Sunday, September 15, 2013

Guest Appearance on Potluck with Judy

Visit Potluck with Judy to check out my recipe for TLC’s Frozen Chocolate Banana Almond Cream, a dessert I threw together when I had a major chocolate craving and lacked the ingredients to make my usual chocolate desserts. It felt a little like playing "Chopped" in my own kitchen and with my only judge as my husband, who had to like try my concoction regardless. Hope you enjoy!

Thanks, Judy, for inviting me to guest on Potluck with Judy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Start From Where You Are...

Start from where you are... Such a simple phrase. Such a simple concept. Such a simple action. Or so it sounds. Yet putting it into practice is nearly impossible; however, when we start from where we are, it is so easy to accomplish our goals.

I recently have been bombarded with lessons in the concept of starting from where I am. My life is in major transition mode leaving me with a lot of unknowns. In the past, unknowns would have left me feeling very insecure and even a bit unsafe yet I feel rather excited right now. I have moments of insecurity, but they are fleeting. I know that wherever I'm headed, I will end up in the right place for me. After all, I'll be there...

Everything I hold dear is currently transitioning to a new phase in my life, and there are moments when I cling to yesterday and other moments when I'm trapped in the outcome that hasn't happened yet. In those moments, I forget to be where I'm at in this journey. The problem with starting either from where I was or where I want to be is neither allows me to use this moment to create the momentum I need to move forward.

When I start from where I am, I'm not running to catch up or moving ahead of where I can be. I am actually creating...

For example, I had knee surgery last September. I never fully healed, but I kept trying to get my yoga (and my life and my writing) back to where it was before my surgery and to move past my recovery into recovered... I wasn't paying attention to the moment, at least not very well, until I ended up back at the doctor only to discover I needed to have surgery on the same knee again... So in July I had said surgery. Since then I've actively worked to avoid comparing my strength and flexibility to where I was, but I attempt a simple yoga pose and feel the lack of strength and flexibility in my muscles and joints and can't help but remember when this pose or that stretch was easy to do. In that moment, I have to take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and remind myself to "start from where I am..." 

I am currently editing a collection of short stories and it feels like backtracking because I wrote most of the stories years ago. I get frustrated with the process because I just want to get on with it and move to a new project. So I have to pause, breathe, and remind myself to "start from where I am..."

I have so many projects I'm excited about right now, many of which suffered major setbacks and delays over the past year. I feel my attention being pulled toward another one whenever I work on one. I feel myself  getting frustrated with myself for not working faster, for being behind schedule, or for the details I missed in earlier drafts depending on the project. Again, I have to take that deep breath, let it out slowly and remind myself to "start from where I am..."

Then there's my personal life which is also currently in a transitional place. Frankly, this is incredibly frustrating for me. I just want things settled, so I can focus on what's important to me yet, at the same time, I don't want it settled because I'm not sure what settled will mean. So I find myself drifting into a blanket of memories of what was and then fantasizing about what could be or even could have been instead of inhabiting the moment I stand in. I long to skip ahead to the part where the answers exist yet I know I must travel the path in order to find what I need to discover and even then I'll realize it's only part of the answer because this is my journey, my life. Finding the answers isn't going to free me up to be better at life, travelling the path where the questions exist is the only way to do that. Yet I find myself imagining and remembering instead of living... So I must take a deep breath, exhale, and remind myself yet again to "start from where I am..."

Relationships change, emotions change, thoughts change, priorities change, and life doesn't stop so we can catch up to it when we finish our transitions. Our transitions are our lives. We can't change what happened before, and we can't enjoy our goals until we achieve them; therefore, the only thing we can do to affect the transitions in our lives is to "start from where we are..."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love Releases Love

Several years back I made a conscious decision to live my life from a place of love. At the time, I struggled with this concept because like many I equated the concept of love with the kind of intimacy that creates romantic relationships. I knew, even then, that love is so much more than that, but I also know saying the words "I love you" can be loaded for many people. All kinds of expectations seem to accompany those words.

I've been thinking about the concept of love again lately because I'm in the middle of one of life's little transitions. I am reminded how much love changes as we transition through life. It sometimes morphs into something we barely recognize based on what we thought we knew. Even then it holds a comfortable familiarity that allows us to embrace hope.

My decision to live from a place of love transformed my life. I let go of tremendous anger and confusion and hurt meaning I freed myself from living in constant drama. I saw my relationships in a different way. I saw my interactions in a different way. I felt more positive even when life got rough. I felt hopeful even when my foundation was ripped out from under me. See, I still had love, and with love in my heart I knew I could not only survive but thrive.

Recently, I felt the need to reconnect with my resolve to live life from a place of love, so I signed up for the Oprah and Deepak Miraculous Relationships 21-Day Meditation Challenge offered online via The Chopra Center (free at the time). I hadn't stopped living from a place of love, but I feared I wasn't loving myself enough based on my reaction a couple of situations in my life where my reaction felt right to me but my logical self told me my reaction wasn't normal by societal norms. How can one act with love when one learns someone who supposedly loves them has deceived them for their entire relationship? Shouldn't deception warrant anger, hatred, and vengeance? My heart said no. My brain said yes. I began to fear I was suppressing my true feelings, so I signed up for the challenge expecting to either discover I was deceiving myself with my reaction or I'd discover my reaction was just my new norm. Maturity, perhaps? Who knows? I always hate to declare myself mature because it seems something inevitably  comes along to remind me I'm not nearly as mature as I'd like to think.

So, I started the challenge confident the process would help me quiet the chaos in my mind over one or possibly two particular current life situations and help me find the answers I wanted, dare I say needed. After all, I was convinced my problem lay in discovering whether my reaction was real or suppression of my truth... I am prone to the kind of willful blindness that makes the day go smoother...

As I began the process, my thoughts surprised me when they turned away from the situation I struggled with to a whole host of relationships and situations I had long thought resolved... Wow! I began to see many relationships with new eyes and to feel the heartache of recognizing my mistakes as well as seeing where I needed to step back and just let some relationships fall to the periphery of my life while embracing those that truly bring to me what I give to them. See, I have a tendency to be a "fixer" leading me to try to make things right even when I'm not responsible for the problem and/or don't have the ability to fix it anyway.

The challenge started off with a week of focusing on loving one's self. As I started it, I thought, I got this one. No problem. I love myself, imperfections and all...

Yet, I discovered I wasn't actively loving myself because I was making excuses for people whose behavior hurt me. That's not loving one's self. I was blaming myself for other people's behavior rather than holding them accountable. I'm not talking about anger or blame. I'm talking about recognizing when someone treats you as less than you deserve to be treated and not allowing it. There can be a fine line between the two, but the distinction is important. Not allowing someone to disrespect you is setting a healthy and loving boundary and allows you to approach the person in a loving manner about the behavior that hurts allowing room to mend the situation. Blame and anger on the other hand tend to be destructive. I already knew all of this, but I had forgotten it. How often do we forget what we know is good for us? Sometimes you discover the most loving thing you can do for yourself and/or for others is to simply do nothing.

When my attention finally worked its way back around to my initial intention for this meditation, I discovered my major source of support, understanding, and love outside myself came from the person who had deceived me. I finally understood the source of my confusion. How could this be?

As I moved through the process of meditating with a focus on Miraculous Relationships, my thoughts turned more and more to the idea of letting go. As I cleared the chaos to find those empty spaces between thoughts and emotions, the little voice whispering to me just kept telling me that I had to love myself enough to let go of that which doesn't make my life better in some way, including relationships. It's strange how I've let relationships that do improve my life go because I felt it best for the other person, but I find it extremely difficult to let relationships that no longer meet my needs... And, once again, this brought me back to the idea that loving myself is more than accepting myself for all I am and searching out ways to grow into a better me. It is also about setting boundaries and respecting the boundaries I set - an old issue for me, as those who are long time readers probably remember since I've posted about it a few times.

I finished the challenge with a sense of calmness in remembering that regardless of how other people react I am only loving myself when I set healthy boundaries and when I make decisions based on what is right for my life. When I love myself actively, I am better able to live from a place of love and offer love to others. I'm not saying I'm perfect at it, but at least I'm aware of it now... Hopefully, my new found awareness will be lasting...

I can let people in with love, and I can release people with love.

And, yet, I'm still unsure the best way to handle the current transition in my life; however, I've decided to live in the moment, face each moment from a place of love, and see what happens...