Category Archives: Spirituality
An alarm goes off on my phone every day at 3:16 that plays a beautiful violin song. It’s my reminder to stop whatever I am doing and feel gratitude for the things happening in my world – no matter how small or few.
Lately I have been quick to dismiss the alarm and continue on with my day, but today (despite feeling totally overwhelmed) I stopped. I set that alarm for a reason, with an intention to have a moment – even just 10 seconds – to say thank you.
But life is having some weird twists right now – many of them very stressful and a bit scary. When the 3:16 alarm went off today, I struggled to find gratitude. How does one find gratitude in total chaos?
Then I remembered that chaos always brings change. The world crashing down brings surrender – usually to a higher power. The demon on my doorstep was forcing me to face it head on (doing so would actually give me peace of mind). And yeah; maybe rejection really is god’s protection. The closed doors were nudging me to change direction – toward something a little scary, but much more fulfilling for me. This mess was sparking action – the action my life desperately needed.
Maybe this chaos is guiding me toward something better, building something new within me, or clearing away things that are no longer serving me. Maybe this chaos is propelling me to take the action needed to heal old wounds, break patterns or overcome setbacks.
Sometimes we have to break down before we can break through.
And sometimes chaos is simply our art “getting ruined” so we end up with something far better.
That epiphany changed how I see the mess and chaos in life. I can now find gratitude and blessings in those places – no matter how small or few.
3:16 is my moment to view the world with fresh eyes each day. The numbers 3:16 represent the time of my birth. This is my reminder to renew my life force each day… to be in wonder, awe and gratitude with where I am right now, every day – just as I did the moment I took my very first breath.
Gratitude is the single most powerful change I’ve made in my life.
Intrigued? Try my Gratitude Challenge.
While I usually do this ritual on New Years Eve, sometimes I do this in early January to set the stage for the new year. Doing this mid-month gives me a chance to settle down from the new year hoopla.
- Burning Bowl: This is about letting things go. I write down everything I want to let go of from the previous year. Experiences, people, feelings, regrets, memories, attachments… I throw all that energy on paper and then I burn it. Sometimes I write it as a final venting session for the year. Sometimes I write it lovingly as I bid the things farewell. I don’t want to carry any of that energy forward, so I always do this part first.
- Gratitude Challenge: Now that my head is clear, I write down 100 things in my life that I am grateful for. Finding 100 things stretches me to look deeper into my world and reminds me not to take anything for granted. It also puts my mind in the right place; energized, open and receptive to more!
- Accomplishments: Next I list out what I want to accomplish. I’m very specific with the accomplishments; i.e., “I will take ten private golf lessons” or “I will publish 2 blogs every month”. I try to hit all areas of my life, finances, career, hobbies, spiritual practice, health. I’m working on adding in some big, “scary” accomplishments to keep stretching me as well.
- Experiences: Next I consider what I want to experience. I list out where I want to focus my time, resources and energy. This year I included things like stand up paddleboarding, private lessons, and cooking at home.
- Manifestation Letter: This is my favorite part! I write a letter as if I were writing it on December 31st, reflecting back on all the amazing things that happened in my life over the last year. I write it as if it had happened exactly as I desire. And I write it with glorious emotion and vibrant gratitude. Every year, I write a manifestation letter and on December 31st, I read what I wrote 12 months earlier. It’s stunning how much of it reflects what actually happened in my life – even when I wrote about things I didn’t think were quite possible for me.
Another favorite part is keeping track of what actually happens during the year.
- I keep track of what I actually accomplished and experienced throughout the year. At the end of the year, it’s interesting to see the things I anticipated and sought after… and then the surprise gifts that fell into my lap along the way.
- Perhaps the most valuable part of the process…. “What I learned in 2016”. This is a file I keep on my desktop because I add to it throughout the year. Anytime I have a good “learning experience”, epiphany, or insight that’s worth remembering, I add it to the list. All my wisdom in one place. 🙂
Although I’ve been somewhat sporadic and inconsistent over the years, this year I realized I’m coming into a time when some of my richest and most valuable experiences are starting to occur. If I do this every year until I’m 90, I’ll have some damn good reading to reflect back on in my old age. Happy New Year.
I’m not changing my Facebook profile picture this week. I decided that the recent tragedies are a call for me to do more than just show support. This is a call for change. But I didn’t want changing a Facebook photo to be the only change I made. I want the change in my life to be significant.
This week, I will commit an act of kindness – and it will be for someone I don’t like. I will find someone who elicits ugly emotions in me (anger, hatred, envy, self righteousness). I’ll take a moment to find something in them that is beautiful. And then, I’ll extend an act of love to them – something meaningful and touching to them. An act that actually demonstrates that YES, #LoveRules isn’t just a hashtag – it’s a guiding principle for how I live.
I invite you to join me in committing an act of kindness for someone you dislike.
It’s time to look at my world to see where I’m letting darkness survive in my life. I’m notoriously slow to forgive and forget; perhaps this week, I can change that by letting love rule instead of my ego.
Perhaps this is my week to get to know someone who appears to be everything I can’t stand. I might be surprised by how beautiful they truly are in their soul.
I can’t change the profoundly hateful acts occurring every day throughout the world. But I can definitely change how hate and darkness lives in mine.
(related: Being Less Horrible to Others)
It was the first night of Whole Being Weekend, a spiritual retreat of hugging, eye gazing, singing, dancing and connecting with other beautiful souls. A band was on stage, some were lost in ecstatic, playful dance; others deep in mediation. This first night was about getting people relaxed and connected. The music shifted to an upbeat tempo and an announcer asked us to find a partner. The room burst into a flurry of people rushing to pair up.
As people swarmed around me snatching up their partners, I followed their lead and happily grabbed the first person I could. We playfully danced with that person for a moment and then were told to “find a new partner!”. Again, the room exploded with a frantic scramble of people delighted to find their next match.
But I was slow to part with my first partner because we shared a warm hug upon parting. As I scanned the room, most people were paired up. But one man was lingering on the fringe… clearly available to be chosen, but was awkwardly waiting. Maybe he was shy, or simply hesitant. Perhaps he felt like the new kid on the first day of school in a new country. He seemed painfully aware that he had yet paired up.
I made a mad dash to him, darting around pairs and jumping over cushions before landing before him with delightful eyes. I didn’t say anything, but everything in how I arrived conveyed the intended message. I CHOOSE YOU.
I wanted him to feel integrated, to feel valued, to feel like he belonged here. I didn’t pair up with him because he was the last man standing; I grabbed him because I saw a man who deeply needed to be reminded that he mattered. That he was worth choosing.
For the rest of the weekend, I made a point to make a mad dash towards the person standing at the fringe, the ones who looked like they weren’t sure they would ever be chosen. And during our minute together, whether it was dancing, singing, or eye gazing, I sought to embrace each person with complete gratitude, delight and unconditional love.
The ones who get chosen last might just be shy. But there might be something broken within them that makes them hesitant to connect. They might question their desirability, their appeal, their worthiness. I know the pain and awkwardness of being unchosen; the last one standing, the new girl, the only one raising their hand when asked, “Who doesn’t have a partner?”.
In Being Less Horrible to Others, I challenged myself to find something beautiful in everyone who passed by me – and it tremendously changed how I see people – and what I see in them.
It is so incredibly easy to pass over people as we seek out those who we deem most desirable. But the ones we want may not be the best ones for us. Sometimes the very thing you don’t want is your greatest teacher.
That weekend, the man who had yet to be chosen became an invaluable teacher for me. He reminded me of the tremendous power we hold in how we interact with others through small acts.
Choosing him with such delight may seem like a small act. But sometimes small acts have huge impacts (positive or negative!). Which is exactly why I’m learning that doing the small things with kindness and warmth matter so very much.
I was among the first to update my Facebook profile with a rainbow tinted picture. But I removed it this week for good reason.
Originally, I did it to show support and express my personal joy in this evolution. I wanted to show that I was separate from the masses who disagreed. But then I read posts from friends who were struggling with this ruling. I read them out of curiosity… to see if I could understand why they didn’t see it the same way I did.
One thing in those posts struck me quite deeply… I saw their pain and anguish.
I was reminded of the pain I felt each time gay marriage was ruled down. They were experiencing the same thing I felt when elections went against what I felt was the best for humanity. But I didn’t have to see a visual reminder all over Facebook shouting, “Yay! Gay rights loses again!”. It would have hurt my soul to have seen that blasted everywhere, especially since it went so solidly against what I felt was right. And right now, there are a lot of people feeling that exact pain.
Pain is pain – regardless of whether we judge it as being deserved, rightful or justified.
This wasn’t people celebrating a Super Bowl win; this is about a belief that touches the very fabric of our souls.
When Michael saw that I changed my picture, he asked me why I did it. I thought that was a really stupid question… but then I started thinking about it. What purpose did it serve?
What I started noticing is that it created an overt separation. These friends clearly supported gay rights. Other friends didn’t change theirs, which left a question mark… did they or didn’t they? It was hard to tell. And in some cases, people got unfriended over these profile changes. These profile pictures quickly unmasked many people.
In a world where we struggle to find connection, oneness and common ground with others, I felt like the rainbow pictures were putting a spotlight on our differences. In every community I am part of, I saw this sudden separation.
I would love to live in a world of like-minded people. But I don’t have the luxury of hand selecting the people in my world. I get to live in a blended community with people of all kinds of beliefs, religions, practices and experiences.
I realized that I didn’t want to be separate from those who disagree. It’s okay with me if they do – it doesn’t threaten me nor what I know to be true for myself. I’m finally solid in my beliefs and I respect those who are as well.
My beliefs about equality, freedom and spirituality deserve the same respect as my friends beliefs about God and the Bible. I cannot let ego delude me otherwise.
I believe in equality for all. And it’s taken me a long time to embrace respect for all – despite the differences. And this is one way I feel that I can practice that.
It was a rough summer for me. Between a 24/7 noise issue with a neighbor, feeling severely burned out with work and ongoing food sensitivity issues, I had been feeling overwhelmed and fatigued.
This week, I opened my gratitude journal. I noticed that my last entry was a full month ago. I pride myself on doing my gratitude journal almost every day, and seeing this took me aback. Had I really been that distracted?
We all hit times when it is hard to feel grateful. It’s hard for me to be grateful for anything when I’m in a standoff war with the neighbors about constant noise over my bedroom and haven’t slept in four days.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t written at all in that last month. I journaled frequently to clear my head. In fact, I had journaled more than usual this past summer. Then I realized why.
I couldn’t focus on gratitude until I acknowledged what was blocking it first.
This past summer, I had often journaled about what I was feeling. But, I was careful with this. I made sure I didn’t write things like, “I am so burned out” or “I am so mad”. I knew that any statement starting with “I am” is an affirmation to the universe – it has the power to create and confirm your reality. When you say, “I am…” you are basically creating a self-fulfilling prophecy – which can be great or awful depending on how you finish that sentence.
I was mindful to write statements that focused on the emotion I was experiencing. I wrote things like, “I am feeling so overwhelmed…” and “I feel taken for granted… “.
I wrote and wrote and wrote until I felt that I had exhausted the emotion – and then I shifted focus.
Only then could I write about what I wanted to experience moving forward, and the things I was grateful for. I even wrote about things that I will be grateful for – once they happen (I write about them as if they had already occurred). It’s one method of manifesting exactly what you want before it happens.
I love the concept of gratitude, but I recognize that we always have to honor our emotions first. Honor, acknowledge and accept what you are feeling, and give yourself permission to vent. Be raw, uncensored and honest. Allow your emotions to have a voice.
Once the emotions are fully and authentically expressed, purged and cleared, the energy will shift. And then you’ll find it a bit easier to find those golden nuggets of gratitude in your world again.
A few months ago, I challenged myself to find 100 things in my life to be grateful for. When I share this story with others, people oftentimes look lost and express their doubt that they can do the same. If you want to take on this challenge and you find yourself struggling with getting to #100, here are some thoughts to nudge you along.
First, I recognize that some of these are not going to apply to you. You may be recovering from an illness or an accident or had a childhood of hardship. If that is the case, shift your focus to being grateful for whatever good you can find. Whatever hardship you are experiencing in your life, recognize that it could be much worse.
The key here is to be specific. When you write about your family, friends or yourself, write exactly what traits you value and appreciate. You can always use it later to create the most touching and best gift ever.
Lastly, when I do Gratitude Journal, I start every entry with one of the following: “I am SO grateful for…” or “I love…” or “I deeply appreciate…”. Let yourself get emotional and REALLY feel the love and appreciation. Be effusive and gushy. Emotion deepens the power of gratitude. It makes it real, and not just words on paper.
So… what kinds of things might you be grateful for? Here are some ideas to draw from.
Your Health and Body
- The gift of sight, speech, hearing, smell, taste (and what do you LOVE seeing, hearing, tasting, sensing?)
- Having strong bones, smooth skin, healthy teeth, strong digestion, healthy heart, etc.
- The ability to walk, reproduce, move freely, think clearly, or carry your own child.
- What features do you love? Your hair, your smile, your laugh, your hands, your eyes, your cute butt, etc.
- Their sense of humor (can they always get you in a good mood, raise your spirits?)
- How reliable they are (when did they really come through for you?)
- How fun they are (what makes them so fun? Common interests? Quirky personalities? Adventurous spirits?
- The way they give great advice (when did they help you through a tough time?)
- How they inspire you or motivate you (when did they made a big difference in your life?)
- Thoughtful things they do (remembering your birthday, treating you to coffee, baking your favorite cookies).
- Remembering to invite you or include you for outings and parties.
- Favors they have done for you, gifts they have given you, kind words or meaningful compliments they’ve given you.
- The way they just listen when you need to talk.
- Friends who stood by you during difficult times and hardships.
- Did you have enough food growing up?
- Were you raised in a reasonably safe neighborhood?
- Were your basic needs provided for?
- What traits did you love about your mother, father and siblings?
- Did your parents take you on vacations? What special memories do you have from those trips?
- Did they make meals you loved? Take good care of you when you were sick?
- Did they give you special gifts for holidays or birthdays? Maybe something that meant a lot to you at the time? Did you like how they celebrated your birthdays or graduations?
- Did they pass on heirlooms to you? Or give special possessions to you?
- Did they financially support you when they didn’t really have to?
- Did they sacrifice for you? Work two jobs to put food on the table?
- Did they instill values, beliefs or practices that positively affected your life?
- Were they good role models? Were they caring? Honest? Dependable? Did they show you unconditional love?
- Any favorite memories from childhood? What moments still warm your heart today?
Your Own Characteristics
- Consider traits like your sense of humor, intelligence, intuition, dedication, discipline, commitment, persuasiveness, kindness, compassion, etc.
- Are you a helpful person? Do you do volunteer work? Are you a good cheerleader for others?
- Do you have common sense, good judgement, integrity, strong morals/ethics, or unshakable integrity?
- What knowledge or skills are you grateful for having? Are you handy? Creative? Have a great sense of style? Always know the right thing to say? Good at handling conflict? Learn things easily? Have a natural talent for sports? An amazing cook or a great writer?
- What values are you most proud of? Who or what ingrained those values in you?
- What parts of your work life are you most proud of? Are you always on time? Excellent with following up? A strategic thinker? Good at planning things? Give stellar customer service? Great at solving problems? Addressing conflict?
- What kinds of things have you accomplished or overcome? A fear of public speaking? Run a 5k? Have you published something? Performed or competed?
- What attributes of yourself are you most proud of? Are you thoughtful? Reliable? Have integrity? Romantic? Creative? Friendly? Extroverted? Witty? A great story teller? Fun at parties?
- What hobbies have contributed to your quality of life? Did you have teachers, trainers or coaches who you learned from or who encouraged you?
- Did you have teachers who inspired you?
- Classes that you especially enjoyed?
- Any fond memories of old classmates?
- How did school inspire you or prepare you for life ahead?
- Did you receive financial aid for school? Did your parents pay for your education? Did anyone help you through school? Tutors? Study groups? Counselors?
Life in General
- Do you like the sunshine? The rain? Cold weather? I am grateful every day for the warm, bright sunshine!
- Are you grateful for having downtime to just relax, watch tv, or hang out with friends?
- Are you grateful for where you live and what you live close to?
- Do you like your home? What parts of your home do you love?
- Are you grateful for having a roof over your head? Do you live in a generally safe neighborhood?
- Do you have reliable transportation? Have a car with air conditioning or a heater that works?
- What conveniences are you grateful for? Microwave ovens? Garage door openers?
This should give you some ideas of how to begin looking at your world differently…. Don’t forget that even some of the painful moments in your life may have been gifts that weren’t realized until later in life. Getting laid off from a job ultimately turned me into an entrepreneur who works from home (my dream life!).
I have found that virtually everything in my life was a blessing in some way – and therefore, something to be grateful for.
I stopped wishing people “good luck” a while ago. Not because they didn’t deserve it, but because I had an epiphany.
Luck is something that happens by chance – something that is out of your control. Whether good or bad, luck is what happens to you, not by you.
I don’t believe things happen randomly. And I would never wish random chance upon another.
I no longer talk about “luck”. I now talk about “fortune”.
I believe fortune is something we build with our own hands, with the power of our own creative and brilliant minds. Our level of fortune is something we control by our beliefs, our intentions, and our actions.
After doing gratitude journal, I often pause for a moment of reflection. I don’t think about how lucky I am. I reflect upon the fortune I am attracting and creating in my life. I rejoice in my power to build a life of fortune.
Every day, I am reminded of my own power as I do gratitude journal. I am clearly in control – look at all these pages of amazing things I am bringing into my life! Nothing is happening here by chance. My beliefs, actions and intentions are creating fortune in every area of my life, every day – bit by bit.
I’m constantly attracting opportunities, inspiration, kindness, generosity, creative ideas, the right people and the right circumstances. I set my intentions, dismantle the blocks and gratefully receive all that comes.
I don’t need luck when I am in control. Wishing “good luck” seems to subvert ones power by suggesting that they don’t directly influence their own future. Instead, I’d rather convey my intention that good fortune will support them.
So I won’t wish you good luck. But when I say, “Good fortune to you”, know that I’m setting a direct and clear intention for you. And let that be an invitation for you to join me in setting the intention for the result you are seeking.
All fortunes start with an intention. Whatever result you want, empower yourself by taking command instead of relinquishing the reins to the winds of chance. The power to create is within your hands.
Photo Credit: Hooping as a Tool for Manifestation.
Twice in the last week I was told “no” to something I had high hopes for. In one case, it was “No, we can’t replace that”. In the other case I was told, “Nope, we don’t have any.”
In both cases I walked away feeling convinced that the “no” was legit. I resolved to accept an unfortunate outcome; and in the second case, spend $100 dollars for something that I could have gotten for a small fraction of that.
The unfortunate outcome did not sit well with me over the next few days and I felt nudged to call the company to express my disappointment. Ten minutes later, the company offered me the exact solution they said wasn’t possible four days earlier.
In the second case, I didn’t have to spend the $100 after all… Soon after I was told “no”, another employee asked if I got what I was looking for. With a little pre-pout, I said “No… they didn’t have anything” – to which he zipped back into the shop and returned 3 minutes later with exactly what I needed. Even better; he was able to give it to me free.
Twice in the last week, “no” ended up giving me exactly what I wanted… and in both cases, what I ultimately got was FAR BETTER than what I had expected or asked for.
In a earlier time, I would not have been so fortunate. So what changed?
The first difference I noted was this: When I heard “no”, I accepted it and let it go. The item couldn’t be replaced; my beloved handbag had been accidentally destroyed and there wasn’t another one left in the country. Fine. After a brief pout-fest on Facebook, I moved on.
I also didn’t give either incident any “energetic weight”. I could have been furious (although I was shocked and rather befuddled) that my gorgeous handbag had been destroyed, or annoyed that now I would have to spend $100 on something that I could have gotten ridiculously cheap.
Despite not getting what I wanted or expected, I rolled with it… I didn’t have time or space for an ounce of negativity. Why? Because as a general practice, I maintain a focus on whatever I AM grateful for.
But here is the final component: when I felt a nudge to take an action (i.e. to call the company again), I acted on it. When extended an offer to take a second look for me, I gratefully said YES – I would love that! I could have taken a defeatist attitude and said, “Nah, forget it” or ignored the nudges to follow up, but I didn’t – and that made all the difference.
While I accepted the “no” in the moment it occurred, I remained open to things changing, knowing that things oftentimes do. When I felt a nudge days later, I responded. That nudge might be a new idea, an inspiration or an insight on a different approach.
How did “no” get me exactly what I wanted? It boils down to this:
- Unfortunate situation happens 😦
- Shift my focus to what I AM grateful for 🙂
- Let the rest go
- Remain open to nudges
- Then act on them
My destroyed handbag that wasn’t available anywhere in the country? Here is the brand new replacement that just arrived today. So very grateful for happy endings! 🙂
Last Thursday night, Michael and I walked into a billionaire’s home in Corona del Mar for a party in honor of the Homeland Security Chairman. It was a small party; perhaps 50 guests. Few enough that we had plenty of time to chat with the Chairman and casual enough that we were invited to ask anything we wished. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
It wasn’t until the next day that it hit us. The reason we were invited all stemmed from one seemingly insignificant moment. A few months ago, a woman named Maria chose the seat next to Michael on a Southwest flight on route to Orange County. A conversation ensued. Her husband was an artist, Michael an art collector, and so an exchange of contact information took place.
At the time, it was simply a conversation to kill time on a plane. It was a random person who was interesting to talk to. It evolved into a possible exchange of mutual benefit. Michael discovered new artwork he loved and her husband might secure a new client.
A month later, we met the artist and learned of his connections into the political world. Two months later, out of nowhere, he invited us to a party to meet the Chairman of Homeland Security.
Upon getting the invite, we really didn’t know what we were walking into. It didn’t surprise me to see Secret Service in the courtyard and neatly stationed throughout the house. But it wasn’t until I took that first step inside the home that I realized where we were. Every single person exuded wealth, elegance and class. The way the gentlemen stood, the cut and fall of their suits. A room full of multi-millionnaires and top executives. I have never felt such an overwhelming, striking vibe from a group of people in my life.
The fascinating thing is that none of this – meeting the woman on the plane nor being invited to the party would have taken place had two things not occurred.
Several months ago, Michael set a very specific intention. It was a “stretch” goal; the kind you make without having any idea how it could possibly come to life. But he set that goal, ingrained it with unwavering faith into his belief system with passion and conviction.
But we know that intentions alone are not enough. You can have perfect clarity on intentions, but underlying, self-sabotaging beliefs can hijack the most powerful of intentions. And you will be met with a long, frustrating, confusing journey of bitterness.
Years ago, Michael recognized that he had some self-sabotaging beliefs about wealth and success and actively took steps to clear those blocks out of his belief system. Thus, when the inspiration for this intention came to light, he came upon a clear, open road.
That party did more than introduce us to a variety of fascinating people and give us an entertaining evening. It tipped us off. It made us realize that meeting Maria was no accident. She was drawn to him in order to help set in motion the domino effect of bringing that intention to life. She was the hand that tipped that first domino.
That person you just met? The one who seemed nice, who you had a good connection with? He or she may have shown up for a reason. Everyone is showing up in your life for a reason; to help you learn something, to gift you an experience, to open doors to opportunities or new thoughts.
This experience taught me that once you set crystal clear intentions and remove sabotaging beliefs, pay close attention to those who start showing up in your life. They may very well serve as the hand that tips that first domino.