What do you see?

30 10 2013



What if the way you see the world is exactly what it is: the way YOU see the world? What if your brain filters only that which resonates with you?

Last week, a friend posted on Facebook a picture of a lounge with the question where she was. To me it just was a lounge, a rather nondescript lounge, but a lounge nonetheless. Curious as to where it would be, I scrolled through the comments, where one of my friends had commented ‘One where you can smoke.’ Huh? Back to the picture, and there out of the blue, like magic appeared ashtrays on the tables. Really chuncky ashtrays. And I, having an eye for detail, had not noticed them. And I wasn’t the only one, other non-smokers had not noticed them either. It was not part of our world. It did not resonate with us, until someone directed our focus to it.

Our brains skim and scan through masses and masses of information, and make sure we get the information we want, by highlighting information that matches with that which is activated within us. Suppose you just decided to buy a new car, a Toyota Corolla. There are many of those, but you never noticed them, until then. Or a Tesla Roadster, there aren’t too many of those, but once you decided to buy one, you see them everywhere. Because in your brain the tag Toyota Corolla or Tesla Roadster gets activated. This is an unconscious process. The new car will probably where off pretty quickly, although I must admit that I still see my car driving everywhere. However some tags are active for a long time. Read the rest of this entry »

Just do it!

2 11 2007

Have you ever sat at your desk playing office, doing things that did not matter, just because you dreaded a phone call you had to make or a paper you needed to write? Something similar happened to me yesterday. The worst thing was I knew I was just fiddling around to avoid what I had to do. I was feeling awful. Finally, it hit me: I had better felt miserable while doing what had to be done. Then I would have been halfway and finished in the time I had reserved for it. This morning, as a result, I got up early to write this post, so I will have some extra time later to finish what could have been done yesterday.

On letting go

1 11 2007

These last weeks, I have been confronted with traits I don’t particularly value in people I do love dearly. It was eating me. How could I let them see they were on a road to nowhere? How could I let them see the world differently. Basically, I wanted to solve their problems. Until I discovered there is nothing I can do to solve this problem. There is no problem to begin with. Nothing has to be solved. This problem exists only in my mind. I have to let go of a wrong and right way of doing things.  Albeit I see they have so much more potential than they’re showing and would want their lives to be better, I have to let go of how I think people should react to life. I have to remember that even if they don’t see it themselves, they are still great. But most of all, I need to recognize these notions of good and bad exist only in my head.

Seek, and you will find

25 10 2007

Have you ever experienced all the pieces falling into place? To me, it’s what I live for. Feeling my perception shift. Knowing I’m about to take a quantum leap. Knowing the world will be different when I get to the next level. There is a sense of anticipation. I do not know what to expect, but I know my life will change in ways I cannot  begin to imagine. I’ve learned it will be a change for the better.
It always starts with feelings of restlessness, like I’m out of sync with me. Things are changing and I cannot yet pinpoint how. I start noticing things I never noticed before, sensing connections I do not yet understand and finally it all comes together.
This is my lifelong quest: hunting for answers I do not yet understand to obtain a goal I cannot yet imagine. It’s about finding my holy grail. I have to prove myself worthy of finding it. I have to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually before it will be revealed to me. More than anything I believe that when I seek, I will find.

What’s the point?

23 10 2007

Yesterday, I was listening to an interview. All I could think was, He’s missing the point. Then it hit me. He was actually making the opposite point, which to me was not a valid point. Our basic paradigm was completely different. My first impulse was to stop listening, but after some deliberation I decided I would keep listening. Not prove him wrong, but to learn from him.
My brain is scanning the world to find proof for my beliefs. As does anyone’s brain. There are as many realities as there are people. This doesn’t mean everyone is right, but it does mean each reality is just as valid as the next. 
I decided I did not want to dismiss what he was offering, solely because his brain is looking for different proof. By validating his reality, I was able to see the point he was making. I was able to learn from his wisdom. His view on life has not changed my core beliefs, but trying to understand his reality has broadened my horizon.

Home at last

18 10 2007

I have struggled with feelings of unworthiness from the age of seven. At the age of 27, I decided I was worthy simply because I’m alive. That was a huge step, but it has taken an additional eight years for my feelings to change accordingly.
Celebrating my 35th birthday, something extraordinary happened. Some of my friends didn’t show up. A few years ago, that would have been catastrophic to my self-image. It would have been proof that I wasn’t worthy. This year, I was surprised they weren’t there, that I had not heard from them. I missed their presence and  hoped they would still come. When they didn’t,  I sincerely hoped they had just forgot, that everything was ok with them and their loved ones.
When I realized what had actually happened, I felt a jolt of pure joy. All these years of hard inner-work had paid off. Of course, I had already noticed enormous shifts in my self-perception, but this felt like coming home. Home at last!

on becoming an optimist

9 10 2007

We all have beliefs about life. Our perception is constantly scanning our environment gathering evidence to prove our beliefs are right. This is how pessimists and optimists can view a similar experience oppositely. Their outlook on life is completely different. A pessimist believes there is a negative side to everything. An optimist believes good things can come from bad experiences. A pessimist could too, if (s)he’s willing to find a positive side to everything.

The beam in my own eye

27 09 2007

I could get so frustrated by people’s behaviour. Why was he always late? Why did she never return my phone calls? Why was the person in front of me driving slowly? Their perceived lack of consideration could make me so angry. On some level, it even made me feel as if I didn’t matter. Until I learned that I was late on some occasions, I did not always return phone calls, I drove slowly when I was relaxed. Apparently, what irritated me with others were my own unrecognized (bad) habits. I was baffled. From then on, whenever I got frustrated or cross with someone, I realized that I must be culpable of the same ‘crime’, so I investigated how, when and why I did or had done the same. What I have discovered is shocking. The evidence I have uncovered is rather discriminatory. So for now, all I am willing to say is that I have become very, very, very tolerant toward other people.

gratitude attracts gratefulness

25 09 2007

Most of my life, my glass has been half empty. I was not happy with my life. I focused on the things that I didn’t have, that weren’t going the way I wanted. I wasn’t grateful for all the things I did have. You cannot see your glass as half full and half empty at the same time. At one point, I started a gratitude journal. Each day, writing down 5 things I was grateful for. At first, it was so hard. I just didn’t know where to look for it. But slowly, I learned to find gratitude in everything. In the smile of the woman passing by, in the bird singing his song, in the green of grass, in the way raindrops tick on my window, even in the way my tummy looks after giving birth and the extra pounds I have gained. Nowadays, my glass is half full on a bad day, but full on most days. I have learned that gratitude attracts gratefulness. What are you grateful for?

What makes sense to me

20 09 2007

I know christians as well as atheists who stick to their principles with ardour. They have taken a stand and will not budge. Not when there’s evidence pointing in the other direction, not when an inner voice whispers there might be an other side to their truth. It is their way or the highway.
I was one of them. I was afraid to see the evidence and to hear that inner voice, because I feared my life would collapse if the foundation was taken away.  It did, but under the remnants I discovered another foundation. I discovered me.
The real me doesn’t know for sure if there is a higher power, what it is like or if it affects my life. What I know is that I feel it’s presence in everything. Maybe, my mind is playing tricks on me. I don’t care. It may not be logical, but it makes sense to me to believe I am a spiritual being having a human experience, to believe I am part of something bigger, to believe the journey continues after this life. I may not believe everything that is written in the scriptures, but it makes sense to me that a higher power cannot be captured by human vocabulary. You may think I’m fooling myself. You may think I’m no true believer. Maybe.
I ask you to consider that your beliefs are … well… beliefs, that whatever you believe, you have chosen to believe. So, until this great Mystery is solved,  I choose to believe what makes sense to me. I listen to my heart and follow that inner voice …

Don’t cheat yourself out of a choice

18 09 2007

“I’m a woman, I should be able to bear children.” I heard a woman say who is physically unable to have children naturally or through IVF. I am deeply sorry for her, not only because she cannot fulfil a lifelong dream, but also because she is not willing to let go of that dream. She feels cheated by nature, by God and she’s angry about it. I can understand that. She believes giving birth is her birthright. She cannot accept this is beyond her call. She is fighting a fight she cannot win and is depending her happiness on something she cannot control.
In everything, she sees reminders of the children she should have. She says she feels stuck. I am not surprised and am afraid she will for the rest of her lifeif she doesn’t drop the ‘shoulds’. Been there, done that. Different subject, same should. I can tell her it’s a dead-end. Instead, I have learned to see my life as it is, to change the things I can change and accept those I cannot. I have learned that in some circumstances, my power lies in how I cope with them. I have learned that choosing a different perspective changes the way I feel about them. I have learned this choice is my birthright. I have chosen to count my blessings, become pregnant with hope and have given birth to happiness. With all my heart, I hope she will too.

Reality is superceded by our limited perceptions

15 09 2007

‘Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvres in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battlship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”
“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.
Lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant we were on a collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you to change course 20 degrees.”
Back came a signal, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”
The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.”
“I’m a seaman second class,” came the reply. “You had better change course 20 degrees”
By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send, I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.”
Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”
We changed course. ”

Frank Koch – Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute
as cited in The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey

Smiles instead of hairdos

14 09 2007

While I was riding my bike, I saw this woman walking behind a stroller. She smiled at me. She looked happy. I smiled back somewhat automatically, because all I could think of was her hairdo. So eighties!
As I had passed her it struck me that because I had been passing a judgement on her, I had not been able to reciprocate her kindness. This holier-than-thou attitude blocked my vision. I didn’t  see her as she really was, because I was focussed on what I thought she should be like. It blocked my empathy, as this experience was all about me. Being judgmental impedes humanity. From now on I’ll focus people’s forte. I’ll concentrate on  smiles instead of hairdos.

Breaking the spell

13 09 2007

This week, a friend came by my house unexpectedly. It was a mess. He walked through my living room a few times, sighing with relief. He was so happy my house could be a pigsty too. I felt horrible. As my friend was celebrating the mess in my living room, I was doing my utter best to convince him this was not normal. Everything would be normal within an hour, clean and tidy. Although he clearly felt more at ease with me now he knew I was only human, I was trying hard to uphold this image he had had of me. I was under the spell of perfection.

For most of my life, I’ve been under it’s magic charm. I was led to believe that if people got to know the real me, they would not love me. So I desperately tried to live up to this self-created picture perfect image. Up to the point where I could not separate myself from the image I had created. I was all tangled up. I had to learn I could not please every one, had to learn I did not want to live up to everyone’s expectations. The best I could do was doing my best at being me. In doing so, I somehow have broken the spell and slowly have got to be me again. But sometimes I stumble upon a part of me that is still living under that vicious spell called perfection. When I spot it, I look my demon in the eye and murmur my counter spell over and over again: perfection is boring, perfection is boring, perfection is boring, perfection is…

What will it take for you to be happy?

11 09 2007

At this moment in her life, this was perfect for her, said a woman living in an apartment of 23 m2 (about 250 ft2) in the West-Village, NYC. Maybe one day she would love a penthouse with a roof terrace, but for the moment she wouldn’t want it any other way.  It raises a question: How much do you need to be happy? Do you really need that extra pair of shoes, that bigger house? How long before you would want more? Really, what would it take?  Imelda Marco’s shoes? Buckingham Palace?

This year, I’ve come to understand that if you’re not happy with where you are and what you have in this moment, all the shoes in the world or the largest house on earth will not make you happy. I repeat: will not make you happy! You will always be in search for more. Life will never be good enough.  Ask yourself: would you rather be happy now or in a year? Well, what are your waiting for? Choose to be happy right now. Love who you are. Be grateful for what your have. And enjoy what you do. Everything else will come naturally…

I Recognize That I Give Life Meaning

8 09 2007

It’s up to me to give life meaning – I don’t expect others to give it meaning for me. I create my own reality.

Deepak Chopra – Success Cards

This is… whose mind… IT IS!

6 09 2007

Yesterday, I cleared up my inner basement. It was a dump. I couldn’t even move around.  Without realizing, I had held on to a lot of beliefs I just didn’t need any more. I keep yearly spring cleanings, so I was under the impression my mind was not too cluttered. But in stead of tossing old beliefs, I had apparently been storing them in the basement, because I found heaps and heaps of them. Newer beliefs on top of older ones. I couldn’t belief I had been holding on to so much broken records. What had I been thinking?!
So, I lined up everything I found on the driveway. I walked by all these beliefs, looked at each belief and decided in a split second if it was still useful or not. I guess about 95% went to the local dump. The other 5% I organized neatly on some shelves.
All mess is distracting. A cluttered mind as much as a cluttered house. Energy can’t flow freely there. You may say: what you can’t see, isn’t there. But you know, the point is: you know it’s there! You may say:  it doesn’t bother me. Then I’ll say: O yes it does, you just don’t know it, because you have never consciously lived a clutter free life. Clutter holds you back. So, just clear up one area of your mind and you’ll be amazed at the how good it feels to move freely through your thoughts, to clearly see what you’re thinking and to simply enjoy being there. You decide who’s in charge: some bunch of old beliefs and habits or YOU. It’s your mind, you claim it!

Laziness is in the eye of the beholder

5 09 2007

Yesterday, I had a great day. I did some research for this website, took some photographs, read a book for a while and took my daughter for a walk in the sun. In addition, I folded the laundry, reorganized the bathroom, cooked, cleaned the kitchen, and took care of my nine month old girl, but I didn’t do enough. Or so I felt, because I didn’t clean the bathroom or clear the basement. As I said, I had a great day, except for those feelings of guilt, hanging over me like dark clouds. And somehow, they managed to cloud my whole day.
Why do my days have to be packed with activities I don’t like? Even as I am writing these words, I’m feeling the urge to add some things to make you believe I actually had a very busy day. Why am I afraid people might think I’m lazy? Why do I have such difficulty accepting that part of me would like nothing better than curl up in the corner of the couch and read a book all day or take my little girl for long strolls in the autumn sun.
My so called laziness allows me to engage in activities that are close to my heart, like painting, writing, singing, photographing and playing with my little girl. I should know better than to feel guilt when enjoying life. I guess laziness is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe the real question is why I see the activities I love as mere pastime, not real activities. So today, I’ll  be clearing the basement.  My inner basement.

Touched by an angel

4 09 2007

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou

A house is a house is a house

3 09 2007

On the news, I saw a man who was $14.000 in debt. Due to the  increasing interest, his monthly mortgage costs had increased by $700. Yet, he was very reluctant about selling his house. He didn’t want to go back, he said. Back to what, I wondered. Why was he holding on to a house he so obviously couldn’t afford? It was clear that this was about more than just a house. What was he afraid of losing if he sold that house? It seemed as if his self-esteem was linked to this structure of wood. He was even willing to get more indebted to hold on to this false sense of security. 

How about you? Have you built your self-esteem on fleeting things like success, good looks, health or even a house. How far would you go to keep the picture perfect? How would you feel about yourself if you lost your ‘house’?

I have learned that true self-esteem comes from self-love. Ask yourself: which parts of yourself do you need to accept, before you can love yourself? Why can’t you simply accept these parts and what will it take for you to accept them? Work through the answers. Have patience and most of all: have compassion on yourself. Then one day, when you’ll lose your ‘house’, you’ll be able to stand tall, accept the challenge and move forward.  Then you’ll know that a house is a house is just a house.