“To honor and accept one’s shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It’s whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.” ~Robert Johnson
There’s nothing worse than having a bad day (or week or years…)
Or when emotions take over and carry us away.
Or when our relationships bring challenges.
Or when we endure great loss.
Or when we wish that just once when things started getting good, they stayed that way.
But difficult times are really offerings that show us what no longer serves us. And once they’re cleared, they no longer have power over …
“Develop a mind that is vast like the water, where experiences both pleasant and unpleasant can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle, or harm. Rest in a mind like vast water.” ~Buddha
When I think about having to be happy all of the time, I feel a certain kind of pressure. Sure, it’s different now then it was. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t cycles when I question everything.
Sometimes I can catch myself thinking that everything would magically fall into place if I had all the success I want in my career, the happily-ever-after relationship without any issues, or …
“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can on it.” ~Danny Kaye
I’ve had those days when I felt like my life was in the doldrums. When I felt stuck in the same-old, same-old and wondered how to get a pick me up. When I wished I had more passion or purpose or maybe just a jolt of joy to shake things up.
Sometimes there were things I thought might make me happy, but I couldn’t have them just because I wanted them. Like, I couldn’t just snap my fingers and meet the man who …
“True closeness respects each other’s space.” ~Angelica Hopes
It was a Friday, the workweek had ended, and I was excited for my boyfriend to come home. (Okay, I’m talking about an ex-boyfriend—these steps took me time to implement…)
I’d gone grocery shopping and had two steaks to grill, with asparagus and a bottle of wine chilled.
I heard the garage door and the dog ran to meet him. I knew he would drop his briefcase and come to the kitchen to give me a hug. Then, he would take off his shoes and find the couch to decompress for …
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau
I had dreams—dreams I thought could never be.
The dream of wanting to publish but never thinking I was a good enough writer; of being a painter but not even knowing how to hold a brush; of running a business without an MBA.
Too often in my past, I put these dreams off, waiting to feel like everything was “right”—the right timing, right environment, right preparation, right education, or …
“Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry, be happy.” ~Bobby McFerrin
I was one of those people that when asked what they want in life, would say, “I just want to be happy…”
In my past, I suffered from debilitating depression. There was a period when getting the dry-cleaning and buying toilet paper was difficult enough.
So, I made it my mission to study what happy people do to stay happy, then I started doing what they were doing. And my happiness increased until I became one of those …
“If you let go a little you will have a little happiness. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely you will be free.” ~Ajahn Chah
I’m a smart woman. And being smart gets me in trouble. I know how to cross my “T’s” and dot my “I’s”—to prepare for what might come. I know how to plan, to pack, to book tickets, to be the perfect tour guide.
I know how to make lists—very well. I know how to calendar myself and how to produce events. I know how …
“Every really new idea looks crazy at first.” ~Abraham H. Maslow
Once, when I was in a painting workshop, I hit a wall of resistance, totally stumped by what to paint next.
My painting teacher came over to explore some questions that could help unblock me. But my “wall” was concrete, or industrial metal, or super-duper spy-movie-like with some computer-code contraption locking all security systems down.
“What if a crazy woman came into the room?” she asked me. “What if the crazy woman painted for you? What would she do?”
“She would explode everything up!” I answered.
“What would she …
“To be happy with yourself, you’ve got to lose yourself now and then.” ~Bob Genovesi
At a holiday party last December, I ran into a friend from college who I hadn’t seen in twenty years.
“What’s going on with you? You look great!”
“Oh, well… My mother passed away and my husband and I divorced.”
“Oh Jeez! I’m so sorry,” he said. “That’s a lot! So, why do you look so great?”
Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest party conversation, but I did with it smile.
“It was the hardest year of my life, but I’m getting through it and that …
“When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. They showed the way for everyone to survive.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Without realizing it, I spent the majority of my childhood in a constant state of anxiety. In my early twenties, after a break-up with a man I dearly loved (albeit a little obsessively) I tried to medicate my grief with too many cups of coffee, bottles of wine, and many cigarettes.
I found myself one absurd sunny …
“The outer teacher is merely a milestone. It is only your inner teacher that will walk with you to the goal, for he is the goal.” ~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Recently, I had a very bad day. It was a day when certain life events made me so scared, so panicked I felt like I was floating in a dark void with no connection to anyone or anything, certainly not myself.
It wasn’t one bad thing that happened, just an accumulation of family stresses, worries, questions, uncertainty, and self-doubt that flooded my spirit. I had been going-going for many …
“It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings
I love to write. For years I wrote in journals and kept them stacked in piles on my shelves.
One rainy winter evening when I was 25, I walked into the Bourgeois Pig bookshop on Franklin Boulevard in Los Angeles and saw a book next to the cash register written by Natalie Goldberg called Wild Mind. I bought it and my life change forever.
Natalie’s book was about writing practice. A Zen monk practitioner, she brings the fundamentals of Zen to the …
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~Helen Keller
Ever since I can remember I liked to travel. It does something to me, something strange and oddly uncharacteristic: I am suddenly very laid back.
When I travel I’ve got the right mind-set. I know I will stand in lines, have to schlep heavy bags, or perhaps have delays. I know that I will be eating at restaurants for the first time, without knowing if I will like them.
At home, when I am stressed out and worried, my mind likes to give me lists of things to do …
“The person who lives life fully, glowing with life’s energy, is the person who lives a successful life.” ~Daisaku Ikeda
More often than not when we want to create something new or different in our lives, our true yearning is not about what we want to do on the outside that will make us feel fulfilled and content, but a certain way we want to feel in ourselves.
That fancy car might give us a feeling of power, or esteem, or pride. That successful business might make us feel like we “arrived” or we are recognized. That trip to Nepal …
“Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” ~Rumi
This summer, I drove up Highway 5 from Los Angeles on my way to Grass Valley to visit my friend Carol, a painting teacher, for a week of painting in her studio. I can’t remember the last time I hit the road on my own for an eight-hour drive to nature.
I forgot what it was like to crank up the stereo listening to old tunes, straining my vocal cords to and singing full voice off key.
On my right, I saw semi trucks making deliveries …
“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.” ~Horace
During my second year at an arts conservatory, I took a detailed diagnostic test to determine the hemispheric dominance of my left and right brain.
People who tend to lean toward the left are logical, reality-based, practical, and intellectual, when people who tend to lean toward the right are artistic, intuitive, feeling, and imaginative.
On a horizontal linear scale from 1 to 10—1 being the farthest left and 10 being the farthest right—I tested 4.8. That means that I am basically balanced between both sides of my brain but lean .2 …
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins
There are times in life when we just don’t know what we want. These are the awkward in-between places where we feel uncertain and unsure, and perhaps even question our purpose.
There was a pivotal time in my life, after I got my Counseling Psychology Masters degree and had a private practice, when I knew I did not want to be a therapist.
I left counseling to help my husband start his fashion business, even though this was not …
“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.” ~Swedish Proverb
When I was in my mid-twenties an unhealthy relationship with an unhealthy guy sent me packing off to the corner of New Mexico to find myself. In a new age, self-discovery kind of world—a hubbub of a town filled with people in transition—I was graced to meet many powerful healers, gurus, shamans, and teachers.
I became a workshop junkie. I went on Shamanic power journeys to spiritual centers around the world, chanted with Indian gurus, and became a certified yoga instructor and …
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
I love to paint. I’m not a professional artist. I have no technique, and I am not trained. But I love how the brush feels as it dips into color and moves across a white page.
Painting allows me to be free, to have fun and play. It also does something else: It shows me how I judge myself and how I can get in my own way. It reveals what I believe about myself that stops me from creating whatever I want.
Even as I …
“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” -Morris West
In the past I was not known as a happy, wild, and free person. (Okay, maybe wild. I had my moments…) In stuck phases peppered with depression, darkness, and hopelessness, I often wondered what it would be like to feel happy, wild, and free.
I fantasized about living in Europe, writing in cafes like Hemingway, having wild crazy affairs with sexy men, or even moving to Hawaii and wearing nothing but sarongs and flip flops all day. But in truth, these fantasies were …