New Year, Give Yourself The Ultimate Gift; A Journey Within

December 30, 2011 by  
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As the year draws into a close, many of us reflect back to our personal highs and lows.  Even people who are not totally convinced of the end followed by a new beginning, get pulled into the general feeling of warm hugs, introspection and slowing down.

Today, I went out with a friend who I have known since I moved to Los Angeles in 1994.  Out of the blue he looked at me and said: “You should live in Europe.  Probably Paris.  Yes, that’s the right place for you.” A bit puzzled I asked him: “Why?”  To which he answered: “Because Europe is so artistic, I think it is a more accurate reflection of you.” Without missing a beat I said: “I’m exactly where I want to be.”

Afterwards, I thought about my answer: I’m exactly where I want to be.  Wow.  How many people can say that?  Now, I don’t live in a mansion or on the beach or have amazing views.  It is not the house.  It is my state of being.  I am exactly where I want to be.

The realization made me smile.  After all, I had spent decades trying to figure out how to be at peace in my own skin.

I, like most people, had thought I would find contentment if I had the right partner, or plenty of money, or position, or the admiration of many only to realize feeling good comes from within. Feeling good comes from a close relationship with the self.

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Ben Breedlove – A Portrait in Courage Part II

December 29, 2011 by  
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Ben Breedlove – A portrait in Courage Part I

December 29, 2011 by  
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A Home Is A Home Is A Home

December 26, 2011 by  
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A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body – Benjamin Franklin

As we approach the end of the year and things are quieting down I too take my days in with less hurry.  As I do, I’m brought back to how much my home is important to me, and how much a home is important to anyone.

In the classic film “Gone With The Wind” Scarlett O’Hara drew her strength from her plantation, Tara.  I’m sure it was not the structure of the house or its riches that made Scarlett endure anything and everything to save her house.  It was because her house was her home.

A home can be a studio apartment or a mansion.

It truly has no relationship with money.  Many feel alone in a mansion while others fulfilled in a simple small apartment.  Feeling home is not physical, it is emotional.  A home comforts, soothes and protects.

Make the time to turn your house into a home.  Without a home one does not have a resting place to energize and let go.

Find what makes you smile and surround yourself with those things.  Find what inspires you.  Make your home be a reflection of you.

From the web:

1)      Home is where the heart is.

2)      Home Sweet Home.

3)      You can travel the world to search for what you need, but when you return home, you’ll find it.

4)      There’s no place like home.

5)      You can buy a house but you have to make it a home.

6)      A home is not defined by its structure but by the people who fill it.

7)      A person who hopes to change the world must begin at home.

8)      It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

9)      There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

10)  Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

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Life Tools

December 23, 2011 by  
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One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop – G. Weilacher

1 – Learn to let go

Living in the moment requires releasing control of any outcome.  We are here in this moment and in this situation.  Where the future goes it’s not so important.  Where we are is.

2 – Keep your expectations in check

Having expectations on how things should be often robs us from actually appreciating things as they are.

We often have specific expectations and anything even a hair below the mark, to the right or to the left, keep us from enjoying the experience.

3 – Silence your inner judgment

Harsh self-criticism chains us down and keeps us from feeling light and free.  Life has many difficulties and obstacles and adding our inner chatter accomplishes nothing.  Psychology refers to this type of self-criticism as neurosis.  We don’t need it.

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Learn To Appreciate Who You Are And What You Have

December 21, 2011 by  
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If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get – Frank A. Clark

One of the great stumbling blocks for being content right now is our constant need to wish we were someplace else or that our lives were different.  How many of us have said or thought: “I’m going to be happy when I get XYZ” or “I’m holding off experiencing XXX for when I have XYZ.”  Here’s a news flash: we may never get or have XYZ or at least in the manner we dream about.  So does that mean we give up on being content?  Absolutely not; we give up in not living our lives today for a future which may or may never happen.

Concentrating and appreciating who we are and the lives we have today is key to lightness of the heart.  Listening to what others are doing with jealousy and badgering ourselves over what we don’t have, results in frustration and unhappiness; there is no need for that.  Every single one of us has enough reasons to appreciate our lives TODAY.   We can certainly give merit to our relationships.  We can certainly give merit to our accomplishments.  And we can certainly give merit to our plans and to who we are.  We can also give merit to the simple and free pleasures; nature, and whatever pleasures you fancy like a great meal, a glass of wine of a delicious cup of coffee.  It is really truly up to us.

Instead of wishing for the job, money, partner that we want and may not have yet; let’s enjoy the friends, family or accomplishments already achieved.  Let’s strategize where we want to go, but let’s live in the present.  Let’s find in each moment the richness that creates it, because even in loss and sadness there is great wisdom to be experienced.

Don’t sell yourself short and trash the life you have for an imaginary happiness.  Because the truth is: happiness and contentment are not results from anything outside ourselves.  It all comes from within.  And if you agree with that statement it is in your reach to achieve contentment right NOW.

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Inside Grief Lies A Seed Of Hope

December 19, 2011 by  
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Photo By Angie Rubin

Grief is the agony of an instant. The indulgence of grief the blunder of a life – Benjamin Disraeli

As we go through life we lose friends, relatives, parents, looks, youth, wealth, health, jobs, reputation, possibilities, opportunities, love and at the end of it all, life itself. Wanting or not loss is part of the human experience. Denying it leaves us in limbo.

Great grief takes away the ground from under our feet. We falter and look for support. It hurts deeply and it often feels like it’s going to swallow us whole. Grief brings a period of mourning, introspection and the possibility of growth.

Grief without transformation devastates.  Like a deadly virus it eats away at hope, enthusiasm, and beauty leaving behind only sadness and despair.

Many of us experience grief as a form of fear. The fear of life itself swallowing us whole and leaving us trapped.

Grief, as hard as it is, needs to be acknowledged and given respect.  There is no other way.  In our weakest moment we are asked to find the courage to walk through the loss and feel its full impact.  But as we do so, something amazing takes place.  For the courage we show, we receive knowledge and understanding in return.  And at the end of our journey our hearts will see life and the world in a different way.

We learn to appreciate the simple things that take place in our daily lives.  A word from a friend means more and a spontaneous laughter more gratifying.  We also gain the organic knowledge that life is fleeting but our inner-strength steady.  Love for ourselves and compassion for others becomes the side-effect of loss.

Grieving is not easy and not something anyone looks forward to.  But when time does come we must be brave and put our arms around it and in loss we find our own transformation. It is the cycle of life.

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Can You Afford To Be Vulnerable?

December 16, 2011 by  
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“If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely.” — Mitch Albom

There is a great difference between being tough and being strong.  Tough is a posture. Strength is the result of lessons learned and wisdom acquired. Opening our hearts and being vulnerable is a consequence of being strong.

When we are afraid of emotions it is often because our core is not strong enough.  We are afraid of life’s intensity.  And we are afraid to feel hurt.  When we feel stronger we can let go of our defense mechanisms and experience life in all its intensity.

But how do we get stronger? By creating an intimate relationship with our own selves. By learning to listen to our inner-voice. By trusting who we are and our abilities.

When we are stronger our emotions flow easily, because we know we don’t have to hide; we will not crumble.  Our vulnerability becomes anchored in the wisdom we have gained from being open to life’s experiences.  And life is richer for that.

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The Difference Between Loneliness And Solitude

December 14, 2011 by  
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Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement – Alice Koller

 

 

Although loneliness and solitude are often thought to be the same experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

Loneliness manifests itself as a sense of emptiness and isolation while solitude creates a sense of communion with the self.

In loneliness we ache.  In solitude we feast. In loneliness we have no one.  In solitude we are one with the self.

It is in solitude that we learn to hear our own voice, to recognize and appease the pain and to celebrate who we are.

In solitude we clear out the clutter.  We ask and answer such questions as: What’s really important to me?  What do I really want?

It is also we solitude that we provide ourselves with simple and meaningful joys.

The only way to end loneliness is through solitude because we are never alone if we are connected to ourselves.

So how do we come to create and appreciate solitude?  By taking the time to be by ourselves, to relax and to listen to what really is going on within us.  It is also by soothing ourselves with simple activities such as: a bath, a glass of wine, music or meditation.

Solitude is precious time with the self.  It is where we plan our next steps.

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Should We Take Advice From Others?

December 12, 2011 by  
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Photo By Angie Rubin

I love to talk.  I love sharing everything that goes on in my head.  I also often ask others: What do you think?

Every person that I ask that question of gives their best shot when answering.  They think about my issue and using their love and care for me respond with honesty.  This can be a truly satisfying exchange if my objective is by using dialogue, explore different possibilities.  But it can also be damaging if I accept the other person’s point of view as my own without that being the case.

The reason is pretty simple: the way each of us sees the world is a result of our own set of values.  What is important to others may not be important to us or vice-versa.

When a friend or a family member gives their opinion it is based on what would make them satisfied.  Not necessarily on what would make us happy.

Making decisions has to do with taking actions that are in accordance with our personal sense of right and wrong.  Making the “correct” decision means maintaining harmony between who we are and how we behave.  And that only us can know.

If we use dialoguing with others as a way to explore our own choices and possibilities then it is a great experience.  But if we follow what others think because we’re uncertain or because we are afraid of taking responsibility for our unique choice, we may end up finding ourselves in trouble.  We most certainly have a better chance of creating harmony with our actions if they are the result of self-exploration.

So dialogue with others but remember in the end it is only you that you need to satisfy with your actions.

There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself; but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life – Henry David Thoreau

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