Tag Archives: Empowerment

Finding the Value in the Undervalued

It’s New Year’s. I’m celebrating with friends in DC. My DJ husband is spinning records, doing his usual ignore while drinking a bottle of Jack.

turning_midnight

It turns midnight. I’m alone. Another man makes eye contact, and kisses my cheek. I realize I don’t value myself. Another negative self-perception to confront.

value_myself

Age, Impermanence and All That Jazz

 Recommended reading soundtrack:  Explosions in the Sky, “Your Hand In Mine”

“I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time… For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars… And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street… Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper… And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird… And Janie… And Janie… And… Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.” Lester Burnham in the film “American Beauty.”

When I read that quote, when I hear the voice in that quote- no matter how many times- chills run through my body and tears well up in my eyes.  This feeling, although emotional, is an indicator of truth for me.  It epitomizes what the word “age” means to me.  How can we put a value on aging in a culture that markets it as unwanted, something to be resisted?  Every time I find my mind wandering into a fear about aging, I flashback to the version of myself at 21 and I remember how grateful I am to no longer be anywhere in the vicinity of that age.  Kind of like Amanda Peet’s character in the movie “A lot Like Love” (a simple film, yes- but who doesn’t laugh their arse off when she runs into the sliding glass door?) where she is reminded of her punk rock stage in college where she dated angry musicians.    Only I always ended up with drummers.

moonA Time Machine & Magical Spells

Remember Napoleon Dynamite’s brother who can’t let go of his high school football career and is in search of a time travel machine?  I think I would rather endure a Harry Potter spell of vomiting slugs than go back in time.  Especially to high school!  Why?  Because transformation really sweetens the deal in life, and no matter how difficult it gets, I now at least have the emotional tools to deal with things in a more balanced way.  Not everyone has experienced life in the same way- but there is something about age that I just can’t resist deep down.

You Mean I’m going to die?

It is the life, the experience that determines the molding of our belief systems that correlate with our perception of what aging will yield to us.  This includes our infinite potential- all possibilities.  We have a tendency to limit our potential by thinking that age determines something in the abstract about who we are, how we have failed to live up to something that does not even exist.  Do you let expectations about who you are “supposed” to be bring you down, and cloud your enjoyment of life as you age?  Do you remember in your actions that with each day comes the possibility of a life ended?

Sometimes I feel like I am engaged in a race against time. “I have to get this done,” I tell myself.  “If I don’t accomplish this- what will it say about me?  Am I wasting this life?  Am I fulfilling my human purpose to help people and make this world a better place?”  These are all sound questions, but they can get in the way of simply enjoying life as well and seeing how your role unfolds through active, present engagement.  It is the ego’s tendency to put the pressure on, but you can be sure that if you are putting the pressure on yourself to “be” something or “do” something, then you are impeding life’s natural flow and at the same time making yourself miserable.

clock+face+vintage+graphicsfairy6It’s Question Time

Age.  Perhaps the only pressure we should engage in with ourselves as we age should involve the amount of love we hold in our hearts like that balloon that is about to burst- for ourselves and the true beauty of our world as Lester Burnham suggests at the end of his life in American Beauty.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves, when was the last time that we felt “anything but gratitude for every single moment” in our lives and shared that gratitude with those around us?  I am grateful for this moment that I am sharing with you, and hope that together we can approach age as a meaningful gift.   I am also grateful for this opportunity to reflect on my own perception of aging and how it may limit me or empower me to live a life that is engaging and powerful.

Dear Postal Service, Everything Has Changed!

Okay, inspiration comes in many forms.  We just need to trust it when it comes, and feel with our heart what we are feeling with an intention of deep listening.  What do these feelings want to say?  What is this moment revealing for me in the hidden spaces of my heart?  Life moves so fast, we forget about those amazing moments where something in us is pushing the envelope of what we “think” we’re supposed to be doing or where we think we’re going in our life.

I just saw this mini documentary on the Postal Service’s tour made by the “Creators Project.”  In the beginning they were doing interviews with people outside a venue and someone made a comment that almost passed me by, but fortunately I was actually hearing him.  They said how listening to the songs on this tour of their one and only album brought him back to the memories of that time in his life,  his “angsty” high school years.  He said that some of them were good, and some of them were bad (you could tell it was difficult to experience just by the tone of his voice).  As I kept watching and feeling the music, I started experiencing the same thing that this post-angsty dude was talking about!

I fought my tears as I started thinking about when I discovered the Postal Service.  It was 2005 and I was going through a major transition in my life.  Thinking about moving out west from the only place I really knew, my home, which coincidentally was Washington DC.  As I began to process my desire to move, I went through this amazing time in my life where I really discovered myself by being alone after so many years of co-dependency.  I began to fall in love myself and what it was to just “be”.  I enjoyed every moment I had in those quiet places of my heart.

Getting ready for one of my runs!
Getting ready for one of my runs!

The album contributed to a major change in my self-perception.  Every day I would run and run around this middle school track near my house.  Rain or shine- I was out there, feeling the air, listening to the same Postal Service album, listening to my breath change with the moving minutes.  I moved to New Mexico, still listening to that same album, adjusting to a new reality where the only thing my mind had was me.  I remember during my cross-country drive with my Dad he said to me he couldn’t believe I was doing it, and asked me if I was scared.  This was a big deal for my Dad- if you knew him, you’d understand.  He didn’t grow up in a household where people talked about their feelings.  He also does not like change, and this was BIG change for his daughter, his first child, and for him.

I said I just knew that this was right, and that everything was going to work out.  I will never forget his response.  He said he wished he could be like me, and be that sure about something so big.  I will always be grateful to the Postal Service for that album, and the change it inspired in me as it helped me to learn how to love myself and trust change.  And, I will always have that memory of my Father that I will cherish and remember whenever I feel like I just don’t know.

The documentary ended with the song, Some Idealistic Future, where they sang with the audience those words that inspired so much for me, “Everything will change…ooo…ooooo”.  Yes, everything has changed, thank goodness!

Visualize This- Untying the Roots of Perception

Sometimes this picture is the perfect physical expression of how I feel inside.  When I look at this picture right now, I see a beautiful Buddha.  A representation of the creative, divine nature of my being slowly emerging from the lanky, strong root system of an ancient tree obscuring my truth and happiness at this very moment.  That’s right folks, I said it- an ancient tree rooted into the ground with all its might.  Such are my old perceptions and belief systems that give rise to this feeling of helplessness and a desire to run like Forrest Gump from the fire I have created (2 Tom Hanks’ references in once sentence- yes!).  Here I am, wrapped up in feelings that must be connected to a place where my ignorant mind dwells searching for an identity that doesn’t exist like a child playing a game.

I am face to face literally with this part of my existence that is grasping in the form of attachment to some perception of who I am supposed to be- yes this is really how I feel!  This perception is the root I see in this beautiful picture, linked to a feeling of massive overwhelm.  At times I simply wonder why life can feel like this grueling process of emergence when it has the potential to be so simple and easy.  How do we move these roots of obscuration out of way? I hear myself singing the same old song of expectations on how I am “supposed” to be feeling.

It’s Process Time!

When you look at this picture, what do you perceive at this moment?  Start with your feelings and ask yourself-

“What moment, person, or expectation do these feelings link to in my ignorant mind?”

Then breathe in the awareness you have shined into your heart.

Feel how simple it is to love yourself, no matter what you see in the world around you.

Ask to see any barriers you might be imagining between you and your greatest desires and imagine them easily dissolving in this love.

There is an excerpt from a poem by Anne Hillman in the book “365 Prayers, Blessings, and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey” by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon that I’d like to share as it relates-

As we experience and accept
All that we really are…
We grow in care.
We begin to embrace others
As ourselves, and learn to live
As one among many…

Let’s Rock Big Love together everyone, we’re all we truly have on this human journey.

Visualize This- Turning Yourself Inside Out

Each person we meet contains a part of our wholeness.  If you look at a picture of the earth from space- how do you perceive it?  It is luminescent, blue, white, brown- a glowing ball in the middle of space.  From afar you can’t tell that it literally contains everything we experience in our physical world every day- streets, cars, mountains, people, houses, trees, oceans, rivers, little flowers.  Yet every one of these things is a part of the earth’s wholeness.

In thinking about this picture of the earth from the viewpoint of outer space- look at others around you.  Think about your own existence.

How is each person in your life like the earth in this picture?

How much is contained and experienced in their life, that makes them who they are, that you simply can’t see with your naked eye?

Now look within.  Look at your own life and how much you have going on in it.  Everything you see and feel, they experience in their own heart and mind.  We are all a microcosm of the macrocosm.  Our perceptions are fragile, they are not who we are nor are they who the other person is…they serve as tools to navigate and learn.  The foundation of your being exists in what you can’t see from the outside, it is what you see from the inside- always affecting the whole.

“LET’S ROCK BIG LOVE!”™ Jessica
A celebration of our desire to love ourselves Big!

 

Facebook (What is it good for?)- Weekly Writing Challenge

Interchanging the word “Facebook” with the word “War” in the personally preferred Edwin Starr version of the hit Motown classic for my title has been a fun exercise for the day!  I have to thank the Weekly Writing Challenge for instigating this little musical  intrigue in my easily distracted mind.  Now down to business.

I once sat in a teaching by a Tibetan Buddhist nun that compared Facebook to the ultimate ego indulgence.  A place where egos run rampant with their over identification with self.  Where attachment to an “identity” grows stronger with every random post about what so and so ate for dinner or how annoying that guy was for cutting so and so off in traffic.   If I had to pinpoint the one thing that I learned from teaching people how to empower themselves it is that we have a choice in how we treat ourselves, others, and even in our use of a social media tool whether its Facebook, Twitter, or the next big thing.

I didn’t even use Facebook until around 2008, and I am even “of” that generation.  I resisted it until I could find a way to make it work in a meaningful way for me.  When I was training to be a life coach it was important to do your own personal work so you could help others authentically.  A big exercise we did was inventory our “incompletes” and make them “complete.”

This is where you interject, “What the heck is she talking about?”

Thank you for asking!

Incompletes- those little energy suckers (or BIG) that sit in the periphery of your mind, loaded up like a Twinkie with emotions such as guilt, shame.  The emotions never expire much like a Twinkie and its filling- and they clog up your life, unknowingly, like a backed up airplane runway.  You want to take off but “hello!” Traffic strikes again.

That’s when I met Facebook.  There were so many people in my life that I wanted to apologize to, make amends, let them know, “I am grateful for how you showed up in my life,” but couldn’t because how could I find them?  I got on Facebook and like an illuminated sky on a crisp spring morning I cleared my runway of all those stuck airplanes that were weighing me down.  So the question remains- is Facebook the “scourge” of the internet?

HappyBdayResized

There have been lots of posts about how everything is a choice, even Facebook (including mine).  So guess what?  For me it all comes down to perception!  I literally made Facebook “purposeful” and chose to engage with it in a positive, meaningful way where I could heal some old self-inflicted wounds and enrich my life.  And boy did it help me breathe.  To that note, I’d like to sing a rousing “Happy Birthday” and give my gratitude for the lightness I feel in my heart today due to this rocking scourge of the internet.  Perception is a shaky topic because people stand by them like they are a part of their body.  But when I can acknowledge and own the power it plays from the ignorant mind to the purposeful mind, I can determine its role in my life rather than allow “it” to determine me.

In the perfect words of Clark Griswold, “Alleluia!  Where’s the Tylenol?!”  Thanks Mr. Griswold for that perfect ending.

Let’s Rock Big Love!