Super-Late :(

late

So sorry for being so late. Believe it or not, I’m trying to write a blog post about eating cake upside-down (literally & figuratively.) I’m halfway done, but I don’t want to rush it. Please stay tuned and I will either post it later this week or save it for next weekend. I feel so bad for coming up empty handed this week, but I promise to make it up to you. A fun blog post is in progress and on the way!

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13 Questions for AimeeLovesYou

15 Questions

1. What is something you intended to do today, but didn’t?
Make a video.

2. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
I rattle off things that I am grateful for. This works 100 percent of the time. Some nights it takes a higher count, but I inevitably fall asleep.

3. What’s something you should throw away, but can’t?
I hate to say this (and believe me when I say this is the only thing like this, I’m usually the type of person that throws everything away, even the most sentimental things), I have a very small velvet purse, from when I was 7 years old or so. It’s in the shape of a clown; a very plushy, cotton-like and soft, handmade clown. The purse has a name (he has a name tag, that is sewn into the side of his costume) it reads: Cottonfield. That’s his name, that’s what I call him. He seems to only reappear when I move (to new cities) and clear-out closets.

4. Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Madonna.
I worked with her on the MTV music video awards. This was years ago, over a decade. She was super-humble and really sweet. She is also the healthiest looking person I have ever seen. Her eyes where so shiny and bright.

5. What is your favorite quote?
It’s a tie between two:
“No self, no problem.”
“Where there is love, there is no question.”

6. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?
Cuddling.
Second thing; vegging in cuddly blankets.

7. Which movies have you watched over and over again?
Amadeus
Philip Glass in 12 Parts
You’ve Got Mail

8. What one word best describes your mother?
Jovial.

9. When you have nothing pressing, where does your mind drift?
It immediately goes into questioning.
I begin to wonder what the point of life is, and the questions continue from there.

10. What’s something that amazes you?
Nature always amazes me. Always.

11. What advice can you give about how to conquer fear?
You have to move through it, be intimate with it, embrace it and live it with full presence. If you can do that, than you can transcend it.

12. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels? Where do you keep it?
A wooden stool was custom made for me in northern Italy (when I was there working on a project.) It was a gift. 
I use it as a nightstand.

13. What’s your favorite expression?
Where there is a will, there is a way.

If you have any questions at all for me, please email them via my contact page or leave them in the comments section below. I’m always happy to answer questions. Hooray!

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Time to Get Moving

.what scares you

Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon I was washing dishes as I listened to Patti Smith narrate M Train (her new memoir.) I love Patti Smith, for the same reason I loved The Smiths (the 80’s rock band) when I was a youth. Both are a little depressing and have an ongoing message of the ticking bomb. I get closer to this ticking bomb as I get older. I’m also reminded of this ticking bomb when I’m stunned by news of a death, like David Bowie’s passing on January 10th.

As I listen to Patti describe years passed, I listen to the tone of her voice. It’s low, well used, it sounds tired. Spent. She’s always had a grit and grime aspect to her (which is why she’s always been fabulous and greatly admired), but this time it feels more surrendered and earthy. More open and revealing, like exposed roots in soil. It reminds me that there isn’t much time left. Not for her, not for me, not for anyone. We are all just defenseless ticking bombs. When I hear Patti talking about her now deceased husband Fred (Sonic) Smith, I’m reminded that loving relationships and opportunities for growth are precious. I’m reminded that holding up a facade is only a waste of time and energy. I’m reminded that hiding under the blanket of playing safe is like digging an early grave.

It’s so clear to me that we have to get closer to the mystery.

What is real to me is that which can not be touched, only known. Not known by the intellect, known by the heart, by the soul. This knowledge has no death. This is why I think it’s important for us to challenge ourselves, to reach outside of our box or comfort zone. We must do what scares us. When we do this, we get to know ourselves (and life itself) on a deeper level.

I remember when I went through a phase in 2009 of wanting to fast on water. No food, just water. I wrote about it in a blog post titled Eating My Tail. In the post I said that I was going to try fasting for 10 days, I ended up fasting for 18 days. (I could have went longer, easily another 7 – 10 days. I was fine and completely comfortable. I was content and happy not eating. But people close to me were scared for me, because the idea of fasting seemed scary for them. scared globsI stopped my fast only because of the fear around me.) The point of me mentioning the fast is; I thought food ruled my world. I couldn’t imagine myself not eating for a day, or even missing a single meal! Since I was a child I was always chubby, always loving to eat, always dreaming up my next meal. How could I not eat?! It seemed impossible, unimaginable, especially for a person like me. But there I was, day after day — no food, only water — just fine. It blew my mind. It made me wonder what else I was believing and living that might be a lie. It made me wonder where else in my life I might be limiting myself, or wrapping myself very tightly and neatly in a small box. After that fast, I never looked at food (or myself) the same. My life was changed forever. I no longer trusted my idea of myself, or my stories of what is possible for me (or others) based on predisposed limitations untested.

Back to Patti Smith and the idea of exposed roots in soil…

I think it’s so important that we do what scares us. It’s this vulnerability that sets us free and grants us immortality. And you can take that statement any way you like. Whether it’s telling someone you love them, or singing your most private song in public, or sailing around the world — do it! Expose yourself. Set your soul free. See what happens. See if you experience a mini death. (Which is how the French describe orgasms and Buddhists describe enlightenment.) When you open and empty yourself in this way, it creates space. And this space creates possibility. And this possibility creates an aliveness.

If you ever get to the point in yourself where you feel a perturbing lull or dip in aliveness, it means you have spent too much time under the blanket of playing safe. (Trust me, I know. This is why I can speak and write about it. I live it repeatedly.) We are all no different from autumn trees, or maybe I should say leaves? Change is inevitable, change is life. It makes no difference if we are uncomfortable with change and would like to stay the same, life will boot you out of your comfort zone. So you might as well do it yourself. Kick your own damn ass. Get yourself out of bed. Light your own fire. Do what it takes to experience the mystery and test the unknown. Don’t leave soul questions unanswered.

One way to keep things interesting and fresh (alive), is to return to a childlike or youthful nature. Be curious. Test boundaries. Love, give and trust freely. See life as play. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Make friends easily. Look at the world from new eyes. Write your own story (or sequel.) What do you have to lose?

Life is meant for the living. How can we be living fully if we don’t feel alive? And how can we truly be alive if we aren’t willing to be vulnerable? How can we live with excitement and curiosity in our hearts, if we don’t give life a poke? It’s like when you see a glob of something on the ground, and your first inclination is to grab a stick and poke it. You want to see if it moves, you want to see if it’s alive. That glob is us! Comfortable, steady, settled — and sometimes stuck. If we don’t poke ourselves to see if we are still alive, the universe will do it for us. I’d rather poke myself. My guess is you would too.

Time to get moving.

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No More Yes

Derek_Sivers_CD_Baby

I snagged today’s blog post from Derek Sivers’ website. Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998. In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22 million, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks.

No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.

Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying: If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no.

Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.

Examples:

I was hiring someone for a long-term project. There were many candidates. I compared pros-and-cons. Nobody blew me away, but I felt I had to choose one of them. Instead, I said no to all, and began the search again in a different way. That turned up someone absolutely amazing who is ideal and I’m psyched to be working with.

I was supposed to go to three music conferences in the next few months. They were spread out around the world and would have taken many expensive days in planes and hotels to be there. I had said yes to all of them out of habit or obligation. But I realized I wasn’t feeling “HELL YEAH!” about them, so I cancelled all three. They’re a little disappointed but I was able to clear off 12 days in my calendar! 12 days!! Do you know how much I can do with 12 free days? Maybe I could get Muckwork launched! Now that is a “HELL YEAH!”

I was deciding where to live. I had heard good things about Vancouver and Sydney. I was interested in Hong Kong and Florianópolis. But when I got to New York City I felt such an instant “HELL YEAH!” that I stayed.

9, 10 or 1

The surprisingly great book “Personal Development for Smart People” asks you to think about the different areas of your life (career, relationships, spiritual, health, etc.) – and rate your satisfaction in each area from 1 to 10.

But after doing that, the next suggestion impressed me: it said to go through every area you rated a 5, 6, 7, or 8 – and replace it with a 1! That we should never settle for “it’s not so bad” – and instead face up to what you really want.

In other words: No more “yes”. It’s either “HELL YEAH!” or “no”.

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Keeping My Promise

keeping my promise

First, I want to start by saying HAPPY NEW YEAR! I am wishing you the most unbelievably magnificent year — beyond your wildest hopes and dreams! Sending you cosmic hugs and rainbow-like cheer. I’m planning on us spending much of the year together (via Sunday Is For Lovers.) Let’s make it our best year yet!

Second, I want to say… that I kept my promise. I said I would make you videos, and here they are. Please know that this is only the beginning — and they are nothing fancy! I have no idea how to make videos. I’ve been looking into using iMovie on my laptop, and I am absolutely clueless. The afternoon was spent trying to edit four videos clips I shot today, working to splice them into one vlog. No luck at all. I couldn’t figure out how to make them all one video file. So instead of waiting around and spending more time learning, I just decided to share two of the video clips (instead of four) and label them Part 1 & 2. Please know that these humble videos are the first of many to come. Another thing to keep in mind, is that the will improve over time — but it will take time! I have a lot of work in store for me this year, so please be patient with me. I need better equipment and a basic knowledge of video editing and platforms (right now I am starting with Vimeo, but might switch to Youtube.) Regardless of what I lack and all that I have to do, I’m still moving forward, still keeping my promise.

If you have any suggestions for me, about videos you would like to see me make, or suggestions on how I can learn video making quickly, or people that might want to work with me on video projects — please email me via my contact page. I would love to hear from you, and I am open to any and all suggestions.

Without further adieu… VIDEOS!

One of Many – Part 1 of 2 from AimeeLovesYou on Vimeo.

One of Many – Part 2 of 2 from AimeeLovesYou on Vimeo.

Links to Danielle’s book and Sunday Is For Lovers blog post themes mentioned in the videos:

Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions

Best Friend Emergency

On Your best Day

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

FOCUS on what you love: it’s important.

Everyday Is Amazing

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Rain -and- Shine

rain or shine

For two weeks I’ve been sitting on this point I want to make. I tried writing about it several times. I just keeping thinking about it and not being able to fully flesh out the idea. So instead of being stuck on it, I’m just going to share it. Here it goes…

We often hear the phrase Rain or Shine, it’s basically saying; it’s happening regardless of good or bad, ideal or undesirable. Which is a good thing. I like that idea. But why is it that after all these years, we can’t see that both exist at the same time? Life is always both at once. It’s only our thinking that makes the two feel separate and distinct. And of course that is totally okay and normal, but the problem is, it kind of f*cks up our lives at times. It causes us to be disappointed or feel victimized, or wonder why life could be so cruel and deal such bad hands. No one wants to play a game where they feel they will suffer or receive unfair treatment.

The other day I was walking home and I was looking at the mountains. It’s an amazing view, I wish I could share it with you right now. But see if you can imagine it. The southern Oregon mountain vista was vast, and it was peppered with trees dusted in white snow. In addition to that, there was a rolling stark white mist that looked like dense San Francisco fog. This white fluffy opaque mass masked much of the view. It made it seem as if there were no mountains, much in the same way that the clouds or moon can fully eclipse the sun. If I were only focused on the mist, I would not know that the mountains were right behind it.

When I was crying in the emergency room about my dog being ill recently, if someone were to tap me on my shoulder and say, “Aimee, wow, don’t cry or fear the situation. It will be resolved soon and everything will be okay. Help will eventually be on the way.” At that time, when I was so angry and distraught, I couldn’t see it. All I could see is what I was focusing on. And focusing on it only brought me more suffering, not solutions. It wasn’t until I changed my focus that things started to change for the better.

The same goes for people that were alone during Christmas Day. I was so happy to be alone! It meant that I could do whatever I wanted! But I knew people that told me Christmas Day was very sad for them, and they wished they could have spent the day with friends & family. I thought that was interesting; two people, same day, same situation, but one loved it and the other hated it. Nothing was different. Only our thinking was different. Only what we were focusing on was different. This is why experts advise people that are overweight to not focus on losing weight, but focus on a higher goal. Make it about something else — something more inspiring and empowering.

If you focus on being fat, and how sad or hard it might be to lose weight — you will get more of the same. I think the same would be the case for anyone lonely, broke or in trouble. If you focus on what you dread, it’s only going to bring you more of it. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Bringing it back to my main point, if you are broke, fat, sad or lonely — abundance, health, happiness and companionship do exist in the world. You just have to go out and connect with it! Just like the mountains existed beyond the clouds, or hope existed for me in the emergency room. It was there! It was simply hidden, but it could have been seen if I changed my focus or investigated a bit further.

Another point I want to make is… If you want to shine, you have to go through the rain — literally! Life isn’t always easy, it’s not supposed to be! If we stop thinking in polar opposites, or in a constant state of duality, life would be so much easier. Because we would stop being so hard on ourselves and so hard on life.

No one ever did anything great (or anything gorgeously human) without risk — without rolling up their sleeves and getting all up in it! You have to get up and get in life’s face. You have to challenge it. You have to see what is behind the clouds. We forget that each day of our lives we are at risk. Nothing is ever a given — ever. Tomorrow everything could be different, or over.

We are vulnerable. It’s what makes us so exciting. Think of a rose or a fine meal, or a shooting star, or a baby’s laugh — it’s magical because it’s transitory. Just like our lives are. We are nothing but flowers living for our best season. That’s why I suggest we aim ourselves towards the light and bloom the best we can. We can stay hidden or tight in a bud — that’s actually gorgeous too. Sometimes I like buds, but it’s often undesirable because it’s too safe. It’s too tight, too restricted, too withholding. There isn’t enough self-expression or risk there. There isn’t enough unfolding. In order to do that, we have to be uncomfortable and risk falling apart. Did you hear that? (I should say, did you read that?) You have to risk falling apart. Life is about falling apart. Life is about letting go. Life is about only seeing clouds but knowing that everything else can exist at the same time. It’s not either or. It’s not, Life is Perfect or Life is Imperfect — therefore I’m happy or miserable, I’m either extremely pleased or suffering terribly.

Right now there is so much pain and suffering in the world. I hate to bring this up, but it’s kind of haunting me. Last night I watched a video titled Shaming Fashion Victims on the Street of NYC. (<– click link to view it.) It’s about wearing fur and how cruel it is. At one point, about 3 minutes into the video, there is a scene in a fur factory, where they rip the fur off of animals while still alive. During this scene the animal (who is on a pile of other animals), is alive but skinless, with all of its muscles and ligaments showing. It tilts its head up and looks directly into the camera, with blood dripping off of its doe-like eyelashes. It was alive and fully aware, being completely present and intimate with the camera — and it had an expression on its face that I will never forget.

After watching a video like that, of course I have the thought “How could people wear fur?” As well as, “How could people create factories like that?” and “How could anyone do this to another living being that is completely innocent, fully alive, feels pain and wants to live?” Those are all good questions. So are “How could evil like this exist in the world?” and “How can I go on living with injustices like this happening all around me?” And the best question yet, “How can I help?”

Yes, all those are great questions. But another question might be, “Is there a way I can fully realize that life can appear both bad and good at the same time — and if so, how can I help to make a positive difference in the world, while loving life as it is?” This is what unconditional love is. It’s love in its highest form. When we love like that (and live like that), we have compassion for the animals, and compassion for the one’s that are torturing them or exploiting them out of ignorance. It doesn’t mean that we don’t work towards putting a stop to it. We do! It simply means that more suffering (or more hate) isn’t going to make it any better. That’s the part we let go of, or that part we fall apart to. It’s the part that requires our patience, acceptance and surrender.

Nature allows it all. It allows everyone to live and learn. And because of this, it is the most powerful and most beautiful force I know. I doubt nature has a bad day when it’s raining, or falls into a depression when people are misbehaving or being cruel. I think it just keeps going. It keeps things moving and evolving. It’s wise enough to know that the bright sun and dark clouds can both exist.

This blog post was very hard to put into words. I hope somehow my feelings and thoughts came through in a way that made sense for you. Just know that whatever you see, do, feel or experience in the world — you are loved and your life is precious. Enjoy it the best way you know how. Try to make space for all of life to happen through you. Try to see that the best of life can also happen while the worst is also happening, and that it’s a choice to focus on what will bring us the most fulfillment, joy and peace.

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Brave Little Dog

Brave Little Dog

I want to thank all of you. Thank you for being here and for reading my blog. Your support of last week’s blog post really touched my heart. As many of you know, my dog was very ill this month and I thought she was losing her life. It was a feeling that I had experienced before with her.

I adopted a rescued dog in 2014 that was narrowly saved from being euthanized. I knew when I adopted Pen-Pen (that’s her nickname) that she would need more help than I could probably handle. She had a host of illnesses when I got her, and I wasn’t sure if they were treatable. To my surprise, after only a few months of living with me, Pen-Pen transformed into a new dog! Her health rapidly improved and her personality came alive. But it wasn’t a quick or final fix, a few health issues remained. I continued to work with her and to do the best I could/can. But like the African saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. I, along with many others have helped my dog, both before her adoption and after. And she continues to need the support of everyone. It’s something I had sincerely forgotten, but seeing her rapidly fall ill this month was a sobering reminder of that truth.

When we are in our most compassionate, most loving state, we look at everyone (including ourselves) as if they are children. At our core, we all are. We are all vulnerable, all needing assistance, all wanting nothing more than to be loved and seen. When we see each other in this way, all boundaries and facades fall away. The connection between each other becomes very real and intimate. We instantly feel connected and bonded. We also feel exposed and alive, like bare ecstatic babies.

Last week’s blog post was very challenging for me to share. I felt exposed and vulnerable in a way I hadn’t previously felt or owned up to. I did a lot of thinking (and debating) before I published that blog post. I kept thinking, “Do I really need help? Do I really need to tell people about this?” I did need help, and I did want to tell people about it — but I didn’t want to be judged or seen as needy. In hindsight, I can tell you that opening up to the world (to you!) is one of the best things I have ever done. I say this because I opened my heart to you and you opened your heart to me (& Pen-Pen.) It was a display of humanity at its finest, in a way that is rarely discussed or acknowledged.

A simple definition of the word Humanity is as follows:
the quality or state of being human
the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals
all people

This is who we are, and who we were all being last week. We were being human. We were being kind to each other and kind to animals. We saw ourselves as all people — all living beings. The experience of that is the reason why that blog post, and the connection I made with all of you, is one of the best things I have ever experienced. I was able to see/feel compassion and love from all of you, but also a responsibility to that compassion and love.

When we are alive, it makes sense to have an affinity with others that are alive. Are we not in this together? Are we not made to connect with and support one another? Is life not one big interconnected delicate and deliberate web? It definitely felt that way this month.

I found the most endearing video. It’s a story of a small rescued dog. All that I am trying to describe in this blog post can be seen in this video. You see everyone coming together to save a life, and you see that life wanting to give back in return. …I feel very much like this dog (as he was at the end of the video, so happy and pleased to be loved and helped.)

This video was made possible by Hope For Paws Animal Rescue. Please visit their website and Youtube channel. They are doing amazing work that could use our support and encouragement.

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