What Ruins Your Christmas?


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A little while ago, I overheard a conversation between two people about holiday shopping. They were lamenting the running around and deciding what to get and how much they were spending and THEN getting it all wrapped up and ready to go. One of them commented at the end of the conversation, “It really almost ruins Christmas, you know?” The other person solemnly agreed. I was left speechless.

I know it’s likely that they weren’t even considering the words they used, and technically they did say “almost”. However, those of you who’ve read more than a few of my posts know that I regular comment about the words we choose to use. In this case, maybe the words don’t directly affect the health and well-being of the person using them, but then again, maybe they do.

Are they taking for granted the fact that they have time and money to run around holiday shopping for family and friends? Are they grateful for the fact that they have family and friends to shop for? Do they think about the fact that there are people out there who don’t have a festive tree set up in their homes, and who haven’t done any Christmas shopping because it’s all they can do to afford food?

What “ruins” a holiday for someone, particularly Christmas? A difficult shopping schedule? Or putting away the special ornament you bought for the baby that was never born? Too many family members to buy presents for? Or wondering what to do with the gift you bought for your father who just passed away? Too much prep work for Christmas dinner? Or wondering if you’ll have anything to eat on Christmas Day?

Don’t forget that other big holiday we just celebrated that maybe sometimes gets lost in perusing glossy store ads and early morning “doorbusting” shopping sprees. Once the leftovers are gone and Black Friday passes, it is still the season to be thankful.

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Good News Day 11: The Power of Touch


 

Setting aside judgement and fear to help someone in need. ~Tricia


 

Source: Ehab Taha

A woman’s kind-hearted gesture made a world of a difference to a man who was “being aggressive” on a train.

 

 

Source: Photo captures elderly woman’s kind gesture to aggressive man on train

To Bee or Not To Bee


Bee on Dandelion

It’s spring in Maine, finally! The insect life is waking up, and I’ve had a few encounters with bees recently. I try to pay attention, and even follow my own advice when I have more significant or unusual animal encounters. If an animal makes significant repeated appearances, or if you find the appearance particularly meaningful, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s something you should pay attention to.

In this case, the bee encounters certainly stood out. There was one or two bees who chose to follow me for a walk, another one very determined to get into my car, and a fourth one was a bumblebee just meandering through the produce section in the grocery store. So, should bees of any variety make their way into your life, it might be time to look into what the buzz is all about (just one pun, I promise!).

Bees have long been a powerful symbol in many cultures, representing the sun, fertility, royalty, gods and goddesses. Their seemingly improbable ability to fly can represent achieving the impossible. They gather pollen and contribute to the fertility of countless plants, creating food for themselves and ultimately the world. In their creation of honey, they transform sunlight into liquid energy.

If the bee is buzzing into your life, you may need to find faith in your ability to to take flight and achieve the impossible. Maybe you need to become more aware of what information you gather, distribute, or ingest. Make sure you’re taking the good parts of life and leaving the destructive bits behind. Share only the positive, energy giving honey.

Are you being too much of a worker bee and attempting to do too many things? Do you need to take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labors? Maybe you’re working so hard that you’ve forgotten that you even once enjoyed what you’re doing. Wallowing in the labors of collecting your pollen and forgetting to enjoy the beautiful sunshine that has made it all possible.

A visit from bee may be reminding you to stop and smell the flowers, value your own productivity, creativity, and industriousness. Take time out to enjoy the sun and the honey. Trust in your ability to get done what you need to without working yourself into a frenzy. And maybe, just bee.

For All The Childless Mommies On Mother’s Day | Owning Pink


A beautiful post from Owning Pink:

For All The Childless Mommies On Mother’s Day | Owning Pink.

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.

Trust Your Intuition


Deep Blue - Tricia GriffithI’ve been meaning to write about intuition for a while now, but I was giving myself a neat little roadblock by feeling like I had to get all technical about “what is intuition?”. I did a bit of research, looked at various definitions and explanations of what intuition is, from psychological to anthropological. Of course, this all led me to dead stand still, because if you try to look at intuition in such a scientific manner, it’s pretty mindboggling.

In reality, or at least in my reality anyway, it doesn’t necessarily matter how intuition works or why it exists, but simply that it does. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, if you’re working spiritually or scientifically, or if you’re baking or raising children. It’s those moments of inspiration, those sudden flashes of intuition, that instance when you “just know” what you need to do. That is intuition.

Working spiritually or psychically, intuition is the foundation of recognizing and understanding our gifts and how to use them. Perhaps it is our connection to our higher selves or a higher power, but whatever it is, it’s an awareness that on some level, you have the answer.

You don’t have to be working as a healer or a counselor to begin to listen to and trust your intuition. Some call it instinct, a gut feeling, mother’s intuition, inspiration, et cetera, but however you name it, it is at its most basic, trusting yourself.

How do you know your intuition is working? It’s that nagging feeling you’re missing something, or need to do something. Perhaps you’ve been feeling all day like you need to call a friend or a family member, and when you finally do, you realize they were in trauma or really needed to hear a friendly voice.

Raindrops - Tricia GriffithIt might be mother’s intuition, just knowing what your child needs, from instinctual care to that feeling that they’re up to no good. You might be working out some sort of problem that on the surface is very cerebral, scientific or intellectual, but then you get a sudden flash of an idea just where you need to look, or just what formula you need to use.

Many artists work intuitively, those little bursts of inspiration of what form lives in that block of wood they are about to sculpt, what mixture of color and textures that painting needs, or where to point their camera. Taking an intuitive leap leads to new paths of creativity.

How is your intuition trying to get your attention? Unfortunately it’s not always as simple as a sticky note left on the refrigerator that says you might want to avoid that lunch meat, or you might want to phone your friend, she’s having a bad day.

Sometimes you “just know”, but often it’s matter of repetition. If I’m not paying close attention to those little feelings of “I should do this” or “I feel like something is wrong here”, I will start to notice that it comes up more than once. So, I go by the “rule of three”, if it comes to mind, or presents itself in some other way, three times, I really better pay attention to that message.

It might be as simple as, you see shop you haven’t noticed before and think to yourself, I really should stop there some time. A day or so later you find yourself going by it and noticing it there again. Then of course, the next day it catches your attention again, so okay, perhaps you should really stop in. Maybe you just find that piece of furniture you’ve been wanting for years, or maybe you find out that an old friend you had lost touch with owns the shop.

Three Watermelon Gerbera - Tricia GriffithYou don’t need to wait for that third reminder. If you get a feeling, a flash of a thought or an idea, just stop for a moment. Quiet your mind and ask yourself if that feeling is relevant. Ask your higher self or higher power if it’s something that you need to address. If you’re not sure if it’s for you or for someone you know, ask that question too. The same source within that brought you the intuition can help you figure out what you’re supposed to do with it.

Whatever source you think that intuition comes from, however it manifests itself in your life, it is well worth the practice of paying just a bit closer attention to what it’s all about. This could mean being aware of when a friend needs to talk about something painful. It could be that intuitive feeling that you need to cut something specific out of your diet.

Intuition and awareness walk hand in hand. Being self aware allows you to recognize those little intuitive feelings. Stretching beyond yourself and becoming aware of the world around you and your place it in can help you to recognize intuitively where you need to be, how you can positively change your world.

Six Right Livelihood Guidelines


Water Lily - Tricia GriffithI stumbled upon this on the internet today (quite literally, I was using StumbleUpon) and I appreciated its message, so I thought I’d share it with you. With a bit of digging around, the primary source for this content seems to come from this University of Pennsylvania link. I am not sure what the original source is beyond that.

Consume mindfully.
  • Eat with awareness and gratitude.
  • Pause before buying and see if breathing is enough.
  • Pay attention to the effects of media you consume.
Pause. Breathe. Listen.
  • When you feel compelled to speak in a meeting or conversation, pause.
  • Breathe before entering your home, place of work, or school.
  • Listen to the people you encounter. They are Buddhas.
Practice gratitude.
  • Notice what you have
  • Be equally grateful for opportunities and challenges.
  • Share joy, not negativity.
Cultivate compassion and loving kindness.
  • Notice where help is needed and be quick to help
  • Consider others’ perspectives deeply.
  • Work for peace at many levels.
Discover wisdom
  • Cultivate your "don’t know" mind (= curiosity).
  • Find connections between Buddhist teachings and your life.
  • Be open to what arises in every moment.
Accept constant change.

A Different Kind of Date


The Artist's WayOne of my most favorite books ever does not actually so much tell a story as it helps you tell yours. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, is sort of combination of spiritual, psychological and technical exercises for helping break writers’ or artists’ blocks and free your creativity. Not just for writers and artists, it can really help you unblock your creativity in nearly any aspect of your life.

One of the tools used in Julia’s guide is something called artist dates, which, I have decided, is something that everyone should do, even if you don’t think you’re an artist.

What is an artist date? Well, it is essentially a date with yourself, with your inner artist, your inner child, as it were. As Julia puts it “… a play date that you plan and defend against all interlopers…” The idea is to give yourself time each week, even if it is just a couple of hours, committed to nurturing your creative consciousness.Winter Grass Blue Sky

We live in a fast forward society. We roll out of bed in the morning and hit the ground running, even if it is only metaphorically speaking. We get ourselves and our families ready for work and school, we walk the dog, feed the pets, commute, shop, work, cook, clean and on and on until we fall into bed again at night. It’s an easy rut to get into, and a hard one to get out of. What the artist date or play date represents is a chance to stop, be creative, be spontaneous, or just be.

But there’s a catch…

You have to do it by yourself…

Walk in the Woods“What?!?” You might ask. “All by myself? Just me? But what will I DO?” Well, that’s the beauty of it. Do whatever suits your fancy, whatever your inner child, your heart, your spirit needs. It does not have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, a trip to the zoo or watching the sunset from a beach. Sit and color, go to a bookstore, but do it by yourself. No lover, no children, no pets.

Part of Julia’s concept about artist dates in The Artist’s Way is for you to begin to listen to yourself. To start to pay attention to the inner chatter, have a dialog with that inner artist, and ultimately find solutions to your questions, tap into your creative reserves and allow yourself to create.

There is something more to it though. In our constantly busy lives, how often are we truly alone? And I don’t mean sitting alone in an empty office, or alone cooking dinner or paying the bills. I mean alone with ourselves, allowing our thoughts to wander and our imagination to roam, a little time to ourselves, with ourselves, to just be.

Sand & StoneSo here is my challenge to you, take yourself on a date this week. Set aside a couple of hours, if that’s all you have, and don’t let anyone or anything interrupt it. Do something that brings you a little bit of joy. Go to an art gallery or a museum, look for shiny rocks on the beach, sit in a café and read a book, or splurge and get a massage. Just make sure it’s only you and only for you.

When we spend so much of our lives catering to the needs and wants of others,MP900402326[1] we tend to forget to pay attention to our own. We burn the candle at both ends and eventually we are not even giving our best to those we are working so hard for. The world is filled it tense, irritable people who really probably just need a hug, or at least a little frivolous fun and self-reflection.

Give your inner child a little recess, or at the very least convince yourself that taking some time for yourself can help you give the rest of the world a bit more of the real you. You might be surprised what you discover.

You Are What You Think


I was in the grocery store the other day, I have started going very early since I’m not overly patient with crowds and the inevitable dodging of carts and fellow shoppers and people stumbling around in some sort of shopping coma. Not particularly enlightened of me, I know. Given the right frame of mind, I can navigate crowds pretty well, but I digress. That’s a subject for another post.

I was not so early shopping that other people didn’t have the same idea. I was in one aisle with another woman and her cart. She attempted to move out of my way, but ended up putting her cart right in front of the section of shelf I was headed for. Being in a fairly congenial mood towards my fellow early shoppers, I apologized to her and said I just needed to get that thing right there. She pulled her cart out of the way, also apologizing, which I thought was nice. But as she pushed her cart away, she said something which struck me, “I’m always in the way, it’s what I’m good at.”

Now, said in one way, you might think she was just laughing it off people sometimes do, a bit of self depreciating humor. But she sounded so resigned to this fact, it was almost heartbreaking.

I recall one of my favorite movies, a 2004 film called What the Bleep Do We Know!?It can be a truly life changing film if you take the time to think about its message. And maybe, as I think back to it now, remind yourself periodically of its message.

What the Bleep Do We Know!? mixes metaphysics, quantum physics, self discovery and a little bit of magic to show us a different way of looking at the world around us, and more importantly, ourselves. From the website synopsis;

“It is part documentary, part story, and part elaborate and inspiring visual effects and animations. The protagonist, Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, finds herself in a fantastic Alice in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to unravel, revealing the uncertain world of the quantum field hidden behind what we consider to be our normal, waking reality.”

Woven throughout the storyline, top scientists and mystics offer commentary and discussion. “They are also there to introduce the Great Questions framed by both science and religion, which divides the film into a series of acts. Through the course of the film, the distinction between science and religion becomes increasingly blurred, since we realize that, in essence, both science and religion describe the same phenomena.”

While I’ve slightly digressed again from the point of this blog, the movie itself is a helpful tool to understand what I am sharing, which is mainly the power of words. Particularly the effect your words have on yourself. How often has the woman at the grocery store said “I’m always in the way.”? Think about saying that about yourself with such resignation frequently, maybe even daily. What effect do you think that would have on you, on your psyche? How long before you truly feel that maybe you are useful for nothing except being in the way?

Another reason I brought up the movie is because of a specific aspect of it. Part way through the movie, the protagonist comes across an exhibit of some of the work done by Masaru Emoto, whose work includes studying changes in the shape of ice crystals in water exposed to various stimuli. Using purified water, he first studied the effects of music on the formation of ice crystals and found that “All the classical music that we exposed the water to resulted in well-formed crystals with distinct characteristics. In contrast, the water exposed to violent heavy metal music resulted in fragmented and malformed crystals at best.”

Next, they wondered what would happen if they wrote words on paper and wrapped the paper around the bottle with the word facing in. Although it didn’t seem logical that the water would ‘read’ the word, the music experiments had led them to realize strange things could happen. They wrote “Thank You” and “Fool” on two separate samples, and the results did not disappoint. “Water exposed to “Thank you” formed beautiful hexagonal crystals but water exposed to the word “Fool” produced crystals similar to the water exposed to heavy-metal music, malformed and fragmented.” A nice synopsis of the study can be found here.

We could hang ourselves up on the science, argue that water can’t read words, wonder at what other forces could contribute to the changes Mr. Emoto found in the water crystals. But maybe it is simply intent. Thoughts. Energy. As the movie’s protagonist examines the photos of ice crystals in the exhibit, a stranger in the crowd turns to her and says, “Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us.” (See the scene on YouTube)

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

It is hard, I know first hand, not to let your thoughts become the weights that drag you down. Even if you are tired, does repeated thinking, or saying “I am so tired” help you in any way? Or does it simply contribute to the energy of tiredness around you, magnify and intensify, perpetuate the tired feeling. Maybe you feel silly saying out loud “I am energetic!” But perhaps something like that, redirecting your thoughts, focusing on something other than being tired, takes away the amount of energy you put into thinking about being tired, dwelling on it, and making it real. If you are always waiting for the next bad thing to happen, it probably will. Think instead about the positive things you hope to accomplish in your life. Redirect your thoughts to those things.

I choose love, joy and freedom, open my heart and allow wonderful things to flow into my life.

A significant proportion of the human body is water. While you’re not likely to freeze yourself solid and examine your ice crystals, you can imagine what they might look like if you did. What would your water crystals look like if you were constantly telling yourself that you are fat, lazy, useless… or always in the way? Imagine the toxic state we put ourselves in by not having kind words for ourselves.

It applies to our physical being, it applies to our life situations. If we think all the time how tight money is, how perilously close to broke we are, how we’re always struggling to make ends meet, are we perpetuating that situation by constantly feeding energy to it? If we can change our focus to positive thoughts regarding our finances, can we change our fortunes?

All the things I want and need come to me.

Years ago, we learned a little positive affirmation trick for money.

Thank you, God, for a miracle involving money today.

Repeat that to yourself. Then, when money comes to you, even if it’s just loose change in the couch cushions, repeat your thank you for a miracle involving money today. It works!

If you find yourself in this rut of negative thoughts and feelings, stop for a moment. Stop the words. Find something nice to say about yourself, or choose a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself and change your thought pattern.

I am beautiful, positive, happy and thankful that all good things flow to me.

If you are struggling and down on yourself, ask someone who loves you to give you positive things about yourself. Think about the positive things in your life, think about your ideal self and voice it out loud. You are a beautiful person, you are a miracle, it is time you treated yourself like one…