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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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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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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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

Officially On The Road!

on the road

Hi everyone!

No new blog post today. I am officially on the road. I’ve moved from New York City and I’m making my way down to Western North Carolina. You can get the full scoop about what I am up to here.

Wish me luck! :) It’s going to a journey and an interesting start. But I’m up for it! If you are beginning your own adventure too, I’d love to hear about it. Let’s root each other on.

Lots of love to you!

Aimee

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Doing “The Work”

byron_katie_the_work

I was hanging-out with two great friends on Friday evening. Somehow the conversation turned into me asking very personal questions using Byron Katie‘s “The Work“. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a form of self-inquiry. It’s based on four questions, and a turn-around.

The Four Questions:

Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it is true?
How do you react when you think that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?

The Turnaround:

Turn it around — is it as true or truer?
Can you find another turnaround?

To understand how it works, watch a few people do The Work first. I’ll embed videos for you below. You can also listen to a selection of audio MP3s via this super-resourceful & helpful website: www.everypathis.org

I’ve shared The Work on Sunday Is For Lovers before. Today’s post is the third time. But every year I am reminded of The Work, it feels completely new. This year I have a new appreciation for it, and feel so grateful that I can use it as an ongoing tool.

If you feel conflicted about anything, or have a complaint about someone, or are suffering over a particular issue, or think that something unwarrented keeps reoccurring in your life — The Work is a great way to get to the bottom of it. It can create greater awareness and powerful healing in any aspect of your life.

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Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: Tomi Ungerer

Far Out Isn't Far Enough Tomi Ungerer

I love watching documentaries. I’ve made quite a few posts on Sunday Is For Lovers sharing my favorite documentaries. More than not, the list is full of documentaries about artists. This week I found another great one. It’s about Tomi Ungerer. If you are unfamiliar with his name, once you view the film and see his body of work, you’ll recall seeing his artwork throughout your life. His body of work is enormous. Be it children’s books, political posters, artistic pornography, commercial works — he’s done it all. And all of it is outstanding.

Tomi Ungerer political worksThe title of the film about his life is Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story. I saw it on Netflix. But I’m sure it’s available through numerous outlets. Below I’ll post a quote I enjoyed from the film. I identified with it in so many ways.  It brought me back to how I felt as a youth, and how I feel currently as an adult.

“…When you’re faced with this kind of historical contradiction — what is liberation? What is fascism? What is dictatorial? And this is what I found out as a child very, very early. Everything was just absurd. The war is absurd. People are absurd. The grown ups are absurd.”

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Filed under ART / FILM, documentaries, inspirational people