Be the Light in the Darkness


light-in-darkness

I feel like many of the people who follow this blog are spiritually minded, empathic, lightworkers, healers and peace loving people. I like to think that you read my posts to look for insight into life and living as a better person. I try to share my own experiences in exploring spiritual growth and self-awareness. I occasionally get a bit ranty about social injustice, but for the most part it has been an introspective journey.

Now, I suspect that many people who think (or feel) like I do have hit a wall. The state of the world and the blooming of racism, hatred and social injustice has left a huge, painful hole in our heart. Those of us who are extremely empathic may literally feel the effects physically. We are at a loss for what to do.

I have historically tried not to be too political on this blog (ranty bits aside), but this may mark a change in that policy. Not so much to argue which party is better or worse, but because I feel that the time has come to stop being a quiet supporter of human rights and become a more vocal supporter. It is one thing to simply believe. It is another to do.

water-drop-384649_640I think that part of the problem is that most of us who are highly sensitive, loving people tend to try to avoid negativity as much as possible. We avoid it because of its effect on us physically and mentally. (Not to mention, people might notice us!) We try to spread peace quietly and unobtrusively, but we don’t want to cause too much fuss, not ripple the water too much. Certainly not make any waves.

Unfortunately, it would seem to me that the time has come to break out of our comfort zones and start making sure that EVERYONE knows that we stand up for peace, social justice, and humanity. Too many politicians take for granted the words of a vocal few ignorant, hateful people whose ideals match their own. We need to make Humanity the new political party. We need to do our parts to not let the last 150 years of civil rights and social justice backslide any further than they already have.

What can we do? Find the niche that speaks to you. Write about it. Call your government representatives. Counter messages of hate and disenfranchisement with those of love and inclusion. Learn more about religions that are different than yours and speak up to defend them when you hear someone speak disparagingly about them. Come up with ready responses to hate speech, racism, bigotry and intolerance. Be an example.

How can we protect ourselves from the emotional and physical impact this is bound to have on us? I have written a few things on this you can refer back to, and I’ll try to share more helpful information going forward. Meanwhile, you can check out this post:

I feel like one of the important things to try to remember when we’re working to counter intolerance is to not let ourselves drop to their level. It’s so easy to feel defensive and argumentative, to let hateful words spark our own hateful responses. Rise up. Try to keep your words calm and rational. This is why I recommend having some prepared responses for certain situations, it allows you the opportunity to step back and respond rationally, with less emotion. Don’t be condescending.

Do your research. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet (even things you agree with). If you’re going to share educational information or statistics, make sure they’re accurate, maybe go one step further and provide resources. Be the smart one.

candle-1338927_640For my first step forward into the darkness, I will be attempting to use this blog to bring awareness to social issues and hopefully sharing some ideas for what spiritually minded, empathic people can do to help. Additionally, I will continue to try to encourage and support you with guidance on self-awareness and spiritual growth. It’s time to step out of the shadows and do our parts to bring light into the darkness. Be the beautiful lightworkers you are.

A Plea for Peace and Common Sense


vote, peace, election, America, Democracy, patrioticI have a few requests for you all…

1. Please, PLEASE VOTE. Don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter, because if it was going to matter in any election, it does now. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but please just do it. Need a ride? Find a friend to give you one, search your area for one of the free services giving voters rides to the polls. Whatever you need to do, just vote.
 
2. Regardless of the outcome of the election, PLEASE HONOR THE RESULTS. This is a democracy. Whatever you think about how this election process works, it’s how it has evolved over the life of our country. It’s messed up, I know, but it’s ours. Honor the results. Your fellow Americans will have voiced their opinions and we all live in this country together.
 
3. If you’re not happy with the results of the election, PEACEFULLY PROTEST – if you must. Put the political wheels in motion to change things going forward. DO NOT RESORT TO VIOLENCE.. No riots. No torches and pitchforks. Grit your teeth, move forward, and figure out what YOU can do to change things going forward. 
4. BE KIND. Please don’t let the hate, misogyny, racism, and overall ugliness that has pervaded this election to become the new norm for America. While it would be really awesome if we all loved one another, I’d settle for some tolerance and kindness.
5.  SPREAD THE WORD. Encourage your friends, families, coworkers, or neighbors to honor the election process, to honor the rights of their fellow citizens, and to react with common sense, peace and civility to the results of this election. Do not let our country go down in flames over two people. You can help make America positive again.

40 Days of Good News: Epilogue


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Photo by Tricia Griffith

I spent the last few weeks trying to adjust my focus a bit. The constant barrage of violence, suffering, and hateful politics had kind of reached a point for me where my already elevated stress levels were reaching overload. I needed some good news, and maybe a lot of it.

The arrival of the Christian season of Lent was my inspiration for 40 Days of Good News. Instead of giving up chocolate (inconceivable!!) or something like that for 40 days, I just wanted to dial back how much I looked at the news and went on an angry tirade or felt horror or despair. I wanted to know – despite the media barrage of bad news – good things were still happening in the world.

Good things are still happening in the world, though it might be kind of hard to tell. While it wasn’t impossible, I found it depressingly difficult to find the kind of good news I was looking for. I wanted to go beyond the light, cheery news of dogs getting reunited with their humans and cats having cool jobs. Yes, I did find one cat with a cool job. I also shared a fair amount of news about animals and nature because those are things that make me happy.

What was I looking for in terms of good news? I was looking for stories of people making a positive differences to each other and our planet. I was looking for signs that Earth isn’t hurtling towards mass destruction. I was searching for people who care about something. I wanted to get past racism, hatred, violence and pain. In addition, I added in a few things that maybe help readers find a little bit of hope and peace of their own, whether it’s good news around chocolate, meditation, or massage.

The ugly didn’t stop during these 40 days, of course. I didn’t stop watching the news or reading things that made me angry. Trying to live a positive life doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be wine and roses. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there living hateful, angry lives that are bound to bump into yours on a regular basis. All we can do is look for the positive in a situation or look somewhere else, and do what we can to spread hope, peace, change, and maybe a little education along the way.

May you continue to find even just a little good news each day …

Love & Light ~ Tricia

 

Walking the Line


balanceOne of the things that I don’t always see addressed when I read about building self-confidence is finding the balance of self-confidence somewhere between no confidence at all and overinflated ego. I know that one of the things I worry about when I find the self-confidence to say out loud, “I’m good at that” is, do I sound confident or do I sound like an egomaniac?

Granted, the fact that I worry about it probably means that I will tend not to get too overinflated, but I think that people who are tentative about their own value, and working up to healthy levels of self-confidence may find themselves underselling their talent for fear of looking egotistical. You might say, “I have pretty good luck training dogs”, when in reality, you’re a highly skilled, successful dog trainer. You might tell someone, “I don’t have any professional training, but I take halfway decent photos if you need some,” when you actually take beautiful photos, training or no.

Highly sensitive people tend to be acutely attuned to the opinions and reactions of others, and may worry about offending people, or coming across as a “know it all.” It’s some of this sensitivity that tends to lend itself to encouraging us to downplay our confidence and talents. We may not be aware of it, but we may picking up on the person’s jealousy, or perhaps their own self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy. It can be difficult to separate out others’ feelings from our own, and also to not put so much stock in their emotions and reactions.

In addition, while it may in fact seem like the opposite is true, people who over exaggerate their own value, hype their talents, brag, and belittle the value of others are more than likely operating out of just as much poor self-confidence as the rest of us. An egotistical person can be a bit like a skunk, a whole lot of show, a big stink, and a hope that you’ll be distracted and not notice their weak spots.

finding balanceA confident, balanced person is able to feel comfortable saying that they’re good at something without the need to show off, brag, or otherwise make a big fuss about it. Part of my own sensitivity, I think, is that I can tell intuitively when someone is feeling frantic about their own lack of confidence, as much as I can when they are quietly stewing in it, and it tends to put me off.

If you are also sensitive, you might feel put off or repelled by these people. If you further investigate the source of what you are feeling, you might sense a certain frenetic, frantic energy behind their words and actions. A sense that they are over explaining their worth. They (inadvertently or on purpose) belittle or trash talk yours or someone else’s work. (Which of course only serves to squash your fledgling confidence).

So then, the goal is to find a way to be opening and accepting of your own worth. You should be willing to share it (calmly and honestly), and refrain from shouting it out to anyone who’ll listen, loudly proclaiming your greatness and causing sensitive people to want to avoid being around you (further diminishing your self-confidence).

Well, how the heck do we do that? As I have often mentioned in this blog, the answer lies in part in being self-aware, paying attention to the words we use and the things we say about ourselves and others. Keep it simple. When people complement you about something, all you need to do is say thank you.

When someone says they need help with dog training and you know how to help, say “I have experience with that, I can help”. Offer references if you don’t feel comfortable explaining your skill level. If someone says they need help taking photos and you know you can do it, you can simply say, “I would love to take some photos for you.” And again, if you’re not so confident yet to say just how good a photographer you are, you can always direct them to samples of your work. No need to say “Oh my GOD, don’t use HIM, he’s SO expensive, and blah, blah, blah!” Over exaggerating yourself, particularly at the expense of others, is a big turn off, particularly if the person you’re speaking with is also sensitive to such things.

Walking the PathI find this all particularly interesting/challenging as a person who does a lot of things that require the ability to self-promote. Art, writing, even healing and psychic work require you to put yourself out there in order to actually work and earn a living. Which of course puts you out there to the opinions and criticisms of others, and requires a huge leap of self-confidence. Yet, you don’t want to come across as so egotistical and filled with hot air that you turn people off and lose their interest in your work entirely.

I suppose that like someone who loves dessert, you can choose to eat cake and cookies every day, or completely deprive yourself. Or you can find a healthy point in between, where you can eat the things you love occasionally without gaining 100 pounds. Like everything in life, be it food, finances, or self-confidence, it’s all about finding balance.

May you find your own balance and make it safely (and sanely) across the wobbly suspension bridge of life…

The Baby Dichotomy


angelBWI have to count myself as fortunate that most people who know my husband and I have stopped asking why we don’t have kids. Now that we’re in our 40s, and we still don’t have them, I think most either presume that we just don’t want them or they know the painful truth – that I have had four miscarriages. It took a long time to conceive, and they just did not last.

For each pregnancy, we were equally hopeful, equally terrified, and then equally devastated. In a society where amazing medical breakthroughs happen all the time, we are left with what minimal insurance we can afford through the Affordable Care Act. And even when we had decent insurance, the kinds of things that would help us conceive -and stay pregnant- are financially beyond our reach.

Now that I am in my 40s, other complications add themselves to the mix. How can a person who was a high risk pregnancy in her 20s and 30s pull off such a miracle over the age of 40? After the last one a few years ago I firmly decided I never wanted to go through that again. Since then, I have waffled back and forth on a monthly, weekly, sometimes even daily basis. I think about my younger self, raised in a society where little girls grew up, got married, and had babies. That part of me thinks of myself as an abject failure. The core sense of being a woman, of how I was supposed to be someone’s mom, is broken.

I spend a lot of time telling myself that now that we’ve been married 20+ years, living the “no kids lifestyle” for so, so long, that there is no way we could possibly even adjust to being parents now. Then I waffle back and think well, we adjust to my husband’s changing jobs and going back to college. We adjust to my own rather regular changes in career and life directions. We are not yet so old and set in our ways that adjusting to being parents would be impossible.

Then, I waffled back to, yeah, but holy crap each failure sucks so much, and I really, really don’t want to go through that again. Then I waffled back to yeah, but what if… What if I really am meant to be someone’s mom? What if this next time IS the right time? What if by waffling in the wrong direction, we are missing out on that important little person in our life? Then, I waffle back to, well, we don’t have very good insurance. How could we even financially afford the medical expenses that could likely result from the trying to make this one last effort stick?

white-lily-flowersMaybe we could adopt. This is something we’ve considered. But again, the financial uncertainty scares me. Other random fears like adopting a child with physical or mental/emotional troubles terrifies me. At the same time I realize that even a child of my own could have the same troubles, so that’s not really all that much of an excuse. Then, there is the decision of trying to adopt a baby, or adopting an older child, and all those different implications.

What is the answer? I don’t know yet. I suppose the clock really is ticking at this point and decisions should be made. I should, of course, better educate myself on some of my options. But naturally, we often find ourselves “too busy” for those things which are the really difficult, even painful, decisions.

Why do I even feel compelled to share this story with the unknown (and known) public? Many reasons, I suppose. First of all, I am fairly certain I not the first woman in history, or possibly even the only woman I know, going through this situation. I want to help others maybe feel less alone and dysfunctional, while helping myself feel less alone and dysfunctional in the process.

I was also intuitively compelled to share it. I’m not even entirely sure where it came from. Maybe one of those countless posts that go by on Facebook about the bond between a parent and child, or “share if you have awesome kids”. Maybe I’m not the only one sometimes tempted to share them because I think my fur kids are pretty awesome.

rain dropMaybe I share it because someone out there right now needed to know that they aren’t crazy for having the same waffling thought train.

Maybe someone else needed to read it and think twice before asking their friend or family member or coworker, for the countless number of times, why they don’t have kids yet.

Maybe someone else needs to see that a spiritual person working on walking a spiritual, awakened path does not always have their shit together as well as you might imagine.

Maybe it’s to help those naysayers who dispute continued efforts to improve and expand our healthcare system that it’s not just lazy, dysfunctional sponges that need help and access to better health and reproductive care, but every day, average, hard-working, loving human beings that could use a little more help preventing the massive financial burdens caused by health care expenses of every flavor.

Maybe it’s every one of these things, and more, that someone out there needs to hear. Meanwhile, I will go back to working on getting my shit together, while hopefully giving you a little more insight on your own…  (:

Love & Light

It’s the Little Things


forest smallOkay yes, it has been a while since I wrote anything. To be fair, it’s been a kind of hellacious summer, and to be honest, I’ve kind of let it get to me. However, recently I’ve decided that even if I don’t give myself time for much else, I need to at least take some time out for what I’ve been calling Nature Therapy. I’ve been making a point to get out and appreciate nature and the truly beautiful state that I live in, Maine.

Getting outside for a hike or a paddle changes my mindset, even if it’s only for a little while. I take my camera with me, and I go with the intent of finding and appreciating the wonder that is nature. I walk along, thinking about the flowers and critters and smelling the balsam fir and the fallen leaves. I listen to the songs of birds, the buzz of bees and frequent scolding from red squirrels. I revel in that non-silent silence that you find when you’re deep out on a trail with no modern distractions.

When I was preparing to finally get back to writing on this blog, I kind of first planned a bit of a rant about being judgmental, but I could not quite get it to flow the way I hoped. Two things changed my mind. red squirrelOne was this Sunday’s message from my minister, who spoke about “Something is Wrong”, and with it she spoke about the judgment and treatment of our fellow humans, and it gave me a different spin on the thought that I want to write about. So, watch for that coming up next. (You can listen to this message here. This particular message starts at 11:30)

The other thing was that afternoon’s walk in the forest, where I had an entertaining encounter with a red squirrel and another one with a damselfly, and I realized that what the world needs now is good news. It made me think that sometimes what we need are the little things to help us change our mindset, turn down a different path, or look at the world in a slightly different light.

I decided that one of the things I would start doing on this blog is also writing up some of the entertaining things that end up happening to me on my walks in nature. A reminder to everyone to take the time out, find your nature therapy or book therapy or whatever little thing makes your world even just a little bit better.

spiderwebA reminder that sometimes when you’re trying to see the forest for the trees or staying on the path, because that’s how you get to the end, you miss the journey. You miss the cheeky red squirrel, the ambling porcupine or the spider web glistening with rain drops.

So, yes, I will write about personal and social responsibility and growth, but I’ll also take the time to share some of my nature therapy with you, in the hopes that it will help inspire you to go experience some of your own.

Peace & Hope

Tricia

A Gentle Reminder: What You Create Has Value (and so do you)


cotton grassYou might have noticed in reading my posts that I have a bit of a pet peeve about watching what you say. I’m a big fan of “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And this doesn’t just apply to what you say about others, it applies to what you say about yourself and the things that you do/create/share.

I see this happen a lot with creative people. They produce a beautiful photo, brilliant art work, or incredible writing, and then, when they show it to you, almost instantly devalue their own efforts by adding “it’s not very good”, “I really don’t know what I’m doing”, or “it’s not my best work”. It makes. me. crazy.

Okay, I admit that it makes be MORE crazy because I used to do it – a lot – and I understand where their head is at. But it also makes me crazy because if it is something that you created, it comes from you, and from your heart, by saying that it’s not any good, you’re also devaluing yourself on a subconscious level. You’re holding yourself back, limiting your creative potential, and beating up your own self-confidence.

It may have started subtly enough. We might discover that by saying, “Oh, it’s not very good.” a friend might disagree and insist that the work is truly wonderful. Instantly, the reward part of our brain goes “Heeyyy… I say it’s bad, I get a compliment!” Soon we automatically unveil the fruits of our creative labor and simultaneously announce “it’s really not my best work”, while preparing for the freshly delivered reassurances and compliments from our audience.

While getting compliments is nice, this is really not the greatest way to validate the worth of your work. You create a pattern of constantly devaluing your creation and at the same time your own worth. This doesn’t mean that you have to go flying off in the other direction and declare to everyone who’ll listen how fabulous your latest work of art is. (Which may result in your friends running for the hills when you appear.)

The simplest way to stop devaluing your work really is, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” or “keep your mouth shut”. Oversimplified, maybe, but the idea is to get you to stop trash talking yourself and smothering your creativity and self-esteem. By all means, show friends and strangers your art work, but do not tell them how awful it is. We create art for art’s sake, what you have created is what it is, good, bad or ugly, but it is a part of you, treat it the way you want to be treated.

Beaver Lake SunsetWhen someone compliments what you do, a “simple thank” you is the most powerful phrase you can utter. On a subconscious level, you’re validating that what you have made has value and so do you. It takes a conscious effort to stop whatever else you were going to say and just say “thank you”, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a truly liberating experience.

Those two small words can help grow your confidence, boost your creativity and inspire your faith in your own creative processes.

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