Category Archives: AWARENESS

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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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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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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What Everyone Wants

what everyone wants_tea bag quote

Everyone wants to indulge their senses, feel fulfilled, and be loved.

People have different ways and different preferences, yet everyone wants affection, loving relationships, intimate relationships, and their daily treats that tickle their senses. They also want to feel fulfilled — to be part of something, to be whole, and to believe that their life is being lived fully & completely. I think if we own up to this, it makes our lives so much easier. It also prevents our lives from dipping into extremes. By this I mean, too little or much much in any of the three areas I mentioned in the first sentence of this blog post.

Overindulging in your senses, constantly looking to be fulfilled, and desperately needing to be loved are examples of being insatiable. Which is all too common these days. What I feel, is that we need a healthy appetite in all three areas, which comes from fully acknowledging them equally, and maintaining a sense of ongoing awareness.

Someone might say,”Hey! Not everyone needs or wants to indulge their senses, and definitely not daily. And not everyone wants an intimate partnership. You can’t generalize in this way. Everyone is different.” Well, the whole point of this blog and this blog post is to share my experiences and my views, and in doing that, raise the level of awareness in myself and in the world. In my experience, EVERYONE likes to indulge their senses, feel fulfilled, and be loved.

Below are a few examples of many. I’m not going to share almost four decades of examples, but I’ll share a measly few, just three.

I know a Buddhist Monk who loves to drink tea and saves the paper tea-bag tags that have inspiring quotes printed on them. He feels bad about this quote collection habit, because he is a renunciant. He doesn’t mind the constant tea drinking, because he only has one meal a day at noon (and it has to be donated to him, he can’t buy it or prepare it for himself, this is part of his vow as a monk in his tradiation). It’s only the saving of tea bag tags that he feels he should curb. He feels bad about it, and plans to work on it. Another thing he loves in abundance is teaching Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and has very close relationships with his students and fellow monks. He lives in a close knit community, which is really great and he loves it, but at the same time, he also wishes he could meditate longer, and be in silence all the time.

My dog cant get enough belly rubs and she hates being alone. She also perks up at any sign of brown rice & beans, or the sight of an almond butter jar. She’ll follow anyone that seems to be walking toward the kitchen (with hopes that they might have her beans or butter). Besides her food favorites, another favorite thing is to snuggle up next to someone, get a few rubs, and then veg on their lap. Sleeping-in is definitely her style. Staying in bed all morning, is the way she likes to start her day. Regardless of this movie-star wannabe habit, she is pushed to go for walks at 7:30AM, despite her preference to stay in bed. After the walk she is usually much more peppy, and ready for breakfast. Another wish I think she has, is to have more dogs in her life. She seems more fulfilled, more empowered, and well-rounded when she is in the presence of other animals and part of a doggie community.

I met someone that doesn’t eat. He dislikes food and most forms of consumerism: shopping, TV, Movies, cars, books — even meals — he does not like consuming. He goes days without eating, and has no desire to indulge in most things. Not even if it’s normal or necessary to partake in them. He’s turned off by almost everything. But, he absolutely adores music, and intense exercise. He says it feeds his soul. The other thing he soaks up, is his relationship to his clients that he coaches. They shower him with love and praise, and he loves being in their company, sharing his knowledge and making a difference in their lives. Another relationship that is very dear to his heart, is his relationship with his girlfriend. He says he is better when he has a partner and feels a missing when he isn’t close to someone. Since he was a young child, he’s always dreamed of having a soulmate.

Be it tea bag tags, staying in bed, soulmates, alcoholic drinks, belly rubs, making love, being creative, loud music, close friends, mid-day naps, strong hugs, evening walks, mugs of coffee, having purpose, interesting books, fresh juices, occasional smokes, online shopping, green gardening, inspiring quotes, feeling challenged, being clean, pin-drop silence, sweet kisses, cups of tea, nite-owl routines, being messy, exercise sessions, heart warming foods, silly shows, early mornings, moments of insight, etc. — we all have our preferences. We all have things tickle our senses, give us feelings of fulfillment, or reassure us that we are loved.

If you find yourself at an extreme in one area; be it overindulging your senses, constantly seeking to be fulfilled, or desperately needing to be loved — see if you can find balance across the board. Taking one of these areas to an extreme might be preventing you from realizing all areas in a balanced way. For example: seeking fulfillment through work to an extreme, can lead to a lack luster love-life with someone you feel deeply connected to. Or, not seeking fulfillment and feeling detached from your work, can lead to overindulging in your senses, to escape the fact that your are unfulfilled.

In my opinion, everything boils down to awareness. Nothing is ever a real problem when we are approaching it with awareness and compassion. Simply watch. Notice where there is lack or excess. Begin to have a bird’e eye view of all three areas that I mentioned: indulging senses, feeling fulfilled, being loved. Treat each area with care and allow all three to be seen. Think of them like your children. No child likes to be snubbed or trashed. Understand that as human beings we are beyond the body, we cosmic creatures. Our spirit is vast. But at the same time, we are rooted in the earth, rooted in humanity. And humans are sensitive. So relish your sensitivity, and feed your soul. Allow your heart to direct you. Listen to your inner being. Find out what tickles your senses, truly fulfills you, makes you feel loved — in a balanced way. Awareness is the first step. Always start there.

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Fine-Tuning My Life (Making sure it rocks!)

Fine-Tuning_life_rocks

“One of the easiest ways to avoid finishing something is to complicate the process so much that you can never finish.”

Last week I wrote a blog post about how important it is to simplify one’s life. At the time, I felt overwhelmed and my life felt complicated. I also felt that I was always running to catch up with all that I have to do. But after thinking about it over the week, I think maybe it’s not so much a drastic simplification that is needed, but a tuning. Like when instruments gets out of tune, it simply needs a few adjustments. For me those adjustments are my priorities. And those priorities need to be based on what I love most.

I am currently re-examining my priorities. What do I love to do most? What lights me up? What am I most content doing?

My priorities need be in alignment with what I love most, and if they aren’t, I feel like I am sludge-ing along. Like I am walking through mud or deep sand. It doesn’t feel good, and it makes me feel like I’m not being true to myself.

We all have priorities that aren’t fun, like putting a roof over our heads, and paying monthly bills — but they too need to be in alignment with what we love. Everything can be tweaked, everything can be adjusted. So there is no reason why everything in our lives couldn’t be fine-tuned to our benefit (and if that can’t happen physically, than we need to make sure it happens mentally).

I know what works best for me, and I know what doesn’t. I don’t thrive when I have a stuffed social calender, or a job that I don’t feel challenged & inspired by, or when I eat foods that weigh me down, the list goes on and on… like spending lots of energy chit-chatting & making small-talk, or spending too much time indoors stationary, or investing too many hours in entertainment (movies, etc.). All of those things get the best of me and leave me feeling drained. On the other side of the spectrum — I thrive when I spend time alone in silence, or when I am blogging or dancing, or when I am creating something, or when I am drinking lots of healthy liquids and eating lots of greens, or when I’m out in nature breathing fresh air, or when I am making a difference in the lives of others by connecting with them on a deeper level. That’s when I thrive, that’s when I come alive.

So today I am organizing how I spend my days & weeks. It’s helpful for me when I have a daily plan and a weekly plan. Below I will share with you the current rough plan of my daily & weekly routines.

Daily Plan:
Meditative gratitude session after waking
Spicy chaga tea (early morning)
Green drink & fibrous fruit (brunch)
Brazil nut mylk (afternoon)
Simple salad with seaweed & legumes (early dinner)
Healthy wholefood snack (optional, anytime)
1 hour of morning exercise
Creating, documenting or sharing new works & ideas
Getting to bed before 10PM for sound sleep
Meditative gratitude session before falling asleep

Weekly Plan:
MONDAY –  str & str @ 7:30AM / tending to sprouts & plants / Etsy beadwork
TUESDAY – nature walk with camera @ 7:30AM / Etsy beadwork
WEDNESDAY – nature walk @ 7:30AM / write TRF blog posts
THURSDAY – yoga @ 9:30AM / Etsy teams to-do lists
FRIDAY – yoga @ 9:30AM / photograph & list new Etsy beadwork
SATURDAY – dance @ 10:00AM / farmer’s market / write SIFL blog post
SUNDAY – dance @ 10:00AM / organize & take care of home to-do list

According to the list above, those are my priorities, the things that make me thrive when I have them in place as a constant in my life. Everything else works around it. Adjustments will be made daily as needed, but those things will take up the bulk of my time. It’s like the examples of rocks in a jar. You put in all of rocks in a jar_organizing_priorities_timeyour big rocks first, and then add all the little rocks that fill in the gaps. If you allow all the little things to come first, you won’t have space for the big things. And for me, the big things are: exercising, creating & sharing. Those are my big rocks. When they are in place, I feel grounded and balanced.

I am going to document all I can in the coming weeks on my The Rainbow Farmer blog. I’m going to do better at keeping it as my accountability site, so everyone can see what I am up to. I slowed down a bit during that spell when my schedule got the best of me and I felt overwhelmed. But I am back with a vengeance! And I am committed to keeping the ball (I mean rocks) rolling.

[Rock photo is from Bradley Gauthier's blog. Check out his How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed blog post.]

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Have You Been Sold a Dream? Are You Still Buying It?

A few weeks back I was at an appointment waiting to be called next. I looked to my left and saw a newspaper – the Wall Street Journal. As I flipped through it something caught my eye. It was an image of a man and a woman totally enthralled with one another in a blissful state. The man was reclining on a cloud made of stuff; tennis rackets, wine glasses, classical instruments, elegant accessories, overnight case, golf clubs, champagne flutes, skis, etc. The advertisement had two tag-lines: Element of Well-being / For a Better You.

My immediate reaction was a long sigh. Was the viewer supposed to think that this cloud of materialistic stuff and a vacation stay in a hotel would bring them bliss? I feel so tired of the marketing that is pushed down people’s throats. All day every day everywhere we look, we are being marketed to. The idea of “this thing” or “this look” or “this place” is what you need to feel great, to feel happy, to feel whole. Most of us know that none of those things bring lasting happiness, yet we are sold that idea over & over again – and we buy it!

Everyone talks about a vacation or a lifestyle that they desire. Most of us hate some part of the way we look as well, comparing ourselves to others and feeling like some aspect of ourselves is inadequate. Or it can be the other way around, we think that the way someone else looks or lives isn’t good enough for us. Who taught us that? Where did we get our standards from? What did we pattern ourselves and our lives after? Why is it that our life is the way it is? Did we freely & fully create it? Or did we allow society to greatly influence our decisions and our views?

If you lived alone on an island, would you be worrying about the same things you desire or stress about today? Would you want the same job you currently have? Take a close look at your life & ask yourself, “If I lived alone and I never or rarely saw people, what would I be passionate about, what would matter most to me? What would my life be about and look like?”

Would you need a vacation? Would you be working as hard as you do? What would matter most to you? More stuff? Faster car? Bigger income? Smoother skin? Second home? An academic degree? …Or something freely available and priceless, like love? I think we could say that love would be the most important thing. Yet we don’t see that, choose that, or act like that in our day-to-day lives. We don’t seem to make that our dream, our goal, or our number one priority on a daily basis.  And trust me, every money-driven corporation and business wants to keep it that way.

[Today's blog post was written and posted back in August 2011.]

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