Change starts at home

12 11 2007

Last week, after having lost a board game, I realized that playing that game, not only meant playing by the rules. If I wanted to win, I had to accept it would be a win/lose situation. I didn’t want to lose again, so I used every trick I could think of to beat my opponent’s ass.  Which I did, by the way. 
As much as I love winning, I discovered I have a deep need for the other to win too. I understand a game is just a game. It is not about winning or losing, it’s about the people I play with. In life, it is no different. In life too, it is about the people I interact with. I can’t afford to win if that means other people will lose. I realized, for me to succeed in the long run, I need to create win-win thinking in every area of my life. An ambitious project, but fortunately change starts at home…. 
How I can spark in my board game partner the same sense of excitement in winning together as he has in wiping me of the board? Mmmm, I wonder how I can win him over…

A good return on investment

6 11 2007

I have been depressed for years. Being depressed, I did not feel like doing anything, and the less I did the less I felt capable of doing. There were days when coming out of bed was daunting, going to the store to buy food would equal climbing Mount Everest. Until I recognized how doing little or nothing had reinforced the state I was in. To get better, I had to do things.
So the years that followed, I was mainly being busy not to do nothing. Most days, I was continuously doing things from the time I got up to the time I went to sleep. On other days, being tired of being so busy, I mindlessly sat in front of the TV or read some boring book. Until I recognized how being busy to be busy left me numb. To feel fulfilled, I had to do things that are important to me.
So these days, next to doing things that just need to be done, I do a little nothing everyday and ideally spend the rest of my time on things that matter to me. It is not easy, sometimes even daunting not to turn on the TV, but I have learned that, even when feeling tired, giving energy to things that fuel me gives me more energy. I don’t know how, but the energy I invest comes back to me morefold. I can honestly say I have never felt so good in my life.

‘You can do anything you want to do.

3 11 2007

What is rare is actually wanting to do a certain thing: wanting it so much that you are practically blind to all other things, that nothing else will satisfy you… I know I have said a lot when I say ‘You can do anything you want to do’. But I mean it… Blunder ahead with your personal view… The real work of art is the result of a magnificent struggle. ‘

Robert Henri in The Art Spirit

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.

Sweet darkness

31 10 2007

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love…

The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte

Will the real me please stand up?

29 10 2007

Do I let people see the real me? (Is this a trick question?) A part of me wants to scream ‘Of course you see the real me!’. As hard as I try to live life without masks, deep inside some part of me always pretends her way through life, pretends to be smarter, wiser, more disciplined than I actually am. That’s not the real me though. I’m the one messing up all the time. I’m the one struggling. I’m the one who can’t seem to find the time to meditate, who doesn’t always eat right or find the time to exercise.  The real me is ok with that, doesn’t mind showing my imperfections to the world. I’m human, I’m born to make mistakes. That doesn’t mean I let these mistakes define me. I always wants to do better, to learn from my mistakes. The real me knows I can be all I want to be, but sometimes it helps to fake it ‘til I make it.

Personal investment

27 10 2007

A new philosophy, a new way of life, is not given for nothing. It has to be paid dearly for and only acquired with much patience and great effort.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Ask, and it will be given

26 10 2007

Who am I meant to be? This question I have asked myself for years. I was sincere in my quest, but had not yet evolved to the point where I could recognize the answer. Now for the first time in my life, I believe I can. It was there all along, but I was not ready to find it. I did not know my own potential, nor did I have the security to take on the challenge ahead of me. Now I do.
Now is my time. I have no clue how to bring my dream to life, but I know I will. I don’t know what it will take, but I know I am willing to make this happen. I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I know it will be revealed to me as long as I keep asking the right questions.

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.

Give the world your best

20 10 2007

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
What you may spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
Give the world your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

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!

Big rocks first

15 10 2007

‘Most people go through life rather organically, whereas you have a whole set of rules you apply,’ a friend mused, referring to Thursday’s post. That is true, I’m an all or nothing kind of person. For most people, this is hard to grasp, they think I’m too strict on myself. As for me, it is about giving the right kind of energy. For instance, I want to age healthily. To attain this goal I need a healthy lifestyle and part of that is exercise. I decide to go running every day. Of course, I could start with once a week, but that doesn’t work for me. I need it to be an automatism to get up at a certain time, put on my shoes and just start running, rain or shine. This way, I do what matters without putting in the effort. I don’t have to think about it, I just do it. Same with meditation, study and, writing this post. In the bowl that is my life, I try to put in the big rocks first, than the pebbles, than fill it up with sand. This way, everything will fit in, whereas the other way around…  you just do the experiment yourself and find out.

True happiness

13 10 2007

‘Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling;
true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents.’

John W. Gardner

Life is a game

12 10 2007

Long ago, on a sunny summer’s day. On a green lawn, a young girl is hula hooping. Trying to keep the hoop around her waist as long as possible. As it goes down slowly, she’s keeping it going around the knees, even around the ankles. Laughter when it eventually drops. She picks it up and starts over again. She’s relaxed, confident that next time she’ll do better.  Nothing on her mind yet, just the sheer joy of playing. This girl, or boy if you prefer, may have been me or you. Somewhere along the way, I lost that playful feeling. Life became doomingly serious. It is not. Life is a game. I just forgot how to play, how to have fun while failing. I’ll be playing hula hoops for the rest of my life. Laughing when it drops, picking it up and starting over again.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

11 10 2007

I have committed myself to entering one post every day, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Seven posts a week, four of which my own writing. What do I do then when my mind is blank, when I have nothing to write about? Do I search frantically for some subject no matter what or do I renegotiate my commitment and let go? I was busy doing one, almost resorting to the other, when I was reminded there is a lesson in everything, all I have to do is capture it in writing. One lesson, one post, done.


10 10 2007

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes 

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.

My life, my choice

8 10 2007

I used to be a notorious people pleaser. I believed pleasing people was a quality.  Until, one day, I recognized that I had made some of my poorest choices simply to please others. It was my weakness. People pleasing was my addiction. It was not about the rush, it was about soothing the fear people would love me less. I craved their approval so much, I would do anything to get it. It had left me feeling numb. I did not feel alive. Then and there, I decided I would make a conscious effort to be honest about what I wanted in life. I understood it would not be easy, certainly not in the beginning. It meant confronting my fear and confronting people with my own choices. This was difficult, because I did not want to hurt their feelings. I slowly learned that as much as I am responsible for my own happiness, so are they for theirs. This is my life. In the end, only I am held accountable.

Swing is a state of arrival

6 10 2007

Rowers have a word for this frictionless state: swing … Recall the pure joy of riding on a backyard swing: an easy cycle of motion, the momentum coming from the swing itself. The swing carries us; we do not force it. We pump our legs to drive our arc higher, but gravity does most of the work. We are not so much swinging as being swung. The boat swings you. The shell wants to move fast: Speed sings in its lines and nature. Our job is simply to work with the shell, to stop holding it back with our thrashing struggles to go faster. Trying too hard sabotages boat speed. Trying becomes striving and striving undoes itself. Social climbers strive to be aristocrats but their efforts prove them no such thing. Aristocrats do not strive; they have already arrived. Swing is a state of arrival.

Craig Lambert in Mind over water

I keep walking ’till the sun comes up

5 10 2007

Several years ago, I wrote a mission statement for my life. When I look at it now, it is clear I didn’t understand exactly how to write it; how powerful language is. But most of all I didn’t ask myself how I could make it true. I didn’t make a plan to make it work. I didn’t understand a mission statement is a sort of living will, it not only ensures that I am aware of what I want in life, it provides a plan to act on. These last weeks, I’ve been thinking about creating version 2.0., but I didn’t know exactly how to handle it. This week, while reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I learned exactly how to make it happen. All I needed were the right questions to ask myself and some knowledge on how I process information. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ll be all I can be

4 10 2007

A man who lost both his legs in an near-death accident, climbed the Kilimanjaro. A woman who was overweight for her entire life, lost over 300 pounds. A boy who was born without legs, ran the marathon. These people can break our limited perceptions of what is possible. Their accomplishments awed me, but I didn’t understand, and therefore dismissed these  stories to the realm of the amazing. It never occurred to me they were showing me I could do great things too.
All my life I’ve limited myself by thinking ‘I can’t do that’ or  ‘I would never be able to do that.’ Yesterday, I shifted gears. I changed my obsolete mantras for a brand new one: I can do this, I just have to figure out how.’ However impossible it might seem at the moment, I’ll be all I can be. I don’t know how I’ll get there, but I will. I believe that when I’ll keep the end in mind, keep believing in myself and just keep going, I, too, will accomplish great things.  

A Psalm of Life

3 10 2007

 Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spirit like water

2 10 2007

From crying profusely when a cake collapsed to being apathetic when my boyfriend was five minutes late. From cleaning my house, basement to attic, when my mother-in-law would come to not calling the dentist when I needed to. Most of the time I did not react appropriately to what was happening in my life. Over the years, things have gotten better, but my reactions are still off. I have high hopes for the future, though.
Alone by getting aware of this imbalance, I attained more balance already. It feels so good, I want more. I want to reach a state called mizu no kokoro. I want to have ‘a spirit like water’, be a perfectly still pond, mirroring the amount of energy that comes to me. If someone throws a pebble, I want to ripple accordingly and then return to calm. I want to go with the flow, be a current, following the path of least resistance. If I meet a rock, be it big or small, I want to simply follow its shape and keep flowing toward the sea. Which reminds me: I really do need to call that dentist.

How I got my act together

1 10 2007

Understanding I’m responsible for my life and claiming that responsibility has been a cathartic experience for me. I remember being very reluctant at first, as it meant I was responsible for the mess in my life. I had been an expert in blaming it on outside circumstances. Every job interview that did not lead to a job was because they wouldn’t look beyond my resume and because there were always people with more experience. It took some time for me to be able to admit I had created that mess. It had not been my intention. I had not been aware of what I had been doing.  But I had created it nonetheless. It took courage to admit that I had not gotten the job, because I had believed upfront I would not get the job anyway and therefore had not been able to convince them that I would be a great asset to their company. It took strength not to grieve over all those lost years and blame it on my past, but to forgive myself and move forward on this new road. I have learned that being fully responsible for my life not only gives a sense of control, but most importantly it expands my life by creating opportunities that weren’t there before.

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.


26 09 2007

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

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?

My past is my past

24 09 2007

What part of your past would you like to fast-forward or even skip altogether when telling your life story?  In stead of curling up in shame, trying to avoid the pain or maybe denying it happened at all, you could try to find some positive meaning to it. What have you learned from it? What has that brought you? And what can you learn from it now?
I believe every situation holds an opportunity for spiritual growth. I have come to deeply appreciate difficult periods in my life for they have taught me the most amazing life lessons.  For instance, I have learned that I always bounce back, that I can turn bad things into positive experiences, that my life is worth living simply because I am here. My past is my past. It has made me who I am today. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

It is but a dream

22 09 2007

All that we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream.

Edgar Allan Poe