Month: October 2021

Love Yourself


I’ve been thinking about self-love a lot lately. How important it is to say yes to yourself, and decide to change your life, because every day is a new chance for you to find, and live that best version of yourself. It’s a hard concept to imagine when we live in a world that does its best to keep you believing you can’t be happier, or content.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and even if you stay committed to the ideals of gratitude and saying yes to yourself– you’ll still have bad days. You’ll always have tough moments, and loss, and anger. That’s okay. That’s life. But you don’t have to stay trapped in the silt, you can rise through all that muck and burst out like a lotus reaching for the sun.

Or think of life like the four seasons- it’s always a cycle. People often think of winter as a bad time because in a lot of places- it’s cold, snowy, and overcast. But winter, or those tough periods of life, can be seen as a time of reflection, a time to hunker down and stay cozy so that when the sun does come back, and those flowers begin to bloom- you’re fully able to appreciate the beauty of it all.

That’s what self-love is- it’s being gentle with yourself when times are tough but pushing yourself to still seek out all the amazing things life can offer you and your own soul.

Maybe you already have some ideas about what this looks like, but in case you don’t, I wanted to give you some ideas about what self-love looks like.

A lot of self-love is really the self-care stuff you might already be great at — taking a bath, treating yourself to something special, going to bed early, or watching that favorite movie that makes you cry because it just feels good to cry sometimes.

Self-love is also eating healthy most of the time, and still knowing that it’s okay to indulge sometimes with that piece of cake, or that calorie heavy bowl of pasta. Self-love is treating yourself, as often as your finances allow it, to higher quality products that are better for you. Self-love is moving your body as often as you can, whether it’s taking a walk, or dancing while cleaning, or following an exercise routine you saw on YouTube.

Self-love is learning to pay attention to the negative words and phrases you say about yourself, and re-writing those old tapes with positive things. It’s telling yourself that you are enough and that you deserve to be loved, instead of thinking you’re not enough.

Self-love is drinking more water, and less soda. It’s drinking more greens juice, and cutting back on caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine can strip the body of valuable nutrients.

Self-love can be spending less time on social media, and more time reading things that make you happy. Less time on social media in general can have positive effects on your mental well being.

Self-love is re-discovering, or putting more energy into your hobbies. Are you creative, but don’t dedicate the time? Do you like to learn new things- but never seem to have the mental energy anymore? Do you like to always try new things- but never have the time? Self-love is finding a way, anyway, to let these things back in your life.

Self-love can be making positive financial changes. Will saving more, whatever that amount might be, help you to finally take that trip you’ve always known would change your life? Focus on that.

Self-love is letting go of toxic relationships and trusting that you deserve better in your life. This one is especially hard, because for so many- the toxic relationships are those closest to you. It’s parents or siblings that hurt you more than help you, and friends that only take, and never give.

Self-love is looking at the things in your life that make you unhappy and committing to changing that. That can be going to therapy to work through negative self-thoughts or old/current trauma. It can be changing jobs because the idea of your work fills you with dread and despair.

Now, I know I shared a lot of examples here and you don’t need to completely upend your entire life trying to do all of this at once. That said, there are a great many people that have said they found their happiest self after letting go of everything at once and making a great, big leap.

For those of you that aren’t ready to jump off the cliff, and find yourself on the way down, pick even a few of these ideas and commit to them. Write those dreams, and ideals down somewhere, so you see it and hold yourself to a higher standard.

Self-love is, more than anything, knowing your own worth.

It’s knowing that life is meant to be enjoyed and loved. You shouldn’t spend your time being dragged through the mud, or being treated poorly, because you think somehow it will make you stronger, or better. You already are strong. You already are enough. You are precious, and unique, and beautiful.

Let your life reflect those beliefs.

Live your best life by loving yourself.

In Gratitude,

Robin


Robin Lee is a medical intuitive, author, mentor, gratitude advocate, and speaker who has helped thousands of people around the world understand the language of their bodies. Robin believes that our bodies innately know how to balance and heal themselves if given proper care and support. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter, where she shares tips, tools, and techniques to honor our bodies and heal our lives!

Image courtesy of Puwadon Sang-ngern.

When Sparking Joy Is Not Enough: Releasing My “Fantasy Self”


This year has been one of letting a lot of things go. Before this year, I’d struggled with clutter my whole life, even as a Buddhist who practiced cultivating non-attachment diligently. I would walk into a room and marvel at just how much stuff I’d accumulated.

I’m not entirely sure what the tipping point was for me. But after a year and a half of being (more or less) trapped in my house, I have become exhausted by my stuff. What I realized, after being home so much is that I long for the days of travel, when I could move from place to place lightly. Where I had only what I needed and not much more. Where I didn’t have to open my closet or kitchen cabinets and feel the pang of regret or shame of all the things I had spent money on but wasn’t actually using.

When I embarked upon this process, I knew that emotions would come up. There would be family or sentimental items I wouldn’t want to part with—and I gave myself permission to keep anything that felt too difficult. I knew that there would be things I found that would be garbage: broken or expired or otherwise not donate-able. And I gave myself the permission to learn from those mistakes without shame.

What I didn’t anticipate was releasing what (I’ve now learned) the minimalism community calls, “The Fantasy Self.” I didn’t even know I had a fantasy self!

This is an idealized image of ourselves that we hold in our minds—or the perfect image of how we want to appear to others. This might be an emulation of a real or fictional person who’s had a big impression on us. Or this might be an aspirational version of ourselves: perhaps one who has more time, money or energy. The Fantasy Self might point toward what we want more of in life or how we would like to be spending our time in an ideal world.

This is a version of ourselves that we may buy for, but doesn’t really exist. We might buy crafts projects for the Fantasy Self who has loads of time and skill for crafts—that then go undone. We might buy fancy dresses for our social butterfly Fantasy Self when, in reality, we don’t actually go to very many fancy events.

Over the years, I’ve bought beautiful but impractical shoes; magazine-worthy home decor that collected immense amounts of dust; and gourmet items I never got around to actually cooking. Your mileage may vary.

In short, this fantasy self can feel quite connected to our dreams and ambitions for ourselves. Which means that it can feel complicated to let go of that Fantasy Self: it can create feelings of shame or regret. And it means that letting go of those Fantasy Self items that are going unused in our homes—and quite physically standing in the way of our real lives—can feel highly emotional.

When we’re purchasing these things, we’re not purposely being wasteful or unrealistic. We honestly believe that we’re going to become the Fantasy Self who would use these things. We genuinely want the experience of being the kind of person who would use these items.

I personally had to grieve certain parts of myself: in both admitting to myself that these items belonged to my “Fantasy Self” and in letting go of the items themselves. It’s not that these things aren’t beautiful or valuable. To borrow a cliche from the realm of decluttering: they did spark joy!

But what I’ve learned is that, for me, sparking joy is not enough.

My time and space and mental bandwidth is too valuable for things that only spark a fleeting sense of joy, but don’t meaningfully add to my real, actual, imperfect life.

Of course, I felt guilt for the waste—and tried to re-home my items in as low-waste a way as possible. But in decluttering my Fantasy Self, I’ve also developed an immense amount of compassion for myself and my dreams. Those parts of myself that were yearning to break through and breathe. Letting go and developing non-attachment is honestly worthless without that compassion.

In this process of letting go of these items, I thought that I would have to let go of the Fantasy Self who helped me accumulate them in the first place. And, to some extent, that’s true. My Fantasy Self may not have nearly the inventory in my house that she used to. Which is okay.

I’m not living for the imaginary, the fantasy or the future anymore.

I’m more playfully embracing the life I really have and appreciating it for what it is. But what that Fantasy Self represented is still warmly welcome. This is the part of me that loves beauty and has big dreams. This is the part of myself that craves adventure and curates her home and life intentionally. She has a lot to offer. What I’ve learned in this process is that I don’t have to cater to her every whim, but she’s still welcome to sit at the table.


Christy Tending is an activist, educator, and writer. She teaches online courses about sustainable self-care to students all over the world, and hosts the podcast Tending Your Life. She lives on occupied Ohlone territory (Oakland, CA) with her family. You can learn more about her work at www.christytending.com.

Image courtesy of Elizaveta Dushechkina.

Shoham Arad: Ideas Into Action

Anyone can have a big idea. But how do those big ideas come to fruition and grow? Director of the TED Fellows program Shoham Arad walks us through several speakers who turned a spark into a movement.

My Purpose was Hidden Behind My Greatest Obstacles

I truly believe that before I came into this world, God asked me ‘what would you like to do in this life?’ And I responded, ‘I want to teach about self-reliance.’ And God said, ‘then we better get your butt into an orphanage.’

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

You know the movie scene where the ship captain sees weather on the horizon, and when the storm hits, he’s up in the crow’s nest cursing the wrath of God?

That was me in my early twenties.

Angry, depressed, overweight, addicted – lost at sea. But then, things began to change. I turned my attention elsewhere and since have completely adjusted the sails.

Clouds on the Horizon

I grew up in a small town in Iowa. I’m the youngest of four brothers, and until a certain age, I experienced a relatively mundane childhood.

Unfortunately, you can’t see trauma coming like clouds forming on the horizon, and boy was I in for one heck of a storm.

Weathering Conditions

When I was around 10 years old, I was playing basketball in our driveway, my usual afternoon activity. However, one evening, my game was interrupted by something unexpected.

This night, a police car and a shiny black sedan pulled up beside our house, and out of it emerged a uniformed officer and our Priest – an ominous fleet.

The next thing I remember is running into the house after hearing the desperate screams of my mother, who was sprawled on the floor in a fit of agony.

My brother, Erik, who was just 17 years old at the time, had lost his life in a motor vehicle accident along with his best friend John. It was a devastating blow, and like waves pounding the hull, the years to follow were riddled with uncertainty, anxiety, fear, fighting, divorce, substance abuse, and at times, despair.

“When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear”

Fast forward 10 years. I’m living life on my own and carrying all of that unaddressed trauma with me. I’m overweight, depressed, borrowing money from family members, and living a life void of purpose.

Then, I came across a book. It wasn’t the first time this book had slipped into my consciousness, though. When I was 18 a dear friend offered it to me, but as the old saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

The book was called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. It’s a translation of the Tao Te Ching, a book written in China by a man named Lao Tzu. The Tao was written 500 years before the bible and offers 81 verses that are a guide to living the Way.

I began to study and practice the lessons, and soon after, I noticed things start to change. As if the universe stopped colluding against me, and started orchestrating for me, the right people showed up, the opportunities showed up, the energy to take on new tasks showed up. Most importantly, however, I found a proficiency for allowing inner peace to prevail no matter the situation.

Finding the Calm After the Storm

As I sit here writing this, now 31 years old, I am filled with so much gratitude for everything that has shown up in my life. I am a Registered Nurse, I’m married to an amazing woman, and we have incredible pets and a quaint house where all of our dreams become manifest.

But it’s not just the “good” that I’m grateful for. I’m also grateful for the hardship that’s led me to this place.

My struggles, and the knowledge that has led me to overcome them, are all part of this divine purpose that I seek to fulfill daily. Truly, my purpose was hidden behind my obstacles all along.

All that weather, all that time in the crow’s nest, now lives in my mind as part of my education.

Because those experiences led to the dissolution of my so-called “self”, and what remained evaporated in the warmth of something greater.

Once again as the ship captain, I’m now gazing into sunny skies. Not even that, I am the sky, and the ground, I see myself in everything that enters my experience.

In instant acknowledgment of the light bouncing off of everything that I see, I see all as a reflection of the divine that flows through me.

Conclusion

When I look back now, there never really was a storm. All of that anger, fear, and emotional struggle, were just symptoms of a narrative I created to try to make sense of the pain.

But we’re all the authors of our own unique story, nobody else can write it for you. You, and only you, are in control of how you perceive everything that has led you to where you are right now.

My purpose was hidden behind my obstacles, and that purpose is to share my story and help those who find themselves stuck in the crow’s nest.

Have you had a similar experience overcoming trauma and adversity? How has that experience shaped who you are today? Post your experience in the comments section below and show others that they, too, can rewrite their story.

For more on the healing power of the Tao Te Ching, check out my course entitled A Journey of Transformation: Applying the Principles of the Tao Te Ching.

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

– Franz Kafka

my purpose

Not Everyone Needs To Follow Their Passion

Everyone nowadays thinks that the pinnacle of self-expression and self-actualization is to follow your passion. The thinking goes that you must be passionate about work or you are basically dead and living a worthless life.

In fact, this has become somewhat of a litmus test to assess whether we are living a good life or even whether we are living a valuable life. It seems that the common thinking has become that if we don’t follow our passions, then we are wasting our life, that we are asleep, we are lazy or scared.

But that is not the case.

Not everyone’s life is defined by their work. And not everyone’s passion is their work.
Following your passion can mean more than one thing. As long as we have passion in our lives somewhere, as long as we are passionate about something, then we are living a life that’s worth living.

Because life should have passion as well as stability, life should have play and excitement, as well as structure and continuity. And maybe your work supports your other passions, those things that move you, like travel, friends, or your family.

So what do I have to say to people who are decidedly and, even consciously, not following their passion because they have other passions? I say, go forth and do you.

Because following your passion is not always an easy choice nor is it a sure path to happiness and I can tell you that because I follow my passions (in the plural) when it comes to work.

Unless you are doing this for one reason and only one reason, following what you consider your passion, will leave you frustrated and disappointed.

I will get to that reason shortly, but first, let’s talk about why following your passion is not always what people think it is.

Firstly, following your passion is not a road paved with gold that leads to millions of pounds and untold riches. Most people who follow their passion build things brick by brick and often, especially if your passion involves the creative arts or entrepreneurship, you are likely to be broke at times, sometimes frequently, and for lengthy periods of time.

And trust me, financial instability is not for the faint of heart. Moving back in with your parents, which is what I had to do in my 30s, is probably not going to be the highlight of your life.

I am not saying that you can’t make money following your passions, because right now is one of the best times ever for doing what you love, just because we live in such a globalized world with so much access, but that doesn’t make it a surety or easy.

The bigger pie, to which we now all have access, has just as many people with spoons at the ready … and they are eager and hungry! And also, if you do this for the money, you most likely won’t survive, because making money through your passions is a long game, not a short one. I know of people that basically worked for free for 7 years before they started making a sustainable income.

Secondly, following your passion doesn’t mean it’s fun. I know, I know. Now I am really ruining it for you. But this is what I mean; it is still work. You have to show up every day and put in the hours and there will be things that, just like with any job, you don’t enjoy doing. In my work, for instance, the passion for what I do is an overall feeling, rather than a daily feeling of elation and joy.

I love building things that mean something to myself and others, and I love to express my ideas through words as well as design (in the case of my fashion business), but am I passionate about updating the website? No. Am I passionate about social media? Not really.

There are a multitude of tasks I dislike as much as you dislike about your work and following my passion doesn’t make these mundane tasks more fun, it just makes them a little more meaningful, because they are part of the whole. I can understand why I need to do them, but I don’t always enjoy them.

I think this one is important to focus on, and think about, because so many people say, admiringly, to their crazy friends, who are bravely following their passion, something along the lines of, ‘well, at least you enjoy it’ or ‘it must be great fun’. Sometimes, it is great fun. But sometimes it’s not and sometimes it’s boring and sometimes it basically sucks.

Thirdly, there is a myth that by following your passion, you have more flexibility and a better work-life balance. Again, incorrect. Obviously, this depends on the industry, but you may actually have less of a balance because, if you are obsessed with your work, like me, it’s difficult to draw a line between work and play.

When you love what you do, you can find that you really need to be conscious of carving out time for other things, which, in the long term, you would be sad to miss out on in your life experience.

It’s also the case that your schedule is often determined by the demands of your customer and suppliers and other stakeholders. If you are the boss or a freelancer, you are not necessarily more in charge of your day or calendar, at least not for a long time.

So far, I am making this sounds hopeless and pointless. And so I’ll answer the question: Why do we follow our passion? What is the one and only reason you should follow your passion?

The answer is this – because you cannot not do it. You must do it. You are called to do it. And that voice keeps whispering through years and years, even if you try and ignore it. You can’t live without it and, if you had to, your life would be smaller, dimmer, less fulfilling, and one in which your full talent and potential are not being given life.

That is the only reason. Not for money, not for fame, nor for ease, not because you’re bored, not because it’s cool to have a business or start-up or foundation or creative venture, not for access to men or women, not for status or power.

Only because you seem to have no choice but to follow the call, and that call is as much a part of you as your blood and bones.

So, think about your reason. Before you dive into pursuing your passion, with all the trials and tribulations that path sometimes includes, and all the sacrifices in time, money, and relationships; think about what’s important to you.

Because, truly, not everyone needs to follow their passion at work to have a life filled with passion and meaning!

What do you think? Do you pursue your passion for a living? And why?

following your passion

Your Blank Page


Each morning is a blank page on which all of us get the opportunity to write our life story. And as a blank page, there’s an inherent message – you get to choose what you want to write. Also, because none of us exists in a vacuum, pieces and parts of our already and ongoing narrative will need to be incorporated. It’s in these details that our active creative spirit must be engaged, otherwise we’re letting our outer circumstances dictate our personal narrative, a surefire way to misery and a great deal of personal suffering. Oh, I’ve suffered a lot, so far be it for me to throw a rock in this glass house. I’m just a simple messenger, back from the frontlines of life to share with you what I’ve learned.

Taking hold of our daily personal narrative is absolutely an art form because it’s so easy to strangle it by trying to control it.

But our life story is a lot like a wave in the ocean, we have to learn how to work in tandem with the powers of mother nature, or in the case of our narrative, with the universal flow or we tend to get crushed. Fate and destiny play a part in our story as well. Our entelechy, etched into our souls, will endeavor to unfold us in every moment, and to the extend that we partner with this innate and internal force of our becoming, is the extent to which we thrive.

For me, writing has a transformative and often healing nature to it. Having this awareness, which I’ve tested for and on myself over many years, has supported me in being an active participant in the personal narrative of my own life. I write out my visions. I write the details of my dreams. I write my intentions. And I write descriptively, filling each line with the most specific details I can think of, and once that’s done, I know deep in my heart that I am now an active partner with the great forces of the universe.

This is the co-creative element of writing your new narrative, an action, that should you decide to experiment with it, will require your full participation.

But here’s the thing, creating can be so much fun, messy at times for sure, but think of what comes out of creating – babies, art, a new home or business – all are birthed from our creative life force, and actively writing our narrative makes us the co-designers of our lives, partnering with the universe as we create each of our days anew, and over time the chapters and ultimately the book of our lives.

I know not everyone sees their lives as a blank page just waiting for the details, and that’s okay. If you are someone who does, or if you’re someone who’s curious to try this out, take a little time in the quiet hours of your morning or late in the evening, and write out what you see for yourself. You could focus on new work you’d like to do. You could write about a relationship you’re wanting to create. Or maybe you’re wanting to improve your health. What would that look like? Write it out. And don’t leave any detail unturned. Try to think of everything you’d do and experience if you were to be the healthiest you you could be. I have found that when I do this it’s like writing a map for where I’d like to go.

What will you write on your blank page today? The choice is, I believe, yours. Write away, have fun, and see where it takes you. Personally, I can’t wait to see.


Barry Alden Clark is a writer and professional life coach. His work is focused on helping people live their best lives by acting as a guide for them to connect more deeply with their internal life force where creativity, purpose, and true freedom reside, while using humor, compassion, and kindness as hallmarks for the process of personal evolution. Recently Barry published his first book, “Living Life Now: Ingredients for Thriving In The Modern World,” now available on Amazon, and launched his new podcast “Living Life Now,” available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Music. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.

Image courtesy of Cup of Couple.