Sensing Self

Why Excess Stuff = Excess Baggage

As a spiritually minded person who pays close attention to intentions and design, I’m naturally a big fan of Feng Shui. And now that I live in a new to me place that is being renovated and shared with another person and my life is undergoing a lot of change, my interest in Feng Shui has been renewed.

During times of change, a lot of old behavior patterns or unresolved fears can crop up. It’s important to remain mindful and intentional about our actions and do what we can to keep ourselves feeling nurtured and balanced. As environment has a big effect on our psyche and can tell us a lot about our internal environment, is particularly important to pay close attention.

Right now, Nat and I are in the phase of his condo renovation where stuff gets moved from room to room on a weekly basis. Last week we were sleeping in the living room, today all of our tools and personal stuff is piled high in the living room. As a person who has systems and pays close attention to detail, even I am having trouble locating things. For instance, my computer mouse. Has anyone seen my mouse? Oh how I’d really like to find it.

The mess!

The mess!

 

One of the foundational points of Feng Shui is that everything has energy. It’s not just you and the other humans and animals and plants in your home that have energy. Everything has energy and everything is talking all the time leaving with you memories, feelings, and impressions. The quilt on your bed that your mother made for you leaves you with thoughts or feelings every time you walk by it, every time you cover yourself to go to bed. The blender you received when you married your ex-husband leaves you with a feeling every time you pull it out of the cabinet to use. The dying plant by your front door leaves you with a feeling of guilt or indifference every time you walk by it and decided “I’ll water it next time.”

Our world is full of energetic people and objects that either give you energy or take it away. And that is why it is important to be very mindful of what you keep. A sparse home could be much more rejuvenating to you then a home full of beautiful but useless objects that leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to find what you need. (Still looking for that mouse...)

The right balance for each person is an individual thing but within you is the ability to discern whether or not your environment is nurturing you and whether or not you are nurturing yourself. If your life feels overwhelming or chaotic or just a bit off kilter, know that there are adjustments you can always make.

This past weekend, our neighbor accidentally knocked the fire safety sprinkler in her condo. Her home was flooded within minutes and it took a while for the fire department to show up and turn off the water. When Nat and I went over to see if we could help her move some of her stuff, she said that she knew she needed to clear out her overabundance of possessions. In fact she said, she had been thinking about doing this for a while but had kept putting it off. Now, she didn’t have a choice.

Our thoughts our powerful. Our desires pull towards us what we need. Either you can step into consciousness and do the work yourself, or life will throw your desired change at you in a way you would have preferred not to have happen.

I’m sure some cleansing and healthy growth will occur for our neighbor, she predicts it too. But she also said that she wished she had made the change sooner. As I look at the mess in my own living room, I can see the overabundance of items I do not actually need. I think I’ll take this as my cue to begin simplifying and let go of that which does not nurture me.

A Letter to Those Obsessed with Finding Their Purpose

( flickr )

Purpose is an amazing thing to have in life. It gives us drive, meaning, and even joy when our actions are fueled by it. But I don’t believe purpose is something we can find on our own, ego driven, rushed timelines. And therefore, searching for purpose is a bad idea. It will drive you mad. Purpose is something that finds you. You don’t find it. Purpose appears hazy and far off in the distance. If you think you can just make out its undefined edges, that’s great but don’t go running towards it. Keep your head down and get back to what it was that you were just doing.

Purpose begins to clarify; make its self-known when we have given up the search and have gotten busy with what we love. Purpose can be much too big for us to understand the full view. Purpose hangs out with God and we are fragments of God’s expression – one heartbeat, one pulsation of love.

Find something you enjoy, something that makes you curious, or something that you see needs fixing and get on with it! You don’t need to know where it will take you and that is just your ego getting in your own way anyhow.

Do what moves you even if it’s only a small step that will fill the next 30 minutes. That’s okay. There is always a small voice of knowing; a pull, an instinct there to guide you. Take a step forward. And if the next is not clear it’s only because you are again standing in your own way. And that’s okay.

Again, do what you can to calm down, slow down. Know that you are safe and not alone in this infinite universe. Once you do, your next bit of knowingness will appear.

The sooner you can get out of your own way the sooner you will move from fear and into the flow. You will find joy and purpose will take another step towards you.

You are not alone. You are not without purpose. You were not made to suffer. Joy and celebration are your birthright. But will you let it in? Will you claim it when it makes itself known?

No one is keeping you on the outside but yourself. No one is keeping you on the outside but your ego. Insisting life look a certain way is what keeps you from realizing life as a celebration. Your demands are fueled by your ego.

It’s okay. You’re human. We all feel stuck some (or most) of the time. But we can change. We can set aside our demands for the next 30 minutes. We can set aside our self-punishing thoughts (really, you can!) and jump into the moment. You can jump into what moves you. Honor your impulse to pull out your cookbook, write a letter, go for a run, or volunteer your time. Do the next thing, which might be the only thing that you know to do. In the process of following this instinct – this pull that no one but you can decipher – you will find joy and eventually, purpose will find you.

 

Why I Have a Spiritual Practice

Since I was a kid, I have been spiritually focused. I know there are a lot of ideas and definitions out there on what it means to be spiritual but for me, I take it to mean how I look at life. When something happens that may on the surface seem unpleasant or unfair, I try to look at what I am learning. I ask myself “How can I grow from this situation?” When someone is hurtful towards me, instead of being angry, I try to think, “Okay, from where are they coming? How are they hurting and how can I be compassionate?” Of course I don’t always get it right, but more often than not, my commitment to looking at life from a spiritual perspective encourages me to ask such questions. I know that there are some who think it is weak to place a value on forgiveness or not reacting to others' less than kind behavior. Some might think it weak when I accept what is rather than fight to make a situation different. On the surface, it might look like I ought to fight but if my heart tells me that this is not my battle, then I know to let go.

Of all the things that spirituality requires from us, I think letting go is the absolute hardest request of all. We invest so much energy into envisioning our lives turning out a certain way not to mention all of the work that we put into making our dreams a reality. There are real things that bring us much happiness in life such as the ability to dance, make our own decisions, fall in love, buy a home, and have the career of our dreams. And just as easily, or perhaps even more easily, we can lose our health, our independence, our lover, our home, and our wealth. And with these things we can lose our sense of security, our sense of place in the world, and all upon which we had banked our future happiness.

Sometimes, I think that believing in something higher than ourselves isn’t just a choice, it’s a necessity. To believe that the world is a benevolent place might be at a minimum essential. If we pin our happiness on certain experiences and people and because life is nothing if not unpredictable, how can we ever be hopeful if there is no guarantee to our happiness? Here is where a belief in something higher than ourselves and our willingness to let go comes in.

It isn’t weak to still be able to find happiness when our dreams fall apart. It isn’t weak to say “Wow, I’m disappointed but perhaps that job wasn’t the best fit.” It isn’t weak to say “She broke my heart but I guess she wasn’t ‘the one.’” And it isn’t weak to say “I’m in so much grief but perhaps he’s in a better place.” Despite our disappointments, pain, or our all-out, soul searing grief, it is okay to let go and look at what we have learned, what we have loved, and how we have grown. And it is okay to believe that it is all to our benefit; that perhaps there is some order to this seemingly chaotic world.

For me, if I didn’t have a spiritual practice, I think I would be a lot more pessimistic, regretful, angry, and discontent. Life doesn’t work out as we plan but if we can see the beauty in what has happened and how life is unfolding, then there is much to smile and be joyful about from moment to moment.

The hardest experience I have had to endure so far in life was the death of a friend over ten years ago. Willie was extremely intelligent, charismatic, compassionate, loyal, funny, and a beautiful musician. Had he lived, he would have turned 30 yesterday. For years my grief over his passing was absolutely unbearable. His passing and other events in life pushed me into a deep depression for several years. I could logically look at the situation and try to rationalize myself out of the grief but it never worked until I became committed to letting go of my desire to make the situation different.

Getting to that place unfortunately took years. For a long time, when I thought of Willie I allowed myself to be consumed by the intense grief associated with his passing. It probably took about five years before I was willing to take the ownership that was necessary to change the way I looked at the situation. Although I tried to focus on what was beautiful about having known and loved him I always came back to my desperation to have him back. It probably took me another five years after committing to change my mindset to actually make peace with what was.

Today, I still feel pain and sometimes my grief catches me in disbelief. But what is different is that the most difficult layer of my grief: my desire for a different outcome, is gone. If I need to cry, I cry but I no longer torment myself with wanting to change the past. Instead, there is more room within me to smile when I remember his silly antics or to let my heart melt when I remember how much he loved his family and mine. I have compassion for what he endured and hope that I am a better person because of him.

Letting go of our desire to control life isn’t weak. Relaxing into what is and letting our hearts expand even in the face of pain is brave. Believing that the world is a benevolent place and that we all have a place within it is wise. I choose to look at life from a spiritual perspective and because of it; I think I am a happier person.

Attitude: the Greatest Affecter of Your Quality of Life and You Can Control It

Here is something I have been working with recently. It’s okay to have a bad attitude, even a really bad attitude but only for a very short amount of time – say an afternoon or a day. Having a bad attitude is sometimes our way of recognizing how we feel. Life isn’t always rosy and we don’t always feel great about it and it is healthy to acknowledge our feelings.

Acknowledging how we feel is not going to hurt us. Rather, it will likely help us understand what is going on in our internal world and perhaps figure out how to make links to our external world so we can start to change what needs to be changed. So, as a form of acknowledgement, a bad attitude is okay. As a way of being though, a bad attitude can be very detrimental. The mind set in which we allow ourselves to exist will very quickly take over as what we believe to be reality. And what we tend to believe internally is nearly always reflected back to us by our external world.

If we believe that the world is a kind and benevolent place we will often see examples of this around us. If we believe that others are out to get us, that tends to be the experience we have with those in our lives over and over. This is why people tend to attract the same type of partner and friends again and again and again. Until we shift, our world will remain the same.

So, when I woke up this morning with the same bad attitude that I carried with me yesterday, I realized that I had to make a shift. My mind was feeling so moody and frustrated and out of control. Thank goodness though I am a pretty positive person in general because as I went to make some tea this morning, I felt a glimmer of my bubbly self rise to my emotional surface and invite me to choose a new perspective. Feeling different I knew was a choice.

I think it must be hard for a lot of people to recognize that our feelings are a choice. In fact, just reading this might frustrate some readers. If that was your reaction, I understand why you would feel that way.

It’s true though that our feelings and our thoughts are a choice. Just like we can choose where to focus our attention or what activities to engage in for the day, we get to choose our thoughts and feelings. The process of being able to do this well though does become easier over time if one is committed to a mindfulness process – whether it be meditation, writing, exercise, or even talking out loud to one’s self as I tend to often do in the car. :)

There are times in life that are more (or a LOT more) challenging than others. Throughout it all, we get to choose our attitude. It’s easier to start practicing this when life is not too difficult so you have some saving grace to draw on when life gets really out of control. Know that your quality of life is extremely affected by the attitude you chose to have each day.

If you are unable to internally cultivate a new frame of mind, use the resources around you; watch a funny movie, listen to an inspiring TED talk on-line, play with an animal, go outside to breathe some fresh air and soak in the sunshine. While our internal world greatly affects our experience of our outer world, there are many resources around you to help pull you into a better frame of mind. Use what you need as you work to cultivate your inner strength. It’s all a process and you are definitely capable of getting there.

In closing, here is something that I recently wrote on a Post-it Note that I carry with me daily. It’s my reminder and promise to myself to have a good attitude especially when navigating difficult chapters in life.

I choose my attitude which influences my experiences and determines my quality of life!

You can do it!

-Katie

Two Important Steps to Help You Access Your Intuition

Truth: on some level, we always know what we need. Sometimes, I get concerned that I am a little too dense to be able to hear my intuition. And then other times, I am surprise by what I know. Recently, after returning home from a two-week road trip, I began to become aware of a lot of subtle nudges about what my body and psyche needed. This felt like intuition….kind of…but it was so subtle that I thought perhaps these nudges were more just emotional desires than wisdom from my higher self.

However, within the next few days, the information I got on an intuitive level was being confirmed thorough books and articles that were coming into my life. Literature has a way of being a main message carrier for me. Perhaps for you you receive confirmation through music lyrics, conversations you overhear, or dreams that leave you dumbfounded in the morning. The synchronicities are everywhere if you are willing to have an open mind and look. For me, the words that were coming into my life were the proof I needed to know that what I have been feeling was in fact my intuition.

The messages carried by our intuition can often be so subtle that we doubt what we are sensing. Maybe that’s just gas? Am I making this up? It’s so easy to dismiss the information we receive from our higher selves. There are two important steps we can take though to strengthen our intuition.

One

Listen and act. The more we take our intuition seriously, act upon it, and reap the benefits from this divine guidance, the more audible our intuition will become. Like any muscle, our connection to our intuition can be strengthened.

Two

Remove what you can from your life that doesn’t add to your clarity. Naturally, there is a LOT that we could remove from our lives to help us gain clarity. Diet can be improved, toxic friendships can be removed, resentment could be released, forgiveness could be given, compassion could be bestowed.. upon ourselves, more sleep could be added, gentle exercise could be introduced, a regular centering, meditation practice could be adopted. There is much that we can do to remove the debris of confusion that is constantly swirling around in our lives.

Because insights from our intuition can be so subtle, clearing some of this debris will increase our chances of making contact with this wisdom. And if anything, there will be less guessing for us to do – do I feel this way because I’m tired? Maybe it’s because I’m stressed over the disparaging remarks my “friend” made yesterday, etc. You get the idea.

There are going to be a lot of times in our lives where we are unsure of what to do, unsure of which direction to take, or how to add quality to our lives. Luckily, we are never without our intuition to help guide us through any situation in life. Whether or not we are capable of hearing this wisdom though is another matter. Therefore, if you want access to your inner GPS system, it’s time to start listening and cleaning up your life.

Take a moment to get calm and quite. Then, from a centered place, asking yourself: “What are a few things I could do to add clarity to my life?” I’m willing to bet that you will find at least a few good points that rise to the surface of your consciousness. The truth is you already know what you need. The next step though, is learning how to listen.

Jealousy. It’s Not as Bad as You Think

The only time you feel jealous is because you feel you can’t have something. If you saw what you wanted in another and believed you could have it, you would feel inspired, not jealous. Here is another gift for our awareness. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for feeling jealous or even try to make ourselves not feel jealous. It’s like meditation. When meditating, if a thought comes into your head, you don’t need to beat yourself up for loosing track of your breath or even try to force the thought out. Instead, you can just observe that a thought has entered your mind. In a neutral space, the thought does not have to be a negative or positive occurrence. It just is. And of course it just is. Only humans label experiences as negative or positive. Before we came around, an experience was just an experience. Nothing more, nothing less. So…. back to jealousy (my, I do tend to get off track!). :) Jealously is just a feeling; an indicator for you, not necessarily an emotion that should be indulged or banished from our thoughts. Think of the last time you have been jealous. What triggered it? What were you observing? How personally empowered and confident were you feeling while jealous?

Heck, you don’t even have to just limit this helpful observation to jealousy. When have you ever been witness to someone’s good fortune and rather than feel great for them or inspired about what you too could accomplish, you instead felt weak, unsure of yourself, left with some doubt, or even feelings of self-loathing? In any of those situations, your beliefs about what you can have or be in life are really low. And this is what is limiting.

I think, before we can ever be or have what we want in life, we need to feel like we have permission to achieve what we want. This permission of course does not come from anyone but ourselves. Who cares if your dad doesn’t think you should take a nice vacation. If you however don’t think you should treat yourself well and take a nice vacation, then you can be absolutely sure you will never make this dream a reality.

Let me give you a personal example of one that I find difficult and probably one with which many of us struggle. Money. Ah, that’s loaded, I know! So, here is my situation. I envision myself one day writing books and being very successful at what I do. I believe that my books will help millions of people and that they will bring in more than enough money for me to be financially secure. And it’s tough because I am not that financially secure right now. I have a mortgage and I need some type of income to pay it. However, doubting that I can one day be financially wealthy certainly won’t help me obtain what I hope to achieve. And so, whenever this self-doubt arises, I remember that thoughts are extremely powerful and I immediately chose a new thought. I choose a more empowering thought like “Of course I can! The world is full of successful writers. I believe in what I have to say and I am a decent writer so why the heck couldn’t I be a successful writer?!” Even if I am just playing with logic (of course the possibility of being a successful writer exists), this contributes to establishing a healthy belief in myself and contributes to the odds of me achieving my dream.

So, feelings of jealousy or self-doubt? Hooray, what a gift! Now we have another clue to recognize what is standing in our way of where we want to go in life. Where in your life are you lacking permission? What limiting beliefs are standing in your way? Now, what positive thoughts can you choose to replace these limiting beliefs? Let’s chat about this this week and help each other adopt some more empowering beliefs. We all deserve to achieve the life we want. I truly believe that and I truly believe in you.

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Clutter. Why Have You Allowed It into Your Space and What Can You Learn from It?

Is your home and/or office filled with clutter? This includes the items that may be shoved in the closet out of sight. Items that you truly do use once and awhile are fine but what about all the items you never use? I have them. A lot less than I did a few months ago but I still have some. I do understand that it’s hard to let things go. What about that denim jacket I haven’t worn since high school? I might have some purpose for it, though that purpose has yet to crop up in the last ten years. What about those crystal candle stick holders my mother unloaded on me? I don’t even like the shape of them… but still, if I were to ever throw a really fancy dinner party, they might come in handy.

Okay, so it seems like life could be filled with a lot of what ifs. However, what if there is something deeper; below the what ifs? What if our clutter is actually a clue to understand more about ourselves and possibly even our next step? I remember once reading an interesting story in a book about a woman and her clutter (I would cite the book but it’s been too long to remember from where it came). Anyhow, this woman was a client of the author and the woman had stacks of paper EVE-RY-WHE-RE in her apartment. She had tried for years to tackle this problem yet the issue kept getting more and more out of hand. One day, the author asked the woman to go home in the evening, turn off the lights, light one candle and then just sit and be quite with herself. Given the chance to just be present, the woman might gain some insight into why these papers were such a persistent issue.

The woman took this advice and shortly into this process the answer came to her and she broke down sobbing. Among all the papers, the woman realized that she had notes on bits of paper here and there for a book she had been dreaming about for years. She was afraid to get rid of the papers because with it, she might lose her dream. Having this realization finally gave her the clarity and motivation she needed to clean up her apartment and start going after something she really cared about: her book. This woman then worked with the author to devise a plan and be held accountable to working on her book each week – in a much more organized manner. Once she began this process, the mounds of paper quickly dissipated. Naturally, this woman felt much more rejuvenated with a clear home, a clear mind, and a clear purpose.

So, let’s look at our own lives. Yes, the clutter isn’t nice and we have considered doing something about it many times. Maybe like me, you have made piles, put things in bags, even put those bags by the front door and then thought…but what if I really do need those items? I might regret it. And so the bags go back in the closet or under the bed. What if, instead of dropping the whole issue at that point, we instead considered whether or not there could be something deeper behind this issue. Why actually is this so difficult? What is it about this item that I am hoping might one day serve me?

Here is my personal example. I used to be a ballet dancer. I spent much of my childhood dancing and particularly dancing ballet. I continued some ballet in college and thus I had leotards, pink tights, hair nets, and a pair of ballet shoes. For years now, I have moved these items with me from one place to the next thinking that I might need them. Once I decided to get clear on why I still have these items here is the conclusion that came to me.

I love dancing. Dancing is extremely important to me and a vital part of my self-expression and happiness. Ballet however, is not a form of dance that I care to ever again formally pursue. With this level of clarity, it was easy to let go of the ballet gear and reassure myself that dancing will always be a part of my life. I already dance regularly but if I didn’t I would have begun to identify ways to incorporate it into my life. Having the clarity though that ballet was something I didn’t need to hold on to, even though it was once a significant part of my life, allowed me to clear my space and add to my mental clarity as well.

I hope this process becomes a tool that is useful for you and that you can use often.

Finally, it is important to be conscious about your choices moving forward. If your space is cluttered, that is because you let the clutter in. If you have taken the physical, mental and emotional energy to clear your space, are you going to allow the clutter to waltz right back into your life? It’s unfortunately much easier to fall into that trap than you might think.

For instance, I have a friend who is in the process of moving and gave me two of her items that she is getting rid of. My initial reaction was “These are cool items and they are free!” But then I realized, wait, she is getting of the exact same types of things I just got rid of in my own home. Items that could be useful or items that are pretty to have but items that I don’t really need and won’t actually enhance my life. It was with this realization that it was then easy to say “Thanks but no thanks.” I had a commitment to myself to keep and that resolve actually made me feel lighter and more in control of the life that I am actively creating.

So, if you remember to do so, always ask yourself before bringing something new into your home if it is in alignment with how you want your life to be. Try to be as conscious as possible with your choices. Will this item in question add to your joy or will it be in conflict with your personal resolve? Happy de-cluttering and inner gift finding!

Returning to Self; It’s a Moment by Moment Practice

As I have said before, I believe that all the answers we ever need are already within. We were born with our own innate compass and wisdom. I know firsthand however how easy it is to start believe that we need what is around us. Of course there are many great experiences to be had outside ourselves or even more seductive, there can be many sources of validation outside of ourselves. I think it is easy enough to understand why we don’t want to become dependent on outside sources for validation: if you lose the validation, you lose yourself, which can be especially true with relationships. Yeah, yeah, most of us have been there. ;)

The former point though (needing what is around us) can be a bit trickier to discern. Here is my personal example. For a while, I have been taking classes at a school that has given me a nice community and wonderful tools to further and deepen my personal growth. Recently however, I have found that I needed to take some personal space to be more present with myself and really integrate what I have learned thus far. I do think that was a perfect decision for me however within a few days, I found myself starting to grasp at the lessons that I might be missing by not attending class.

I had to come back to a place where I remembered what is most important to me in life; my spiritual growth. I’m not here to be on a fast track but I am here to know myself and deepen that relationship. By coming from a place of grasping or thinking that there was one answer or way to help me in my spiritual growth, I had lost sight of the truth that all I will every need is already within me. If I become fixated on needing something outside of myself, then I give up my personal power and the ability to do real, honest spiritual growth.

I can see now, that returning to self is a moment by moment practice. For now, I have decided to return to myself, to go within. However, tomorrow, I might be convinced that there is a yoga teacher in town that I absolutely must learn from until I myself become a yoga master. Who knows what it could be because there are many genuine and helpful sources of inspiration. Eventually though, I think that I will always remember that no matter where I go, there I am. All of the tools outside of ourselves are just that - tools (and wonderful experiences!) but they are never a substitute for our divine self. We are the answer that we seek; we are the source of peace that we are longing to find.

I hope that through every experience you have in life, you choose to bring yourself along. What I mean is that rather than losing yourself you chose to find yourself. It certainly is a commitment to bring yourself along because often times the way we feel or where we are at in this moment in our lives is a place we would rather escape. However, how can one find peace, which can only truly come from within, if we don’t ever choose to move through that which is uncomfortable? The beautiful experiences around us are opportunities to go within and cultivate our own peace and joy. The beautiful, inspirational, transformational, etc. experiences are not meant to just serve as a temporary salve to our pain.

Are there any times in your life where you have come to this conclusion? Or, are there any experiences you are having in life right now where you could shift your perception to see how these experiences are helpful but may not be the ultimate answer to finding you if you don’t allow yourself to be fully present? I suppose it is easier to see this from the opposite end of the spectrum. Perhaps you have experiences in your life that you really do not love but you know that they are still serving you to learn more about yourself and grow. Just as we know that the negative experiences are not the answer to ourselves, so too are the positive experiences. It is the returning to self, moment by moment, experience by experience that brings us to the peace and joy our soul is yearning to find.

Balance: Why It’s Elusive and Not Worth Your Effort

As you have guessed by the title, this post is not about a quick answer or solution to achieving balance. Rather, I am going to write about my experience in the hope that this might bring you some relief if your own quest is to find balance.

So, I have the personality type that loves to go all or nothing. When I decide I’m going to do something, I love to go all in. This especially comes to mind when I think about health. I can’t tell you how many diet books (this has to be in the hundreds) I have read. I haven’t ever been particularly interested in losing weight (for me that hasn’t been one of my struggles) but I have been absolutely obsessed with health. I have been obsessed with optimum health. Therefore, I have tried a lot of different, very strict eating regimes. Naturally, these have been impossible (for me) to obtain. And so, I would get discouraged until I came across the next great healthy diet book and once again became obsessively inspired to achieve optimal health.

I remember one day, when I had been through this pattern enough, that it clearly hit me that I would likely never achieve the self-discipline to maintain an immaculate diet. I laughed at myself and then said, okay, I still want to try but I just won’t take myself so seriously before, during, and after the process. The truth is I still love diet books on healthy, clean, optimum health. I enjoy the process of discovering such books, devouring every page as soon as I get home and then trying to figure out how to integrate the book’s recommendations into my life. I already know the outcome; I will try a few recipes, throw out all the dairy in my fridge (again!), and then drop the whole process before the week is over. But now, when I do this, I have fun. Even the after is fun when I can laugh at myself as I return the book to the library and buy more cheese because I don’t know what else to feed myself that is as convenient.

So, what is balance? Well, like everything in life I definitely believe it to be a process. I don’t think walking a fine line is that realistic or that it ever really contributes to any sustainable sense of joy. If balance is a process, I think the process is being in the moment, finding some lightness, and compassion for ourselves. So long as our actions are not self-destructive, I think it’s okay to swing a bit to the right and then leap a bit to the left.

Just like the seasons, change and extremes may not be all that bad. If I am feeling lonely, why not spend every night of the week being social rather than insisting that I need time alone to meditate? If a tree wants to bloom, it allows itself to go to the extreme of dropping its leaves and remaining dormant for the winter so that it may have the energy it needs to then go to the other extreme of producing full, beautiful blossoms in the spring. It’s okay, it’s a cycle and somehow, by being a part of the cycle, balance is achieved.

What do you think about balance? Is it elusive in your life or have you been able to achieve and maintain it? In what areas of your life are you striving for balance and what is your frame of mind if you don’t achieve it? If you are frustrated, what can you do to add more humor and lightness to your situation? I would love to hear your story and what you have learned along the way!

Why We Need to Ask Ourselves “What Do I Want?” More than Once

Sometimes, to get to the heart of the matter, I think we have to ask ourselves “What do I want?” more than once. For instance, I might say, I want to quit my job. Q: Okay, why? What do you want? A: Well, I don’t want to spend the majority of my time doing something that doesn’t make me happy. Q: Okay, what do you want? A: I want to do something that brings me meaning, something that brings me purpose. Response: Ahhh, now we are getting somewhere! Just with that identifier alone, it should be obvious that with the exception of showing up to my job every day because it is currently my responsibility until I make a change, I should not commit to other activities in life that do not bring me meaning or purpose. I sure as heck shouldn’t quit my job and take a new one that does not bring me purpose.

But we do silly things all the time that take us further and further away from what we want. And why do we do this? Well, there could be many reasons but certainly a big one is that we haven’t gotten to the root of what we really want. Let’s take the job example again. Say you don’t want the job you have. But rather than getting at the root of what you really want you engage in all sorts of self-sabotaging behaviors like eating junk food because you are bored, fighting with your significant other because you are frustrated, or jumping into another pointless job because you are desperate.

All of these activities add more drama to your life and enhance your lack of clarity. If you were able to identify the real issue and come up with a plan, imagine the clarity that could be added to your life. For instance, you might say, “Well, I don’t know exactly what job will bring me meaning but I know that I like fishing. Fishing makes me feel good.” Great, what a good thing to have identified! With that piece of knowledge in mind, you might decide that on Saturday you will leave your house early and go fishing for the day. Even before you actually go finishing, odds are good that just thinking about Saturday is going to make you feel more positive. After a day of fishing, or doing whatever it is that makes you feel good, you will likely feel much more clear headed. Coming from that space, I would imagine that it might also be easier to treat your body better by making one or two healthier food choices because the ache of boredom isn’t there to push you on at that moment. That evening, you may not feel the urge to argue with your significant other because the frustration that desires a release may not be present. You may also have enough clarity at this point to see through how silly it would be to jump into another pointless job just because the opportunity presented itself.

Although our long term goals might not be achieved immediately, it does help to ask ourselves “What do I really want?” By asking ourselves this question, it tends to add to our clarity and serve as a means for getting closer to or on the path of where we want to go.

So, where is an area of your life right now that currently gives you angst? Why are you in resistance to that situation? How would you like that situation to be different? If you achieved that change, are you sure that same resistance wouldn't come up in another area of your life?

What is it that you actually want? What is missing from this situation that is the real source of your pain? Once you have your answer, do you see an immediate way that you can solve this lack? If not, what instead is one gentle, kind and loving thing that you can do for yourself? Often by doing this it helps us step out of our head and into the flow of life. When we are out of the flow, answers elude us and we tend to make poor choices that don’t address what we really want. When we are in the flow, calm and clarity have a way of stepping in and presenting us with solutions we never could have reasoned our way into.

Listen to Yourself, Not to Me or Anyone Else

In every article I write, I am going to write from self-experience. I only want to write what feels authentic. That being said, I don’t believe that my truth is going to resonate with everyone. I believe it is extremely important to find your own truth. I have read (at least) hundreds of self-help and spiritual books and you can bet that many of the messages from all of those books are in contradiction with one another. I don’t however find this to be a problem. We are such diverse human beings that of course one person’s way is not the answer for everyone. For instance, some people are not the least bit concerned about living without health insurance. As for me, I’m not sure I could live without health insurance because the stress of the risk I would be taking would kill me long before any accident or illness.

Before I get to my point, here is one more thought that just came to mind. I read once that there are a great number of people who do not get on with living the life they want until their parents die. Many people are so concerned with what others think that they put their life on hold and only permit themselves the freedom to live their own lives once their parents have died. And some – like I did—might add even more misery to their life by expending their energy trying to justify what they want their life to be like in hopes that they will finally win approval and be free. Can you believe that was me!?! Thank goodness I learned that sooner than later because I think my parents are going to be around for quite some time.

Okay, now onto the point. The point is that I fully support you in finding your own truth. Even if the whole world agreed with what I am saying except for you that would never justify you adopting my truth over your own. If it doesn’t resonate, don’t keep it. It won’t help you on the path to finding your true, authentic self and I think that matters more than anything.

One of the biggest lessons I have been learning in life is to find my own voice and then live by it. I am obviously very much in process with this lesson. I have struggled greatly in the past to gain my parent’s approval of the unconventional path I would like to take in life. But why should I need my parents’ approval? Even if they agreed with me, there are likely still millions of other people in this world who would not agree. Am I going to try and convince every single person on this planet before I get on with my life? Heck no, that’s ridiculous! Even I know that! :)

Of course, setting aside the approval of others, or whatever your struggle may be, is always much easier said than done. But it is important to start somewhere. I think that one good place to start is to choose your own thoughts. Case in point: how could I ever have the confidence to quit my reliable job and launch my dream career if I was still stuck on needing my parents’ approval? I really don’t think I could. I don’t think I could create my ideal life from a clear, peaceful, inspired place if I was running through the drama of needing approval.

So, what do you think? Use this blog as your low risk, first step. If you don’t agree with my posts because they don’t resonate as true to you then that is great! I won’t judge you for it but I will nudge you to ask yourself what you do believe. What contributes to your peace? What do you need to find your authentic self? And if you do agree with the posts in this blog that too is great so long as you are clear that my thoughts really resonate as being helpful for you in finding your authentic, confident self.

I think you are wonderful and 100% deserving of having a life of joy, peace, and purpose. I hope you are able to find what you need to achieve that.

Katie

Introduction to Sensing Self

I believe that our greatest pain is our greatest gift. What we are best able to offer to others is what we have had to struggle to learn or are in the process of learning. My lesson, that I am still very much in the process of learning is Sensing Self. There is a certain kind of life that I want. I want to travel, I want to write, I want to teach, I want to help others and most of all, I want the freedom to be me. I want my life to be a reflection of who I am yet only bits and pieces of my life currently reflect who I think I really am.

How did I get here though? How did I end up in a life in which I feel that not all of these choices have been mine? Certainly, I am responsible for all of the choices that have created the life I currently have. However, many of these choices were not made by me. They were not made by who I really am but that is because I have not brought the real me to the forefront when making many of my past life decisions.

As kids, I believe we often adopt an identity that is safe; an identity that is accepted by our circumstances and will get us through life with the least amount of pain. Typically though, that identity is not a true match for who we really are. And that’s okay. This circumstance is not a reason to lament the past or to criticize others or ourselves. I do believe that everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they know and have at the time.

Looking at today though, we have a choice. Do I chose to be me and if I don’t know who I really am, do I choose to begin the process of getting to know myself? Yes, I want my life to be different in certain ways and I understand that this is a process. How can I achieve the career of my dreams if I don’t know what I want? How would I even know the career of my dreams if it looked me in the face if I don’t have the clarity to know what would be a good fit for me? Or, let’s say I did know what I wanted and I knew how to get it but I was scared of jumping into the unknown or I was scared of disappointing others. There is a lot that can stand in peoples’ way to finding their calling, their joy, or achieving their dreams.

The biggest lesson I have learned in life thus far is the importance of getting to know myself. The more I get to know myself, the more committed I become to making choices that are in line with who I really am. My confidence and gutsyness continue to get stronger as I become more certain that there is something better for me to create.

This blog is about the ever deepening process of sensing self. Like most of you, I’m sure you are often desperate to find a quick fix; to find "The Answer." If only life could be different then you would be happy, then you would be fulfilled. Yes, I get that thought process. I have been there and continue to go there often. I know however that life is never perfect and if we want things to be different we have to live from our Truth. Getting there is the continuous difficult and joyous journey.

Although I am still on the steep part of this learning curve, I believe that I have come far enough to offer some insight into this process. And as I continue to learn, my hope is that my journey will be an inspiration to you. Even better, I’m hoping that with each blog post, through our comments, we can create a community to support each other as we deepen our sense of self and create a life that is “on path” however you may define that.

I know there can be a lot of pain, confusion, despair, and frustration and that the temptation to “check out” can be really alluring. However, getting to where we truly want to be is a process and requires us to be conscious to who we truly are and the effects of the choices we make. After all, this is your life and you are most certainly worth the effort. You are also never alone. Only you can walk your own path but there are plenty of beautiful souls to support you along the way.

Welcome to Sensing Self. I hope this community offers you the support and inspiration you deserve.

May you be happy, may you find peace.

Katie