You Need a 2017 Board

Ahhhh, can you feel it? That’s 2016 finally taking its last breaths, transforming today’s rubbish into yesterday’s lessons––maybe only metaphorically, but that’s not nothing, and soon it will be obviously true as well.

So, what’s next?

I’ve been working on my 2017 Pinterest board to figure that out. I like the ease of pinning info with website pages, they’ve got that add-on button. Pinterest isn’t for everyone though, use an organizing tool w/images like this, or go old school in a sketchbook or something of that sort.

Just pick something that incorporates images and text in a way that you’ll like looking at over and over.

First, map out your top goals for your year.

What are the first things you think of? If something seems random, note it anyways, as it could be your subconscious peeking out. Then purposefully move on to other “outside” areas: health, hobbies, relationships, love, work, etc.

Then it’s time to move on to “the invisible you.” (nods ❤) What qualities would you like to work on cultivating this year? Have you been hearing repetitive feedback from those around you? Maybe it’s time to listen better, or to say what you mean. Pick at least one. (That’s super easy.)

For each experience or quality that you’re fruition-ing in 2017, choose an image. Choose one that makes you think of the idea in a quick glance, ideally that also makes you feel good. For example, if it’s listening better: Don’t pick an image of someone droning on and another trying to focus, pick one that makes you think of why you want this thing in your world–ex., something that makes you think of harmonious relationships.

In the text for each image remind yourself of why this is a badass addition to your life, “A reliable car that gives me freedom to go wherever I please.” Also, articulate specifics that’ll help you focus over the year, like if you’re working on bringing new relationships into your life, what kind of qualities do you want in them? Warmth, honesty, kindred interest in Star Wars? Get specific.

I highly recommend setting options to private, or keeping your board somewhere personal. It can be easy to accidently account for others’ opinions and bullshit if you think it’ll be seen. (I don’t care if you love and trust them, that’s not what this is about, it’s about connecting to your authentic needs and wants.)

Now go about your year, remembering to look at your board at least weekly!

It’ll just be a few minutes of your time, but the effects on your focus will be a delightful surprise. Why haven’t most of us achieved our dreams, or become the people that we want to be?

Because we were busy doing other stuff and forgot.

Not out of sight, in your mind where you can remember to do something about it.

Alllllright, 2017!

 

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What is Detachment?

What is detachment? How is it helpful?

In the world of woo, detachment is often first encountered via Buddhism where it’s an important principle meant to release from desire and consequently from suffering. I find this area of Buddhist thought to be a bit of a drag, it’s a whole lot about releasing desire, which I think is a ridiculous thing to do.

No longer having desire is a symptom of depression. Desire provides direction. Direction to joy if you do it right. Reflect on why you desire things, fo sho, learn what truly gives you joy in this life. Be honest with yourself. And then desire away!

Desire. Want. Dream. Plan. Do.

*And then let go.*

That last bit is where detachment does its magic. Detaching from the outcome creates energetic space, allowing for openness and receptivity. Do the work, seek inspired actions, daydream about the most desired outcome–but that’s it.

Don’t think about how much you want it. Don’t focus on how you don’t have it. Don’t stew in how you are more deserving of it than someone else. Don’t place the ideal of your future happiness in it. Don’t pressure it. Leave it be.

Even wonderful outcomes are temporary, and every outcome leads to another one–sometimes you just gotta shrug and have faith that the right things are happening in perfect timing.

Or combat attachment with acceptance by embracing this mantra: it is what it fucking is.

Word.

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I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. – Brene Brown

What is an eclipse season?

Eclipse seasons happen every Fall and Spring (usually! 2017’s 1st is in February), and they are grand inciters of change. What doesn’t suit you anymore will crumble away (even if you thought you wanted it), and what you need will start entering (even if you think you don’t want it). Eclipses are as change-makers that put us back on our path, ’cause man do we get distracted.

I’ve had several day-of events, but the time around the dates of the eclipses are also way in the mix. I started paying attention just a few years ago, and for me it hasn’t been more than a week for wack-a-doo out of nowhere events. But the energy of the eclipse effects the next six months, until the next one.

On the second eclipse (they come in pairs) it’s often been not so much an event as a significant change of heart and focus, or the beginning of something new and awesome— something that will be memorable in hindsight, but that day you might be like “eh.”

Eclipse seasons can be very hard, CRUNCHY, to be more specific. There’s lots of things happening not only to you, but to everyone you know—so there’s lots of people feeling all crazy-like, which is always fun. (I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic there… It can actually be fun too!)

Eclipse seasons aren’t hard because “bad” things happen, and they aren’t anything to be scared of. Change is good. Change creates growth. What’s the point of rereading the same old chapter? It feels good to move on. Eventually.

They have a whole lot of uncertainty about them, which can be a scary place to be in. But the thing is—you never have certainty. Sometimes it looks like it, but we all know that anything can happen. Plan for what you want and do the damn best with what you get’s kinda my M.O. on that front.

Stay chill, expect the unexpected, and remember that every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.

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What is Serendipity?

Is it like luck? Is there ice cream?

Serendipity is a magical 90’s gem of a flick that’s not to be missed. It’s also a phenomenon succinctly defined in said movie as a fortunate accident. It was coined in 1754 via a fairy tale whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

Serendipity is good friends with synchronicity, but it comes with presents.

Not always things per say, but it’s a more external experience, for sure. A synchronistic moment can happen pretty internally, like you can have one and no one around will be aware; but with serendipity, there’s going to be a ‘What? That’s perfect!!’ kind of moment.

Serendipity is always synchronistic, but synchronicity isn’t always serendipitous. With serendipity, there needs to be an external “accident” of sorts—whereas synchronicity is coincidence-oriented, but you can’t have a happy accident without a coincidence. Ya hear?

To encourage serendipity I highly recommend doing whatever you want. You know, consequences are a thing, but in my experience random desires or cravings often lead to awesome serendipitous fun!

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What is Synchronicity?

Is it the same thing as a coincidence?

Synchronicity was first explained by a badass named Carl Jung, who also pioneered the widely known concept of the collective unconscious. It basically says that that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.

Out about in life synchronicity can look like thinking about a song and then hearing it. Or it can look like forgiving someone you haven’t talked to in too long, then them calling. It can look like wanting to go to a concert, then some rando winds up paying you to go. It can look like a city coming up everywhere you look, deciding to move there, and then a best friend calling you to say she’s moving there. (Hi Greta!)

At it’s most awesome synchronicity can clarify decisions, leading to choices that feel aligned with the best version of yourself—and at it’s most random, it’s damn amusing. I have a neighbor named Bryan Adams, and I was debating contacting him to make friends a few months ago; when on my TV Pheobe from Friends suddenly starts talking about Bryan Adams. (The One with the Canadian Coincidence.)

I notice more synchronicity when I’m feeling the flow—when I’m in the groove, going with the flow, being the green reed, as it were—when I’m naturally moving towards whatever feels right to you in that particular moment. (Meditate to figure out what the heck that is!)

Rather you think they’re just coincidences or if you think that they’re a cosmic wink, synchronistic moments are definitely fun. In a world where Donald Trump can almost be president and shows like Freaks and Geeks are killed long before their time, and you know, the truly fucked up shit out there—why not enjoy a magic moment?

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Non-wimpy sensitives, and how to be one.

I recently confronted someone and was accused of being sensitive. I denied it a little too vehemently and then pointed out that that’s a shitty thing to call someone who’s trying express that you’ve upset them. I felt like they were saying my feelings and perspective were irrelevant, due to this “sensitivity”.

This upset me due to valuing this relationship greatly, but it also upset me because having developed a much thicker skin is something that I’m proud of. I was 16 the day I decided to stop making excuses and to own my shit. A coach called me the weakest link, I cried and explained (excused), and she called me out right there in front of everyone.

I did listen that day, but I was 16. And not a super mature 16 either.

Luckily when we don’t get the message, life tends to repeat the lesson. Over the years life just kept teaching me how to not take things so personally. I went to college and majored in fine art, where each piece was evaluated by a large group critique that you have to just listen to and be chill with. That was a learning experience, to say the least…

I’ve been in marketing for the last decade, a field where people really aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’m a writer, (now) happy to deal with critiques from editors because that means I’m being published. I temped for a couple years, which is repeatedly starting from scratch and constantly being the new person. (Always learning. Always fucking up because you’re learning.)

For the most part, I’ve learned to take a critique effectively and I’m down with constructive criticism––which just looks like good advice when done with style.

But I am (a) sensitive.

This topic is one of those that kinda have two meanings, there’s a science-based official definition; and there’s new-agey definition that’s not at all official but is used all over, it’s part of the culture’s vernacular.

The official definition: sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait, a high measure of which defines a highly sensitive person (HSP), has been described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity. But in the world of woo it also involves empath traits, basically being very sensitive to others’ energy and having great intuition.

Sensitives feel extremely deeply, both the good stuff and the bad stuff. We care. Immensely. Doing all of this takes a lot of energy. I’m learning to prioritize, to accept that spreading myself all over and being weaksauce with my boundaries makes me feel like poo. We’re highly affected by others. Though shielding helps worlds, I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m with people who make me feel understood.

Crowds can be miserable-making. Before shielding, I couldn’t go anywhere crowded without feeling like I might have a panic attack. My hands would get all sweaty, and I would feel like I was getting pulled a million directions at once, and I would then find the bar as fast as possible, haha. Watching violence is unpleasant for sensitives. Recharging is very necessary. (Sensitivity shares a lot of traits with introversion.)

Sensitives can be easily charmed. When we aren’t centered in ourselves, we tend to follow around people who are. (Dating in my 20’s, wheeeeeew!) Since we can strongly sense the energy of the person whose comfortable in their skin––it’s comforting. Especially when you don’t know about this stuff and have no clue it’s not yours.

Then they leave, taking their self-assured juju home with them, and the sensitive is left with their unprocessed emotions because they’ve been wandering around in someone else’s shit all day. Sheild up, friends!

Like many sensitives, I’m not super great at dealing with negative emotions. I spend the vast majority of my time being pretty darn happy-go-lucky, feeling all sparkly, and when negative emos come in I’m like, WTF am I supposed to do with you?! Bleeeerrrrrrg. I’m still pretty easily triggered, but I’m also dealing with a super not-fun homebound health sitch, so of course. (Learning opportunities, eh? I bet it will make it seem much easier once I’m better.)

A couple strategies for sensitives: I’m getting better at handling feeling pissed off, or frustrated, or slighted––due to a common lil’ strategy in the world of woo: if the emos are due to an interaction with someone else, or I’m in public, I take a minute and ask myself, “What am I afraid of?”, then “What would be so bad about that?”

If you ask yourself these questions, moving to the core of the issue, whilst focusing on your breath––you’ll probably find that the thing you’re afraid of really isn’t so horrible and find yourself much calmer. (And more rational.)

However, if you find yourself alone when the neg emos creep in, then I recommend leaning in. Process that shit. (If you feel ready, of course. If you’re dealing with serious trauma seek a pro.) Grab some tissues and feel those feels, find the still center of your inner tornado, let the emotions come up, and watch your thoughts with as much detachment as you can muster.

Emotions are a spectrum and properly feeling the low ends allows you to experience the really wonderful ones. We can’t numb only one end. (Goodbye pain, goodbye pleasure.) So lean in. Feel it, really feel it, but stay detached from your thoughts, remembering that they don’t define you. (Thoughts are often just a result of survival-oriented and environment created mental constructs, they aren’t “you”––you are really what watches those thoughts.)

So do it: cry, watch, cry, watch… And eventually, the emotion and thoughts will peter out. If you can manage to not hold onto the thoughts, if you don’t identify with them, let them go––the mind drops it. It starts to become a dying mental construct.

And you now feel a jillion gazillion pounds lighter, and understand yourself a bit more. Brilliant.

But I digress.

We were talking about highly sensitive homies, and how that means more than getting hurt feelings. In the world of woo, sensitivity often comes hand-in-hand with being intuitive. I’ve always been great at choosing people who I just vibe with, who are just perfect for me (in that moment), and I feel so lucky for that. I also get psychic presents from time-to-time, knowings and visions in my mind’s eye that come out of nowhere and then actually happen. So freaking cool.

But I also have some that haven’t happened, or that seemed symbolic and I haven’t figured out what they mean. And the majority of them aren’t particularly significant events, I’ll just be working, or looking out a window, or whatever––so I don’t really get the purpose there. (But it feels like magic and that’s not nothing!)

And while I pride myself on doing my best to not take things personally, staying solution-oriented, and owning my shit–I am sensitive.

And you can be both.

P.S. If you’ve wound up here researching the non-woo only definition of Highly Sensitive People, please don’t let my woo-ier opinions deter you from the science-based psychological approach.

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Why I give compliments (and other positives) even when it’s totally random.

I have a rule: If I think something nice about someone, I tell them.

I dealt with a whole lot of insecurity when I was younger, and when these issues would really rear their heads, when I felt just pointlessly unworthy––I’d try to remember the nice things that people had said to me, or about me. The weight of their kind words was gold, and their expressed views of me made me hope that I could look at myself in a similar way. And eventually, I did.

So now when a nice thought arises about someone, I express it.

Lovely sentiment, eh? But the truth is that people often think it’s pretty weird, or they seem to anyways––that’s what I take from unanswered Facebook messages and awkward giggles. A lot of people probably think I want them, even though I’m not talking about those kind of compliments and I’ve never been shy about my crushes. If I want you, we most likely either hooked up or you rejected me. (Or, you are a fictional character. Here’s looking at you, Dale Cooper.)

I think it’s just the way we’re wired. It’s evolutionarily wise to think everyone wants you, misplaced confidence has led to many babies indeed. Plus, it’s not “normal” to reach out to someone from decades ago just to say something nice, or to send them something that made you think of them. People assume there must be another motivation, and I bet that’s a pretty easy one to jump to.

But I don’t care. It’s a fucking weird world, and I want to help make it kinder. More enjoyable. More honest. It shouldn’t be weird to say nice things to people, even when it’s random. That should be the norm. It should be considered weird to think kind words but to keep them to yourself just because you’re scared. (Of what? Thoughts?)

That IS weird. Right?

I once read about an African tribe that had a beautiful way of dealing with their criminals. When someone’s wronged another, the tribe circles around them and they share all of the beautiful things that they think about the mistake-maker. They bring up all of the good they’ve done, they point to their potential, all of their awesome, and they tell them they know that’s who they really are.

And it works.

For a culture that is so incredibly centered on extrinsic motivation and approval, we’re pretty darn stingy with our compliments. But the good thing about constantly looking to one another for approval is that if it became normal to share the kind things, we’d be lifting each other up in no time! (And no putting yourself down after receiving nice words.)

Let’s make it normal. The next time you’re warmly reminded of someone, or see something that someone you know would love, or you randomly think something nice about an acquaintance––reach out.

Have you ever had a time so difficult that you wondered if you’d make it through? Of course you have. We all have. And it’s safe to bet that the randos in your life had no idea what you were going through. What if your kind words land on someone during a time like that? What if they help someone make it to the other side of their struggle?

I lost my mother to suicide when I was 14. The people on the outer circle of her life had no idea what kind of darkness was erupting within, she was probably laughing with co-workers about nonsense just days before it happened, but I know she debated it for years. No one knew about my dark times either, about scratching at my skin until it bled because the physical pain felt better than the emotional pain. I was voted “Most Friendly” earlier that year. No one had a clue.

My point is that we have no idea what battles the people we encounter in our lives are facing. No fucking clue. So if a kind sentence or action pops into your head, why not go with it? See where it takes you. I often get silence or awkwardness, but I also often get very sincere thank yous in return, and deeper connections with delightful folks.

So why not? 

Butterfly, or Man?

I’m a lover of lucid dreaming; when you realize that you’re dreaming, and gain the ability to control your dreams.  (Tips here.)  Though I’ve gotten pretty skilled at being lucid (experiencing what I want to in the dream), the actual becoming lucid often evades me for long periods.  I wrote this piece after one of those lulls had ended:

I had THE COOOOOLEST lucid dream this morning.  I hadn’t had one in months, I’ve been trying so hard, and nothing.  I was worried.  At around 4am my downstairs neighbor started rocking out to NPR super crazy loud (as one will do), and woke me up.  It took me forever to get back to sleep, perhaps putting me into extended Theta (deep brain wave, that in-between wake and sleep), and that’s why I finally became lucid?  Dunno.

It was so very fun, lots of flying!  I flew through clouds and they felt all misty, then I dove down into water and moved the sea floor, cruised through buildings, did gymnastics, lots of telekinesis, talked to some folks, man…oh!, and the men.  Good times, good times indeed.

I woke up to my alarm and was a bit upset.  Everything was so heavy in comparison.  I quickly got ready, my head still totally in the dream. (My outfit only sorta-kinda matches…)  The bike ride to work was very 80’s Nintendo Paperboy-like, with people and cars jumping out at me everywhere, cranky morning scowls abound.  What a friggin’ juxtaposition!  Ooofta.

Have you heard of Chuang Tzu?  He was a badass Chinese Taoist, up in the ranks with Lao Tzu (who wrote the book), way back in 360-ish BC.  One night he dreamt that he was a butterfly.  He flew about and enjoyed his butterfly life, wholly identifying as this butterfly.  Rockin’ them flowers, flitting about with his purty wings.  Just owning this life, he totally loved it.

He woke up confused by this other body.  Being a butterfly had felt so real.  He was that butterfly. He had had had no awareness of being this Chuang Tzu dude, and now he suddenly there he was – this wingless human thing with no apparatus with which to swill nectar!

Or was he a butterfly, now dreaming he was a man?

What was “real”?

I think it’s all real.  (Also it’s all an illusion and nothing is “real”.)  This heavy life where I’m a Meg is equally real as the lighter life of my lucid dream where I was an often body-less point of consciousness, conjuring up awesome on a whim.  And on a level deeper than that – I’m the observer of both of those lives.

Whoa, right?  Matrix and shit, yo.