Thursday, February 27, 2014

Relationships Are Mirrors (Whether we like it or not!)

Being in "relationship" with friends, family, and lovers, is an essential element of a deeply satisfying life. One of the most basic human needs is to be in close community with others, to feel that we "belong". This stems from physiological needs for safety and survival, but there is also a great emotional need in most of us to share our life experiences with others. Being in a close relationship with another human can be immensely rewarding, extremely challenging, and sometimes both simultaneously!

All relationships are mirrors, reflecting back to us the positive, loving, wonderful things about ourselves, and if we're willing, helping us to see where our wounds are, and where we need healing. The people we attract and are attracted to mirror back to us our deeply-rooted beliefs about relationships, and for better or worse, the qualities we ourselves have.

I believe that life is a classroom and relationships are like the "lab" portion, where we get to practice what we are learning. We attract and are attracted to interact with certain people because of things we need to see or learn about our lives and ourselves. When someones behavior "pushes our buttons", they are mirroring some deep, negative self-belief back to us, which is uncomfortable for us to look at. So our initial instinct and ego-based defense mechanism is to judge them guilty and push them away, or in extreme cases to lash out so they will leave the relationship.

When someone does something that "drives us crazy", or that we find ourselves judging them for, instead of pointing our finger we need to look within ourselves to see why this behavior bothers us so much. (Like the old saying goes "When I point a finger at you, there are three more pointing back at me!") Instead of focusing our attention on the other person, we need to ask ourselves "What is it about me that finds your behavior so irritating?" When we look inward and honestly assess our own emotional state, we usually find that the negative feelings are actually about our "shadow side". We discover that what is being "irritated" or causing our feeling of discomfort, is our dislike of our own possession of the quality or behavior that's being reflected. If we're willing to do the work, this is in fact a huge opportunity for our own healing and emotional growth!

When we learn to forgive ourselves for being human and therefore imperfect, it becomes much easier to forgive others for the same. When we find compassion for ourselves, letting ourselves "off the hook" for mistakes and imperfections, we are able to be compassionate with others. Once we learn to love and accept all parts of ourselves, it becomes much easier to love and accept others exactly as they are. Their faults and flaws will no longer annoy us, interacting with them will no longer be irritating, and life becomes much more peaceful. So the next time someone "pushes your buttons", remember to look in the mirror!

The Changing Face of the Goddess

If you read my blog regularly, you may already be aware that I am currently writing a series of books for girls and women called "The Spiritual Girl's Guide to Love and The Universe." It seems to me that too many girls grow up and go through life with a low sense of self-value, feeling badly about themselves and settling for relationships and situations that are far less than they deserve. I think that modern society reinforces these negative self-perceptions by presenting largely unrealistic and practically unattainable ideals of beauty through perfection. Through my blog, books, facebook page, and women's circles, I passionately hope to help women of all ages to discover and treasure their own unique light, and the incredible beauty that lies in their "imperfections". For like snowflakes we are all unique, but all beautiful in our own way.

This video (link below) is a wonderful illustration that what is considered to be "beautiful" in a woman changes dramatically and often over the ages. I hope it will serve as a reminder not to compare yourself to what is considered by society to be "beautiful", as beauty is subjective and is truly in the eye of the beholder!

You are the most amazing , beautiful version of YOU that has ever existed or ever will exist! Revel in your uniqueness, and know that those who truly love you find you beautiful and perfect, exactly as you are.

Video by Phillip Scott Johnson

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

1 New Year, 7 New Possibilities!

I don't really make New Year's resolutions, because let's face it they rarely last more than a week. But I do love the very idea of January 1st each year. I see it as a blank slate, a fresh start, a time for a new beginning. It's like the very moment before creation, where absolutely anything is possible! Dreams can come true no matter how big, lives can change in amazing ways in the blink of an eye. Each year in this positive, excited, optimistic state of mind, I like to contemplate all the new possibilities of how I can live my life for the next 365 days. Here are a few that I'm considering for 2014:

1. Watch more sunsets. Every day the Universe puts on two spectacular shows, known as "sunrise" and "sunset." Not being a morning person pretty much rules out the first one, but if I am willing to be a little more intentional, I can likely catch the second one on a semi-regular basis. Watching a sunset for me is the equivalent of petting a fluffy kitten, or staring at an aquarium. It's centering, calming, blood-pressure-lowering, and a daily dose of soul-soothing natural beauty.

2. Flirt more. I'm going to flirt with everyone, men, women, children, dogs, the grocery check out clerk, the fed-ex deliverer, the mom and 3 kids at the playground, the 85 year old usher at church. My mother was a Southern girl and boy, did she know how to flirt! Yes, she had men of all ages wrapped around her little finger, but she had the ability to focus her attention on every person she interacted with and to make them feel special, like they really mattered. Flirting was second nature to her, and after years of resisting "turning out like my Mother," I now realize how awesome she was in this way. So I'm going to flirt more, not to get a specific outcome, just to show up as love. There is not enough love in the world, we are too stingy with our love. What is it for if not to give away?

3 Listen more. This goes hand in hand with "talk less." I think we all need to feel that we are heard, that someone really "gets" us and what we have to say. But most conversations are two people talking "at" one another, each thinking about what they want to say next while the other is speaking instead of really listening. In 2014 I want to become the world's best listener.

4. Eat healthier. Like probably 99% of the general population in the U.S., I would like to lose a few pounds this year. Preferably the 10-12 that I "found" over the last 2 years. But after a lifetime of "yo-yo-ing" I have come to the stunning realization that "diets" don't work. At least not long term, not for me. So I've made a new decision. Before I put a food item in my mouth I will ask myself this simple question "Is it healthy and good for me?" (At this point in my life I pretty much know what's healthy and what's not.) If the answer is yes, then I will eat it. If the answer is "no" then I'll make a different choice. Period.

5. Move more. Forget "exercising," I want to PLAY. I want to dance. I want to jump on a trampoline, roller skate, and ride a bike down a hill as fast as I can go. I want to have more fun while moving my body. When we were kids we didn't "exercise," we went out to play and had fun! Time to get back to "playing".

6. Be gentle with myself. I try to be a kind person. I give people the benefit of the doubt and multiple "second" chances. It's time I treated myself the same way, to love myself despite my perceived flaws and faults, to allow myself to be an imperfect human. I am realizing that as long as something is learned from the experience there are no mistakes, only lessons.

7. Allow things (and people) to be what they are. If I can find compassion for myself (see #6) it will be much easier to have compassion for others. I think we spend way too much valuable time and energy trying to make people and relationships "fit" our expectations. I'm going to try to let people show up (or not) the way they are, and to love them anyway. "People show us who they are." I'm going to start believing them, the first time!

*Author's note: It's February 6th, and some of these possibilities have already fallen by the wayside. However, I am going to forgive myself and start over! After all, each new day brings a new beginning....