It’s Never Enough

more_is_never_enough

I’ve witnessed the smartest people make the dumbest decisions, the richest people live completely empty lives, and the most socially active people with the most ‘friends’ feel the loneliest. Why is this?

In my opinion, it’s never enough. People in general have an insatiable need to fill a hole within themselves that isn’t there. I see them do this with career, with children, with money, with hobbies, with shopping, with food, with sex, with sport, with beauty, with drink, with applause, with anything.

After having a child, they see it wasn’t enough. After creating the perfect home, they see that something is still missing. After developing a wonderful career, they see that it too needs to expand or be more. After being in an amazing & loving relationship, they haven’t yet experienced true fulfillment & contentment. No matter what one strives for, thinking that it will be ‘it’, the very thing they achieve or find that creates balance within themselves or within in their lives…. it will never be ‘it.’ That mad crazy dash to understand and fill the deep missing will continue to be a journey to nowhere. To now-here. It’s like the previous post I wrote about us being mules, chasing an imaginary carrot (written in May 2013): “When did money take the front seat and drive the destiny of our lives? Where is our sense of Self worth? Is it the ‘small self’ or ego that is always worried, always chasing the carrot, the one always looking for approval & comfort? If so, that isn’t the real you. The carrot journey never ends. Oh, yes it does — pardon me. It ends at death. When we realize what truly matters.”

The bases of all suffering, and all stupid moves by smart people, is confusion. We are literally confused. Someone wrote me a wise email recently, in the email they wrote: “Sometimes when we step back and look at things in a different perspective, we see and learn things that were there all the time, and we never even acknowledged them.” This was my reply to that email… But before you read it, please know it’s taken out of context. So it might be difficult to piece together, but I think you see where we were getting at in our conversation. “Either way, there will be a struggle and some challenges, and not everything will be perfect or easy. But hopefully, to see that home is where the heart is. And I mean that literally. It’s in him. He has to be content in his own skin, with his own spirit. The restless chasing of things is pulling him away from ‘home’. Everyone has this struggle, and sometimes it takes near death, the death of a loved one, or one’s own death to realize it.”

I often find solace in in quotes by Buckminster Fuller. One of his quotes that comes to mind is: “All of us are born a geniuses, but life itself seems to de-genius us.” And the other quote is: “Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.”

In my opinion, life is best lived without meaning. To try to understand it all, or try to make a game out of it, it’s just fooling oneself. To try to think that something might be the answer, or something might makes us whole — sets us up for struggle and disappointment.

Recently I’ve been learning how to train my dogs. The books I’ve been reading are coming from the approach that; instead of training my dogs, I should be learning to understand them. In understanding my dogs better, I see that the real training needs to take place within myself. By training myself (looking at how I might be a source of dysfunctional energy, and making needed corrections), it allows me to successfully communicate with them, rehabilitate them, and live by example. This helps to create better habits for everyone, and it creates a balanced energy for our entire pack/family.

Cesar Millan (also known as The Dog Whisperer) says that animals typically respond in four ways: fight, flight, avoidance, surrender. And that a calm balanced dog is one that peacefully lives from a place of surrender. You want to help pets to move from the stages of fight, flight and avoidance, to get to the stage of surrender. When I read this concept, I immediately thought of humans. We spend our entire lives fighting, fleeing and avoiding. Our entire culture is made up of resisting and fighting with life. Fighting with reality, with each other, and fighting with ourselves. Most people are constantly looking for distractions, always needing to escape the moment. Not being able to be fully present, or still within themselves. Most people see surrender as defeat. They view it as giving up. But in my opinion, this is a misunderstanding of the word. [If you want to see my views and more information on what it means to surrender, you can find them via this link.]

When I picture someone wise, someone truly content, balanced and happy, they are peaceful, relaxed and calm. They watch, they observe and notice. Their level of awareness is high. So is their sense of compassion. Usually, we imagine this person to be old. To have lived through the race that we create out of life, and they have surrendered to it all having no meaning and no permanence. Their death is near, and they have a better sense of what truly matters. This can also be the case for many old animals. They have given up the fight. They enjoy simplicity, and what the current moment has to offer. If we apply this wisdom to our lives, imagine how much easier and more pleasurable our lives would be. And this can be attained. But in order for it to happen, we need to release the need to fight, flee or avoid what is currently happening. We have to have the courage to embrace all that is. Resting in the reality of the moment. Surrendering to the idea that we don’t have control over life, and we never did. But in relaxing into ourselves, and to whatever life brings — it empowers us. It makes us stronger, wiser and more equipped to handle anything that life brings. It makes life more enjoyable, more free.

It’s interesting how letting go; surrendering and fully embracing what one might view as incomplete or inadequate, might be the very action/non-action that makes us whole. And surrendering never means to not create, or to neglect, or disregard things that need assistance and attention. It only means a grater acceptance of the whole. To see that everything is what it is, and in that might be doing whatever work needs to be done. Not to make things perfect, or to ‘fix’ anything, but to surrender to the process. To allow life to live life, in us, through us, and around us. This is a humble approach. One that takes the power out of a story about a ‘me’ and give the power back to the grater whole. That greater whole is the higher Self. Where all of our spirits and mystery are connected and fully intact. Where we are invisible and untouchable. Where nothing could ever be missing or unfulfilled. Where no decisions need to be made and nothing needs to be done. Where the whole Universe is home, and there is no where to go. Where everything is perfect, just as it is.

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Filed under enough, finding balance, LOSS / DEATH

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! :)

happy birthday - i love you

August 10th is a very special day. It’s the day my mother was born. I can’t even begin to express what my mother means to me. Anything in words would never convey how I feel or what I know. But I will try my best to put something that should never be limited, structured, defined, or explained into in words.

My mom worked a lot when I was young. She worked at the family business and was constantly swamped in work. Often I was with my caretaker (Olinda) or under the supervision of my eldest sister. I’m not sure if my mother even remembers this, but we had something called “our day.” It’s a day when my mom spent some time focusing just on me. She would pick me up, drive somewhere we could have lunch (just the two of us, without my other four siblings), and ask me about myself; what I thought about things, how thing were going, etc.. Later she would buy me something, like a new pair of barrettes or a toy. Which was very exciting for me. This effort to show she cares about me, that I am important and not forgotten, made a huge impression on me. I ALWAYS FELT LOVED. I always felt special. And I was always secure in the fact that my mother loved me immensely and unconditionally. If I could say that there is one thing in my life, that I have always been clear about, without a shadow of a doubt — that would be it. That I am loved unconditionally by my mother, and that I am important to her.

happy birthday mom

My Mom

At the toughest phases in my life, it was that knowing, that clarity about her love for me, that allowed me to powerfully move through challenging experiences that would otherwise break my spirit. And in some of the worst times of my life (as a teen and as an adult), my mom dropped everything to be with me — she flew 3,000 miles to be with me. Even though I would insist that everything was fine, and that I didn’t need her to come. But each time she did that and went against what I told her, I was wrong. When she was there with me, I realized how powerful her presence was, and that I did need her. And her being there for me meant the world to me. Being the stubborn person that I am, I probably didn’t act like it, or say it, but I felt it and knew it.

My mom had an equal impact on my health. I was never athletic or adventurous as a child or teen. But when I was in my early twenties, my mother inspired me. She was such a stickler for her health. Rain or shine, travel or work, she got up early in the morning to exercise. She would also watch what she was eating, and try her best to eat healthfully. When she came to visit me in New York at the time, I just couldn’t get over the fact that my mom was fitter than me, and much more energetic and daring. And I was in my 20s! After her visit, my life dramatically changed. I started to exercise, and I began to take my health and my life seriously. I regularly challenged myself and faced my fears, and I made a lifelong commitment to make my health and well-being a priority.

Sunday Is For Lovers, AimeeLovesYou, how I sign off on each email with some expression of love… all of this is because I am very comfortable loving. I love people, I love life, I love learning — I love loving, and I think I have this capacity for love because of my mother. Let me rephrase that: I know I have this capacity for love because of my mother. It all started with her, teaching me what unconditional love was. And this example of supreme love, carried through my very being, and into my work and life with others. So without my Mom, there would be no Sunday Is For Lovers, there would be no AimeeLovesYou — there would be no me. It all stemmed from her — all of it.

Thank you, Mom! :) I love you SO MUCH, it’s unfathomable.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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Filed under birthdays, family, love

Would You Date Yourself?

important questions - would you date yourself

It’s a good question: “Would you date yourself?” Last week I stumbled across a video (by Matthew Hussey) with that title. I was so intrigued, I decided to watch it. I thought the video was good and its content insightful. But I also think that we can broaden the question to encompass more, and raise our overall level of awareness. Below is a list of questions we can try on for size. Ask yourself each one of them. Listen to your answers and your overall feelings. See if a greater awareness is needed in any area of your life. If so, bring your full attention to it (or them, if several). I would imagine that your life would be so much fuller & richer, much more at ease, if you brought your awareness, compassion & attention to every aspect of your life possible. Just the thought of it is inspiring to me. Practice makes perfect! :) Or at least, makes for an interesting, exciting and very insightful life.

Would you follow yourself?

Would you consider yourself thoughtful?

Would you marry, and be happily married, to yourself?

Would you look to yourself as an example of courage?

Would you want yourself as a neighbor?

Would you work for yourself?

Would you look to yourself for peace & ease?

Would you look to yourself for answers?

Would you believe in yourself?

Would you choose yourself to be your guardian or parent?

Would you enjoy your company?

Would you look to yourself as an example of compassion?

Would you choose yourself as your sibling?

Would you want to put yourself in charge of important matters?

Would you consider yourself as kind?

Would you choose yourself as your best friend?

Would you trust yourself?

Would you want yourself as your creator?

Would you be inspired by yourself?

Would you consider yourself a leader?

Would you call yourself to chat about your day?

Would you want to argue with yourself?

Would you love yourself and express it to yourself?

Would you think you were making a difference in the world?

Would you look to yourself for clarity?

Would you say that you were loving and self-expressed?

Would you hire yourself?

Would you consider yourself helpful?

Would you say that you were generous?

Would you think you were living a creative life?

Would you be proud of yourself?

Would you want to make love to yourself?

Would you think you were using your talents wisely?

Would you forgive yourself?

Would you want to put yourself in charge of global issues?

Would you say that you were inspiring?

Would you write letters or emails to yourself?

Would you entrust yourself with your life’s destiny?

Add any questions you come up with to this list. You can do it simply in your mind, or you can share them in the comment section below. If you share them in the comment section, it would be helpful to others. Thank you!

And please know, all of these questions are not there to make anyone feel bad or boastful. They are there to raise awareness and inspire action. To bring more courage, love and healing to our lives. The only way to do this, is to take personal responsibility for what we see in our world. That includes the outside world, but it also includes in the inside world. The private world in each one of us; the one we think we keep all to ourselves, but forget that it’s reflected wherever we go.

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Filed under AWARENESS, dating, RELATIONSHIPS

UBUNTU: I Am Because We Are

UBUNTU I Am Because We Are

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree, and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run. They all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said, “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means: I am because we are.

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Filed under AWARENESS, friendship, unity

Are You a Stress Sponge?

empath emotional stress sponge

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a close friend. Somehow, in a train of thought, it just slipped out. I said that I feel most balanced & content when I am alone. And that it had been this way since I was a very young child. I felt bad after I said it. I felt a sense of guilt. Hoping that what I said didn’t come across as if my friends, family, partners and community weren’t great, like they were the cause of my troubles. Which isn’t true at all. What I said was something deeply personal, that came out in a very blunt & authentic way.

I thought about what I said long after my conversation with my friend. And I am still processing what I said. I have more clarity now (which I’m sure will evolve).

I thought about when I first got my dog. She is a rescue, and came with a lot of trepidation. And in the first few weeks of living with me, she was learning me and my environment, and was processing all of the new sounds, smells and people in her new life. I noticed that when I held her, I could feel her emotions. I would feel fine, I would feel balanced, then I would pick her up and I could feel her uneasiness regarding another person in the room, or a loud noise, etc. When I say I ‘felt’ her emotions, I mean I really took it on. Like I instantly felt shaky, stressed & uneasy, like if I had trouble with the other person in the room, or the loud sound outside. Which I didn’t. So I know I was taking on her energy as if it were my own.

After I thought about what I noticed with my dog. I started to think about family & friends, intimate relationships, and jobs. And so many other aspects in my life, that left me a bit confused about myself. Like maybe there was something different or wrong with me. Some reason why I didn’t particularly like being around people all the time, spending time in bustling restaurants, or having a packed social calendar.

I don’t do well in large crowds. Concerts, big parties, congested streets and packed trains — they all drain me. I also remember being a child, and spending lots of time alone in my room. And if we had a party or family get-together, I would be sure to find something to do outside the home. Like keeping busy outdoors, visiting a best friend, etc.. I would always chalk it up to being shy, or not resonating with my extended family, or say that I’m better in small groups, or best one-on-one. I always had some reason or excuse for it. But I think the truth is, that it simply didn’t feel good. And still doesn’t.

I think it’s so important for me to get simple. To just say, forget the idea that you might be an empath, or some other label. Just know what feels good and what doesn’t. But after that, take full responsibility for it. Completely own it! And be accountable for it. Surround yourself with what does feel good. But also, when you are with someone (this includes a crowd or location) that has energy that you are taking on, notice it. Be aware. Notice it as it moves from a level 1 to level 2, and quickly make changes right there & then. Not when gets to a level 6 or 7, because by then, it’s gone way too far. And if it’s at level 9 or 10, no one’s thinking or decision making will be clear at that point. Emotions & confusion will be paramount, and will override any clarity.

I have much more control over my environment than I think. For example, I can move myself, move the topic of conversation, move my attention. Where you place your attention is huge! Because it’s what you give your energy to. So if you are paying attention to the negative, or to your resistance regarding a situation, or to feeling vulnerable & trapped — no wonder you are zapped! There goes all your energy, it’s going to where you are sending it, what you are ‘pay-ing’ attention to. You’ve payed the price! You’ve invested your energy unwisely.

Removing oneself from situation or location might be a quick fix, but the trouble is really within. I think we have to get to know ourselves better. And sometimes, the best way to do that, is through other people. If I didn’t have that conversation with my friend, and say that I felt most balanced & content alone, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post about this topic. And I wouldn’t have been able to sit with the thought, to gain more clarity over time. Being with someone was key to me getting a better picture of myself.

Like I have mentioned before on Sunday Is For Lovers; with all concerns or problems, the first step is awareness. Become more aware. Notice. Just notice what is transpiring. See it. Then take responsibility for it. Know that you are responsible for how you feel, and what you invest your energy/attention in. Everything always comes back to you. And that’s the good news! Because that means there is only one person you have to deal with, only one person you have to correct. :) You.

Below are 7 keys to take charge of your life, and to stop being a stress sponge! If you are highly sensitive to energy, could be called an empath, feel that you need to be alone to re-charge your battery, like to leave parties and events early (or avoid them all together) — you might be a stress sponge like me. :) Below are a few tips that you might find helpful.

7 Keys To Not Absorbing Negative Energy:

Step 1 – Be Aware
Be aware and still enough mentally, to be able to see what is happening while it’s happening. Even better if you can do this before it happens. Like a glass on the edge of a table, it’s good to have the awareness and foresight to see that it isn’t a good idea. See what is going on around you, prevent yourself (and others) from causing self-harm with negative energy.

Step 2 – Speak Up
Speak up, change the topic of conversation. Suggest a new way or place to be. Say what isn’t working for you, present another option that might be better & more enjoyable for everyone. Often, people are stuck in mindless routines, and the best way out of them is to try something new.

Step 3 – Take Action
Take action, help to quickly sooth the aggravation of someone, by redirecting their focus/energy. Everyone knows this works great for babies. Everyone is still a baby! We all love entertaining distractions. Find something positive for you & others to focus on. Know that there is so much you can do to actively change your thoughts and environment.

Step 4 – Move On
Move on, mentally & physically. If changing the conversation, or redirecting energy/focus isn’t enough, find somewhere else to be. You don’t have to go home, but find a place that suits you better for the moment. But don’t just leave the situation physically, and then mentally take it with you! That’s worse than staying there! Drop the whole thing. Drop the the past, and get present. Move on completely and reset yourself.

Step 5 – Stay Clear
Stay clear, in mind and in body. Breathe deeply, with long slow exhalations. Use your belly as you breath. See it expand. Feel your body as you breathe. Fully enjoy it! Feel yourself becoming more aware & more relaxed with each breath. Exercise regularly. Get feelings and energy flowing! Move them through you, and out of you! Let go. Spend time in nature. Ground yourself. Spend time sunning yourself, or sprawling out on the grass. Meditate in the early morning hours. All of this is great for staying clear.

Step 6 – Invest Wisely
Invest wisely. Know that your energy is like money. Don’t spend it mindlessly. See it as sacred. So many of us wonder why we are tired, and don’t have enough energy. (We can also say the same about money!) See that you are spent, because you have spent yourself mindlessly & unwisely! Care about where your energy goes. Ask yourself before hand, “Will this activity replenish my energy, or deplete my energy? Even better, will it give me more energy than what I came there with?” If your answer is no, or that it might leave you with less energy, it’s not a good investment or choice for you. Isn’t it interesting that donating to good causes, giving hugs, sharing smiles, and exercising in nature, always gives us heaps of energy? They are great investments!

Step 7 – Give Thanks
Give thanks for the opportunity you have to be with and learn from your environment. Be grateful for all those that love you, want to contribute to you, and invite you to places. Really take the love & gifts in. See how fortunate you are. And give back that energy & good fortune. Find a way that resonates with you. Find your best way to be with, and to contribute to, a vast number of people. Give thanks & give back in every way you can.

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Filed under AWARENESS, HOW TO, stress

Living on a School Bus

school bus home exterior

So as I mentioned on May 25, 2014, the plan was to set sail, leave my life in New York City, travel down south, and live in an Airstream Argosy on a piece of land. Well, on June 28th I did leave New York, I also traveled down south with a 1973 24″ foot Argosy trailer hitched to a truck. But shortly after that, things did not go according to plan. Obstacles and challenges were coming left & right. [I wrote a blog post in 2011 titled Your Biggest Obstacle Doesn't Exist, you should check it out!] I had to quickly change plans and also leave a lot open to what might come next.

So here I am. Updating you on what is happening now, and what might be next. I am currently renting a converted school bus. I embedded lots of photos of school bus living at the end of this blog post for you, so that you can get the general idea. It’s basically a school bus that has been converted into a tiny home. The one I am living in now is not as fancy as a few of the photos I included (with fireplaces, etc.), but it does have a bedroom, running water, and lots of things that make it feel like a home. I’m enjoying my stay on the bus, and I am scheduled to be here throughout the month of July.

The Argosy travel trailer is being stored and hopefully will have its floor repaired. (There was trouble with flooring, it needs to be replaced or repaired in certain areas, like around the refrigerator, where there was condensation.) It also might be too troublesome to bring to the land. The journey to the land has lots of switchback roads, and it’s on a steep hill (not the land itself, just getting there). So I’m not sure if bringing the Argosy there is a great idea, it might be more trouble than it’s worth. It might be easier to just site-build a wooden cabin, or some other structure. I’m going to hold off on that idea for a while, and see what feels best in time.

The plan for next month is to rent a home in Black Mountain. It’s a sweet place, I picked it out already and it’s all set up for August and beyond. The good thing about the home, is that it’s close to the land, and also close to town, so I get the best of both worlds for a while. My plan is to live there, work on my Etsy business, blog like crazy, develop a super-healthy exercise & eating routine, spend time on the land, and get to know Buncombe County. (Buncombe County is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes: Asheville, Black Mountain, French Broad, Biltmore Forest, Swannanoa, Woodfin, Montreat, Broad River, Flat Creek and much more.)

So that’s the update on my latest adventure. As it unfolds, I’ll have much more to share. I hope your adventure is unfolding as well. You know, leaving the life I set up for myself in New York was not easy. It was a huge risk and gamble. But really, what would I have to lose? What does anyone have to lose when starting over and trying something new? In my opinion, nothing. Because you learn & experience so much. And the really important things in life are the things you can’t keep safe, and you can’t take with you. When you die, what will you be able to take from your life? In my opinion, only the feeling that you either lived your life fully or the feeling that you didn’t.

Living fully doesn’t mean that you did crazy things, or that you lived life on the edge. It simply means that you were able to live with your fears — while at the same time — follow your heart. It means that you didn’t allow your fears to dictate your life.

Love your fears, hear them out, bring them with you — but don’t let them stop you from living the life you dream of. Gently show yourself, and your fears, that anything is possible, and that you deserve a chance to live courageously & completely.

That way, when it’s time to say farewell, you’ll feel like you were able to experience fully the gift that is your life. Think of it like a gift card — spend it! Give it away! Have fun with it! Use it up completely! But for god’s sake, don’t hang on to it, don’t file it away, don’t save it for the right moment in the future. That moment will never come.

coverted school bus exterior

onverted school bus home

renovated school bus home

school bus tiny home

tiny home school bus

converted school bus interior

tiny home school bus home

tiny home bus interior

school bus home exterior rear

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Filed under adventure, alternative homes, eco homes, tiny homes

May I Be Frank

may i be frank ferrante movie

I know, I know… I often recommend documentaries on Sunday Is For Lovers. But if I could have an ongoing list, I’d place the documentary May I Be Frank near the top. Not because it’s high-quality, mind-blowing or super-unique, but because it has the most heart. I rarely get choked-up while watching films, and this film had me on the verge of tears. It’s about a guy named Frank Ferrante that goes through a transformation. I’m not going to say anymore than that. I’m just going to say that…. (did I just say I wasn’t going to say anymore?) ….he completely changes his life on every level; physically, spiritually and emotionally. I think the footage from the film is from 2005, and if you see him today, he looks amazing and his energy is so inviting and wonderful. He is still on the path of transformation, and he is still inspiring others along the way. It’s people like Frank that make me feel madly in-love with life. It’s people like Frank that generously show others what is possible. I’m so grateful for him, and for all the others that helped in recording and sharing his journey.

FRANK BEFORE:

FRANK AFTER:

Another film that you could watch, that would follow May I Be Frank beautifully is, Hungry For Change. The poster/artwork for the film is a terrible choice, but the film itself is excellent. It’s not as ‘entertaining’ as May I Be Frank, but it is informative, and Frank Ferrante is in it, along with a few other faces you might recognize.

PS! Both May I Be Frank and Hungry For Change can be found everywhere. They are online for free from various websites, they are also on Netflix, Amazon, and lots of other movie outlets.

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Filed under documentaries, HEALTH / VITALITY, INSPIRATION