Monday, November 30, 2009

Be Yourself. Do What you Love.

A little while ago I posted my 10 Personal Commandments, and I promised to write more about each one in later posts. I've been musing over what to write about the first of my Personal Commandments for a few weeks now... it must surely be at the top of everyone's list of personal commandments - Be Yourself.
It is the most basic, perhaps most obvious, and in theory the most simple thing one can do in life...but somehow it takes most of us a good thirty years to figure out Who we Really Are, and then the rest of our lives learning to Accept who we are, Be who we are, and Love who we are. Perhaps really, this is the very reason we are here. Because the flip side is learning to accept Others as they are, Allow them to Be who they Are, and learn to Love them as they are. (Please excuse the random Use of Caps).
We are all unique. No two people are the same. No two lives are identical and we all look at life from a slightly different perspective. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself, to disagree with the masses, to voice your opinion, to choose your own path, and to live a life that you know is right for you. But there is nothing more soul destroying than doing the opposite - waiting in the wings, going with the flow (which feels more like swimming against the tide when it's not what you believe in), keeping quiet, following the crowd simply to feel accepted, looking for approval in all the wrong places, living behind a mask.

Where and how on earth do we start to live an authentic life?
I think being Yourself is mostly about doing what you Love. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what we really love doing, what makes our hearts sings, what makes time stand still, what brings us the most joy, what excites and inspires us. As Joseph Campbell so famously advised ''Follow your bliss".
But in order to live in the world, and be a part of society, build relationships and friendships, raise a family, earn a living, pay the bills, inevitably there are times when we are going to have to do things which we don't love so much, or don't particularly feel like doing at any given moment. So then it becomes a choice between saying No, or doing what you don't necessarily love doing, but doing it With Love. Not FOR Love, but WITH Love. Because the moment we start doing things For Love, For Approval, For Acceptance, we reinforce the belief that we are not lovable simply as we are, regardless of what we do, say, or think.

So I challenge you from today, to:
Dedicate a good portion of each day to doing Something which you Love, simply because it brings you Joy. If your life is overflowing with commmitments, sit down and prioritise your time so that you dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to yourself. Perhaps the only way you can find an extra 30 minutes is by setting your alarm half an hour earlier (believe me the energy you generate from doing what you love will more than make up for half an hour less sleep). Do whatever it takes to find ways to make time for your passions. Get rid of the unnecessary, time consuming, time wasting tasks that are not feeding your soul.

And then, for the rest of your day, do what you Have to do With Love, knowing that what you are doing fulfils a purpose that makes the life you are living more comfortable and meaningful - whether it is by earning money, building relationships, cleaning your home or preparing food for your family. Eventually you'll find that you start Loving What you Do, simply because you're doing it from your heart.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

by inches

This beautiful poem by Maya Stein was posted on Patti Digh's wonderful blog 37 days.

by inches

You want it here and now, a remedy for everything
gone wrong. A magic wand, perhaps, alighted
on your shoulders. An angel whispering
sweet nothings while you sleep so you wake benighted
with certainty that you are whole once again. You realize
your patience is diminishing, and yet what's required is the reverse.
This will not be some biblical miracle before your eyes,
a transformation of movie star proportions. No, healing is a slow nurse,
pausing bedside with drips of water, a hot cloth, a murmur of a touch.
By inches, a change sneaks into you, even if it doesn't look like much.

Maya Stein

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

life lessons from an inspiring woman

On Sunday a friend lent me a book called "If you want to Write - a book about Art, Independence and Spirit" written by Brenda Ueland and first published in 1938. Brenda was the author of two books and many articles and short stories. She lived to the wonderful age of 93 and during her life was knighted by the king of Norway, and set an international swimming record (for over 80 year olds!)
What an inspiring woman!
She said she had two rules she followed absolutely:
- to tell the truth
- not to do anything she didn't want to do

From the first page her spirit shines through and one cannot help being inspired by her words. I loved it from the first page (and immediately orded my own copy off!). Her opening statement is "Everyone is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to Say". And she spends the rest of the book convincing us with humour and forthright honesty that this is certainly true.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book:

"For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and the poet alive and make it flourish.''

I highly recommend you find yourself a copy of this book and READ IT! Your creative spirit will be eternally grateful!

Monday, November 23, 2009

my word for 2010

Phew, what happened to 2009?
Christmas is a mere 32 days away and 2010 is hot on its heels. Before we know it we'll be waking up on 1st January full of resolutions and good intentions for another fresh start to the new year.

So before we get swept up in the madness of December, I think it's a good time to sit down and take a look back on 2009 - what happened, what we learned, how we've changed - and to take a quiet moment to celebrate our achievements. And usually the most valuable and worthwhile achievements are the ones that are not visible to the world - they're the small and subtle shifts in our ways of thinking, the gradual deepening of our awareness and knowledge, the continuing expansion of our hearts, the taking of another step on our personal journey towards truth and light and love.

And as we reflect and celebrate our personal 2009's, it's worthwhile looking ahead to 2010 and considering how we want to move forward into the new year. What will be our inspiration and intention for the next 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months? What will keep us going on the tough days? What will keep us strong and centred when the world around us is turning upside down?

Christine Kane has some wonderful advice in her post Shout out Your Word and Create your Year starting Now. She advises us to pick a word (just one) that will guide us through the year. Rather than making a long list of resolutions, a ambitious To DO List of goals and objectives, she suggests we start at the BE level and pick an intention for the year. Here are some of my favourite examples from her blog

It's quite a challenge to pick just one, but it's important to stay focused (and there's always next year and the year after!)
Write your word in BOLD letters at the centre of your vision board for 2010 (for more on vision boards see Christine's post How to Make a Vision Board). Put it somewhere as a daily reminder so that everything you think, say and do is infused with this new quality.

I've been thinking about my word for 2010. I haven't yet decided for certain but I am pretty sure my word will be VITALITY.
It seems to sum up how I'd like each day to be - filled with (from the definition of vitality) energy, vivacity, strength, life, and joie de vivre.

I'd love to hear your word for 2010!