me, I enjoy the gentle look on people’s faces when they receive it. Seeing people happy and relaxed makes me happy and gives me hope. Try making your everyday acts a bit more kind and see how it effects you maybe even more than others.

It’s amazing how many times during each day we have the opportunity to be kind to the earth. So many of the choices we make throughout the day a chance to express your values. From the products you put on your body to what you chose to put on your plate three times each day, we have so many chances to show our morality. We have so much power over our actions which is ever present in the compassionate activism related to our food, our practices, and our world. “The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” – Michael Pollen  The choices we make demonstrate how we exist within our environment. Imagine what else is possible with kindness. 

Practice kindness, make mindful choices, own your journey. What if radical empathy was the new black? 

children know radical empathy, thank you Tori for showing me what it looks like in the photo above

The Kindest Kind of Kindness

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When did liking yourself become a rebellious act? When did taking care of yourself become something to feel guilty about? How can we possibly take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves? How can we ever be a proper role model if we don’t model how important it is to value yourself?

We all play our own unique role in this grand village raising our kids. We all teach them different ways to live and the many different paths to follow. But, for me, of all the lessons I am capable of teaching, how to love yourself and stand strong and brave are the lessons that my heart and soul are best suited to teach. I want to teach my children to be kind by showing them how I am kind. I want them to internalize the importance of being nice to yourself just as they are learning to be kind to others so it becomes something they value throughout their lifetime.

So why do some people find it so hard to show kindness to themselves? Those who know and understand their needs and can swiftly and adeptly cater to them should be revered! What a wonderful trait it is to know yourself well and understand what makes you happy. How beautiful a mind that can take it all in and sift through to make their own distinctions and then respond accordingly. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristolte I find that those who can take it all in, know what they need and then act on it are the happier people I know and I believe that is because they understand the importance of self-kindness. Whether it be an evening walk in the crisp fall air, a massage or not accepting a thought that gives you pause, knowing what your body and soul need to feel calm and at peace has become a rare, hidden talent in today’s world. Being kind to yourself is the kindest kind of kindness and we need to become experts at it as well as make time and space for it.

Just as the meaning of life has always been vague, the definition of happiness is purposefully left cloudy so each person can reimagine it for themselves. For me, kindness is a major component of happiness. I enjoy being kind to others and living as a kind citizen of the world. This means being mindful of myself and my environmental footprint as well as trying to satisfy my needs while reaching toward my dreams. That’s a tall order and somedays happiness seems like a lot of work. But, just as with everything, a bit of forethought, planning and creativity seems to be worth it when you get to enjoy the spoils of your efforts.

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

Gratitude to hotblack on morguefile.com for the beautiful photo above

Great Expectations

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Sometimes I see other people having nice, sweet relationships and I think that’s what I should have too. But you can’t always get what you want. Truth be told, several of my most cherished relationships have been tested lately. It has taken a lot of energy to process how I feel about all this. I feel shocked. I’ve experienced some disappointment. But, I also feel empowered. When the supports that you count on, or thought you could depend on, start to fall away one by one, you begin to realize that you can exist despite it all. No matter what my relationships were supposed to afford me (purely by society’s definition of their role) they never cease to surprise me.

People will basically tell you just about anything to serve their own needs if it means enough to them. What I don’t understand is how people can treat the ones closest to them with blatant disregard. I believe every person, no matter who they are, will ultimately do things solely to serve themselves. As I carry on further down this path, I hope to keep becoming the kind of person who can see beyond that type of self serving behavior and honor myself, as well as those who mean the most to me, by making a valiant effort to think of others as well as myself. If I want to be treated with loving kindness then that is what I need to be giving others. Sometimes when others are not showing you kindness is when they need to be receiving it most. I need to consider other’s feelings as much as my own, even if others are not doing the same. I am willing to love the bad as well as the good from those I care about. I am willing to consider how my actions and words will affect the ones I love, but not everyone is strong enough to do that.

I feel like expectations have been the worst things I could have. “Expectation is the root of all heartache” – William Shakespeare  As I reflect on my experiences over the last few months, it is my own expectations that have let me down, not the people around me. In the end, it is me who has complete control over how I feel and ultimately how I let things affect me. It will serve me best to simply love what is, not fight against it. I can’t make someone feel differently about me and I can’t force anyone to feel obligated to show me kindness.

And so, I continue down this road, learning more and more about myself, my relationships and ultimately what I want and don’t want for myself. I am in complete control of my own happiness.

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time”  -Maya Angelou  

photo courtesy of hotblack on morgue file.com

Midlife Miracle

youarehereAfter sprinting forward out of my teen years, dancing through my twenties and coasting into responsibility in my thirties, I’ve hit the speed bump known as midlife. I’m 40. So, I decided to slow to a stop and take a thoughtful look behind me to see what I’ve done so far.

I’ve been an honor student, competitive figure skater, off-off broadway actress, sign language interpreter, college professor and wellness coach among other things. I’ve had a lot of fun and met some amazing people along my journey. I imagine it’s not so uncommon to have a few thoughts about “life so far” and what is to come when folks hit 40. I’m allowing myself to acknowledge that it’s a big deal simply because it feels that way to me.

When I hit 30, I had no idea who I would marry, how many children I would have or where I would end up living. But at 40, I know the answers to most of my unanswered questions. At times it feels like life is now about managing and maintaining the life I’ve built and the choices I’ve made. But I don’t want this life adventure to feel stagnant. I have so much more to do. Who knows what I will know at 50 that I hadn’t realized at 40?! I have an obligation to this life to keep growing, seeking and creating adventurous change!

During my look back I realized how much I have been able to accomplish so far and I see how much more is possible! The miracle about reaching midlife is that you are armed with plenty of life knowledge and wisdom that you didn’t have when you launched into your independence. And, you still have so much time left to enjoy it.

Midlife means power. Midlife means dynamic capability to take control of choices and live a life that serves us. Many of us take the helm of our families at this stage and become responsible for raising the next generation while at the same time helping our parents transition into the next phase of their existence. Sandwiched between the young and the old we learn how strong we have become and how capable we are. Embrace your strength and let it shine from inside of you. The more people depend on you the more they believe you can handle. Show kindness to yourself and then to those who look to you for courage and fortitude. We are the midlife soldiers, we are the miracles for so many people in our lives. Wear it as a badge of honor and serve those who need us with love and respect. But also learn how to look deep inside and serve yourself with just as much loving devotion.

After my long look behind, I’m ready to turn back around and see what is to come. Instead of a midlife crisis, I am having a midlife miracle. I’m moving forward giving and receiving unbridled, rampant, radical positive energy!

“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives” – Alan Sachs

This beautiful life won’t last forever, but that’s what nature intends. We live, we learn, we love. We laugh, grow and play. Your responsibility in this life is to make it count. Life itself is a steady natural awakening. The meaning of life is to live! 

 

photo credit to pippalou on morgue file.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

Two Wolves

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On Being Right and Wrong

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It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong.  It’s humbling and uncomfortable to eat crow.  People avoid it at all cost even to the point of driving a dead end point to it’s nonsensical conclusion to avoid being wrong at times.  Wouldn’t it feel better to just give yourself license to be wrong sometimes?  It takes true character to admit defeat, even if only in silence, and create a moment to learn and grow.  It takes confidence and wisdom to concede being right and give way to being kind.  There is more happiness to be found even in the most basic, daily interactions.  I’d like to see what happens when I surrender being right and try listening more openly to what others have to say without feeling the compulsion to counterpoint.  Sometimes the Devil doesn’t need an advocate.

It’s staggering how much your thoughts show up on your face.  (I’m sometimes bothered by how my thoughts translate and can be felt by those around me even if that is not my intention.  I clearly need to work on my poker face)  What is lost in being tenacious about debating your stance?  What is gained in letting it go and allowing yourself to relinquish control?  Which leads to more happiness?  Even the look on your face will change along with your thoughts, but no one controls those thoughts but you.  “You haven’t lost your smile at all, it’s right under your nose. You just forgot it was there” – Unknown

Change the way you process and respond, and the people around you will respond back in a new way.  It’s easier to go with the flow and be open to other’s point of view when you feel engaged and supported by those around you instead of feeling strife and turbulence.  When you change yourself, you change the world around you.

“Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant

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